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Daily News - Tuesday, 15 April 2008

CID poll: PLD 40.6%
The CID-Latinoamerica poll released today in the Listin Diario shows President Leonel Fernandez failing to win in the first round. In a second round vote that would take place 30 June 2008, though, Fernandez would receive 46.3% of the vote, while Vargas would be a close 45.4% behind.
In the first round tracked by CID-Latinoamerica, Fernandez (PLD) leads 40.6% to Miguel Vargas (PRD) 39%, and Amable Aristy (PRSC) 7.1%. The undecided are 12.4%. For the poll, 1,200 voters eligible to vote in the 16 May presidential election were surveyed nationwide from 26 March to 3 April.
Other recent leading poll results are:
Hamilton-El Dia - Fernandez 48%, Vargas 31%, and Aristy 19% (March 2008)
Greenberg-Diario Libre - Fernandez 53%, Vargas 37%, Aristy, 6% (26-31 March 2008)
Noxa-Cies-Clave - Fernandez 54%, Vargas 30%, Aristy 8% (25-30 March 2008)
Penn, Schoen & Berland - Fernandez 56%, Vargas 32%, Aristy 8% (4-6 March 2008)
Gallup-Hoy - Fernandez 52%, Vargas 35%, Aristy 7.5% (16-20 February 2008)

Fernandez speaks
President Leonel Fernandez says that the two biggest challenges facing the DR are issues with governance and globalization. Fernandez, speaking at an encounter with newspaper Hoy, commented on the need for a profound transformation of the state because power is no longer concentrated in one place. He said governance requires the participation of all players, including professional associations, the church and civil society. He continued by saying that globalization forces the strengthening of institutions so that democracy can run its course. Fernandez rejected political parties are in crisis. He said that rather citizens have lost trust in the parties. To reinstate the confidence, he suggests politics return to discussing ideas, so that these can be converted into actions that bring progress, improve institutions, the economy and contribute to the enhancement of the culture of the people.
During the Corripio news group participation, Fernandez also said that Congress would need to review what presidential reelection model is most convenient for the country. He said there is the Brazilian model, which allows for two consecutive periods and then a break before a reelection, the US model that allows only for a consecutive election, or the European. The ruling PLD party is majority in Congress.

Vargas proposes cutting taxes
PRD presidential candidate, Miguel Vargas defended yesterday his proposal to cut the income tax from 25% to 15%, as reported in the Listin Diario. He said that this would reduce the cost of doing business, and the cost of goods and services. Vargas said that President Leonel Fernandez is trapped in the antiquated and inefficient conception that increasing taxes helps fight poverty and inequality. "He resists understanding that where he has fixed progressive and very high taxes, more poverty among the poor and more strife for the middle class has resulted," said Vargas. He commented that Fernandez forgets that in 1996 he himself proposed to reduce income tax from 30% to 10%. Vargas stressed that the application of high taxes has failed here and in any other nation where it has been applied. Vargas feels his proposal will create more jobs, benefit workers and the middle class.

JB bridge getting makeover
The Juan Bosch Bridge, one of the newest in the country, will be getting a RD$5 million makeover. The Costa Rican company, Estructura Metalicas (ESTRUMET) has been entrusted with the repairs. Mayobanex Escoto, deputy minister for bridges and roads at the Ministry of Public Works, said that Estrumet is already responsible for maintenance on the Juan Pablo Duarte Bridge. Escoto said that Estrumet is concerned with using the best materials so they don't deteriorate in a short period of time, as has occurred so far. As part of the deal, Estrumet will provide maintenance for the next five years.

NG plays down effects of recession
Haivanjoe Ng Cortinas, Superintendent of Securities, expects the effects of a recession in the US to be minimal in the DR economy. At a presentation at INTEC university, he commented on the linkages between Gross Domestic Product, remittances, foreign investment, GNP, free trade zone exports and national exports. He said that the travel sector has the most weight in the economy and he forecast sustained growth in the flow of tourists from the US would carry over the effects of the recession.

