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Daily News - Friday, 20 February 2009

Fernandez's promise
President Leonel Fernandez has announced that the results of the recent National Summit will be given top priority and that he would create a timetable for their implementation so that the measures agreed upon could be implemented in the short term. Speaking at the PUCCM University in Santiago last night, Fernandez said that the funds needed for implementing this plan would be provided by international donors, and the rest would come from the National Budget. He added that calculations would be made to determine the viability of certain projects in the short term. He said there might not be money in the 2009 budget, which is where the international donations would come in. At last night's event, leaders from the seven workshops presented the President with the final results of their discussions. Franklin Almeyda presented the results on public safety, Lisandro Macarulla on economy and competitiveness, Max Puig on employment and social policies, Franklyn Baez Brugal on energy, hydro-carbides and renewable energy.
The President announced the creation of a monitoring board to track the implementation of the Summit's suggestions. The board, which will also be able to suggest more efficient ways of implementing the Summit's suggestions, will be made up by the Summit organizers and the seven workshop leaders.
Fernandez praised the results of the dialogue, saying that it would serve as a basis for continued discussions in the country, adding that he hoped that the first stages of the Summit would enrich discussions about the things that need to be done in the DR. Fernandez continued by saying that whenever dialogues like this take place there is always a learning curve, stating that it was an opportunity to learn and relearn at the same time.
Furthermore, the President says that democracy should not be defined by an electoral process held every four years, but by a system of integration and participation by all relevant sectors. Fernandez's words included dashes of optimism, stressing that sooner or later the DR will emerge from the international financial crisis successfully. He concluded by saying that at the very least, the problems faced by the nation are being looked at with possible solutions from all sectors.

Celebrating the flag
Yesterday, President Leonel Fernandez led celebrations for the Dominican flag's 165th anniversary. The ceremony took place at the Altar de la Patria, Parque Independencia, with hundreds of students, young artists and military and civilian representatives in attendance for the celebrations.

Strengthening education
The Youth Ministry and the National District Attorney General's office have signed a cooperation agreement allowing college students to complete internships at the Public Ministry as paralegals. The aim of the program is to enable students to gain practical, real world experience while continuing their classroom development. The National District AG office said they would sponsor this initiative as well as other programs aimed at benefiting young people and would continue to support youth development programs.

Cuba offers scholarships
Forty Dominican students will get the opportunity to study in Cuba through scholarships provided by the Cuban government. The scholarships were awarded through the Higher Education Ministry (SEESCYT). Cuban Ambassador to the DR Juan Astiasaran Ceballos and SEESCYT took part in a farewell celebration for the 40 students who are off to Cuba on Sunday. The students will study at the Latin American School of Medicine. Astiasaran said that the students who received the scholarships were from humble economic backgrounds and cannot afford to study medicine in the DR.

No confirmation of Pope's visit
The Papal Nuncio to the Dominican Republic Monsignor Josef Wesolowski would not confirm reports by Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso that Pope Benedict XVI would visit the DR in 2011. The Nuncio says he hasn't received any formal information about a planned visit. Diario Libre reports that Monsignor Benito Angeles and Monsignor Pablo Cedeno were both surprised by the Minister's announcement.

Montoya new ambassador
Retired Colombian General Mario Montoya has been designated Colombian Ambassador to the DR, according to Diario Libre. Montoya gained international recognition during operation "Jaque," which led to the rescue of Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt in July 2008. The mission also led to the rescue of three US citizens and 11 others who had been taken hostage by FARC guerrillas. Montoya replaces Maria Fernanda Potes who served as a temporary replacement for Juan Jose Chaux. Listin comments that Montoya's appointment reflects an increased commitment to fighting the drug ties between the DR and Colombia.

End the cargo cartels
Leading business organizations repeated their call to the authorities yesterday, urging them to enforce the business sector's right to freedom of choice when using ground transport. The National Business Council (CONEP), Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona), National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD), Exporters Association (Adoexpo), Agribusiness Board (JAD), National Hotels & Restaurants Association and the National Council of Livestock Institutions published an advertisement criticizing the government for failing to curb the forceful imposition of cargo cartels that impede freedom of cargo transport. "The unfortunate recent violent events against private transporters are a clear indication that some transport companies are not willing to accept the freedom of contracting and free competition in the cargo transport business, ignoring the fact that there is a rule of law in the country.
The business organizations are calling on the government to provide guarantees for the free exercise of constitutional rights of freedom and respect for circulation, cargo contracting and people transport.

