Christmas checks are coming|
The annual Christmas 'bonus' checks or the 13th salary check will be paid to government workers during this week and the beginning of next week, according to the director of the Treasury, Guaroa Guzman.
In a press release reported in Diario Libre, the official reported that public employees, including pensioners, civilians and the military, would be receiving these resources, which total RD$4.5 billion.
Last year, the payment of the 13th check represented an expenditure of RD$10 billion for the state, but this year the total will be higher due to the 15% pay increase ordered by the President in the middle of the year for employees earning less than RD$30,000 per month. A total of 450,000 people are on the public payrolls, according to recent statements to Diario Libre by Minister of Public AdministrationRamon Ventura Camejo.
Lately, the economy has begun to become more dynamic with the disbursal of the Christmas bonus money in the private sector.
Last 2 December, Presidential administrative assistant Luis Manuel Bonetti reported that the government would pay the Christmas bonus to public servants between the 10th and the 15th of this month, but the official did not reveal how much money was involved, because, he said, this information belonged to the Minister of the Hacienda, Vicente Bengoa.
Millions saved in breakfast program|
The Ministry of Education has saved more than RD$38 million in October and November this year in the school breakfast program by billing the food according to student attendance and the number of days that classes are held in public schools. Minister Melanio Paredes told El Nuevo Diario that savings were also made because when the products supplied did not meet Ministry standards, they were returned to the factory and would not be paid for.
He said that before, suppliers were invoiced according to the enrollment reported by the schools, and now it is being based on student attendance and the number of days when classes are actually taught."
Paredes refused to identify the businesses that have had products returned because they were not up to standards established in the contracts. He said suppliers were meeting the ministry's standards and contracts would be renewed for next year. The Minister added that regional and district representatives from the ministry had visited 17,180 schools, as well as 14 supervisory trips by teams from the Student Welfare Department and four lab tests in each of the supplier factories.
Pina Toribio on the metro buses|
The government said yesterday that anyone who uses intimidation tactic and causes chaos would not be included in the Santo Domingo Metro feeder bus routes. Fenatrano transport union bus owners are campaigning for the routes. This union has been pressuring through strikes, hunger strikes and work stoppages as well as radio spots.
Presidency Minister Cesar Pina Toribio warned yesterday that the "businesses" that are creating chaos, disorder and vandalism in the transport sector would be excluded from the new metro transportation system.
According to Hoy's Manuel Jimenez, Pina Toribio, speaking at the Presidential Palace, referred to Juan Hubieres's National New Option Transportation Federation (Fenatrano), which is organizing a campaign on the issue that includes violent actions.
Pension funds for housing?|
The Dominican Social Security System, created by Law 87-01, foresees government access to pension fund money for the construction of housing projects, but it does not specify a mechanism that would ensure that the workers' saving would be used for other areas of public investment.
Experiences in other Latin American countries with systems of individual capitalization have been that the governments use these funds to develop infrastructure.
The director of the Dominican Association of AFPs (Pensions Fund Providers), Kirsis Jaquez said that this entity supports any initiative with these funds that is sanctioned by the law.
Meanwhile the ministers of Labor, the Presidency and Hacienda all pledged that the government would use these fund sensibly in order to ensure their earnings.
Presidency Minister Cesar Pina Toribio said yesterday that anyone who criticizes the President's proposal to use pension fund money for housing projects and other infrastructure ideas is not acting with sensitivity or social responsibility.
Zero tolerance for fake meds|
The Director General of Customs Miguel Cocco warned on Wednesday that his agents would clamp down on anyone found responsible for selling counterfeit medicines and promoting the smuggling of these fake meds. He decreed zero tolerance for these people. Cocco said that selling these forged medicines causes permanent harm to the population and the consumption of the counterfeit medicine is tantamount to attempted homicide.
Cocco said the sale of counterfeit medicines in this country is common practice and that pharmacies or "pseudo-pharmacies" also sell out-of-date medicines and "sometimes alter the medicines with the aim of getting rich."
Marked drop in inflation|
The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November 2008 went down by 3.28% from October, an unprecedented development, since this is the largest single month reduction ever registered in the Dominican Republic. As a result, the January-November inflation rate was at 6.01%.
The document from the Central Bank says that the annual inflation rate, measured from November to November also fell significantly, settling at 7.21%, indicating that inflation at the end of 2008 will not go over 6%. This result is less that that registered in 2007 when it was at 8.88%, and which, in the face of what is happening in the world is a great achievement for the country.
In a note sent to the media, the Central Bank explains that in spite of the accumulated inflation up to September of this year that reached double digits (10.76%), the drastic reduction in international oil prices led to a reduction in the cost of fuels and transportation at the internal level, and this permitted internal prices to register negative figures of -1.05% and -3.28% in October and November respectively.
