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Daily News - Friday, 03 July 2009

President of Baleares on new tourism
Francesc Antich, president of Spain's leading tourism destination, the Balearic Islands autonomous region, with 13 million annual visitors, arrived on Tuesday for meetings with President Leonel Fernandez and other Dominican government and tourism business representatives. During a presentation at the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) last night, he spoke of the errors the Baleares had made in 50 years of tourism development, so that Dominicans could learn from their experiences.
Antich said that they learned the hard way the major risks intensive growth of hotel and residential units poses. He mentioned it does not give a breather to keep up with the needed infrastructure and trained people in order to provide quality services.
"We now assume that tourism is a matter of state, and it has to be dealt with by the highest authorities," he stressed, especially given what he described as the "pure transversal nature" of the industry. He said that now, 50 years later, the government of Baleares has made 17 Competitiveness, Jobs and Social Cohesion Pacts focusing on their main industry, which is tourism.
Antich repeatedly emphasized quality in tourism in his talk. He described this as a focus on environment, landscaping, cultural and security issues. Within security, he says they have a broader definition beyond merely crime, and now include food, health and general safety for freely getting around.
He said that contrary to all-inclusive enclave type of tourism, in Baleares, there has always been the positive integration of the tourist and the community, and they want to use this as a major plus of their industry.
Antich spoke of how in the 1960s, when they had their original boom, the trend was to build high-rise oceanfront buildings. "In 2009, we now want to blend the buildings with the landscaping, respecting the environment," he stressed.
On the issue of real estate development, he said: "We do not want real estate to burst again beyond the limits that care for the environment and landscape demands."
He said that if renovation of the sector were not to happen, the destination would enter into rapid decline. "We have a global change under way with our focus now on where we want to be in 2020," he told the Dominican audience.
He says this also means incorporating clean new technologies and focusing on what makes Baleares unique. "Buildings need to respect the environment and the landscape," he stressed on several occasions during his talk.
He also highlighted the fact that businesspeople are coming to realize the importance of corporate social responsibility, with much of the work under way now through partnerships with the chambers of commerce.
"Today, when we invest we need to care for everything that makes us unique, that is the landscape, the environment and our cultural heritage," he said. He said the government has set aside 1,600 hectares for new investments in natural spaces.
"To grow without limits is against quality in tourism," he said, admitting they have learned from their mistakes. He urged Dominicans to have land use plans prior to the start of development.
He also encouraged the Dominican government to work side by side with the private sector in developing tourism development strategies and new tourism niches.
During his stay, he toured 9 hotels in the Punta Cana area that are investments of Balearic capital. "I saw very good installations of quality, with outstanding landscape, and hospitable people. You have everything to do things well," he said.

DR not taking advantage of EPA
Ramesh Chaitoo, Services Trade Specialist with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) says the DR is not taking full advantage of the European Partnership Agreement. In an interview with Listin Diario, Chaitoo called for educating the business sector in the DR to understand the opportunities provided by the EPA. Chaitoo was accompanied by Jonathan Pitts, who is in charge of communications and public affairs at the European Union mission in the DR.
The EU recently hosted a workshop "Services and Investment in the Cariforum-EC Economic Partnership Agreement" with the support of the Center for Export and Investments, the Federation of European Chambers of Commerce and the Department of Foreign Commerce of the Ministry of Industry & Commerce (Dicoex). The European Union and the Federation of European Chambers of Commerce sponsored the event.
Chaitoo says there are significant opportunities in the sectors of tourism and professional services. He mentioned several areas where there are work opportunities for Dominicans in Europe in the fields of accounting, architecture, advertising, entertainment and information technology.
He said the country could receive US$27 million in cooperation assistance this year, but the funds need to be programmed by the authorities. He called on the private sector to be more proactive in securing business with Europe.

