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Daily News - Monday, 31 August 2009

Fernandez in Libya
President Leonel Fernandez is in Tripoli, Libya participating in the 13th African Union of Chiefs of State and Heads of Government Summit, 30-31 August. He traveled with First Lady Margarita Cedeno, Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso, press secretary Rafael Nunez and the director of the Center for Exports and Investments (CEI-RD), Eddy Martinez. The Presidency announced that the DR would be admitted as a full member in the African Union.
Fernandez will also participate in the 40th anniversary celebrations of the "Libya Revolution" that brought incumbent leader Muammar Gaddafi to power.
Fernandez was invited to this summit by Gadafi during the Non-Aligned Summit that took place in July in Egypt.
Also attending from Latin America is President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil who wants to get across the message to African nations that Brazil would help deliver a "green revolution" in African agriculture and drive efforts to boost cooperation between southern countries.
http://www.africa-union.org

Paredes guarantees breakfast quality
Minister of Education Melanio Paredes assured reporters that the quality issues regarding the school breakfast program are a thing of the past. He said that the suppliers now meet all requirements. He said that a commission will report to the public every 6 weeks regarding the lab analysis of the public school breakfast food.
The minister told reporters from Hoy newspaper that Lacteos Dominicanos (Ladom) as well as others that tests showed unacceptable milk supplies have corrected and improved their production processes and their contracts have been renewed. Schools will begin distributing the free breakfasts tomorrow.
Earlier in the year, lab tests of the milk and cake samples detected problems. In one supplier, a high concentration of microbes (300,000 bacteria in each mililiter of milk), was found. In another case, a cake samples were found to contain 32% of high-saturated fats. However, these problems, according to Paredes have been overcome.

Another IMF accord
The DR government seeks International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial assistance to meets its current deficit. According to Hoy newspaper, a IMF mission is expected in Santo Domingo this week for talks that would lead to the signing of a stand by agreement.
As reported, the short term assistance would bring US$1.5 billion to the Treasury. The Ministry of Hacienda has reported a RD$10.5 billion budget deficit.
Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu and Hacienda MinisterVicente Bengoa met late last week with the assistant manager of the IMF, Murillo Portugal, the executive director of the Chair to which the DR belongs within the IMF, Paolo Noguiera Batista, the chief of the negotiating mission for the Dominican Republic, Alejandro Santos.

Debts drown budget
The financing of the public debt is leaving its mark on the national budget. During the first half of the year, the impact of financing the debt had a negative effect on the budget due to the fact that the government spent more on debt payments and interest payments than it received in loan disbursements. The result was a RD$10.9 billion deficit.
Between debt payments and interest payments the government spent RD$31.3 billion, equal to 23% of the total amount destined for expenditures and financial applications during the first half of the year.
According to numbers from the Budget Department (Digepres), the government received financing for RD$10.46 billion and paid debts and interest for RD$21.31 billion. The financial applications for the January-June period were RD$26.72 billion, nearly a quarter of the total expenditures. This elevated amount of the budget spent shows just how tied the public finances are to the debts.
During the first half of the year, the government spent a little over RD$14 billion on subsidies. There was RD$9.57 billion spent on the subsidies for the poor, transportation and electricity. Another RD$4.5 billion was sent to subsidize the different municipalities. About one third of the capital expenditures (RD$3.91 billion) was spent by the Ministry of Public Works.

Ungodly spending by government
El Dia editorial comments that one of the most consistent and well-documented criticisms made to the Fernandez administration is regarding the burgeoning payroll. "Unfortunately the government is deaf to the calls that austerity begin with the elimination of unnecessary posts," writes El Dia. "People do not forget the large number of deputy ministers that have been appointed to do nothing, but receive undeserved wages," states the writer. But then it points to the report on Friday in Hoy on the enormous and very superfluous spending of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. "What reasonable explanation can there be to justify 64 persons at the New York Consulate, or 47 with diplomatic status at the Dominican mission to the United Nations? asks the writer. "Or the 37 employees on staffat the Miami Consulate, or the 32 in the Organization of American States mission in Washington, or the 23 at the Embassy in Washington? What does this represent in dollars? Millions. But that does not seem to matter."

