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Daily News - Thursday, 04 June 2009

Fernandez promotes business in PR
President Leonel Fernandez will to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico this afternoon to participate in the Dominican Business, Investment Exposition that will be held concurrently with the 81st Annual Convention of the Puerto Rico Association of Industries. The event is scheduled for Thursday, 4 June to Sunday, 7 June. The theme this year is "Forging Alliances with the Americas." Fernandez will be the keynote speaker at the event. He will address Puerto Rican corporate executives about opportunities for investing and doing business in the DR.
The Dominican participation is being coordinated by the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD) and the US-Dominican Business Development Group, presided by Pedro Diaz Ballester.

Time to relaunch the economy
At a meeting at the Presidential Palace yesterday, President Leonel Fernandez told media editors that the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund is but a Plan B for the government.
He said that the financial storm has passed, and the country is now only under rain. He said that the DR was already receiving offers of fresh loans from international banks, specifically mentioning Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. He said he was told the country could qualify for an international bond emission of US$1.5 billion at a rate of 10.5%.
He said the government's priority was to kick-start the economy.
During the meeting he stated that the government has not bought the shares of the AES power distributor Ede-Este, but rather that the business transferred them to the state in exchange for the transactional deal for US$26.5 million that ends international litigation.
On behalf of the state, lawyer Mariano German Mejia explained in detail the conflict with Ede-Este, which has wanted to sell its shares since 2004. He pointed out that they filed three lawsuits against the Dominican state; each one for US$680 million and that just in lawyer's fees, the country has spent around US$15 million. He said that the deal was the best way out of the problem.
Fernandez acknowledged that the installation of 1,200 megawatts was needed by 2012. He highlighted ongoing construction of three hydroelectric dams that will generate 285 megawatts, two wind farms in Montecristi and Bani with a capacity of 100 megawatts each. He also mentioned another potential 500-megawatt wind farm with Spanish investment and the possibility of 600-megawatt generator with investment from Abu Dhabi. He also said that South Korea has expressed interest in investing in the sector.
On the issue of power transmission, he announced that the electric highway being built between the capital and Santiago would be finished by the end of 2010. He said the Blackouts Reduction Program (PRA) was becoming the electricity voucher, the "Bonoluz", which will be distributed using lists drawn up by the Social Cabinet.
Attending the meeting were Presidential Minister Cesar Pina Toribio, Radhames Segura, administrator of the Dominican Corporation of State-run Electricity Enterprises (CDEEE), Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa, Economy Minister Juan Temistocles Montas and lawyer Mariano German Mejia, among others.

Economist sees year-end improvement
Economist Hector Salcedo is predicting an activation of construction, vehicle sales and commercial activities as these sectors react to the decline in banking interest rates.
Salcedo said nevertheless there would be a decrease in imports and losses in foreign currency reserves.
He said that then one of the reasons for signing a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be to have a sort of "economic cushion", with enough resources to maintain exchange rate stability in case there is a lack of external funding.
He said that even though the Dominican authorities foresee the entry of enough hard currency in the next few months, they need to take into account that the international economy is only just beginning to recover and its reactivation is expected to be long and slow.
"An agreement with the IMF would be welcome because the country's situation is very complicated," said Salcedo after commenting that several economic sectors continue to decline.
Salcedo felt unlikely an agreement with the IMF would mean an increase in taxes since this would be in contradiction with the need to stimulate productive sectors.

Close fiscal gap
The World Bank representative in the DR Robby Senderowitsch denied that the World Bank was making a US$300 million loan for the electricity sector conditional to the signing of an agreement with the IMF.
As reported in the Listin Diario, he said that the only World Bank requirement was for the government to close the fiscal gap.

