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Daily News - Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Two wind power parks
President Leonel Fernandez yesterday was at the groundbreaking ceremonies for two wind power parks that will generate an estimated 50 MW of energy each. The parks will be built with initial investments of EU180.8 million by the Spanish company Inveravante. The parks will be built in the communities of Matafongo and Granadillos in the provinces of Peravia in the Southwest and Monte Cristi in the Northwest. Construction would take 9 to 10 months, according to Luis Garcia, technical director of Inveravante. According to Radhames Segura, vice president of the State Run Electric Companies (CDEEE), these new investments are signs there has been a reduction in the perceived level of investment risk of the DR. To read more about this company, see

Making it easier to borrow
The Monetary Board is open to modifying various prudential regulations for banking institutions and the Banking Rules for Asset Evaluation. The latter require banks and other financial entities to regularly classify their assets according to their risk and to calculate and create allowances or reserves against those risks. The Monetary Board sent banking institutions the proposed changes and has opened a seven-day consultation period.
As reported in Diario Libre, during the Unity Summit convened by President Leonel Fernandez, the financial sector called for the authorizing that financial intermediaries be able to establish procyclical provisions of up to 2%. Businessmen requested that rules for debtor evaluation and classification be relaxed. And that the consideration of contingency operations that are generated by non-used amounts of lines of credit on credit cards be reduced to 20%.
The Monetary Board has also cleared the Superintendence of Banks so it may apply administrative measures to increase the liquidity of the financial sector, including a revision of the Manuel of Risk-based Supervision and the restructuring of interest rates to adjust them to market conditions without affecting the quality of credit.
Bank Superintendent Rafael Camilo forecast that interest rates will continue to drop significantly given the authoriteis have been relaxing monetary restrictions, as reported in El Caribe.

PLD discounts are "voluntary"
Ruling PLD party spokesmen in government confirm it is true that party members that have jobs in government are making monthly contributions to the party's treasury. Minister of the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio said that the contributions are "voluntary." He says these have to be authorized by the government employee. He said that the party contribution was agreed upon by the Political Committee two years ago.

Raid on Moca "pharmacies"
J-2 police and military officers, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Public Health raided the central city of Moca, closed more than 30 different "pharmacies" and seized counterfeit medicines as part of the Ministry's efforts to get illegal and counterfeit drugs off the counters, throughout the DR. Hoy explains that these small stores, most located on Dr. Alfonseca and Corazon de Jesus and 16 de Agosto streets, while not pharmacies, sell pharmaceutical products at cheaper prices. Many of the business owners recognize they are illegal. Hoy reports the confiscated drugs were taken to Santo Domingo in three trucks provided by the Custom Department. Listin Diario reports that officials seized 328 sacks of medications. More was not confiscated because some business owners were tipped off and removed their merchandise from the premises. Several city residents and business owners resisted the police breaking into their businesses. The Police resorted to using tear gas as a way to disperse crowds that gathered around the various pharmacies in protest. One of the bombs landed at a local Catholic school, and some of the children had to be hospitalized.
In defense of the businesses closed yesterday, Marcelino Trinidad, president of the Moca Pharmacy Association, said that many of the businesses closed have been around for more than 40 years and generate thousands of direct and indirect jobs. He explained in Diario Libre that in the center of Moca more than 200 "pharmacies" operate, employing more than 5,000. Yesterday, Supreme Court Judge Jorge Subero Isa asked judges to be more diligent in applying the law and asked police officials to be more drastic in their persecution of those who falsify medicines.
The Ministry's efforts come two weeks after two died after being injected with counterfeit anti-tetanus shots. The public outrage led the Ministry to step up its efforts to control the sale and distribution of counterfeit medicines.

Actions for sea conservation
The Ministry of Environment announced the confiscation of offending fishing gear in the northeastern Samana area. This is the second operation of the new authorities at the Ministry against illegal fishing in Samana that is carried out to protect sea species and create the conditions for sustainable fishing in the future. The Ministry said that a similar operation took place in southwestern Barahona last week.

Rising waters in Barahona
The Enriquillo Lake area is being regarded as an ecological disaster, as the rising waters of the salt water lake have covered farm lands, reports the Listin Diario. The rising waters have engulfed homes, roads and now even threaten the three main highways that connect the Barahona province to the rest of the country. Floods that have raised the water level of the lake have covered up parts of the Cabritos Island located in the center of the lake, and the La Azufrada, formerly a popular natural sulphur water pool. Eng. David Volquez says that in the past five months the waters have covered more than 200,000 tareas (126 million square meters) that were planted with plantains, bananas, yuca, leek, avocados, coconuts and avocados, and other farm produce. Cattle-grazing land has also been affected. He said that in less than half a year, an average of four kilometers of planted land has been covered by salt water with a heights equivalent to a two-floor building.
To give an idea of how large the area is, he compared it to ground located in Santo Domingo between Abraham Lincoln Av. And the Ozama River. He said the rising waters have covered coconut trees at heights of even four meters. "What is happening here is a tragedy so big that all the crops that had been planted in the surroundings of the lake have completely disappeared," he told the Listin Diario.
Residents in Villa Jaragua, Los Clavellines, Los Rios de Neiba, La Descubierta, Bartolome, Postrer Rio and Boca de Cachon have had to leave their dwellings.
Part of the explanation lies in that centuries ago, the Enriquillo Lake was part of a sea connection to Haiti. With the elimination of forestry coverage in Haiti, the rising waters are flowing to the Dominican side as they make their way out to the sea on the eastern side of the southwestern peninsula.

