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Daily News - Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Beaches to stay public
The Constitutional Revisory Assembly has passed Arts 9, 10, 11 and 56 related to the environment in a first reading.
The new provisions are that protected areas can only be reduced by law, with the approval of two thirds of the members of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
They also declare of national interest hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation.
The legislators also ruled that in the DR the rivers, lakes, lagoons, beaches and coasts belong to the public domain and are subject to free access by the public. It does, though, establish that laws will regulate the conditions in which private entities can have privileged access to these areas.
The introduction, development, production, holding, marketing, transport, storage or use of chemical, biological, nuclear or agro-chemical weapons is prohibited, as well as the introduction of nuclear residuals and toxic wastes.
It is established that non-renewable and renewable natural resources on land and sea are national patrimony.
Likewise, river sources and areas of endemic and native biodiversity are subject to protection by the government for their preservation.

Borrowing from Brazil
Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa has traveled to Brazil to sign a series of financing agreements for overpasses and underpasses to improve north-south traffic in Santo Domingo with the Brazilian government export-financing agency, BNDES.
Odebrecht of Brazil and Ingenieria Estrella have been entrusted with the construction of the Duarte Corridor that will be implemented with Brazilian funding. Compania Tecnoamerica (engineer Pedro Delgado Malagon) is responsible for the design, supervision and control of the roadworks.
The works, estimated to cost US$163 million would be completed in 24-30 months and will be supervised by the Ministry of Public Works. The works are expected to save time and money for an estimated 800,000 daily road users.
Works will be carried out at Duarte Highway with Manoguayabo crossing and Av. Monumental, and at the intersections of Av. John F. Kennedy with Av. Nunez de Caceres and Dr. Defillo Street, as well as at the crossing of Av. 27 de Febrero with Ortega y Gasset Street and at Av. Charles de Gaulle with San Isidro Highway.

12% not acceptable says Labor
The president of the National Confederation of Unions (CNUS) Rafael Abreu said that the 12% increase in minimum wages proposed by employer representatives is not acceptable, even if this is extended to employees earning up to RD$30,000. The CNUS has requested an across the board increase of 25%. As reported in Listin Diario, yesterday the director of the National Committee of Salaries, Gloria Henriquez said that the Labor Code restricts what the government can do to intervene in the impasse over the wage increase. She said the code only orders that the government convene the parties for negotiations for a new wage increase every two years. Labor legislation also only covers increases in minimum wage.

Gambling is big income generator
The more Dominican people gamble, the better for the Dominican government. Diario Libre reports today that stats from the Tax Department (DGII) indicate that last year RD$389.66 million was collected in taxes on the more than 11,000 slot machines the government has authorized for installation nationwide. The government also collected RD$146.35 million in levies on casinos, for a grand total of RD$536.1 million in 2008.

Cracking down on colmadones
National District prosecutor, Alejandro Moscoso Segarra says his department will order the closure of more "colmadones" (corner grocery stores-turned-bars) whose loud music and lingering crowds create major disruptions to life in neighborhoods. Colmadones are being shut down in Villa Juana, Cristo Rey, Villa Francisca, and Ensanche La Paz among others. The prosecutor says that the colmadones have become centers for crime. "Many criminals driving on 'pasolas' (mopeds) are people who have been drinking and then go to make a round to get more money to continue drinking," he told Hoy newspaper. He said his department has information that proves that drugs are being sold and that minors are allowed in the areas surrounding these businesses. Several businesses say they want to reach an agreement with the authorities to stay open.

