Home  Message Archive  2015  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998  Premium News Service


Daily News - Friday, 04 July 2008

Government butters up transporters
Government and transporters signed an agreement yesterday temporarily putting an end to the rift between both sides. The agreement once again grants numerous concessions and benefits to the transport unions that control public transport in the country. The transporters had been threatening to considerably raise fares in response to the spiral in fuel prices and other operational costs.
Twenty measures are contemplated. As part of the agreement, fuel prices for propane fuel (GLP) and diesel fuel will be fixed for at least six months. Transporters also agreed to keep passenger fares fixed.
The government and the unions agreed to absorb increases in international fuel prices with each side covering 50% of the increase of the week between RD$1 and RD$10 above the current price for a gallon of diesel fuel that is selling for RD$194.9 per gallon. The same will be done for price increases above the present propane price that is at RD$107.59 per gallon.
The agreement stipulates that fuel for the transport sector will be fixed at RD$145 per gallon for diesel fuel and RD$65 for propane, with the government absorbing the difference in the price.
The government has also agreed to submit to Congress a reform and modernization project for the transport sector and to create a specialized fund with RD$100 million in funds for contingency plans. The funds will be managed by the already created Fund for Transit Development (FONDET) and the Office for the Reorganization of Transit (OPRET).
The government has agreed to present a new reform plan for the transport sector after the 16 August inaugural of the second term of President Fernandez. The government also agreed to subsidize 50% of UASD university student fares and the creation of the National Public Transport School and the Transport Operations National School.
Government provisions to include drivers and their families in public health programs were also agreed to.
Multi-fare taxi drivers will be exempt from paying taxes on tires, lubricants, cars, replacement parts. Finally, the government and the transport unions have agreed to reorganize transport lines to feed the new Santo Domingo Metro. Present at the meeting were union leaders Juan Hubieres, Ramon Perez Figuereo, Ricardo de los Santos, Manuel Ramirez, Michael Mariot, Antonio Marte, Juan Sarmiento and Antonio Brito, as well as President Leonel Fernandez, Diandino Pena and others.

Problems delay arrival buses
Mercedes Benz Brazil has begun to penalize the Dominican government for delays in issuing a line of credit that would facilitate the dispatching of the shipment of 125 Mercedes Benz buses of a total of 300 that had been contracted for use in the OMSA government bus service. The original bidding for the contract, which was won by Autozama, stipulates the manufacture of 300 of these buses in Brazil. The buses are ready and reports indicate they are sitting idle awaiting shipment. Autozama says the government has been unwilling to cover the cost of importing the buses. Autozama president Ramon Ernesto Morales said he held up his part of the deal and placed the order for the manufacture of the buses even though the government hadn't issued the line of credit to pay for the buses. Morales explained that Autozama won the September 2007 tender, by bidding US$11 million less than the competition, as reported in Hoy.
This latest news is another hit for the OMSA bus system, which is in desperate need of new vehicles and could collapse without the injection of new buses. Government-operated, the OMSA buses operate long city routes for the lowest rates.

Chevron ordeal reaches aviation
Developments in the Chevron fuel transport conflict are cause for concern at some of the nation's airports. Airport Department director Andres Vanderhorst says that the fuel transporter's boycott is beginning to affect airports. Listin Diario reports that yesterday drivers stationed their vehicles at the entrance of the Chevron refinery in Haina impeding entrance or exit from the premises. Vanderhorst says that Chevron, that bought Texaco's operations in the DR, provides 20% of the aviation fuel for the airport in Santo Domingo, 15% of the fuel for Puerto Plata, 100% of the fuel for Santiago, Catey and Samana and 50% of the fuel for Samana. Vanderhorst says the Catey airport only has enough fuel to last until Monday. Vanderhorst said he would meet with the president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (REFIDOMSA) to discuss the situation. The issue is over the rescinding of five contracts that canceled 25 transporters and affected 50 contractors associated with the SACTPA fuel tankers union.
Chevron insists on the right to transport their fuel in their own units, arguing this is established in the DR-CAFTA agreement. So far, unionized truckers have monopolized the contracts.

Homes for TS Olga victims
512 families, victims of Tropical Storm Olga in November 2007, will soon be able to move into new homes in the Villa Liberacion neighborhood in Santiago from President Leonel Fernandez. The project is located in La Herradura section of Santiago and was built at a cost of RD$377 million. There are 32 buildings with 16 apartments each. Neighborhood boards will choose the beneficiary families, according to a report in the Listin Diario. Alma Fernandez, director of the National Housing Institute, said 2,586 families will benefit from the housing program for the victims of TS Olga. The families lost their homes due to flooding of the Yaque River.

