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Daily News - Monday, 17 November 2008

Leonel trusts G-20 plan
President Leonel Fernandez has told El Caribe reporters that he is confident about the financial market reforms agreed by the Group of 20 nations (G-20) and aimed at benefiting emerging economies and keeping the global economic crisis from getting worse. Fernandez said he believed that the financial crisis is the product of "a tired neo-liberal financial model". Among the decisions adopted by the G-20 is a plan to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in order to assist emerging nations, fiscal and monetary policies to reactivate the United States, European and Asian economies and enhanced supervision of financial markets.
The President explained that the problem with the policy in place is that it has not understood the relationship between state, market and society, which is linked to these three factors and when it only takes two of the factors into consideration there is a problem.
Fernandez said that when the relationship is state-market, society becomes individualistic and generates a crisis like the one we have now. He believes that world leaders ought to meet with United Nations member countries as a way of following up on the decisions that they adopt.
President Fernendez was speaking at a graduation ceremony for a Masters in Public Policy and Regulation of the Electricity Industry that was sponsored by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development. He revealed that the coordinator of the Ibero-American Summit meetings had invited Funglode to take part in the Ibero-American School of Government.

DR works on easing business
The Dominican Republic has been named this year's top small-island reformer in the "Doing Business in Small Island Developing States 2009" report published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank. The Dominican Republic is, nevertheless, ranked 97th worldwide in the ease of doing business, meaning there is still lots of work to be done.
The Doing Business project ranks economies based on 10 indicators of business regulation that record the time and cost of meeting government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading across borders, paying taxes and closing a business. The rankings do not reflect areas such as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions or crime rates.
The report on small island states, in its second edition, focuses on some of the world's small island states that are creating more opportunity for local business through regulatory reforms that help boost competitiveness and set standards worldwide for good practice.
The report finds that Singapore is the easiest place in the world to do business, while Mauritius, St. Lucia and Fiji are leading the way in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, respectively. The DR was voted the year's top small-island reformer as well as a top-10 reformer globally.
The author of the report, Svetlana Bagaudinova, said, "Better business regulations give firms more opportunities to grow and create jobs, which is critical for small island states that have to overcome challenges posed by size and distance. Being small can even be an advantage because reform can happen faster and deliver results sooner."
Mauritius, a small state, which ranks 24th on the ease of doing business globally, is an example of how a sustained, high-level commitment to reform can transform the business environment and deliver results. Over the past two years, Mauritius has enjoyed a steady increase in the annual growth rate, from 2.2 percent in 2005 to 5.4 percent in 2007. Also, unemployment has dropped from 9.6 percent in 2005 to 8.5 percent in 2007.
For more about the report, visit www.doingbusiness.org/features/smallislands2009.aspx

Los Haitises to be model project
The Los Haitises National Park will become the first reserve area that the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarena) will monitor with the full weight of the law so it becomes a model for others to follow. According to Eleuterio Martinez, the deputy minister for Protected Areas and Biodiversity, "from this moment onward, everyone that enters the park will notice that they are arriving at a sacred place."
The problem of dealing with this park is that nobody controls how many people live there and how many try to enter Los Haitises from all around the perimeter every day. The most recent official figure provided by Martinez is that approximately 300 families try to farm inside the park. These people are calling on the government to pay them hundreds of thousands of pesos, part of which has been paid. They are asking the state to pay between 85 and 75 million pesos in compensation to the people who were evicted from the park in 1992 under President Balaguer.
The threats of further occupation still exist even when the Ministry of Environment posted wardens in the area. Martinez also told Hoy newspaper that boundary markers would be placed every 300 meters around the entire park, and each marker would carry the geographical reference of its position. If one is moved, it can be replaced exactly. Military posts that belong to the Environmental Protection Service are also in place. One such post is located at Pilancon at the entrance to Bayaguana, where 18 troops are stationed. There is an outpost at Majagual on the road to Samana, and one other in the area of Gonzalo and Los Limones. There is a small detachment in Sabana Grande de Boya, on the road to Rincon de Payabo. A military supervisor will be stationed in Cevicos and Trepada Alta, the area most under attack in Los Haitises, and from where most people try to enter the park area.

