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Daily News - Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Officials must ask permission
High-ranking government officials and ministers of decentralized government offices must once more get written permission from President Leonel Fernandez before traveling abroad. Officials must provide dates, reasons and destinations during the trip and also need to explain who will take charge of their duties during their absence. Migration director Carlos Amarante Baret urged officials to obtain this authorization before traveling to the airport so they don't waste their time or their money. The permission requirement came into effect last week.

Customs removes tax
The Customs Department has removed the 10% tax of the value of the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) on reshipments because the tax is illegal under the terms of the DR-CAFTA trade agreement. Listin Diario explains that the tax was contrary to article 3.8 on import and export restrictions, found in chapter 3 on National Market Access.

DR trying to buy WH
The Dominican government is reportedly trying to purchase the Washington Heights section of New York City. Reports from anonymous sources explain that what was once a ridiculous proposition has now gained traction among city legislators and cultural groups. No word on what the tag price would be but city appropriations director Graham C. Wellington Esq. explained that the purchase price could be around the US$1.2 billion range and would be paid out during a 20-year period. Dominican officials who support the project say that the purchase would then officially make WH the DR's second city and move Santiago to third place. Santiago residents have voiced staunch opposition to the purchase, saying that they would like to maintain their status as the DR's second city. Immigration officials have voiced concerns about making WH a Dominican city, not knowing how they would control the flow of immigrants between 155th and Inwood.
Click here for the full story.

US protectionism restricts FTZs
Fernando Capellan, president of the Dominican Free Trade Zone Association (ADOZONA) says that US protectionist policies have prevented free trade zones (FTZs) in DR-CAFTA countries from making the most of the agreement. Capellan, quoted in Listin Diario, said that certain mechanisms like the 2x1 and the manufacturing accumulation program have not been put in place, even though they could make the sector more competitive. The accumulation program would allow DR-CAFTA countries to import 100 million squared meters of clothing into the US tariff-free while the 2x1 would allow DR-CAFTA countries to import two yards of US-made fabric for one yard of non-US fabric. Capellan says that the DR has not experienced any major advances through the DR-CAFTA because of Washington's protectionist policies.

Solenodon at the Zoo
The National Zoo in Santo Domingo has taken over the care of a Solenodon paradoxus, also known as the Hispaniolan Solenodon or Marcano Solenodon, a species in immediate danger of extinction, which is believed to be endemic to the Dominican Republic. The solenodon, or solenodonte, was captured by fishermen in El Seibo, as reported in El Dia. The animal has also been sighted in the Jaragua National Park (southwestern DR) and National Park of the East (eastern DR), two protected areas. The minute shrew-like mammal that dates back from prehistoric times was taken to the National Zoo on Wednesday. Zoo director David Arias Canela explained that the animal is endangered because humans have depredated its natural habitats.
For more information, see: www.animalinfo.org/species/solepara.htm

You are right; but so am I
During a luncheon meeting with newspaper editors, President Leonel Fernandez argued that the Central Electoral Board (JCE) had broken the law when it passed a decision on the Base Committee scandal without listening to the PLD point of view. Journalist Nuria Piera recently revealed that the government had thousands of party members on their payroll, despite the fact that they carried out no function whatsoever at the institutions that paid out their monthly checks. Fernandez continues to defend the payroll, although he did say that the payment of funds to PLD activists would cease immediately. Fernandez said that he doesn't want the opposition to use that as a motive to claim illegalities in the 16 May presidential elections. The President added that his success in office can partly be attributed to tactical errors by the PRSC and PRD and denied having bought any opposition members to strengthen his campaign.

Crime in 2007
The Attorney General's office statistics indicate that there were 803 homicides directly related to crime in 2007. Of those 803 homicides, 336 were drug-related, 246 were committed during robberies and 112 were committed during attempted robberies. Also, 39 homicides were committed during attempted motorcycle hi-jackings. Ten homicides were committed in nightclubs, six were committed during attempted car-jackings, two were committed during hostage situations and one was committed mistakenly.
October was the month during which the most homicides were committed, 84, followed by September with 79. July, May and November had 78, 72 and 71 homicides, respectively, while 70, 65 61, 51, 48 and 45 homicides were recorded in January, August, June, February, March and April.
Hoy newspaper reports that if the AG's office were to include non-crime related homicides the total would surge to 1,333 homicides in 2007. In all 28 people died as a result of clashes with police and drug enforcement officials. The report says that June is, on average, the month when most homicides occur, with August registering the lowest number.

