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Daily News - Monday, 24 August 2009

Fernandez looks to IMF
Minister of the Hacienda Vicente Bengoa and the governor of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu were instructed by President Fernandez to head to Washington, DC to find US$900 million to fill present government budgetary gap. The will hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to accelerate the disbursement of an additional US$700 million. The agreement with the IMF would expedite the disbursement of funds by the IDB and World Bank. They expect to secure commitments for US$200 million from both multilateral organizations to help shore up the 2009 budget that is facing a RD$10 billion shortfall so far this year.
Bengoa explained: "To be able to maintain current spending and the economic stimulus package levels we have to get this financing. The IMF is willing to help us get them. Obviously, we have to arrive at some sort of program in order to achieve these disbursements and additional resources."
The government says the US$700 million would be used to fund ongoing projects executed by the Ministry of Public Works, the Office of Supervising Engineers of State Projects, the National Aqueducts and Sewage Institute (INAPA) and government housing projects under INVI, as well as social programs. The US$200 million would bolster the budget. The World Bank and the IDB require the approval of the IMF in order to disburse funds for budgetary support, and because of this, the country needs to adhere to an IMF supervisory program.
Bengoa stressed no new taxes will be forthcoming with the signing with the IMF. "That would be like throwing a lead lifesaver at the economy," he said.

IMF transfers US$275 to DR
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will transfer US$275.3 million to the Dominican Republic, according to a report from the Central Bank. The transfer comes just as the Dominican government opens talks with the international organization regarding the signing of a possible agreement that would expedite the disbursements.
According to the Central Bank, during the week they will receive an additional assignment of US$177.2 million in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the IMF, equal to US$275.3 million. These will bolster the international reserves. "With the entry of these resources, the gross international reserves are more than US$2.7 billion and the liquid reserves are more than US$1.5 billion," said the Central Bank.
The bank explained that the IMF is not imposing any type of limitation for the use of the money, and therefore they are freely available to the Central Bank. The funds would be injected into the exchange market.
The bank does not feel the money would spur inflation, rather that it would have a neutral effect on the domestic monetary offer. "It is worthy of note that this transfer does not increase the foreign debt of the Dominican Republic, because it is not an international loan, but rather a contribution of capital. Nor is it conditioned to the signing of an IMF accord."
The SDRs are used by the IMF to complement the reserve assets of member countries. Its value is based on a basket of monies of the principle world economies. Actually, the SDRs are equal to US$1.55361. The decision to assign this additional amount of SDRs is done in fulfillment of the agreements reached in the last G-20 meeting held in London in April of this year. In this meeting, the distribution of SDRs equal to US$250 billion among the IMF member countries was agreed to so that these economies would have the resources that would permit them to satisfy their need for liquidity in the actual context of the global crisis being felt by the world.
The IMF stipulates that the money permits the member nations of the IMF, among these the DR, to be in a better position to face their needs for hard currencies in the near future.
With this increase in its reserves, the Central Bank strengthens its position in foreign currency and increases the availability of resources to face up to the needs of the balance of payments, contributing to maintain relative stability in the exchange rate and dissipate possible undesirable pressures on the currency market, according to information obtained from Central Bank sources.

Michael Masters meets Fernandez
President Fernandez met for two hours with Michael Masters, an expert on international oil issues on Friday evening. The President had asked masters to outline strategies that would help the country protect itself against high oil prices. Minister of the Hacienda Bengoa and Central Bank governor Valdez Albizu, along with high-ranking officials and technicians were also present at the meeting in the Trinitarios Hall of the Presidential Palace.
Bengoa explained that there is a mechanism of insurance for those occasions when oil prices go up on the international market, and there are several options and procedures for employing these options.
As reported in the Internet, Michael Masters, principal and founder of the hedge fund firm Masters Capital Management LLC, in July 2008 Masters achieved near rock star status following his testimony before the US Congress about the impact of oil speculators on oil prices.

Fuel prices go down a little
The government ordered a RD$4 cut in the price of premium gasoline, and a RD$2.30 cut in the price of regular. Diesel fuel was lowered RD$1.70 while LPG (propane) stayed the same. Premium gasoline will now sell for RD$155.30 a gallon, and regular will sell for RD$146.90. The better grade of diesel will sell for RD$127.10 and the regular diesel will sell for RD$122.10. LPG will sell for RD$65.42 a gallon.
Other fuels were also lowered in price: Avtur is now RD$95.82, and kerosene is now RD$112.80.
Although crude prices were still high the prices of refined products were lower last week according to Platts and OPIS LPG.
During the first quarter of the year the country imported 1.4 million barrels of gasoline at a cost of US$78.3 million. Also, a total of 1.8 million gallons of diesel were imported at a cost of US$107 million, as well as 2.3 million gallons of LPG at a cost of US$78 million (at US$33.32 a barrel).
This information is from the Central Bank.
On a curious note, in spite of the economic downturn, fuel imports went from 967,000 barrels for the first quarter of 2008 to 1.4 million barrels in the first quarter of 2009.

