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Daily News - Thursday, 10 April 2008

Fernandez makes promises
President Leonel Fernandez promised to strengthen his efforts to fight poverty and decrease social inequalities, improve electricity services and the quality of education and other social services, during an address to the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) yesterday. He promised to adjust the present economic development model, giving priority to education. Fernandez is seeking a third term in office, which would be his second consecutive term. The speech was part of a series of meetings that the business group is coordinating with candidates in the presidential election.
He said other priorities during his second consecutive term (2008-2012) would be job creation, the environment, reforestation and promoting culture. He said the government does not contemplate increases in taxes. He said that the start of the second line of the metro is contingent on securing financing.
During the speech Fernandez said that the Dominican population couldn't continue living on two poles, one of extreme poverty and one of opulence. Fernandez acknowledged the progress that the country has made in the last 50 years, while observing that part of the population lives in the 19th century while another lives in the 21st century.
Fernandez commented that going into a second round of voting, which means 48 more days of baseless rhetoric and campaigning, would be a waste of time. The president argued that it would be more beneficial to get things done in the first round so that work on development programs could begin immediately.

Fernandez on "crisis of thought"
The concept of political debating is a non-existent concept in the Dominican political spectrum and President Leonel Fernandez plans to keep it that way. He argues that there is a crisis of thought in the DR. During his address to ANJE members, Fernandez said that for a debate to take place, his challengers would have to know how to conceptualize. "If you notice, there is a deficit of conceptualization and this is why a debate would be meaningless - it's ridiculous," he said. "There is a crisis of thought." Fernandez, quoted in Listin Diario, said that the point is to maintain a constructive dialogue to instruct the public, with a vision of the future. Fernandez added that he is trained as a criminal lawyer and is skilled at debating, but he insisted there is no point in debating when the opposition can only offer attacks and insults.

Brager: High tolerance of corruption
Stephen Brager, General Development Officer at USAID, is quoted in Hoy as saying that many forms of corruption are accepted in the DR as part of daily life. Brager made his comments regarding the high tolerance to corruption during a seminar/workshop sponsored by USAID. He added that there is still much work to be done in order for Dominicans to recognize the different forms that corruption takes. He said that there needed to be a real campaign against corruption, which has a negative impact on social and economic development. Brager believes that businesses need to be given tools in order to fight and punish corruption, and highlighted the importance of approving the municipality law. Brager also says that when it comes to corruption, accountability is non-existent in the DR.

RD$1 billion for politics
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) distributed RD$1.06 billion to political parties participating in the 2008 presidential elections yesterday. The PLD, PRD and PRSC, the three parties to lead in the 2004 election, received RD$848 million, or RD$282.6 million each. The election campaigns are in their final days, with the election set for Friday,16 May 2008.

Politics holds back key bills
The president of the Herrera Industries Association, Jesus Moreno Portalatin, has called on Congress to move forward on important economic development initiatives. He specifically mentioned the new Customs and Renewable Energies rulings bills. "This country cannot afford the luxury of waiting until after 16 May to get working. Some initiatives should not be paralyzed," he said. He added that most of the key government officials are also ruling PLD party leaders, and have major responsibilities as part of the re-election campaign.

Fanjul-Vicini sticks to sugar
The Fanjul-Vicini Group will not produce ethanol fuel in the east because of decreasing sugar cane supplies. The Group will concentrate exclusively on sugar production. Engineer Jimmy Garcia Savinon, an executive with Etanol Dominicana, said sugar would be produced for the local and export markets. Garcia told Hoy that the only ethanol production project that would begin in the next few years would be in Boca Chica, an initiative with joint Brazilian and Swedish investment. Garcia explained that Fanjul-Vicini produce would need 4.5 million tons of sugar cane ethanol fuel, which is not feasible in the east.

DR IT challenges
According to the World Economic Forum (FEM), the DR ranked 75th out of 127 countries in the seventh Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008 released this week. This ranking is nine places down from last year, when the DR was 66th on a list of 122 countries. Hoy explains that the fall in the rankings didn't necessarily mean a lack of attention by the DR in the area of technology, but rather a substantial increase in quality by other countries.
Only four countries in the region - Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Chile and Barbados - are ranked in the top 50.
This year, Denmark ranked as the most networked economy in the world, followed by Sweden and Switzerland. In the top ten, South Korea (9) and, to a lesser extent, the United States (4) posted the most notable improvements (moving up 10 and 3 positions, respectively).
The Report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD, the leading international business school, and is sponsored this year by Cisco Systems.
"The successful experience of the Nordic countries, Singapore, the United States and South Korea shows that a coherent government vision on the importance of Information Communications Technology, coupled with an early focus on education and innovation, are key not only for spurring networked readiness, but also to lay the foundations for sustainable growth," said Irene Mia, Senior Economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum and Co-Editor of the Report.

Stores open, lull in shopping
The duality of Dominican society was once more apparent during yesterday's general strike. While major stores returned to business as usual by the middle of the day in Santo Domingo and Santiago, the strike primarily affected the low-income areas, where aggressive strike organizers were able to intimidate residents to stay home.
While many businesses and stores remained open yesterday despite the 24-hour strike called by the Alternative Social Forum (FSA), but there was a lull in shopping. Diario Libre points out that the main losers were the "chiriperos", or street vendors, who saw their source of income reduced in many city areas. There was a reduction in transport services and some workers stayed at home. Some banks, such as Banco Popular, Scotia Bank and BanReservas, all reported limited activity.
The effects of the FSA strike were minimal in Santo Domingo with few altercations and problems to report. Hoy reports that the strike had partial influence in the poorer barrios, where commercial activity was visibly affected by the strike. Police patrolled the streets of Santo Domingo in order to maintain order.
FSA representatives claim that the police injured five of their members and arrested twenty others. Also, two injuries were reported in San Francisco de Macoris. Listin Diario reports that the strike proceeded with calm, for the most part, while the FSA described it as successful.

Villanueva steps up
Dominican power forward Charlie Villanueva had a career-making game last night with a scoring display for posterity. The young Bucks forward scored 38 points for the Milwaukee Bucks and hit seven treys from behind the arc. Villanueva, who was born in the US to Dominican parents, scored 25 of the Bucks' first 29 points, and lead the Bucks to a 111-93 beating of the Toronto Raptors. In his 47 minutes of play Villanueva went 14-25 from the field, 3-5 from the stripe and had twelve rebounds.
In other sports news, Dominican slugger Albert Pujols hit two homeruns in yesterday's Cardinal victory over the Houston Astros. Those were Pujols' first two dingers of the season. Meanwhile, Anaheim Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero also belted a three-run shot deep into the night as he helped the Angels beat the Cleveland Indians 9-5.

Wednesday sales
La Cadena supermarket is advertising smoked pork chops for RD$69.95lb, dorado for RD$59.95lb, seabass for RD$59.95lb, ground conch for RD$119.95lb
Super Pola is advertising frozen chickens for RD$24.95lb, pork for stewing for RD$49.95 and 25% off in several other beef department cuts.
Ferreteria Hache has sales in its ceramics department.
Batavia (Calle Rafael Augusto Sanchez 37, Piantini) has furniture sales with 20-60% off.
La Iberica (Av. Nunez de Caceres) has a ceramics sales starting from RD$269 the meter.
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