Regional film organizations to meet here
Leading lights of cinematography from Latin America, Spain and Portugal will be in Santo Domingo for two important conferences with presentations by government institutions that back the film industry in the region.
The Ministry of Culture is organizing the events. President Leonel Fernandez has spearheaded local efforts to turn the DR into a major filmmaking center.
These are the XVIII Ordinary Meeting of the Ibero-American Conference of Audiovisual and Cinematographic Authorities (CAACI) and the XV Ordinary Meeting of the Inter-governmental Ibermedia Committee.
The events will take place from 7 to 10 July and are sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. Delegates from 20 Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal will attend.
The following entities will be represented:
Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (Argentina)
Consejo Nacional de Cine (Bolivia)
Agencia Nacional de Cine and Secretaria de Estado del Audiovisual (Brasil)
Direccion Nacional de Cinematografia (Colombia)
Centro Costarricense de Produccion Cinematografica (Costa Rica)
Instituto Cubano de Artes e Industrias Cinematograficas (Cuba)
Centro Nacional de Cinematografia (Ecuador)
Instituto Cinematografico de las Artes Audiovisuales (Spain)
Instituto Mexico de Cinematografia (Mexico)
Sistema Estatal de Radio y TV (Panama)
Consejo Nacional de Cinematografia (Peru)
Instituto de Cine y Audiovisual (Portugal)
Instituto del Cine y Audiovisual (Uruguay)
Centro Nacional Autonomo de Cinematografia (Venezuela)
Corporacion de Cine (Puerto Rico).
"This is the largest meeting of film and public TV authorities in the region that has been held in our country. It is a way of stimulating the local film industry and promotes its values and reach," said Marlon Soto, director of cinematography for the Dominican government. Also representing the Dominican government at the event are Luis Rafael Gonzalez, director of the Cinemateca Dominicana, and Felix Manuel Lora, coordinator of educational film programs at the Ministry of Culture.
The inaugural event is scheduled for Wednesday, 8 July at the Hotel Intercontinental, with a talk by Culture Minister Jose Rafael Lantigua.

Pay raise at standstill
Listening to government and business sector representatives one would think that a wage raise agreement would have been finalized by Thursday, but the standstill continues, despite several meetings with Labor Minister Max Puig.
The business sector has upped its offer from 12 to 15% of the minimum wage. The current labor law only obliges a review of the minimum wage every two years. But this has not been acceptable to labor negotiators.
Union leader Rafael Abreu wants a 22% wage increase for employees earning the minimum wage, an 18% increase for those who make between RD$7,360 and RD$15,000, a 14% increase for those who make between RD$15,000 and RD$21,000 and a 12% increase for those who make between RD$21,000 and RD$27,000.
Commenting on the issue, Vice President Rafael Alburquerque says that both sides need to come to some type of agreement soon because this has been under discussion since last year.

Finjus to government: "Do something"
Two leading civic groups, the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus) and Participacion Ciudadana (PC) are asking the government to do something about the recently exposed nepotism scandals at the State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) and INDHRI. Government officials have said nothing in response to the accusations and CDEEE VP Radhames Segura, accused of nepotism, has defended his position, saying he had only 40 of the 8,000 employed in the organizations. Several newspaper reports have indicated the scandalous bloating of the CDEEE payroll. Payroll has been increasing while the service has increased in price and blackouts are back.
In separate statements, Finjus vice president Servio Tulio Castanos Guzman and PC director Javier Cabreja both urged the government to take action in response to the accusations. Castanos Guzman has called on the Chamber of Accounts as well as the Public Ministry and the Department for the Persecution of Administrative Corruption to avoid letting this opportunity to adopt stricter anti-corruption measures go by.
Cabreja says this is a clear example of ethics violations, corruption and nepotism. He also questioned the sincerity of the President's comments about his government's "zero tolerance" towards corruption.

DR at Caricom meeting
The DR is attending the Caricom's 30th Conference of Heads of State and Government. While the DR is partnered with Caricom in Cariforum, the DR has failed to become a full member of Caricom for a raft of reasons.
However, discussions at the conference, being held in Guyana between 2 and 5 July, could forge the path to the DR's integration in the regional trading block.
Cesar Dargam Espaillat, Executive Secretary of the National Trade Negotiations Commission, commented, "this is an opportunity for the country to reaffirm its commitment to strengthening relations with Caricom, paying attention to the realities of the region, and following the commitments of the Cariforum."
Dargam said that DR officials have been adamant about strengthening relations with Caricom and creating a more participative and transparent Caricom that benefits the region.

DR and UAE continue cooperation
Aristides Fernandez Zucco, president of the National Energy Council, has announced that the DR and the United Arab Emirates will continue developing their recently forged friendship in the area of renewable energy projects.
Relations with the UAE were made official last year during a visit by President Leonel Fernandez to the UAE. Zucco made his announcement after taking part in the Second Session of the International Renewable Energy Agency, at a recent meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Zucco informed that he met private with UAE Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Energy Minister Mohamed Bin Dhaen Al-Hamli.