An exemplary province
In the Salcedo city jail, the inmates repair school desks and chairs. City streets are an art gallery, with murals by Candido Bido and Elsa Nunez, two of the best Dominican painters of all times. Politicians, business and city government have agreed on a development program for the agriculture-based province. The province wants to make its mark for cultural tourism and ecotourism, and has looked into offering routes to observe coffee cultivation. The recent UNDP Human Development Report 2008, shows that human development is above average in Salcedo. Clave newspaper reports that bottom-up community efforts spurred by former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, has made all the difference. The province was recently named Hermanas Mirabal province to honor the three sisters that risked their lives to differ from Dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Foreigners beware
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) says that it has detected irregularities in 2,416 cedulas issued between 1994 and 1997. The JCE believes that the cedulas correspond to 442 Chinese, 331 Italians, 316 Germans, 254 Americans, 162 Spaniards, 133 Cubans, 93 Colombians, 82 Haitians and 77 Swiss. The JCE specifies that "irregular" cedulas were recorded in books 60001, 606950, 625001, 630850, 590001, 599975, 62826 and 625000.
In related news, officials have arrested Reynaldo Melchor Alcantara Pozo for the forging and sale of irregularly-issued birth certificates. When Alcantara was arrested by officials from the National Investigation Department (DNI) he was in possession of nine Haitian passports, 45 late birth declarations, a fake cedula and a fake Navy ID card. Officials believe he is the ringleader of a powerful gang that falsified documents and birth certificates. The announcement is another of several that have been made after the new JCE authorities began a purge of the civil registry. Investigations have shown that several civil registry offices were lax in allowing officers to irregularly issue official documents. Several of the irregularities have shown up when the benefited individuals have requested copies of the documents that are now being screened by a new set of civil registry officers as part of a major nationwide revamping of the civil registration system.

Prison population rises
Dominican Attorney General Radhames Jimenez says that in the last two years, the DR's prison population has increased from 12,500 to 18,000. Jimenez announced these figures at the "New Basis of the Dominican Penitentiary System Conference." During the conference, Jimenez explained that in the new model of the DR penitentiary system inmates go through three stages of rehabilitation. Jimenez also spoke on the difficulties of former convicts as as they try to reinsert themselves into society. Laura Hernandez, director of the public defense program, says that it could take a prisoner as many as three years to obtain "good conduct" certificate, making it difficult for him/her to get a job. She said the system needs to be reformed and that the delay in issuing the good conduct certificate is equal to punishing the prisoner twice.

Economic actions needed now
Manuel Diez Cabral, president of the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic (AIRD), again is urging the government to take measures to correct the rising current account deficit in the balance of payments. He called the deficit "unbearable unless actions are taken," as reported in Hoy. He said that the nation can not wait until 16 August to put in place the needed corrections without risking affecting the present macroeconomic stability. President Leonel Fernandez begins a second term on 16 August.
Diez Cabral explained that the deficit will soon be at 7% of the Gross Domestic Product. Diez Cabral says that measures taken by the Central Bank have made doing business more expensive. Among the measures is an increase in interest rates that makes financing more expensive. Other measures to reduce the money in circulation and curtail inflation have been to focus on restricting banking liquidity and selling international reserves. Diez Cabral says that for a country to have a strong currency it needs to export more than it imports, which is the case of Brazil, not the DR. For 2007, the country registered a current account deficit of US$2.2 billion that was compensated by US$2.6 billion in foreign investment. The current account deficit, nevertheless, has considerably increased for 2008.

"El Torito" for President
Maybe not for President, but Hector "El Torito" Acosta has been asked to be part of the Barack Obama presidential campaign. The goal is to get a foothold on the Latino vote, and in particular the Dominican vote. Pundits have speculated that Obama has yet to secure Latino votes and explain that some Latinos might be apprehensive about voting for a relative unknown. Quoted in Listin Diario, Acosta, one of the most popular and respected musicians in the DR, said, "for a candidate of that magnitude, from a country like the US, to take into account a humble Dominican for his campaign and believe that I can help him in his campaign is grand and is a motive for satisfaction and pride." Acosta didn't provide any details other than that an announcement would be made in New York or Miami.
The Dominican community in the US is getting bigger. Listin Diario writes that Dominicans in the US grew by 7.4% between 2005 and 2006 going from 1,347,210 to 1,454,987. There will be 18.2 million Latinos registered to vote in this year's election, up from 2.1 million in 2004. Latinos make up 15% of the US population with a total of 46 million people and have become a formidable group in the US.

Major League gossip
Major League slugger Alex Rodriguez has separated from his wife Cynthia Rodriguez and the couple had been separated since after the birth of their second daughter, as reported in the Listin Diario. The story has made gossip headlines around the world. Sources indicates that problems in the marriage surfaced last year after Rodriguez was photographed in Toronto with a blond woman later identified as a local striper. The couple reconciled, but now media reports say that Rodriguez has been seen sharing the company of Madonna, who is married to director Guy Rithcie, while Cynthia has been seen spending time with rocker Lenny Kravitz, who at one time was linked with Madonna.
Home  Message Archive  2015  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998  Premium News Service

The contents of this webpage are copyright 1996-2015.  DR1. All Rights Reserved.