We have food
Agriculture Minister Salvador "Chio" Jimenez says the DR will not be affected by international food shortages. He emphasized the DR, despite the switch from agriculture to services, still is a major farm producer. Jimenez said that the difference between the DR and other countries is that the many other countries "have money, but they don't have the production, in the DR there is everything, thanks to the vision of President Leonel Fernandez." Last week industry sector leaders, Jesus Moreno and Ignacio Mendez spoke up on the need for a national action plan to spur local production of food, following on recommendations by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). According to Moreno and Mendez, a failure to do so would bring governance problems. Yesterday, Pavel Isa of the UN FAO made the point that the DR has become more dependent on imported foods, to the tune of 17% of consumption, up from 5%, at a time when recent trends have shown a drastic increase in international food prices.
Cesareo Contreras of the Dominican Landowners and Farmer Association also feels the government needs to develop a new plan for domestic food production. He wants an increase in subsidies, technical assistance and financing so that farmers can increase the lands under production.
Nevertheless, Agriculture Minister Jimenez feels all is well. He told Hoy that there is no need to create any such plan. He pointed to the rapid recovery of damages to farms caused by tropical storms Noel and Olga.

Trying to keep prices down
Industry & Commerce Minister Melanio Paredes said the government would apply penalties under Consumer Defense Law 358-05 and Competitiveness Defense Law 42-08 to those found speculating with prices. Paredes rejected that the move is merely political chess, now that the election is only one month away.

Prices up, consumption up
As gasoline prices have surged to new highs, consumers have migrated to propane gas, which costs less than half the price of a gallon of gas, as reported in the Listin Diario. As a result, the consumption of GLP has skyrocketed. The DR consumed 33.9 million gallons in January and 32.5 million gallons in February. A gallon of subsidized propane costs around RD$60, compared to around RD$172 for the gallon of gasoline. A gallon of non-subisidized propane is around RD$82.
The Listin Diario reports that overall, fuel consumption in the DR increased 12% during the first two months of this year. This occurred despite rising prices of fuel reflecting the pronounced increases in international fuel prices. The DR consumed 216.8 million gallons of fuel during the first two months of 2008 compared to 193.5 million gallons during the first 2 months of 2007. In 2005 the DR consumed 121.7 million gallons and 106.3 gallons during the first two months of the year and in 2006, consumption was 100.3 and 96 million gallons. There was also a 42% increase in the consumption of diesel. In January the DR consumed 329,708 gallons of diesel and 1,717,227 gallons in February.

Taking on more foreign debt
The Senate is studying the approval of nine international loans that would increase foreign public debt to the tune of US$309.7 million.
The loans include:
US$93.7 million to purchase 8 Super Tucano jet planes from Brazil.
US$80 million for the construction of a set of libraries and the new National Archives.
US$60.9 million to finance the Las Placetas hydroelectric dam. That project is being constructed through the State Run Electric Companies (CDEEE).
US$19.4 million to finance the Social Projection Investment Project.
US$14 million loan pending for the Social and Economical Development Program.

IDB is big lender
To date, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) has lent the DR US$2.85 billion. The amount does not include funds allocated for private sector-oriented social programs. Listin Diario reports that US$75 million of the total entered as donations, US$3.1 million were investments and US$144 million were loans.

DR urges Haitian stability
The Dominican government urges actions be taken to quickly reassemble the government in Haiti. Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso said that in recent years the DR has become Haiti's main defender in international forums. He added that there is no other country in the world more interested in Haiti's social, democratic and cultural stability.
Morales Troncoso told the Listin Diario that the political instability situation in Haiti affects the DR.
Morales added that in the next four years there needs to be a more defined migratory policy between both nations.
Drug Czar Marino "Vincho" Castillo chimed in saying that if the international community doesn't pay attention to the problems in Haiti that nation will always be in a state of despair. He said that the situation doesn't scare Dominicans because during all of its history the DR has had to deal with border issues.
Diario Libre reports that commerce at the bi-national market at Dajabon, on the border with Haiti, is getting back to normal after days of unrest in Haiti. Shoppers were back seeking to compensate for the major increases in food products on Haiti-based markets. Those increases lead to rioting in Haiti and the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel. Diario Libre says that beginning in the early hours of the morning, Haitians could be seen crossing the border to the DR and returning in the late hours carrying the goods.