Company law starts this month
The National Competitiveness Council (CNC) makes it clear that the new company rules established in the Law on Commercial Societies 479-08 will go into effect on the 19 June, following a six-month grace period, despite the fact that President Leonel Fernandez sent a bill to Congress aimed at extending the grace period for the large company structure stipulations.
Fernandez has proposed a 24-month extension, after receiving requests from the National Business Council and other private sector organizations.
CNC director Andres Van Der Horst Alvarez, who is seeking the immediate implementation of the law on the grounds that it modernizes the way of doing business, encouraged small companies to take advantage of the law.
"Small and medium businesses, productive family units and companies with just one owner should not let the opportunity pass without making the most of the facilities and fiscal pardons that are offered until October by the institutions that are tied to the implementation of the law."
He pointed out that most existing businesses, although legally constituted as anonymous societies (SA) or shareholder companies (CxA), do not operate as such, and are, in fact, businesses with one owner or family businesses with closed books.
"The six-month deadline to make adjustments only affects the large capital enterprises, and 19 June is the date that the great majority of the businesses can begin to change," he added.
He called on business leaders to gather all of the advantages that the new law offers in order to make their management situation clearer and leave behind the 19th Century Commercial Code that made seven shareholders obligatory to start a business, a collective management and the taking of decisions by means of an assembly.
He detailed different aspects of the process, such as the fact that the Chambers of Commerce have edited a pamphlet and produced model documents, unified the payment for commercial registration at RD$1,000 for the process, the ONAPI (National Office of Intellectual Property) has taken administrative measures in order to facilitate the changes to commercial names and the DGII (Department of Taxes) issued Rule 5-09 that grants a grace period of four months for the procedures of adaptation to take place without affecting tax issues, "now that the law in itself does not introduce, modify or eliminate any tax."

DR in online judicial ranking
The DR has been ranked above average in the Americas in online access to information that has been developed for the courts and public prosecutor's offices, according to a newly released study by the Justice Studies Center of the Americas of the Organization of American States (JSCA).
The DR was ranked 9th of 34 countries in the Americas in Online Access to Information (The Courts) and 10th in Online Access to Information developed for Public Prosecutors. It was 12th in Overall Online Access to Judicial Information.
The JSCA explains the effort given the important role that the Internet plays in facilitating access to all kinds of information. "This is particularly important for public institutions that play an important role in promoting democratic coexistence and that are legally obliged to provide citizens with all the information that is available on their work.
With the publishing of the Index of Online Access to Judicial Information, JSCA explains that it seeks to reaffirm its mission to generate increased connectivity among the judicial systems of the 34 countries of the Americas by encouraging those who manage these systems to take full advantage of new information technologies.
See http://dr1.com/news/2009/060409_index_of_online_access.pdf

Reasons for Barrick Gold delays
Crisis-related factors and other priorities of Barrick Gold mean that investment in the gold mining project in Pueblo Viejo, Cotui will suffer a delay in its implementation. This will impede the goal of capital inflow that was projected by the Dominican government authorities for 2009.
According to a report prepared for Hoy newspaper's economic section, economist Luis H Vargas attributed the delay to the restrictions on international financing, as well as to the reprogramming of the investment priorities of Barrick Gold's gold investment project, after its recent deals with Chile and Argentina concerning the launch of the income-producing phase of gold deposits at Pascua-Lama, located on the Chilean-Argentinean border.
The economist indicates that an increase in the cost of doing business and decline in yield has forced Barrick to give preference to their credit in the North American capital markets and go with investments with lower cash costs.
The study indicates that since 2007 and 2008, profit per ounce of gold has fallen 25.9% to US$103 from US$139, due to an increase in the cost of production that went from $350 to $443 per ounce. This coefficient in earning drop has also been observed in the first quarter of 2009 in comparison to the previous year.
Added to all of this is the fact that a Barrick study found that production costs at Pueblo Viejo would be around US$300 per ounce, while the bi-national project in Pascua-Lama is expected to be much less, in the order of US$50 or less per ounce of gold produced, an 83% difference.

New virus cases climb to 23
Twenty-three cases of A(H1N1) influenza have now been confirmed in the DR, after another 142 samples were tested, and 10 cases reported positive yesterday.
Of these, nine are from the National District, and one is from the province of Monte Plata, according to an official report from the Department of Epidemiology.
The samples are now being processed at the new lab at the Dominican-Japanese Friendship Center (Cemadoja), located in the Luis Eduardo Aybar Public Hospital. Results are known within 24-48 hours.
The report says that the patients began to have symptoms between the 22nd and the 26th of May, and none required hospitalization. Those tested had high fevers and pneumonia-like symptoms.
The National District (Santo Domingo city) heads the list of patients who have tested positive for the influenza A(H1N1) virus, with 19 of 23 confirmed cases.