INDRHI's latest corruption scandal
Politician Hector Rodriguez Pimentel, a PRSC party protege of the Fernandez government who heads the state Hydraulic Resources Institute (INDRHI), is at the center of a major press scandal.
On her Monday El Informe show investigative journalist Alicia Ortega of Channel 7 revealed a series of major overvaluations, up to 200-1,000% in works costing hundreds of millions under the responsibility of the department and the paralysis of construction works despite millions in payments by the state.
The TV program named the cases of the Los Toros Hydroelectric, where she questioned an undocumented disbursement of RD$66 million, and the retention of RD$563 million in a fund that should have been used for development projects in Azua. Furthermore, specifics were given of a RD$30.7 million construction for an underground drainage system, to which despite addendums that added RD$35.1 million to the original budget, and even when RD$43.9 million has been disbursed, the work allotted to Constructora Roca, is on hold.
Another specific case is that of the Santa Rita Dike in Guayubin, Monte Cristi, whose budget went from an original RD$15.9 million to RD$191.4 million after an addendum of RD$175 million. This work was allocated to Hermanos Yarull in a contract signed in January 2008, and the company has received more than RD$140 million, but the work is far from concluded.
Another case featured was an irrigation reservoir in El Llano, Peravia province, which was contracted for RD$26.1 million, but an addendum increased the budget to RD$40 million. This project is little more than a giant stagnant water tank.
Another project that seems to have been abandoned despite the disbursements that have been made is the support wall to control the waters of the Solie River near Jimani. This was contracted for RD$23.6 million, and the contractor has received RD$9.4 million, but work has stopped, with the contractor VHB never presenting cubic measurement proof of his work. Ortega pointed out that this is the same contractor responsible for rebuilding works at the Nizao channel. Those works increased from an original RD$23 million to RD$144 million.
Ortega says that the contention wall for the Jura River contracted for RD$13.8 million by the INDRHI, shows only advances in work for RD$2 million, according to expert Bienvenido Concepcion.

Emphysemic woman dies of AH1N1
A woman who suffered from emphysema is down as the second victim of the AH1N1 flu virus in the DR. The first victim was a pregnant teenage girl who suffered from chronic tuberculosis.
The latest casualty is an unnamed 50-year old resident of Higuey, confirmed Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez.
There have been 108 cases of AH1N1 in the DR and 19 patients have been hospitalized. Of the cases, 19 have been in the province of Santo Domingo, five in La Altagracia, 4 in Santiago, 2 in La Romana, 3 in Peravia, 2 in Puerto Plata, 2 in Samana, one in San Pedro de Macoris, 2 in Monte Plata and one in Valverde (Mao).
The Ministry of Health, nevertheless, says that cases of the virus have been declining significantly, as people are taking precautions to prevent the spread of colds.

Entrepreneurship is big here
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, under the London School of Business and the Babson College report that entrepreneurship in the DR is at 20.4% in 2008, one of the highest in the GEM's 43-country ranking. In 2007, the level was 16.8%.
As reported in Listin Diario, a fifth of Dominicans has started a business in the past three years.
The level of entrepreneurship in the DR almost doubles that in the US.
Guillermo Van Der Linde, dean of the School of Social and Business Sciences at the PUCMM university says, "One has to remember that there is entrepreneurship to make the most of opportunities, and entrepreneurship as a last resort."
Van Der Linde says that 90% of the businesses that fail is because of a lack of correct costing. He said that for example, most entrepreneurs know how to make the best meal or beverages, but they do not know how much they need to charge to reach their break-even point.
Van Der Linde says that in the DR, only 2.8% of entrepreneurs have university level education, while 71.5% had some years of high school education.
See www.gemconsortium.org

Credit card arrears up
The level of credit card arrears increased from 13.5% to 14.8% in the past nine months, general manager of the TransUnions (former Cicla) credit bureau, Jeffrey Poyo told El Dia. He said that 85% of credit card users are up to date with their payments, despite the current economic problems. Poyo made these comments when announcing that credit card holders can now check their credit card history online at www.transunion.com.do
The company keeps positive and negative records for 2.7 million Dominican credit card holders. To secure the credit history, a payment of RD$220 plus tax is required.

More rains and heat
A tropical wave moving north from the Lesser Antilles will bring an increase in rain storms in the next 24-48 hours, says the weather department. The rainstorms will be heavy in the northwest and southwestern provinces of Monte Cristi, Dajabon, Elias Pina, Santiago Rodriguez and San Juan de la Maguana. A heatwave is affecting life in the DR at the same time as summer makes its way in. Meanwhile, the director of the Dominican Cardiology Institute, Dr. Angel Gonzalez recommended using light clothing and drinking lots of liquids to deal with the current heat wave.

Summer Jazz at Casa de Teatro
Summer is special as Casa de Teatro welcomes leading jazz performers for its Annual Summer Jazz Festival, with Thursday performances in June and July. Tomorrow, Thursday 25 June, Rafael Mirabal and Sistema Temperado (DR) are onstage. The festival continues with Patricia Pereyra (DR) on 2 July, Bryan Lynch (USA) on 4 July, Ossia Saxophons (France) on 9 July, Natalia Calderon Quartet (Spain) on 16 July, Guillo Carias and his group (DR) on 23 July, and Paula Shokron and trio (Argentina) on 30 July. Tickets are for sale for RD$350 for indoor hall performance, and RD$200 for the outdoor Cafe Teatro.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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