School drug prevention programs
Ecuadorian experts Dr. Franklin Barriga Lopez and Franklin Barriga Bedoya say the DR is amongst the best-prepared nations in the region when it comes to drug prevention measures in schools. The doctors analyzed statistics from the National Strategic Plan 2008-2010 and presented their results during a meeting with employees of the National Drug Control Council (CND).
The doctors say that the drug prevention plan, aimed at preventing drug use amongst family, military personnel, public employees, public and private professionals and the religious community, is among the most effective tools for prevention.

Bani is a free zone for drug traffickers
Peravia (Bani) province senator Wilton Guerrero said that the southwestern coast near Matanzas has become a free zone for drug traffickers, as reported in Diario Libre. He asked the authorities to launch an in-depth investigation and provide a public explanation about the presence of a ship near the spot where a small plane loaded with cocaine crashed on Tuesday. He also asked for an explanation about the Mercedes Benz, SUV and van that were seen in the deserted area after midnight on Tuesday.
He said that fishermen in the area had tipped off the authorities about the presence of the plane and the boat. He denied statements by DNCD drug enforcement officials that they had been patrolling the Pedernales-Peravia strip and that was how they sighted the plane.
The DNCD reported having recovered 122 kilos of cocaine. The body of one unidentified person has been recovered from the wrecked plane.
Senator Wilton Guerrero has repeatedly denounced the way in which drug traffickers have infiltrated drug enforcement and influenced government officials in Peravia province, facilitating the operations of the drug traffickers.

MLB DR prospects get big money
MLB baseball is continuing to set new precedents with the signing of Dominican-born prospects. Yesterday, during the first day of signings of baseball talent, the St. Louis Cardinals shelled out a reported US$3.1 million for the services of Wagner Mateo. Team VP Jeff Luhnow says he expects Mateo, an outfielder, to be a great professional talent who can team with Albert Pujols to give the Cardinals a bright future. He said that this was the largest investment ever made in a prospect, adding that Mateo has batting ability well above the norm for an athlete his age.
The Yankees were not far behind as they signed 17-year old catcher Gary Sanchez to a US$3 million contract. Yankees VP Mark Newman says Sanchez is one of the best prospects in Latin America. Speaking after the signing, Sanchez said his job is now to work hard so he can get to the Big Leagues.

Manny's Back
Despite the black cloud placed over the head of slugger Manny Ramirez once it was announced he failed a drug test, emotions are high in Los Angeles as Ramirez is set to return tonight after his 50-game suspension. Ramirez has been very tight-lipped about the suspension, but his fan support in LA has not wavered, with the Dodgers re-instituting the Manny-wood section at Dodger's stadium at Chavez Ravine.
The hype is expected to be at a fever pitch as the Dodgers face the San Diego Padres on this 4th of July weekend, traditionally one of baseball's busiest weekends.

Google Ocean in Santo Domingo
Two leading US marine scientists and oceanic business opportunity promoters, Charlotte Vick and David Jourdan will be in Santo Domingo for a Wednesday, 8 July 7pm presentation of the Google Ocean extension of Google Earth and new marine technology applications.
The presentations will take place at the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development at Capitan Eugenio de Marchena 26, La Esperilla, Tel 809-685-9966.
One of the highlights of the presentation will be the explanation about the Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) system in Bora Bora, in the Pacific, and the considerable energy cost savings it has meant for the Intercontinental hotel where it is now in operation.
Google Ocean technology enables explorations to be carried out in the DR to ascertain where this technology for reducing up to 80% the cost of air conditioning can apply.
Charlotte Vick, content editor for Google Ocean, will tell the story of the software, what it represents and how Dominicans can play an active role in its virtual development and use the data that is now becoming available.
David Jourdan will expand on new marine technologies that use cold deep-ocean water for fresh water production, cold agriculture and other renewable energy applications that are available for Dominican producers and services, from a sustainable development perspective.
Sustainable Solutions (SOS Caribe) is sponsoring the event, with the support of dr1.com, and US NGOs Common Heritage and Nauticos. The event also has the backing of the National Competitiveness Council.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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