Santiago's hospital special office
The Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Regional University Hospital has decided to open a special unit to treat the increasing number of patients who are sent to Santiago for treatment from medical centers in Haiti. The office will operate under the direction of Dr. Jean Wisly Saint Hilaire. Many of the Haitians treated at "Cabral y Baez" live in Santiago, but many others are sent from medical facilities in Haiti for specialized care. According to Dr. Saint Hilaire, a graduate of the PUCMM Medical School, "The project has provided foreign patients, especially Haitians, with better access to medical services, because previously they did not know where to go for health problems, and besides that they had difficulty interacting with doctors and paramedical staff who did not speak Creole."
Saint Hilaire explained that he was hired by the hospital because of the large numbers of Haitians who arrive seeking medical care. As the doctor explained to reporters from Listin Diario, his job is to ensure that the doctors understand their patients, since many either only speak Creole, or come with references from Haitian medical facilities written in French.

Country feels easing of blackouts
The electricity crisis began to ebb a little last Friday after a meeting between the CDEEE authorities, the Ministry of Hacienda and President Leonel Fernandez that led to an announcement of partial payments of the debt through the use of fuel and loans. At noon yesterday, the generation available to the National Interconnected Electric System (SENI) was 1,310 megawatts, with a deficit of 369 megawatts in the face of a 1,679-megawatt demand. This is a slight improvement in the system, even though the weekend is a time of lower demand. According to Diario Libre, the government is going to try and pay in kind and with money the US$300 million that the electricity generators are demanding in order to reduce the blackouts. CDEEE vice president Radhames Segura announced that a payment of US$130 million will be made this year, US$30 million which will be in fuel, and the rest of the US$300 million will be paid in 2009 using special budget allocations or lines of credit. Yesterday, the generators at Los Mina V and VI, Haina I and IV, Falcondo 1 and 2, CEPP 1 and 2 and CESPM (Cogentrix) 1 were not on line. According to a report, electricity distributor Ede-Este's area suffered the most blackouts, serving just 67.3% of its clients' demand for electricity. The deficits yesterday totaled 158 megawatts for Ede-Este, 134 megawatts for Ede-Sur and 77 megawatts for Ede-Norte.
The north had the smallest deficit due to the entry of the San Felipe generator (formerly Smith-Enron), into the system. Most of the generators are operating, although Haina I had to go off line due to a water leak in the condenser. At 9am yesterday the system had 1,074 megawatts and a demand for 1,432 megawatts, equivalent to a 25% deficit, according to the Superintendence of Electricity webpage. The superintendence projected a peak demand for 1,668 megawatts and a generation of 1,511, equal to a 10% deficit. It was reported that of a total of 225 69Kilovolt lines, four were out of service during the day due to scheduled maintenance and to facilitate the connection between Pinalito and two 69KV lines from Bonao II.

A call for change in electricity team
The chairman of the Herrera Industrial Association (AEIH) Energy Commission, Ernesto Vilalta presented the need to de-politicize the energy problem in order to restore confidence in an industry that requires large investments. He said that, "in the first place the team that regulated the industry has to be changed in order for, at least, an increase in the hope that there will be better service and better credibility of the regulators." The AEIH criticized the attitude of officials who reportedly joked about or dismissed the National Business Council (CONEP) proposal for tackling the electrical crisis and warned that the last thing that this problem needs is politicking and arrogance.
The organization, which is headed by Manuel Cabrera defined CONEP's suggestions as serious and deserving of attention at a time when the electricity sector is touching bottom and is plagued by a lack of confidence that was caused by the bureaucrats themselves, the same ones who attacked the Conep proposals.
According to El Nuevo Diario, the AEIH decried the fact that while the President showed interest - according to information from Conep - in launching a debate on the document "Possible Proposal from the Private Sector for an Integrated Plan for Solutions for the Electric Sector", members of his government tried to discredit it. According to Manuel Cabrera, "If someone wants to know why the electricity crisis has not been solved in this country, all they have to do is look at the reactions to Conep's serious proposal from the bureaucrats who manage the sector."
The president of the Commission for Energy Issues of the Association of Herrera Industries (AEIH), Ernesto Vilalta called for the resignation of the government's electricity team, as reported in Hoy. Vilalta pointed out that after more than four years in government with this team, the power problems remain the same. He stressed there have been no advances in the electricity system and not a single kilowatt extra for generation has been installed, while the present generating plants are aging. He alerted that supply almost equals demand, which means that if any plant goes offline, the deficit is felt. He called for ridding the system of politics. As reported in Hoy, he said that government departments have become a political booty, and the electricity sector is a good example of this. He called for ridding the system of politics.

Exports need to be national priority
Fernando Capellan, president of the Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona), is calling bills to be passed that would declare exporting a national priority, reform the labor laws and stipulations that would enable the peso to float. Capellan said that the DR would then be able to make the most of new rules of origin with the US, Central America and Europe, the country's privileged geographic position, and the experience and technical skills acquired over the years, along with the natural talent of Dominican workers. "The country needs new legislation to protect free zones that is sufficiently innovative to guarantee its stability and spur its development as an important source of jobs and generation of foreign exchange and the most important contributor to the social security system," he said. He said that in 2007, the free zones exported US$4.5 of the total US$6.8 billion. Capellan was speaking during Adozona's 20th anniversary celebrations.

