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Daily News - Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Fernandez asks for all the truth
President Leonel Fernandez said at the Latin American and Caribbean Conference for Integration and Development in Brazil that all those at the summit should demand that international finance organizations and the Federal Reserve of the United States say all the truth on the extent of the crisis so that small economies can adapt policies to mitigate the impact of the damage.
Fernandez now feels that all the truth on the mortgage and financial crisis in the US has not been told. He says there are now fears it could take the world 10 or 15 years to recover. He said that new financial instruments amounting to US$60 trillion dollars, have been affected by speculation. The innovations are said to be unlisted and unregulated derivatives.
Fernandez says all this is the result of a crisis of values in the system. He advocated that a new Latin American school of thought that would go beyond Liberalism and Keynesianism in order to overcome the challenges may emerge at the summit. He called for a unified position for Latin America.
Fernandez is attending the four-summit event organized by the government of Brazil, for Latin American and Caribbean heads of state and government.

Concession for Las Terrenas highway
Congress approved a bill for the private concession for the construction of the road linking the new Santo Domingo-Samana road with Las Terrenas, a beach enclave. This west-east road would be an alternate route to the present winding road that crosses the peninsula south to north. The concession would be for US$160 million. The company would charge tolls. The new road would run from Nagua to Rincon de Molinillos then to Sanchez, Santa Barbara de Samana, El Limon, Las Terrenas and the El Catey airport, a 124 km circuit.

Jaime David's four points
For former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez, now the current Minister of the Environment (SEMARENA), his obligation as minister is founded on four basic 'pillars': More forests; compliance with Law 64-00; simplify the bureaucratic and legal processes and bring the community into these processes.
During his comments at yesterday's weekly luncheon of Multimedios del Caribe, Fernandez Mirabal said that he is not thinking about the Presidency; he is just focusing on doing his job well and helping President Fernandez develop a good administration. Fernandez aspired to the PLD presidential candidacy in 2004, losing to Danilo Medina.
Fernandez Mirabal confirmed all squatters and farmers had to leave the Los Haitises National Park. He discussed his difficulties with farmers in the Los Haitises reserve, his point being that the damage that these had done to the area could take 200 years to repair. He said that in spite of the conflict with those that farm products for export in the area, these would have to understand that saving the water resources in the area was more important for the greater collective interest.
He was especially firm as he stated: "There will be no more farming inside the Los Haitises Reserve."
During his talk with Osvaldo Santana, the director of CDN Radio and Television, the minister also stressed the importance of the protected areas -- Jaragua Bioreserve, the Eagles Bay, the Cabral Lagoon and Lake Enriquillo in Pedernales and Barahona in the southwest.
He said that his department is working on a plan of how to best take advantage of these natural resources.
Fernandez Mirabal said that his forestation program will call for planting 30 million trees a year with "the idea that we can guarantee people making a few pesos." He recalled the successes of the Quisqueya Verde Plan, and said that he had requested an increase in the number of brigades working in the forests.

Subsidies gobble 27% of the budget
As of 5 December of this year, the government had transferred more than RD$80 billion to pay subsidies to the electricity sector, for the propane subsidy, for diesel fuel for truckers and bus drivers, and for the labor subsidy in the free zones at RD$2000 per worker per month.
According to a report from the Ministry of the Hacienda, the real amount of the transfers for subsidies increased by 38.2%, mainly due to the subsidies for electricity and LPG.
Subsidies were also given to basic foodstuffs such as rice, wheat flour, milk, eggs, poultry and beans. At the same time, RD$2,000 was allotted to free zone workers in order to keep those jobs. That chapter totaled more than RD$2.3 billion. Free zones also receive duty free fuel.
The government also subsidizes 800,000 families with the Solidarity Card which gives them RD$228 per month for LPG, and 15,000 drivers get RD$5700 a month under the Bonogas program.
With the increase from 400,000 to 800,000 families who benefit from the Solidarity Car program, the monthly average cost is RD$450 million for the government's focalized social program.
During 2009 it is expected that the government will spend more than RD$6 billion on the poorest families.
The unified payroll of the subsidies is around RD$150 million monthly just for the Solidarity Program and its three components: Eating is First, Incentive to Attend School and Assistance for the Aged. These components have monthly assignments of RD$550, RD$150 and RD$300 each for every family in the program.
According to the data from the Ministry of the Hacienda, the accumulated deficit of the central government is RD$15.99 billion as of 5 December.
Total expenses were RD$244.486 billion and income through taxes, reached RD$244.459 billion