Supreme Court fires judge
On Wednesday the full body of the Supreme Court of Justice decided to fire the judge of the First Collegiate Tribunal of the judicial district of La Vega, Franklin Dario Rosario Abreu for "serious errors in the exercise of his functions". The SCJ ordered the decision to be notified to the Judicial Registry Department, to Attorney General Radhames Jimenez Pena and the judge involved.
Rosario Abreu said that he saw this coming because the sentence was written before the start of the disciplinary hearing. He said that the dismissal was the result of gossip between the other tribunal judges, adding that the decision was unjustified because he had always done his job.
In other resolutions, the SJC took away the notary privileges of three lawyers for incurring in serious breaches of conduct during the exercise of their functions. The measure affects Sandra Alina Montero, Belkis Montero Sierra and Juan Francisco Fondeur, after the national director of Land Registration, Wilson Gomez Ramirez, brought them up on disciplinary charges.
The tribunal ordered the decision to be transmitted to the Attorney General, the Dominican College of Notaries as well as the lawyers concerned. According to assistant prosecutor Idelfonso Reyes, the notaries violated articles 6,8,and 61 of Law 301.

Two explosions leave 7 burned
In the early hours of this morning two loud explosions interrupted the sleep of residents in Santo Domingo East, as a propane gas facility in San Isidro caught fire at 12:30am. The explosions left seven people with first-degree burns.
No fatalities were reported although at least seven passers-by were injured.
The propane station is located across the street from the La Moneda urbanization, close to the corner of Privada on the San Isidro Highway.
The commanding officer of the Santo Domingo East Fire Department, Colonel Javier Bueno, said that the wounded were taken to the Burn Unit at the Luis Eduardo Aybar (Morgan) Hospital, while the watchmen who were on duty at the station managed to escape in time and save their lives.
He said that firefighters prevented a third explosion by cooling down a third large propane tank until the fire burned itself out.
Bueno said that another person was injured when someone tried to rob him.

Baby rescued; sold for RD$5,000
A two-day old baby who was taken from the La Altagracia Maternity Hospital in Santo Domingo by an unidentified woman last week has been found, according to the health facility.
A hospital spokesman said the mother had sold the baby for RD$5,000. The child is now under the protection of the hospital for later transfer to the proper authorities for adoption purposes.
According to statements given to Listin Diario, the woman who had the baby had signed a letter that detailed the sale of the infant.

OAS lifts sanctions on Cuba
Foreign ministers of the American states have revoked the 47-year old Organization of American States resolution that suspended Cuba from the organization.
The resolution was approved "by acclamation" of the representatives of 34 governments of the Organization of the American States (OAS).
The delegates stood up and applauded the vote.
When the suspension was approved on 31 January 1962, the OAS had just 21 members: 14 voted in favor and six abstained. Cuba voted against.
The 3 June OAS resolution states that the 1962 resolution is no longer in effect within the organization. It also establishes that the participation of Cuba in the OAS will be the result of a dialogue begun at the request of the government of Havana and in compliance with the practices, the aims and the principles of the OAS.
The resolution opens doors for the possible re-entry of Cuba to the OAS.
Thirty-four members of the OAS were present at the 39th OAS General Assembly meeting held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Wednesday, and they voted unanimously to revoke the exclusion against Cuba.

3.9 quake felt in Cibao
The Seismology Institute at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) recorded an earthquake with an epicenter in the Cibao Valley in the heart of the Dominican Republic at 11:59am on Wednesday.
Institute director Eugenio Polanco Rivera said that the quake was registered at 15.59 GMT with a magnitude of 3.9 points on the Richter Scale, at a depth of one kilometer beneath the surface. Polanco said that the epicenter of the earthquake was located at 18.90 degrees North, 70.42 West.
He reported that the quake did not cause any damage to property or lives. It was felt in the cities of Cotui, San Francisco de Macoris, Villa Tapia and other locations in the eastern Cibao Valley. The quake was felt slightly in Santo Domingo.

Eurocine at the Cinemateca
The European Film Festival is taking place from 10-17 June at the Cinemateca Dominicana (at Plaza de la Cultura) and from 15-19 June at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) Pedro Mir Library.
The inauguration will be on Wednesday, 10 June at 7pm at the Cinemateca with the screening of the film "Empties" (2007) by Czech director Jan Sverak.
For a schedule of films, see http://dr1.com/news/2009/060409_eurocine-2009.pdf
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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