The new business structure
Dominican companies will undergo major structural changes this year under new Law 479-08. Companies with assets over RD$30 million are now the only ones allowed to retain the board hierarchy prevalent in the current sole business structure. New and more flexible models will be available as of June 2009 for small and medium-sized companies.
Milagros Puello, executive director of the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce, in charge of implementing the new law for businesses in the capital city, formally introduced the "radical changes in the way of doing business" at a workshop at the Hotel Santo Domingo yesterday.
Keynote speaker at the event was Jose Luis Taveras of Fermin Taveras, the Santiago lawyer who drafted the law that was approved in December 2008. Taveras says the new law was designed to facilitate business structures of small and medium-sized companies, which make up the bulk of companies in the DR. "We have had a mega-corporate structure in place for small companies," he told the audience at the Hotel Santo Domingo as he unraveled the contents of Dominican company law.
He said that the new law rules the structure of the companies, not the business. It replaces legislation that dated back to 1867. The new law is based on French legislation dating to 1985, but it is complemented by laws from Spain, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Germany, European Commission directives and local input to adapting the legislation to Dominican institutional reality.
In the past there was practically only one model for company formation, that of anonymous societies. Now there will be several to choose from.
"More than a simple law, we are dismantling an entire corporate culture," he said. But he warns there will be problems ahead because the original bill was mutilated and changed in Congress. "We have been given rice, beans and spaghetti," he said, while stressing that as with all things in the DR, it will find its own way as its use progresses.
"Now we can say we have minimum international company formation standards in place," he said.
The law was passed at the initiative of the National Competitiveness Council, CNC. Taveras says that manuals for the implementation will be available next month. Meanwhile, Milagros Puello announced that the Santo Domingo Chamber would be providing examples of company formation statutes for all the possible cases, as well as forms and other documents that will serve as models for Dominican companies.
The law establishes that companies with capital over RD$30 million need to "adjust" and apply for the new anonymous society model or the other models as of 1 April 2009 placing their requests to the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce through 10 June 2009. Companies under RD$30 million can choose from a portfolio of corporate instruments that adjust to the different sizes, nature and purpose of business and need to begin their "transformation" process as of 19 June 2009.
The new models that are expected to be the most used are the SRL that is the LLC, GmBH (Germany), Ltda (Venezuela), OOO (Russia), and the single-owner limited enterprise, the EIRL.
In the new SRL model, the shares of the company cannot be freely negotiated with a third party, and a minimum social capital of RD$100,000 is required, with no maximum start-up limit. The SRL is for a minimum of two partners and a maximum of fifty, and are seen as functional forms that do not require the figure of a board, as previously with the S.A. model. It is also more flexible because a mere signing of an agreement facilitates many actions that in the past required the enactment of a board. Setting up a company should take no more than eight days.
The EIRL, individual companies of limited responsibility are single-owner companies that operate in a corporate structure. There are no limits on capital. This model requires the owner to adopt a company name different from his or her own.
The good news is that the DGII has agreed that there will be no taxes on the formation of new companies in the new SRL and EIRL models.
The transformation to SRLs and EIRLs, and other models, is only effective as of June, when the stipulations for transition to the new status come into effect. Big companies are obliged to "adjust" their operations to the new ruling from now to June. But the only consequence for not transforming companies with less than RD$30 million in social capital is that the company's legal paperwork, including the required mercantile registration, will not be up-to-date. This document is required by banking institutions and other government-ruled commercial transactions.
In other parts of the country, the leading chambers of commerce have been entrusted with the implementation of the law in their communities.
See http://www.camarasantodomingo.org.do/

Regional drug fight
According to Interior and Police Minister Franklin Almeyda, the DR's crime rate stood at 20.2% at the end of 2008. Almeyda made the announcement during the introduction of the "Ministerial Conference on Illegal Trafficking of Drugs, Trans-National Organized Crime and Terrorism as a Challenge for Security and Development in the Caribbean." Eighteen Caribbean countries are taking part in the Conference. Listin Diario reports that President Fernandez had planned to give a speech at the conference, but chose instead to attend the ceremony celebrating the 165th anniversary of the Dominican flag. The conference, which is organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Dominican government, seeks to create a regional plan for preventing and fighting against crime and drug trafficking in the region. CARICOM director general Edwin Carrington also attended the conference while the Director General of the UN office in Vienna Antonio Maria Costa called on nations to protect the region and to be responsible in matters of state security. Costa said that unity was needed in order to fight drug trafficking.