Coke galore
US Drug Enforcement Agency officials and Dominican drug officials have seized a millionaire drug shipment containing the millionaire 467 kilos of pure cocaine. Diario Libre reports that the shipment was found on Saona after it was dropped from an unidentified plane. The shipment, which was divided in 15 packages, was taken to the San Isidro Air Force Base on a DEA helicopter and was then transferred to the National Forensic Science Institute (NACIF). National Drug Control Department (DNCD) head Rafael Radhames Ramirez Ferreira said that the bust was part of "Operacion Puente Roto" underway with cooperation from the US DEA.

Killer cops go free
Judges in the First Tribunal of Santo Domingo have released two police officers and a police sergeant on charges of murder because of a lack of evidence. Roberto Zabala Espinosa, Luis Alfredo Mateo Mota and Wellington Rodriguez Jimenez were all charged with the murders of Juan Carlos Jimenez, Adelso de Jesus Soriano and Rafael Medina Marte. Protestors say that the three men were innocent and that it was a case of police brutality and use of excessive force, while police defended themselves saying that the three youth were part of a gang responsible for the theft of 28 trucks. The deaths occurred last year at the Duquesa garbage dump.

Manny's the man
Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez is showing neighsayers that he is still a force to be reckoned with at the plate. It had been a frustrating night for Boston as they gave up a one run lead to the Cleveland Indians and then preceded to go down 4-1. The Sox would eventually come back to tie the game and the game would be left in the hands of the Sox's two big boppers, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Ortiz, who has had a major slump at the start of the season, hit a two out blooper into left field. Big Papi waited on first as Ramirez settled into the box. Then Ramirez came to bat last night with all of Red Sox Nation watching and with one swing sent the 82 mph fast ball from Joe Boroswki deep into the Cleveland night, for a 6-4 Sox win. Not all is well though in Red Sox Nation as the Sox are in second place behind Baltimore, though still 2 games ahead of the hated New York Yankees.

Jersey brings curse?
In what may be a scene out of a Stephen King book, some superstitious Boston Red Sox fans are blaming recent shenanigans at the new Yankee Stadium as the possible reason for David Ortiz's recent struggles at the plate. Ortiz is batting a meager .070 with 3 hits in 43 at bats. He entered last night's game on a 0-17 slump. Over the weekend, The New York Post reported that construction worker Gino Castignoli had buried a David Ortiz jersey at the site where the new Yankee Stadium is being built. Castignoli, a Red Sox fan, was hoping to give the hated Yankees more bad luck while adding more luck to the Red Sox. After hearing of the "myth" construction workers on the site approached management, saying they knew where the jersey might have been buried. With permission from the Yankee brass workers proceeded to dig out the David Ortiz, #34 jersey. Digging took five hours and cost US$50,000. Yankee management said that they might pursue either civil or legal charges against Castignoli.

Tuesday sales
50% off at Anthony's clothing and shoe store items, plus 10% more for the store's cardholders.
La Cadena supermarket has large eggs for RD$99.95/30 eggs, plantains for RD$7.50ea, red beans for RD$44.95/2lbs., chicken for RD$38.95lb.
Plaza Lama supermarket advertises carrots for RD$5.95lb, red onions for RD$8.95lb, garlic for RD$33.95lb, lettuce for RD$5.50lb, potatoes for RD$12.95lb, pineapples for RD$22.95ea, corn on the cob for RD$10.95ea, chicken thighs for RD$24.95lb, whole chicken for RD$34.95lb, select white rice for RD$13.95lb, squash for RD$8.95lb.
La Sirena is advertising, for their cardholders, chickens for RD$24.95lb, bell peppers for RD$13.95lb, white onions for RD$8.95lb, Soya oil for RD$199.95/128oz, Nido Nestle powdered milk for RD$499.95/2500g bag, codfish for RD$64.95lb.
Nacional supermarkets are advertising large eggs for RD$97.95/30 eggs, select white rice for RD$152.95/10lbs, red beans for RD$45.90/2lbs.
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