The release concludes: "this means that in just two months inflation has fallen by 4.33%, reflecting a significant deceleration of the overall inflation rate."
38,000 to curb accidents|
Some 38,000 emergency services personnel and volunteers will be working to prevent accidents across the country during this holiday season, especially traffic accidents and alcohol-related intoxications and deaths, according to a plan announced as "Christmas Awakening 2008-2009" to be carried out by the government agencies in charge of citizen protection.
The Armed Forces, the National Police, Fire Departments, Civil Defense Corps, AMET and volunteers from all the country's provinces will all join in the program, according to Juan Mendez, the head of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE).
Colonel Mendez, speaking during the announcement at the Presidential Palace, said that 125 ambulances, three helicopters and 1,620 aid stations would be available on highways and toll roads. Several mobile hospitals will also be installed and a new communications system will permit emergency personnel to maintain permanent contact in order to respond to any emergencies that might occur.
The operation is in three phases: One will begin on 23 December at noon and continue until midnight 25 December, the second will begin Tuesday 30 December at 12:30pm and end Thursday, 1 January 2009, and the third and final phase will begin on 5 January, the date set for Three Kings Day, and will include a major operation along the country's highways.
Higher Land Court cedes parklands|
The Higher Land Court in the Central Department has ordered the registration of property rights in favor of two people for a total of 3.4 million square meters of land in the parcel 6-004-10866 of the Cadastral District 10/1 of the city of Higuey that forms part of a portion of some 35 million square meters of land that the state claims as part of the National Park of the East.
According to Diario Libre, the lands are valued at US$19.9 million.
Judges Nector de Jesus Thomas Baez, Luz Berenice Ubillas Renvil de Barinas and Luis Marino Alvarez Alonzo gave instructions to register, with its improvements, which are coconut trees, 2,431,059 square meters of land in favor of Daniel Antonio Minaya Rodriguez, to the investment companies Trubua, S.A. and Tecnicas Electricas y Desarrollo Integral, in accordance with the bills of sale made by the grantee in their favor.
The court also awarded 1,041,822 square meters to Juan Antonio Hache Khoury. The court said that a bill of sale written on 2 November 2005 exists between Minaya Rodriguez and the commercial entity Inversiones Trubia, S.A. for three million square meters within the parcel of land in question. The court confirmed the sentence of 9 February 2006, issued by the Higher Land Court of Higuey relating to the original owners of Parcel 6.
On the other hand, the court rejected the bills of sale dated 24 March 2004 for 4,700 'tareas' (approximately 2,956,300 square meters) and 1 November, for 300 hectares written by Minaya Rodriguez in favor of the Tecnicas Electricas and Desarrollo Integral company and Inversiones Trubia, S.A.
The court also rejected the side issues by the government lawyers who requested an annulment of the process of freeing the land of encumbrances or debts. At the same time the court declined the ownership claims of three heirs who did not demonstrate possession for the required period in order to have title by acquisitive prescription of parcels number 004-26982 and 6-005-49 of the Cadastral District in question.
The court then ordered the secretary of the Higher Land Court of the Central Department, once the definitive plans approved by the Regional Department of Cadastral Measurements for parcel number 6-004-10866 of the Cadastral District referred to, to proceed to issue as soon as possible the decree of property registration.
Carlos Sanchez Hernandez, one of those implicated along with 60 other people of committing EUR4.8 million tax fraud against the Spanish authorities, known as the Marbella corruption case in Spain, is listed in the acquisition papers for three million square meters of land in the area.
The land acquisition by means of a sales contract and privilege of an unpaid seller was done by Ignacio Corona Ruiz in the name of Trubia.
The government lawyer before the Superior Land Tribunal, Fermin Castilla Minaya, said that the sentence was "a disgrace" and accused the court of becoming "a plunderer."
After classifying the decision as "a judicial mistake" Castilla Minaya said that he would appeal the case to the Supreme Court in order to have the lands returned to the state.
Bonao Hep-A cases|
The Ministry of Public Health says that polluted water was behind a recent Hepatitis A outbreak with 41 cases in the community of Jima, in Monsenor Nouel province. Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez told reporters from Listin Diario that studies had showed that fecal material in the community's drinking water was the source of the contamination. He said the authorities have taken all the measures required to prevent more people from becoming ill.
The minister reassured reporters that all who were affected are now recovering. The official stressed the importance of keeping a vigilant watch for epidemics, since this is what enabled the Public Health authorities to detect the outbreak in time to prevent even more serious consequences, and stop it cold.
The hepatitis outbreak was detected in the community of Jima, in Sabana del Puerto, near Bonao, and 12 of the 41 people affected had to be admitted to hospital.
Rojas Gomez said, "We detected the outbreak, we now know that the pollution came from the water supply, this is an illness that is only transmitted by water. There was a problem of contamination caused, apparently, by people living in the area, but this is under control."
