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Daily News - Wednesday, 06 August 2008

Opportunities in garbage
Frank Rainieri, president of the Puntacana Group, believes that garbage provides opportunities for preserving the environment and creating jobs, as he yesterday told the audience gathered at President Leonel Fernandez's think tank, the Global Foundation for a presentation on the group's solid waste management plan. Puntacana Group is proposing that the government and private sector unite in a "green alliance" and develop a nationwide garbage usage plan. The company, that owns and operates the Punta Cana International Airport that alone generates 1,586 metric tons of garbage a year (of which 985 are recycled and 602 are incinerated) has been able to cut their garbage disposal costs, that previously were at US$200,000 a year, by 56%. The recycled material is sold generating new revenue, and organic fertilizer is generated for their golf course and gardens. Garbage is incinerated, the ashes used as fertilizer, and organic garbage is also converted to fertilizer by worms, as reported in El Caribe. Garbage is also used to generate 230 kilowatts of electricity.
He suggested that the government could offer fiscal incentives to stimulate others to invest in solid waste recycling equipment. Rainieri reminded the audience that when the company decided to import low-consumption light bulbs to replace the incandescent bulbs in thousands of homes, they had to pay more taxes on the new bulbs than for the traditional high consumption bulbs.
Program director, sanitary engineer Victor Ojeda presented the program. He recommended that the government implement policies to reduce the amount of solid waste in the municipal dumps, as reported in Hoy. At the presentation, Julio Brache, president of the National Network of Corporations for Environmental Protection (Renaepa), motivated business owners and the government to study the Puntacana case.
Environment Minister Omar Ramirez gave his public support to the initiative. He also favored zero taxes on technologies that protect the environment.
For more on Punta Cana garbage program, see http://www.dr1.com/forums/environment/...

Shell sells refinery shares
The Shell Company, owner of 50% of the shares in the Dominican National Refinery, S.A. (Refidomsa), has signed a sales contract that will give their 50% stake in the refinery to the government for the sum of US$110 million. Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa made the announcement shortly after the signing of the sales contract. The government will pay Shell with the money it makes from the operation of the refinery, plus the money it will get from the capital gains taxes that Shell must pay on the US$110 million. Bengoa said that if any more money were needed, the government would look to a bank loan. The Shell Company will also sell its chain of service stations and other businesses in the Dominican Republic, and the state will also collect capital gains taxes on these sales. According to Diario Libre, Bengoa said that the refinery would continue to operate according to international standards. Since the government now owns the entire facility, he said, it would have greater access to the facilities offered by the PetroCaribe financing agreement, which provides long term financing for up to 60% of oil purchases.

Ministry threatens gas stations
The Minister of Industry and Commerce has issued a warning to the nation's gasoline station owners: anyone who suspends fuel sales can have their license revoked. This was the message that Melanio Paredes sent to the National Association of Gasoline Retailers (Anadegas) yesterday, according to El Nuevo Diario. Paredes made the point after receiving the news that said that the gasoline stations would not purchase any more fuel beginning on Wednesday. The official reminded Anadegas that it should remember that the state gives and the state can take away. Paredes made these statements in an interview with journalists Nuria Piera and Huchi Lora on CDN Radio yesterday. He said that the government would guarantee fuel supplies despite the Anadegas threat. The Anadegas position is that its stations are on the brink of disaster since hundreds of thousands of vehicles have switched to the cheaper LPG fuel rather than gasoline. Anadegas leader Juan Ignacio Espaillat told the media that his stations would halt fuel purchases beginning today.
He discarded that the Anadegas blockade could paralyze gasoline sales, explaining an estimated 100 petrol stations are not part of the organization.

