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Daily News - Friday, 17 October 2008

High Tech exhibition
The Santo Domingo Port of Sans Souci will be hosting Tecdo 2008, which is being touted as the most important regional technology exhibition ever. The exhibition will showcase communications, software development, electronic consumer and audio visual products, renewable energy sources, and biotechnology.
The event is organized by the Santo Domingo CyberPark (PCSD). The event opens 22 October and will continue through Sunday, 26 October. Over 150 local and guest exhibitors and speakers from abroad are on schedule to present technical innovations from around the world in the sciences and technology. President Leonel Fernandez and Eddy Martinez, of the Center for Export and Investment and president of PCSD will open the event on Wednesday at 6pm at Sans Souci. Over 150 local and guest exhibitors and speakers from abroad are scheduled to present technical innovations from around the world in the areas of science and technology. President Leonel Fernandez and Eddy Martinez, of the Center for Export and Investment and president of PCSD will open the event in Sans Souci on Wednesday, 22 October at 6pm.
See: www.tecdo.com/app/en/frontpage.aspx

Taiwanese solar business
Representatives from the Taiwanese company Motech Industries will be in the DR between the 22 and 24 of October to discuss potential investment opportunities in the area of alternative energy, especially solar power. Motech was ranked sixth in the world in solar cell production in 2007. Chu-liang Chang and Ken-ti Hu will work with the Taiwanese Embassy in the DR to study potential investment opportunities. The Motech reps will also be taking part in next week's TECDO'08 advanced technology fair.

EPA brings hope
Dominican Exporters' Association (ADOPEX) president Ricardo Koenig says that products like rum, tobacco and bananas will enter the European markets with ease following the signing of the European Partnership Agreement between the DR, Caricom and the European Union in Barbados this week. The agreement still needs to be ratified by Congress.
Koenig explained the rules of origins clause is more flexible than in the DR-CAFTA agreement and this would make it easier for Dominicans to export local produce to Europe. According to Koenig, exports to the EU total 29.3% of the DR's total exports for a total of US$661.9 million. In comparison the DR exports 26.4% to the US for a total value of US$597.3 million. Koenig also said that the Netherlands is the second largest recipient of Dominican goods, receiving more than 50% of all goods exported to Europe. Products exported to the Netherlands include nickel, cacao, tobacco, mangos, cigars, bananas, coconuts, avocados and scrap metals.

Demolishing hotels in Saona
The Ministry of Environment has ordered all block or concrete constructions recently built on Saona Island in the National Park of the East to be demolished, as reported in Clave newspaper this week. Saona, a 112km2 island, receives 400,000 visitors a year and has a population of just 180 inhabitants. Only wooden structures are permitted. All concrete constructions on the island are banned by Environment Law 64-00. Residents of the island told Clave they knew the constructions were in violation of the law.
Deputy Minister for Protected Areas Eleuterio Martinez says that Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez has sufficient political will to apply the Environment Law. He stressed that national park management in the DR is subject to internationally agreed standards. "We have to comply with these whether we like it or not. It is the same for the DR, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba or the US and Europe," he said. He expressed disappointment at the situation where Navy and Ministry of Environment employees appeared to be "little more than ornamental figures" on the island, failing to enforce the law. These have now been dismissed.
Clave also reports that the administrator of the National Park of the East, Israel Cruz Martinez was fired when he protested against the demolition of the concrete structures on the island. Army Lt Andy Ubiera was appointed as his replacement.
Upon being notified of the construction projects, the Ministry of Environment ordered their demolition. One 600m2 construction prepared for 16 hotel rooms was demolished by a team sent from Santo Domingo. The Ministry of Environment told Clave that while the hotel was going up on land owned by Major de la Cruz, the latter did not have the money to build the hotel. "We were told that Franklin Martinez, who owns hotels in Bayahibe, and the Italian ambassador are the investors in the construction site," reports Clave.
The Commune of Savona in Italy and the Ministry of Tourism recently announced advances in the construction of facilities donated to the community. As reported in Clave, the two 16-room hotels that were under construction on the island had Ministry of Tourism approval. The relationship between Savona and Saona dates back to Christopher Columbus's second voyage to Hispaniola in 1494. Michele da Cuneo of Savona, who was on that trip with Columbus, named the island in honor of his hometown. Cuneo became the first governor of the island, which was an important cassava production point. Cassava was the indigenous bread that the Spaniards valued because it did not spoil easily.
See www.clavedigital.com/

Jimenez justifies Bancredito opinion
General Prosecutor Ramon Jimenez Pena chose to avoid speaking to the press and instead issued a press release explaining why he authorized an assistant prosecutor to issue a no-objection statement in response to a petition from former Bancredito bankers Arturo Pellerano and Felipe Mendoza's defense lawyers for dropping a General Prosecutor's Office case against them. The statement justifies the position on the grounds that the compensation claims that sparked off the case have since been paid. Francisco Checo of Participacion Ciudadana, speaking on the Huchi Lora afternoon CDN talk show, argued that this had already happened when the same General Prosecutor's Office pursued the case and obtained an increase in the sentence from three to eight years in court. The state spent millions on pursuing the case, and now having won it seeks reversal.

Just cut back
Former Central Bank director Gullermo Caram says the government could counteract reduced revenue levels by revising subsidies and renegotiating the foreign debt. Caram is also calling for a rigorous austerity plan. Caram said that a drop in revenue could have been predicted. Hacienda Minster Vicente Bengoa made the announcement about reduced revenue levels yesterday. Caram was critical of what he classed as the government's continuous spending on non-essential projects, saying that this needs to stop. Caram continued by saying that the PetroCaribe agreement needs to be renegotiated because it doesn't reflect the reality of current market prices.