More money for public servants
Congress passed a bill that authorizes the payment of the school bonus check. This would benefit municipal employees, those with government pensions. Workers would receive a bonus equal to the salary they receive. The bill is only pending the President's signature and publication.
The money from what is being called the 14th wage is to be used for the purchase of school supplies for the children of persons on the public payrolls. The bill was drafted by deputies Luis Jose Gonzalez Sanchez and Gladys Sofia Azcona.
The proposal will only benefit persons that receive up to 12 minimum salaries in the public sector. (Twelve minimum salaries is about RD$60,000 per month)
The bonus will be for 80% for those that receive up to two minimum salaries; 60% for those that earn between four and eight minimum salaries; 40% for the people that earn between eight and eleven salaries and 30% for those that earn up to 12 minimum salaries.
This money should be used to purchase school supplies for the children of government employees. The money is exempt from income taxes or any other taxes.

Universities will census Haitians in DR
The Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) and the State University of the Republic of Haiti (UH) agreed yesterday to carry out a census on Haitian immigration in the Dominican Republic over a two-year period. The information would be used to draft state policies. Franklin Garcia Fermin and Jean Vernet Henry, rectors of the UASD and UH respectively, signed the agreement.
According to Hoy newspaper, the UASD and the UH agreed that the study that is estimated to cost US$100,000 and would be financed by Action Side, include technicians, students and professors from both institutions.
The recently appointed ambassador to Haiti (and professor of Sociology at the UASD) Ruben Silie will be in charge of the investigation. He told Hoy reporter Carmen Matos that the collection of data will start next February. Silie said they will study the communities and the living conditions of the undocumented Haitians that live in the DR and also that of Haitian students and professionals that live here legally. He said that the results obtained from the census will be presented in a series of university workshops that will be open to the authorities and government and those interested in immigration.
Garcia Fermin expects the study to lead to better relations between the two nations. He said this is just a first of other research projects the UASD will carry out with the University of Haiti.

Milk prices to increase
Powdered milk prices could go up in January, Juan Ignacio Caraballo, president of the Federation of Retail Merchants (Fenacodep) told El Caribe. Beginning on 1 January 2009, the 12% deduction that the Customs Department (DGA) has allowed to importers of powdered milk will be rescinded. DGA instructed its inspectors to now charge 20% tariff on imported milk. El Caribe speculates that local dairy producers could be behind the decision.
Caraballo said that according to his reports, a bag of powdered milk that can be purchased for US$125 at an RD$35.50 exchange rate, and, at 8%, it pays RD$355 pesos in taxes, but the decision by Customs will increase this to RD$887, a difference of RD$532 pesos.

SISALRIL on traffic accidents
The Superintendent of Health and Labor Risks (SISALRIL), Fernando Caamano, presented the National Council on Social Security (CNSS) a proposal for provisional financing that would allow an extension of the National Fund for Medical Attention for Traffic Accidents (FONAMAT) that is scheduled to end on 31 December.
According to the proposal, the FONAMAT can be financed with part of the increased interest payments that come from the more or less RD$4.76 billion in surplus that the Family Health Insurance program has generated from August 2007 to December of 2008.
With such a proposal, Caamano suggests that the accumulated surplus be charged with an interest rate enough to yield the approximately RD$25 million needed each month to take care of FONAMAT patients.
Once the FONAMAT is covered, the rest of the money can be used to finance the Family Health Plan for workers.
In his proposal, sent to Max Puig, the president of the CNSS, Caamano points out that "the Superintendency favors, for legal and financial reasons, that the Social Security System should preserve this surplus and the additional income that is obtained from the 1 January be applied to finance the PDSS."
Caamano says that his proposal is in line with the 30 October Resolution 192-06 that appointed a commission to find a solution to the issues presented by the termination of accident coverage under the current plans.