2000 take Dominican citizenship
The Ministry of the Interior and Police has reported that over 2,000 people have adopted Dominican citizenship over the last four years. Of this total, the largest group is from Cuba, 580, followed by China with 481 and the US with 348. There were 147 Venezuelans on the list and, curiously, only 18 Haitians. Puerto Ricans, classified separately from other US citizens, totaled 62, including the famous singer Danny Rivera. 2007 was the busiest year with 683 people acquiring DR nationality, and again Cubans and Americans topped the list. Others included people from Palestine, Algeria, Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, United Arab Emirates, Finland and Greece. A source at the ministry said that the list could have been longer, but many people were turned down when the Interpol report required for citizenship revealed that the applicant had pending issues in other places.

Cost of power is best-kept secret
How much does it cost to produce a kilowatt-hour (kw/h) of electricity? This is a question that nobody seems to have an answer to, at least not in the public realm, reports the Listin Diario. It appears that production costs for the three major fuels currently in use in the Dominican Republic, Fuel Oil #6 (the most expensive), natural gas and coal, are the best-kept secrets in the country, because the real costs have never appeared in the media. The local electricity authorities have also avoided mentioning these costs in their public appearances. Not one little detail, according to Listin Diario, has ever managed to make it into the public sphere. According to Jairon Severino, data from the industry shows that it costs US$0.13 to generate a kilowatt with Fuel Oil #6, but to that cost there are financial, payroll, depreciation and other costs that need to be added, and these bring the final cost to distributors to around US$0.20 or even US$0.25 a kilowatt. The reporter says a kWh generated with coal costs US$0.06 and if it is produced with natural gas, the cost is just US$0.015. Fuel costs have risen lately, with Fuel Oil #6 increasing in price from US$84.27 a barrel to US$93.27 a barrel; natural gas rose from US$10.20 to US$11.31 and coal rose from US$117.43 a ton to US$127.23 per ton. Among the reporter's other complaints is the fact that the electricity distributors (EDEs) have contracts for 92% of their demand and purchase only 8% of the energy from the spot market. The Electricity Law says that the EDEs should have 80% under contract and 20% should be purchased on the spot market.

Segura looks at generators
The vice-president of the Dominican Corporation of State-run Electricity Enterprises (CDEEE), Radhames Segura addressed an audience of manufacturers, bankers and religious leaders at the Gran Teatro del Cibao yesterday and asked for their support in his efforts to renegotiate the contracts with the electricity generators. He said that The National Business Council (Conep) efforts to protect five generating companies worked against the interests of thousands of users. He said that there has been talk for quite some time about the need for the contracts with the generators to be revised and in some cases even changed, especially in view of the distortions that are caused by the difference in cost, a result of the original contract negotiations.
This address to such a varied audience came about because there is talk that the electricity sector is being affected "by subjective negatives, such as blackouts, financial deficits, abuses by the distributors, the elimination of the subsidy and the cost of the service", according to Segura. He complained that some of the media make a point of emphasizing the blackouts instead of encouraging people to pay their electricity bills. He added that the current spate of electricity problems are the result of technical issues such as maintenance, rather than financial issues. The CDEEE executive exchanged comments with leaders of the Santiago Chamber of Commerce and Production, the Industrial Association of the North, traders and industrialists from Santiago and the region, the Development Association and municipal authorities.

Setting new credit card standards?
Banco Leon has united with Tarjeta Naranja S.A., an Argentine company and launched the Naranja (orange) credit card. The company will issue the card to anyone who can prove having income and a verifiable home address. The company does not limit the card to those with good credit standing, as do other traditional cards. Gabriel Rouadi, general manager of the company, said the credit card seeks to reach out to the 70% of the local population that does not have a credit card. The company will only charge interest on outstanding balance. In the DR, other credit cards charge interest on the total monthly total, regardless whether part of the total was paid during the period.