Punishing political military
Armed Forces Minster Lt. General Ramon Antonio Aquino Garcia is warning all active military officials that they will be penalized for participating in politics, and could be relieved of their military ranks and duties. Aquino issued this warning to all branches of the Armed Forces. Aquino said that the Armed Forces are taking measures to ensure that military officials don't betray their duties in favor of the political process. Aquino's warning comes after the PRD made accusations that military officials were involved in PLD political campaigning. In response, Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman has asked the PRD to provide proof, and is quoted in Hoy as saying that such accusations are a cause for concern among the Dominican public. Castanos said that he has been in touch with leading military officials and that apart from helping to keep order; he has no knowledge of military officials taking part in political campaigning.

Santo Domingo East has fun
According to Deputy Jose Santana there has been a lack of investment in education in Santo Domingo East, where many of the schools were built in the 1970s and 1980s while investment in 'colmadones' and nightclubs has experienced a boom in recent years. Santana, quoted in Hoy, explains that the sale of alcohol has become a problem, with a disco at every 50 meters and that there are more nightclubs and 'colmadones' than schools in the area. He continued by saying that many minors frequent these centers and no one seems to mind.

Dominican flag more expensive
In the last fifteen days shoppers have noticed dramatic increases in food prices, included basics like rice, beans and chicken. In some cases prices have jumped an astounding 60%. Chicken, cod, herring, rice, oil, meat, milk, cheese, beans, condiments and some vegetables have been subject to price increases. According to Listin Diario, the price of cooking oil has increased from RD$25 to RD$45. White cheese is also up in price, going from RD$80 to RD$120. A pound of rice has gone from RD$16 to RD$18 while the price of a liter of milk is oscillating between RD$48 and RD$50, after costing RD$44 less than two weeks ago. Beans have also increased in price, going from RD$34 to RD$36. Yellow cheese now costs RD$160 per pound after costing RD$120. Cod has gone from RD$85 to RD$90 while herring has gone from RD$40 to RD$60 in colmados.

Macadamia nuts become popular
Although not native to the DR, the macadamia nut has awakened interest in the export sector and its environmental benefits are making for an attractive product. Listin Diario writes that the macadamia nut has great potential for export value and is also recommended for its reforestation properties. The macadamia nut plant also provides shade for coffee plants. The boom in macadamia nuts has led to the creation of producers associations, or 'clusters'. Listin Diario reports that Europe, the US and Japan are major consumers of macadamia, which at the moment is at a production deficit. The DR could take advantage of this situation by becoming a macadamia producer. Jesus Moreno of Helados Bon has been instrumental in introducing the nut to the local market on the grounds that it is an excellent way of helping conserve forests.

Tuesday sales
Carrefour is advertising sales in its meat and seafood departments.
Plaza Lama has bugalu tomatoes for RD$5.50lb, salad tomatoes for RD$7.95lb, imported red onions for RD$11.95lb, celery for RD$1.95lb, sweet corn for RD$10.95lb, potatoes for RD$13.45lb, sweet potato for RD$13.50lb, and oranges (5lbs) for RD$26.95.
Bravo is advertising 30% off fruits and vegetables for their Bravissima cardholders.
Jumbo is advertising potatoes for RD$12.95lb, cauliflower for RD$15.95lb, watermelon for RD$5.75lb, red onions for RD$10.95lb, romaine lettuce for RD$14.95lb, cantaloupe melons for R$23.95ea, peaches for RD$49.95, broccoli for RD$15.95lb, and plantains for RD$7.95ea.
La Sirena supermarket is advertising Omo 1,000g 2-pack for RD$164.95, aluminum foil 25f for RD$24.95, and starch 20oz for RD$39.95.
La Cadena has Kellogg's Corn Flakes on sale for RD$104.95/660g, La Joya soya oil 128oz RD$194.95, and Salami Checo for RD$39.95lb,
Supermercados Nacional is advertising peanut butter for RD$69.95/18oz, and apple juice 64oz for RD$79.95.
Arbaje Soni furniture store is advertising sales.
Anthony's is advertising 50% off in their stores with an additional 10% for their cardholders.

MLB honors Dominicans
Major League Baseball has decided to honor the participation of Dominicans in MLB by changing the name of one of the league's teams. Although no word on which team will have its name officially changed or when the change will come, MLB director of Press and Communications Dick "Bugsy" Malloy said that three teams are in the lottery to have their names changed. Among the possibilities are the Kansas City Dominicans, the Tampa Bay Dominicans or the Cincinnati Dominicans. Although there has been opposition to the proposed name changes, especially from baseball diehards, MLB Publicity director Johns Innabundle said it would allow for MLB to extend its base further into Latin America and recognize the tremendous work of Dominicans in baseball. Rollin Daround, VP of the Baseball Preservation Authority, argued that it was not necessary to rename an existing organization and welcomed a Dominican named organization, but only when a new team was created or when a team was relocated.
Click here for more information.
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