Traffic lights in capital don't work
Dozens of traffic lights out of service and the lack of electricity have made it very difficult to get round Santo Domingo, risking life and limb for drivers and pedestrians alike. Major intersections lack this form of automatic traffic control because the lights are damaged, and to this one must add the lack of electricity that, according to the report in El Caribe, is a constant in daily life. Among the places in Santo Domingo where the lights are damaged are 30 de Marzo and 27 de Febrero, 27 de Febrero and Barahona, Mella and Jose Reyes, Mella and 19 de Marzo, Benito Gonzalez and Jose Marti, Mexico and Jose Marti, and Jacinto de la Concha and Mexico, among others. In Santo Domingo East, the intersections of Jose Cabrera and Venezuela, Presidente Vasquez and Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Sabana Larga, among the busiest in that part of the city, are without service. During a trip around Santo Domingo by El Caribe reporters, most of the traffic lights were not working. The traffic light at the corner of Josefa Brea and 27 de Febrero has not been in service for more than five years, and no one has ever done anything about it. According to residents, people have been injured when trying to cross the street. According to one "motoconcho" driver, "that light has not worked for six years, and every day there is an accident, and the light pole that holds the light up is hit by vehicles quite often. The other day a man trying to cross the street was struck and killed." Driver Eliseo de la Rosa said "no AMET agents are ever seen at the intersection when children come out of school, and they should be here."

Authorities find new kind of shampoo
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has confirmed that the content within 108 boxes labeled "shampoo" was nothing more than liquid cocaine. The shipment was seized on the docks at Haina Oriental, before it could be shipped to the United States. The seizure was also assisted by the Dominican Customs Department. DNCD chief Major General Gilberto Delgado Valdez told Hoy reporters that the first tests that came back from the Criminal Forensics lab were positive for "cocaine in liquid form, and therefore we decided to examine all the merchandise at the laboratory." Nonetheless, the official refused to reveal whether there had been any arrests in the case, and did not reveal the name of the company that made the shipment or its intended destination. A "drug dog" first discovered the narcotics, leading to the shipment being inspected.

Vincho: drug planes are incessant
Lawyer Marino Vinicio Castillo (Vincho), the President's chief advisor on drug issues, says that more than 700 drug flights penetrated Dominican airspace between 2007 and 2008, each carrying at least 300 kilograms of drugs. He said these flights are continuing. Castillo told Listin Diario reporters that the planes are using a method called "streaks" which involves dropping a string of drugs in smaller quantities to make ground persecution more difficult. Castillo also said that the state has to review military and police officers' pay because "sanctity" is not possible for these thousands of men who receive a salary of RD$5,000 pesos per month.
During his comments at a Listin Diario breakfast meeting, the lawyer said that the country could not make any real inroads against drug trafficking if it does not begin with a deep sifting of military and police personnel. According to Castillo, one or two flights per day drop drugs for pick up by locals. The lawyer said that only the legislative approval of the Law on Air and Sea Interception that contemplates the seven-step protocol would control procedures before shooting down the planes that do not obey instructions.
The Airspace Defense Bill proposes to legalize a seven-step protocol that would enable the authorities to gun down any plane entering Dominican airspace without an authorized flight plan. Castillo disputed those that are concerned the wrong plane could be shut down. Castillo said that on the contrary, it is these unauthorized planes that present real danger to passengers on regular flights that might cross paths with the drug runners' clandestine flights. He said that the system to be used in shooting down illegal flights would be controlled from the airbase, and was not something done out of hand. The final order must come from the President or the person he delegates for the job, most probably the Minister of the Armed Forces.

Six weeks in a row!
The price of fuel has dropped for the sixth consecutive week. Prices fell from between RD$1.40 and RD$6 per gallon. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce reported that during the week of 15-21 November the price of a gallon of premium gasoline would be RD$137.80, a RD$6 peso reduction. Regular gasoline would be RD$124.40, also RD$6 less. Regular diesel prices fell to RD$118.70, RD$2.50 less than last week. LPG prices also fell to new lows, at just RD$56.62 per gallon for domestic consumption.