Expensive remodeling
The remodeling of the Palacio de Bellas Artes cost RD$1.3 billion, according to the National Budget Office. This is RD$600 million more than the RD$700 million publicized by the government, according to a TV report shown on Monday produced by Alicia Ortega. Ortega said that she has not been able to obtain all the details on the construction, but advanced that only in the underground parking with a reported capacity of 600 vehicles, the government says it spent RD$383 million. She said her film crews were not given access to film the parking lot nor other areas of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. She said they have requested the details on the construction now from the General Controllers Office and expect to prepare a second documentary on the high cost of the construction.
The Supervisory Office of Public Works of the Presidency was responsible for the remodeling. Ortega says that to their request for the report on construction spending, the office only sent them the speech by office director Felix Bautista at the inaugural and a promotional DVD on the Palacio de los Deportes.
The National Budget office was only able to provide the global amount spent on the construction.

Why go public on the extradition?
Relatives of Angel Christopher Martinez criticized Santo Domingo prosecutor Perfecto Acosta for leaking information on the intention to extradite a Colombian who is the leading suspect of killing his father. Erick Christopher Martinez told Hoy: "It is unacceptable and damaging that the authority makes public a procedure that has not yet been approved by the Colombian authorities," he said. He urged that General Prosecutor Radhames Jimenez Pena demand a precise and convincing explanation of the motive why Acosta published the information in advance. His father, a high-ranking technician at the Civil Aviation Board, was murdered on 12 July 2006 and his death is suspect to have been linked to his work.

Plane still missing
A small plane that departed from Santiago Cibao International Airport (STI) at 3:30pm and its 11 passengers and pilot is still missing. US Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter, jet and ship to scan the Atlantic Ocean near West Caicos island, over the area from where the pilot, Dominican Adrian Jimenez had reported an emergency around 5pm on Monday.
The multi-engine Britton Norman Island aircraft, tail number N650LP, departed Santiago en route to refuel in Mayaguana, Bahamas. Confusing reports say it would have refueled in Turks & Caicos, and relatives say the passengers were en route to New York when it dropped off radar.
The local aviation authority, the IDAC, reported that the pilot had his Dominican license canceled, and had filed the flight plan using his US license.
Passengers missing are Carlos Garcia, 36, Jose Luis Rodriguez, 28, Alexandra Abreu, 23, Maria Abreu, 21, Rosa Tavarez, 27, Maritza Rodriguez, 34, Maritza Hernandez, 28, Juana Ramirez, 39, Romulio Herrera 32 and Omar Rojas 29.
The Listin Diario reports that the US Coast Guard has reported no survivors and is now looking for the plane's black box and any other evidence of what might have happened.
There are confusing reports as to the ownership of the airplane, and as to whether it was a stolen plane. Director of Civil Aviation (IDAC), Jose Tomas Perez, said that the aircraft was carrying out a private flight for a small airline called Atlantis Airlines. But Fox News reports that it was flown by Puerto Rican Airline.

Baseball round up
Last night the Tigres del Licey defeated their big rivals from Santiago, the Aguilas Cibaenas 8-2 in the Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo. A triple by Emilio Boinifacio cleared the bases in the sixth inning to give the Tigres the winning advantage. The Aguilas left 13 men on base and got eleven hits.
Over in San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes del Cibao guaranteed their participation in the Round Robin section of the tournament, beating the mighty Toros del Este 3-2, as they took advantage of three errors by the La Romana team.
In San Pedro de Macoris, the Leones del Escogido kept alive their hopes of reaching the Round Robin part of the playoffs as they defeated the now discarded Estrellas Orientales 8-6 in a hard fought battle. The Leones took an 8-0 lead into the ninth inning and the game seemed to be a lock, but the Estrellas came back with a 6 run rally to scare the Santo Domingo team. Juan Richardson hit a solo home run, followed by a bases loaded home run by Denis Phillips and still another home run by Tony Blanco gave the Estrellas their six run rally.
Standings
Team W-L Avg. Games Behind
GIGANTES** 27 - 19 .587 --
TOROS 26 - 20 .565 1.0
LICEY 25 - 21 .543 2.0
AGUILAS 24 - 22 .521 3.0
ESCOGIDO 22 - 24 .478 5.0
ESTRELLAS++ 15 - 31 .327 12.0
(** Qualified for Round Robin)
(++ Knocked out of Round Robin)

Today's Games:
Santo Domingo, Estadio Quisqueya, 7:30 p.m., Gigantes (Lopes) vs. Licey (Ortiz)
Santiago de los Caballeros, Estadio Cibao, 8:00 p.m., Estrellas (Matos) vs. Aguilas (Figueroa)
La Romana, Estadio Francisco Micheli, 7:30 p.m., Escogido (Ramirez) vs. Toros (Tejeda)
 
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