Car sales drop again
January car sales are down, according to Fernando Lama, president of the Dominican Association Vehicle Concessionaires and Manufacturers (Acofave). He explains that in December 2008, some 1,474 new cars were sold, while only 1,074 new cars were sold in January 2009. This also compares to the sale of 2,326 new vehicles in January 2008. Meanwhile, Vehicle Dealers Association (Anadive) president Victor Ventura says sales collapsed when interest rates jumped from 14% to 30% in the second half of 2008. He added that recent interest rate cuts by the Central Bank are not enough. Hoy writes that as a way to encourage consumers, dealers are ordering more economic cars, which they can sell to consumers at a lower price. Some car dealers are discounting as much as US$1,000 to US$1,500 in accessories for car or trucks as a way to get consumers to buy now.

Exporting La Benedicta
La Benedicta S.A. and Xian Corp. have signed an agreement to export the popular Domincian drink to Panama. Listin Diario reports the non-alcoholic drink has been sold in Panama since December 2008. Carlos Marichal, Xian's local representative, explained that the Panamanian market is dynamic and the consumer is always willing to try new products. Jose Miguel Barcelo, president of La Benedicta, says this is a first step in the company's push to market the product in Latin America.

Cleaning out POP
Chief of the National Police, Mayor General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin has announced that three unnamed district prosecutors in Puerto Plata and three members of the National Drug Control Department (NDCD), Mariano Valdes Cabrera, Luciano Valdes Diaz and Daniel Duran Santana, are being investigated for their participation in a drug network that functions on the DR's north coast. Guzman's announcement comes only days after 27 members of the National Police, in Puerto Plata, and Colonel Frank Feliz Almonte Castillo, director of the North Region's Department for Criminal Investigations, were arrested for their suspect participation in the drug network. Guzman reiterated his willingness to prosecute all those members of the National Police involved in drug trafficking in line with instructions from President Leonel Fernandez that organized crime not be allowed in the DR. According to Interior and Police Minster Franklin Almeyda, the investigation had been going on for more than a year.
On the heels of the above investigation, the DNCD announced yesterday the arrest of seven youths that were traveling with 21 packages of cocaine in two vehicles on the highway between Imbert and Luperon, near Saballo, as reported in the Listin. Army Mayor Jose Antonio Heredia Martinez, Puerto Plata inspector for the DNCD, made the arrests.

Guerrero's challenge
Senator Wilton Guerrero has commended National Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin's initiative to clean up the National Police and remove officials involved with drug trafficking. But yesterday the Senator suggested the Chief "go a little further" explaining there are generals within the military ranks that serve as "godfathers," to those who commit crimes, as reported in Hoy. He added that these "godfathers" can be found within the National Police Palace or within the nation's different security forces. "I welcome the measures taken by the Chief of Police, but I'd like him to go a bit further," said Guerrero.

Preparing Maconi
Bienvenido Guevara Diaz, a.k.a. Maconi, has been transferred to a "high security" cell at the Najayo jail, as he awaits Supreme Court clearance for his extradition to the US. Maconi is wanted in the US for his connection to the extensive drug network operated, in part, by former military captain Quirino Paulino. National Drug Control Department spokesman Roberto Lebron explained the DR's Prosecutor General's office signed off on the move. The order for extradition was submitted by a New York City court, who will try Maconi for illegally importing shipments of cocaine into the state.
El Caribe explains that Maconi has been arrested several times in the past, but his lawyers have always avoided a jail sentence on grounds of the lack of sufficient proof.

Tejada still playing
Miguel Tejada has announced he will still play in the World Baseball Classic this spring, despite the steroid controversy he has been embroiled in. Tejada also announced he would play in the next winter tournament in the DR with the Aguilas Cibaenas. Tejada recently admitted to lying to Congress during a 2005 hearing regarding his purchase of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. The court judgment will be announced on 26 March, and though jail time and even deportation are a possibility, these are highly unlikely. Speaking on RPQ 1080 AM, Tejada said everything should be OK and he will be able to continue playing ball. There has been murmuring that Tejada should have his MVP award taken away because of his admission, but supporters of Tejada say there were no rules on the books in MLB when Tejada consumed the drugs that would merit his award being taken away.

A-rod comes clean, sort of
The continuing saga of Alex Rodriguez took another turn yesterday as the once highly respected slugger took the stage to answer the media's questions regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez tried his best to save face during a grueling media session, but initial indications reveal Rodriguez has gained an even more unfavorable following, despite his attempts to salvage his image. Rodriguez's ordeal began last week after he admitted he had used two different steroids when he played for the Texas Rangers and admitted that he lied when he was asked about this when interviewed by Katie Couric. Rodriguez also explained that his accusations that Selena Roberts, the Sports Illustrated reporter who broke the story, had been "stalking" the star, were just a mere misunderstanding on his part. During his press conference, Rodriguez explained that he was "naive and stupid" when he decided to take the drugs and that it was an unidentified cousin who injected him with a substance purchased in the DR, known as "boli." A-rod says that his cousin would inject him twice a month. But there were many holes in A-rod's confession. Trying to soften the blow Rodriguez said he didn't know what he was being injected with and that he wasn't even sure he had done it right, or if it was working. Rodriguez faced his Yankee teammates, who were there for support, and offered them an apology as well as one to his fans.

Independence Cycling Tour
The 140-kms Independence Road Cycling Tour, in its 30th year, starts Sunday, 22 February. The event ends 2 March. The tour is regarded as a leading cycling tour in the Caribbean and is in the top five for Latin America and the Caribbean. 12 teams and the host Dominican Republic are expected, with more than 200 cyclists coming from around the world. Already confirmed are teams from Costa Rica, Canada, France, Guadaloupe, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman, the US, and Jamaica. This year, Jirik Jezek, para-cycling olympic champion, will be participating.
The competition is divided into several stages. Participants tour practically the entire Dominican Republic.
The event is an International Cyclist Union event, ranked 2.2.
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