Police on who killed the major
The National Police has formally accused five young men of the murder of AMET Internal Affairs assistant Major Paula Mercedes, 38, in a shooting last Tuesday in the Claret sector of the National District. The police said that the motive was robbery and that she resisted. Most of the young men, who average just 20 years old, are members of a gang that has committed other crimes, including a raid on a propane gas station where a retired lieutenant was murdered. According to Diario Libre, for this crime, a judge at the bail hearing only imposed bail and regular visits to the Prosecutor's Office on the five men, and that is why they were on the streets. The group used the same weapon in both crimes. The police accused Junior D'Oleo (Junito), Danny Turbi Garcia (Sanguilin) and Juan Carlos Espino Tavarez (Papito), all 21, and Jose Luis Vicente Santos (El pintor), 20, who are under arrest, of the crime, and requested that they be remanded in prison. Meanwhile, the fifth person implicated in the crime, known only by his nickname, "Riminin", is said to be the person who actually shot the Major at point-blank range. This person is currently being sought by the police. At the press conference, police spokesman Colonel Nelson Rosario, accompanied by District Attorney Alejandro Moscoso Segarra and the officers who investigated the case, explained how D'Oleo Vicente drove the RD115 motorcycle used to flee the scene. Likewise, they pointed to Turbi Garcia as the owner of the Bersa pistol that was allegedly used by Riminin. Rosario indicated that Vicente Santos and Espino Tavare were responsible for hiding the weapon allegedly used to kill the retired police Second Lieutenant Juan Cabrera on 5 October in the Cafe de Herrera. In this case, Jose Luis Rosario Taveras (Billini), Jose Alberto Florentino (Papito), Leandris Alberto Ramirez Casado (Leo) and Fernando Cruz Villa were accused of the crime and sent before the courts. Joan Manuel Alcantara de Jesus was also arrested. Danny Turbi Garcia was also implicated in the death of Geraldy Jose Ramirez de Leon on 6 October in the Jardines del Norte section of Santo Domingo, using the same weapon as was used to kill Major Mercedes. According to the Police forensics report, the shell casings found at both crime scenes were from the same weapon, now in Police possession. Jose Alberto Florentino, Leandri Ramirez Casado, Ivan Batista Valdez, Fernando Cruz and Jose Luis Rosario Tavarez are all accused of roles in the murder of retired lieutenant Juan Cabrera who was the watchman at the propane gas station in Herrera.

Rains will slow down
The rainstorms that affected a large part of the country over the weekend will diminish slightly beginning today, according to the National Meteorological Office (Onamet). Nevertheless, the Emergency Operations Center (COE) is keeping the Green Alert it issued on Saturday in place for Santo Domingo province, San Cristobal, Bani, Azua and San Jose de Ocoa. This lowest of the three alert levels implies that the population should watch for possible landslides and flooding. Last night the COE had not reported any incidents. The rains and thunderstorms extended well into the night and upset recreational and entertainment activities such as the baseball game at the Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo. Onamet informs that the low-pressure system that caused the rains and the instability will begin to leave the area today. But the respite will be brief since a frontal system is expected to arrive on Wednesday and should stay over the north of the country for a few days.

After a rainy weekend, last night the Tigres del Licey beat the Aguilas Cibaenas 6-2 with homeruns by D'Angelo Jimenez and Emilio Bonifacio. Japanese import Shimizu Akinobi pitched well enough to earn the win over Jose Lima who went six innings but suffered the loss. The Quisqueya Ball Park was nearly full of fans who wanted to see the game despite two long rain delays. The 4 o'clock game ended after 10pm.
In San Francisco de Macoris, the Toros from La Romana defeated the Gigantes del Cibao by a score of 9-4. Ramon Troncoso pitched five shutout innings for the victory. The Toros already had nine runs on the scoreboard before a Gigante rally in the seventh inning gave the home town fans some hope. However, effective pitching by Toros Morillo and Manon kept the game out of reach.
At the Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris, home team Estrellas Orientales were finally able to defeat the Leones de Escogido 7-6 in a game lasting nearly six hours. Pablo Ozuna got a single in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Estrellas something to cheer about. This was just the sixth victory in 24 games for the Estrellas.
As a result of yesterday's games three teams are now tied in first place, the Gigantes, the Toros and the Aguilas. Licey is in second place.
Team W-L Avg. Games Behind
GIGANTES 16 - 10 .583 --
TOROS 15 - 11 .576 --
AGUILAS 15 - 11 .576 --
LICEY 13 - 11 .542 1.0
ESCOGIDO 11 - 12 .458 3.0
ESTRELLAS 6 - 18 .250 8.0

Tonight's games
Santo Domingo, Quisqueya Stadium 7:30pm: Gigantes vs Escogido
San Pedro de Macoris, Tetelo Vargas Stadium 7:30pm: Licey vs Estrellas
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