Andeclip threatens to halt service
The National Association of Private Clinics has announced that it will inform the Health Insurance Providers (ARS) that the private clinics will suspend service to their insured members beginning next week. This decision comes as a result of the Superintendent of Health and Work Risks (Sisalril) decision not to allow increased insurance coverage for catastrophic illnesses, premature births and intensive care patients. Andeclip was requesting an increase from RD$500,000 to RD$700,000 per case. The clinic owners say that the current coverage is not sufficient and that is why they ask patients to make a pre-payment for services in these three cases. According to Andeclip spokesperson Rafael Mena, the association will make the notification next week with the idea of entering into negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the issues. Otherwise, the 137 clinics affiliated with Andeclip will stop accepting payments from the ARS and will stop all treatments for patients covered by the ARS. Sisalril superintendent Fernando Caamano told reporters that he was looking for ways to incorporate the public hospitals into the ARS network of health care providers.

Massacre in Bani
One survivor and seven dead was the toll of what is being described as an "international drug contract killing". Listin Diario says that the seven, six foreigners and one Dominican, were found with their hands tied and multiple bullet wounds in bushes near Ojo de Agua, a section of Paya, Bani, in Peravia province, 65 kilometers from Santo Domingo. The director of the National Investigation Department (DNI), Sigfrido Pared Perez, said that what took place in Catalina, Bani at 1:30 yesterday morning was a "typical result of drug theft among drug traffickers." The victims were Colombian, Venezuelan, Spanish, Nicaraguan and Dominican, according to Listin Diario, and El Nuevo Diario says that one was a citizen of the Philippines. The wounded man is a Nicaraguan, Holy Gomez, who saved his own life by playing dead. He is currently hospitalizeds under police protection. The victims lived in a house rented by Colombian Jesus David del Rio Hans in the Paya section of Bani. When police searched the property they found weapons, cell phones and other communications equipment, as well as several luxury vehicles.

Customs gives DNCD four planes
The Director General of Customs, Miguel Cocco, handed over four small planes that had been seized in various drug operations to the Dominican Air Force (FAD) to the National Drug Control Department (DNCD), as well as a check for RD$2 million. While the report in El Nuevo Diario is not clear about the origin of the money, it does say that the planes were seized because of their ties to drug smuggling, illegal immigration or contraband currency operations. The planes are for use in fighting these same crimes.
Cocco said that this was a donation from President Fernandez and that it falls within the framework of the fight against drugs. The Customs chief explained that instead of auctioning off the aircraft, the President decided to donate them to the Air Force so they could be used to fight money laundering and drug trafficking. He said that "when we seize something, we are not going to have mercy, and the state will have no mercy with anybody." Miguel Cocco also handed over a check for RD$2 million to Major General Pedro Rafael Pena Antonio, to be used to fight drugs and other crimes.
The Senate is studying a government request for approval of a US$93.7 million loan for the purchase of eight EMB-314 Super Tucano jets to pursue drug traffickers in Dominican air space.

Lynchings continue
Three suspected criminals were lynched by mobs in Santiago during the last 48 hours, according to the police. The three men were identified as Junior Rafael Fernandez, Edwin Vasquez and Henry Rafael Lopez Garcia, who died in separate incidents as a result of the wounds they received.
As reported in Hoy newspaper, the three were shot, stabbed and beaten after being caught allegedly committing crimes in different parts of Santiago. The police also reported that two men in Villa Gonzalez barely escaped with their lives after being chased by neighbors. Both men, who have not been identified by police, are now in the Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Hospital in Santiago. Santiago prosecutor Raul Martinez deplored the situation and said that the police and the judicial authorities should get together to create a more efficient justice system that keeps criminals off the streets. The chief of police, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin recently attributed the recent spate of lynchings to the impunity with which criminals are treated by the justice system, and not because of a supposed negligence on the part of the police department.
Listin Diario says that the two men in Villa Gonzalez robbed a man of his gold chain and were chased down the highway to Ingenio Abajo where they were surrounded and beaten. They were saved due to the intervention of the police.

Stiletto has 20-75% off Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, D&G merchandise at their Acropolis and Santiago locations.
Super Pola is advertising 35% off fruits and vegetables.
Nacional supermarkets have 40% off avocados today.
La Sirena has reinstated its El Lapiz for those buying school books and supplies
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