Parmalat robbery
Chief of Police Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin says that in the next few hours several people responsible for a robbery at the Parmalat company would be detained. The accused include Jorge Luis Vargas Cuello, a major in the Dominican Armed Forces. Guzman added that known criminal Marcos Comas would also be detained in relation to the case. Fermin praised the work of the night watchmen at the company who were able to identify the motorbike the thieves were using and even the vests they were wearing. The thieves were using National Drug Control Department (DNCD) uniforms and according to reports they were found to have an Uzi, two pistols and bulletproof vests, among other items. Fifteen thieves entered the premises located on Avenida Faro in Villa Duarte at night, tying up employees and taking an undisclosed amount of money. Diario Libre reports that the thieves could have taken as much as several million pesos.

Quake on Saona
El Caribe is reporting that a 3.3 earthquake was registered on Isla Saona off the south east coast of the DR yesterday. Rafael Pujols from the UASD Seismology Institute said that the tremor was felt at 9:17pm last night. According to Pujols the quake was centered at latitude 18.0127 and longitude -68.5455, but was not felt by residents.

Where's Smiley?
It has been a rough off-season for Dominican baseball, which took another hit this week as it was revealed that a top prospect for the Washington Nationals was not who he said he was. In fact, the player in question, Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo (a.k.a. Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez), had changed his identity in order to get signed to a MLB team. There have always been accusations that Dominican players and their handlers alter their birth dates in order to increase their draft prospects, as was the case for Miguel Tejada and Bartolo Colon, but MLB officials say "Smiley" took on a second identity, falsifying documents, birth certificates and even changing his age by four years. Smiley was the Washington National's top prospect and was even compared to Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith when he was originally signed. Gonzalez's current agent Stanley King said early Wednesday morning he was shocked by the revelations. "I hope this is a mistake," King said via telephone. "I was at his house this winter and he answered by his [baseball name]. I will look into this." Smiley had signed with the Nats in 2006 and a US$1.4 million bonus, the largest international signing ever for the Nats. The Nats looked at the signing as a way of establishing a presence in Latin America and a way of competing with the Yankees and Red Sox in the region, but instead ended up opening a can of worms that could potentially increase scrutiny on international signings and create a shakeup in the sometimes corrupt world of amateur baseball in the country.

Cousin "it" identified
More news is emerging from the Alex Rodriguez drug scandal as ESPN reports that Yuri Sucart is the anonymous cousin who injected Rodriguez with drugs during the 2001-2003 baseball seasons. Though Sucart has remained out of the spotlight and not granted any interviews, ESPN reports that the man lives in Miami, Florida and has been an important part of Rodriguez's life ever since the now-disgraced slugger was in high school. The initial reports by ESPN were confirmed by his wife Carmen Sucart, who also refused to speak with reporters. "I told you my husband has nothing to say," she said. "What A-Rod said at the press conference is what happened and that is all. And if you want to talk to my husband, why don't you talk to his lawyer?"

B-ball history
Al Horford and Francisco Garcia have continued to shine as they represent the newest generation of Dominican basketball stars making headlines on the international scene, and last night was no exception. Horford and Garcia became the first pair of Dominicans to score at least 15 points in the same game. Horford, playing for the Atlanta Hawks, dropped the hammer with 18 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks while Garcia, playing for the Sacramento Kings, picked up the pieces with 15 points, 4 assists and 2 blocks. But not to be forgotten Charlie Villanueva made some noise scoring 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Milwaukee Bucks. This also marked the first time that three Dominicans have scored more than 15 points on one night of NBA action.

Carnival on Sunday
The National District municipal authorities have heeded requests by the Catholic Church to hold the Santo Domingo Carnival parades on Sunday 22 February. The Church's request was due to the fact that Carnival celebrations would coincide with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Luis Taveras, director of Urban Animation for the National District, explains that this year's Carnival will be the best ever and that the scale of the production has increased tremendously. One hundred troupes are expected to compete for the best of show prize. The festivities can be watched on the Av. Mexico this Sunday.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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