Espaillat wants answers
Former president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery Leopoldo Espaillat Nanita is asking the government to disclose the real purchase price of Venezuelan-sourced fuel. Espaillat says it is ridiculous that while the DR buys its fuel from Venezuela it uses prices of the West Texas Intermediate as a reference point for setting prices here. Espaillat said that in June the cost of a barrel of Venezuelan fuel was US$20 below the West Texas fuel, yet the government was setting prices based on the more expensive US market price. He added the government knew what they were doing - collecting higher taxes based on a higher fuel price.

Crisis being felt in DR
Cemex Dominicana, a subsidiary of Cementos Mexicanos, says it is restructuring in response to the international financial crisis. The company will have to reduce international operating costs by US$500 million this year, because international sales have dropped 5%. Cemex Dominicana spokesperson Julissa Baez says the company is seeking more flexibility. She says that the global crisis is affecting all businesses and markets are downsizing. Baez added that all of Cemex Mexicanos' subsidiaries, located in over 50 countries, are equally affected.

Industrial activity falls
Industrialists say that activity in the DR has decreased by 40% due to three factors: the excessive spending on the recent presidential elections, the lack of money in circulation and the financial crisis in the US. Ignacio Mendez, president of the Federation of Industrial Associations says that overall revenue is down. He says that associates are having a tough time meeting their responsibilities due to this decrease in business and revenue. Mendez is calling on the government to adhere to policies that will benefit the nation, adding that the government can't continue spending money frivolously.

Children a concern
According to a study by UNICEF and the National Statistics Office (ONE), 90 out of 100 children in the DR have experienced some type of violence and 13 out of every 100 children under the age of 14 was not registered at birth. The study of Dominican youth covers a twenty-year period between 1986 and 2006. According to the study, 6 out of every 100 children have sight problems while 4 out of every 1,000 have hearing problems. The study revealed that 1 out of every 4 children lives with only their mothers. The study found that 40 out every 100 children live in vulnerable conditions, a possible total of 1.2 million children. This figure rose from 42.1% in 2002 to 45% in 2006.

You can make a difference
Helados Bon, the ice cream, juice and marmelade company, makes it easy for all to contribute to the forests of the Dominican Republic. The ice cream company that produces delicious organic chocolate ice cream and an organic chocolate ice cream with macadamias, supports the preservation of the rain forests on the Quita Espuela mountain in San Francisco de Macoris. National Geographic recognized the importance of the effort and the mountain in a video earlier this year (see news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080319-cacao-video-wc.html).
Bon, in a corporate social responsibility campaign, is promoting the project, "Guardians of the Treasure of Quita Espuela: Organic Chocolate" to prevent an environmental and social disaster. The program has succeeded in encouraging cacao farmers to switch to the much-coveted Cacao Hispaniola variety. The planting and preservation of the cacao plantations is important because the cacao plants need shade, giving farmers an economic motivation not to deforest the area. The Guardian del Tesoro de Quita Espuela program has helped 80% of farmers in the area make the switch to the Cacao Hispaniola variety that has more market acceptance. To join this effort, call 809 530-7901 ext 228 or email Virginia Sosa at [email protected]

Boxers take ranking
Dominican boxers Elio Rojas and Francisco Lorenzo are continuing the DR's long tradition of boxing excellence after both reached the #1 world ranking in their weight classes. The World Boxing Council (WBC) ranked Rojas #1 in the 126lb weight class and Lorenzo #1 in the 130lb weight class. Lorenzo has a record of 33-4 with 14 KOs, while Rojas has a record of 20-1 with 13 KOs.

Papi being Papi
His bat finally livened up and David "Big Papi" Ortiz played a part in giving the Red Sox at least one more night to play ball. The Red Sox, once a powerhouse offensive club, had been dismal in their last three games against the Tampa Rays. The Sox were down 3-1, facing elimination, and started Game 5 in the dumps. The Rays mounted a 7-0 lead with many Boston fans leaving Fenway early in disappointment. Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI single, for Boston's first run. Then Papi stepped to the plate and hit a three-run bomb in the seventh, cutting the deficit to three. Then J.D. Drew hit a two-run blast that cut the deficit to 1. Coco Crisp batted in the tying run in the 8th and Drew hit a game winning single in the bottom of the 9th to give the Sox the win. The victory brings the series back to Tampa on Saturday.

Winter League updates
The Dominican Winter League is now in full swing and last night the teams took to the field for exciting play. In the evening's first game the Gigantes beat up on the Estrellas Orientales. The Gigantes were leading by a two-run homerun by Brad Nelson and a two scores from Ramon Santiago. In the night's second game the Azucareros beat up on the Tigres del Licey, 8-5, behind a string effort by Rafael Garcia, Napoleon Calzado, Ruddy Yan and Ricardo Nanita.

Trey McIntyre tonight
Santo Domingo's brand new Bellas Artes Palace auditorium is welcoming the Trey McIntyre Project this Friday, 17 October with a single evening show. Tickets are available at the theater. This is an event not to be missed. McIntyre is regarding as one of the leading contemporary choreographers in the United States. He has created more than 70 ballets for other companies. This year, McIntyre committed himself full time to his own troupe, the Trey McIntyre Project that has included Santo Domingo in its inaugural tour.
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