Request death certificate annulment
The Administrative Chamber of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) requested the full electoral board annul a death certificate that was issued in an irregular manner to a naturalized US citizen of Cuban extraction who disappeared in a small plane that fell into the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Bani. It was said that the aircraft was transporting drugs.
People in the United States are using the death certificate to lay claim to a US$16 million life insurance policy, according to administrative chamber head, Roberto Rosario.
The death certificate was issued for Antonio Armando Fernandez Caballero and registered with the number 321962-0462 of 008, according to the request for annulment sent to JCE president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman.
The certificate of death was issued in the Department of Death Certificates for the National District that is located in the Central Civil Registry Office in the Feria.

More changes in government
The Executive Branch continued yesterday, Sunday, with appointments and dismissals in the Armed Forces and the National Police. In Decree 616-09 President Fernandez confirmed Pedro Antonio Caceres Chestaro of the Army, Gilverto Delgado Valdez of the Air Force and Vinicio Hernandez Mendez of the National Police in their rank of major general. Previously, these ranks had been temporary.
Then, in Decree 617-09, the Chief Executive appointed as directors general of the National Police, General Manuel Rodriguez Miranda in the Southwest Regional Command, with headquarters in San Juan de la Maguana, General Rafael Jorge Gil, in the South Regional Command based in Barahona, and General Valentin Rosado Vicioso as National Director of Preventive Security of the police.
At the same time, Fernandez designated General Francisco Rodriguez Sanchez as the central director of Support and Service of the National Police and Colonel Alejandro Estevez Germosen as the central director of Anti-Narcotics and he repealed Article 4 of Decree 604-09. Decree 618-09 appointed Vice Admiral Nicolas Cabrera Arias, of the Navy, as Vice Minister of the Armed Forces, representing that branch of service. He also appointed Brigadier General Pilot Pedro Rene Valenzuela Quiroz of the Air Force as chief of the Specialized Corps of Airport Security (CESA).

DNCD jail 170
As a result of dragnets in Santo Domingo, La Romana, Bani, Puerto Plata, Higuey, San Francisco de Macoris and other places, the National Department For Drug Control now under a new head, jailed 170 person that are allegedly linked to drugs and drug trafficking. Thousands of doses of drugs were also seized. One of those arrested was identified as Rafael Cruz, and he was picked up with a pound of marijuana that he was allegedly taking to Laguna Grande in La Isabela.
A DNCD press release reported: "More than 75 persons have been arrested in the last few hours as part of the DNCD initiative called "Zero tolerance with drugs." This is a campaign against small drug dealers. Money, drugs, weapons and vehicles were also confiscated.

Tragedy on Samana Highway
The cries of Juan Payano are heard outside the waiting room of the small health center in Monte Plata. He cannot overcome the reality of the death of his wife Atalia Frias Alcala, 60, who died yesterday afternoon one of 7 victims and 19 were injured in a fatal road accident. The deaths happened when the bus they were travelling in, slid and overturned at Kilometer 55 of the Santo Domingo-Samana highway. According to one of the injured, as reported in the Listin Diario newspaper, the bus was traveling quite fast and several women yelled at the driver to slow down.
The injured were taken to hospitals in East Santo Domingo and Sabana Grande de Boya.
Lieutenant Colonel Gondrez Santana of the Fire Department in Monte Plata said the accident happened around 3:30pm when a tire was punctured as the bus slid in the rain. This caused the bus, a Toyota Coaster, to go out of control and roll over on its right side when approaching the Batey Sabana Larga.
Several of the victims lived in Samana.

Health officials close water bottlers
The Ministry of Public Health (PH) reported yesterday that over the weekend 75 additional water bottling plants in San Pedro de Macoris, La Vega, and Santiago that operated without fulfilling the health standards required were ordered to close. The authorities said that during the campaign of follow-up and control, 29 bottling plants were closed, and 34 were given prior notice of changes that need to be made. Another 10 water bottling businesses were dismantled.
Since last April 143 different installations that bottled water have been penalized by the health authorities. The majority of the closed and notified water processors are in Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, La Vega and Santiago.
The head of the Ministry of Public Health, Bautista Rojas Gomez said that he would not permit the sale of water that did not meet the quality standards established by the Ministry.

DR 1st Finalist in Miss Universe
Stefania Fernandez, 18, won the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in Nassau, Bahamas last night. Miss Dominican Republic Ada Aimee de la Cruz, 23, "another stunning beauty" was chosen First Finalist. This is the highest position achieved in the contest by a Dominican, second to that of Amelia Vega, who won the contest in 2003.
This was the sixth time a Venezuelan beauty has won the Miss Universe title. She triumphed over 83 other young women from around the world and was the second consecutive Venezuelan to hold the title. Last year, Dayana Mendoza won the title in Vietnam.
Latin American women were the strong favorites, with 3 of the final 5 candidates coming from the Caribbean - winner Stefania Fernandez from Venezuela, runner up Ada Aimee de la Cruz and Mayra Matos from Puerto Rico. The representatives from Australia and Kosovo were the other two finalists.
The beauty pageant was held at the Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island and transmitted by NBC and Telemundo to 125 countries around the world. Miss China was voted the "Most Friendly" by her fellow candidates, and in an Internet voting procedure, Miss Thailand was voted to be the "Most Photogenic".
Ada Aimee de la Cruz also got fame when she earned a spot in top 15 at the Miss World in 2007.
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