The official said that he was coordinating efforts with the National Institute of Potable Water and Sewers (INAPA) in order to ensure safe water quality in the location.
Blockade on Higuey-Veron road|
An internal electoral conflict caused major inconveniences to commuters and tourists yesterday from Bavaro to Higuey route. Bus drivers from the Sichotrature and Sichotraopa unions parked their buses on the highway to impede the normal flow of traffic. They were demanding the release of Benjamin Avila, who was detained for three days in Veron police station after threatening another candidate in the union elections, Tomasito Reyes, at gunpoint. Avila was sent to jail for three months. The National Hotels & Restaurants Association (Asonahores) criticized the government for "lack of authority" in failing to prevent the chaos created by the transporters, as reported in El Dia.
Police nab German suspect|
Just hours after the German Consulate in Santo Domingo requested the assistance of the Dominican immigration authorities in apprehending and extraditing German citizens wanted by the international police, National District prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra announced the capture of Roland Friedrich Hams, wanted for the alleged theft of 4 million of euros.
German Consul Dirk Rahlenbech visited the Director of Migration, Jose Anibal Sanz Jiminian on Tuesday to ask him to help capture Hams and other fugitives from German justice. According to a report in Diario Libre, the Department of Migration has a list of German fugitives currently in the Dominican Republic, mainly in the tourist areas. Interpol, the General Prosecutor and the Police are working together on these cases.
According to El Nuevo Diario, Hams was living in Puerto Plata where he was picked up by Interpol agents and delivered to the Prosecutor's office in Santo Domingo.
Yaqui Nunez upgraded|
Television and media personality Yaqui Nunez del Risco was given a favorable prognosis by neurologist Eduardo Yermenos yesterday. Del Risco was hospitalized at Cedimat after suffering a stroke and is being treated in the intensive care unit. Yermenos said that the prognosis is now very favorable in light of the progress that Nunez has made over the past 24 hours. He said, "The case is still one of caution, but with better expectations."
He went on to add, "We are still in a post-operative process, barely 48 hours old, but the prognosis is turning favorable." Nunez was operated on to relieve pressure from a cerebral hematoma. Afterwards, Nunez regained consciousness, an important step towards recovery. Neurosurgeon Jose Joaquin Puello, who operated on Yaqui told reporters that if things continued to get better, Nunez could be taken out of Intensive Care in 10 days.
Yermenos spoke to television and press journalist Huchi Lora by phone yesterday.
Yaniqueques: food and security|
The sale of 'yaniqueques' has proved to be one of the most profitable informal businesses over the last few years, according to a report in El Caribe. The market generates earnings of between RD$1,000 and RD$2,000 per day, depending of the location of the sales point. Street corners near private schools, public schools, markets and businesses are locations that report earnings of between RD$20,000 and RD$35,000 per month, without working on holidays or weekends.
The prices of the popular food vary. They are sold for between RD$10 and RD$40 pesos, depending on the filling the client wants: eggs, vegetables, cheese, chicken with cheese or shrimps.
Jose Mercedes has been working for three years in this business which he started with just RD$5000. Hard work and the aim of providing a better life for his family of four have forced him to learn business management and open four 'yaniqueque' establishments which are administered by his eldest son, who studies accounting in his spare time. This chain of small businesses produces between RD$15,000 and RD$20,000 each.
Another small businessman is Junior Sosa, who earns between RD$1,000 to RD$1,700 per day. He started because he wanted to be his own boss. Since he has opened two more places and paid for his accountancy degree. Like him, many 'yaniqueque' salesmen are university students and most of them study for business-related degrees, while dreaming of becoming medium-sized businesses.
The tradition of making 'yaniqueques' began with the US invasion in 1916 and rationing of flour called "Plo Plo". It was then that someone took the initiative of frying the batter and the soldiers named the result "Johnny Cake" which, according to the story, is an allusion to the inventor, or perhaps it resembled another Dominican dish.
Kidnap victim released|
Leticia Lizardo Santos, kidnapped in San Jose de Ocoa on her way to school last Monday, was left by her captors in La Cadena Supermarket parking lot on Sarasota Avenue in Santo Domingo yesterday afternoon. The National Police revealed that because of an operation by their anti-kidnapping unit, the kidnappers were forced to give up their plans without receiving any ransom money from the victim's family. Two people are under arrest in connection with the case.
According to Diario Libre, the kidnappers originally demanded US$33,000 in ransom in return for freeing 13-year old Leticia Lizardo Santos. On Wednesday morning, the chief of police, Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin, said that a family debt was the reason behind the kidnapping. Other newspapers reported that the girl is the granddaughter of a trader who was kidnapped a few weeks ago in the same area of San Jose de Ocoa.
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