Gov jobs in DR and Chile
Economist Andres Dauhajre in El Caribe today reports on the contrasting numbers between bureaucracies in Chile, El Salvador and the DR.
Presidency: Chile (870). El Salvador (763). DR (11,848 + 225 in the First Lady Office).
Ministry of Public Works. Chile 7,251. El Salvador 948. DR 11,876.
Ministry of Agriculture. Chile 5,197, El Salvador 1,189. DR 13,639 + 3,130 at the Dominican Agrarian Institute + 570 at the Dominican Coffee Council).
Tax Department. Chile 8,396, El Salvador 3,034. DR 10,654.
State Prosecution. Chile 3,570, El Salvador 1,234. DR 4,922.
Congress. Chile 1,082. El Salvador 897, DR 4,277.
Foreign Relations Ministry. Chile 1,536, El Savaldor 891, DR 2,657.
Central Bank. Chile 613. DR 2,182.

79,244 want 3,602 jobs
The congressional and municipal election set for May 2010 would be the best attended, in terms of participation, in the nation's history. There is also a record number in electoral positions to be filled by politicians.
In the 16 May election, 6,160,313 are registered to vote.
In the 16 May 2010 election, 32 senators, 178 deputies, 155 mayors and an equal number of substitutes, 1, 083 councillors and equal number of substitutes, 229 municipal district directors, and 687 spokespersons for municipal districts need to be elected.
This year, posts are for 6 years instead of the usual 4 years in order to unify the election with that in 2012.
Data from the Administrative Chamber of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) indicates that 79,244 candidates already vie for the 3,062 posts that are up for election. In next year's event there will be 1,164 new posts for aspiring candidates, compared to the 2002 election.
In May 2010, every single municipal and government post, with the exception of the President and the Vice-President, is up for grabs. These include senators, deputies, municipal council members and their substitutes, mayors and their substitutes as well and the new directors of municipal districts and their assistants.
The JCE is recruiting thousands of persons, some paid and some volunteers, to handle the elections. In all, 68,600 persons will be employed in the election. Of these 28,746 are university students.
They will work at the 13,700 polling stations that will be set up in 3,969 voting areas throughout the country.

Haitian remittances at US$500 M
Speaking at the Encounter for a Strategy for Haitian Recovery in Santo Domingo, Haiti's Northeastern Department senator, Rudolph H. Boulos stressed the impact of Dominican remittances into Haiti. He estimated these are at US$500 million a year and have a considerable impact. Speaking in his own name, he said he is grateful for the jobs his countrymen hold in the DR. He praised the friendship that unites both countries.
Those meeting at the event called for the drafting of a strategic plan that would bring about a true national dialogue to put the stakeholders of Haitian to seek consensus necessary to change government structures. He said recommended adopting measures for equaility men and women, a national security strategy, and efforts to drastically reduce economic disparities, as reported in El Caribe.
Former Haitian ambassador Jean Bertin accused the government of Haiti of not defining a policy to take advantage of the spirit of collaboration that prevails in the DR, within both the Dominican government and the Dominican people. Bertin said that on the contrary, representatives of the Haitian government are destroying their own country because they are creating frictions among both peoples in Dominican territory, which only makes matters worse.

Chilean sought for Clayderman robbery
Police has identified Chilean Williams Ignacio Diaz Santander (passport 17.167.064-0) as the man who irregularly entered the Melia hotel room of Tussaint Gilbert Oliver Charles Marie Urban, the manager of concert pianist Richard Clayderman and walked away with US$16,000 and 1,900 Euros, three credit cards and a pair of shoes, as reported in Hoy. The manager was in the DR accompanying pianist Richard Clayderman who performed at the National Theater. According to the Police, Diaz Santander was given the key at the hotel reception after explaining he needed a copy of the key, that he had lost his key. Afterwards, from the hotel room he requested assistance to open the security box "to save some documents" and a trusting hotel employee assisted him.

Suspect drug plane
A Ledine Continental bimotor plane that is suspect to have carried a drug shipment was found burned on a stretch of the Neiba-San Juan highway under construction. Locals reported that the plane was received by men on several vehicles. There is speculation the plane departed from a South American nation and flew over Haiti prior to its landing in the southwest of the DR, as reported in Hoy.

Two extradited for drugs and fraud
Dominican authorities extradited two men on Friday afternoon to the US for trials, according to the National Drug Control Department. Jose Manuel Vasquez (Chelo) Vasquez faces charges on heroine trafficking and money laundering in Rhode Island. Octavio Delemos Roedan faces credit card fraud charges (cloning cards) in Florida.
Vasquez had been held in the Extradition Cell of Najayo Prison since 10 February, and Roedan had been in prison since 21 May. Nereyda de Vasquez, Chelo's wife, was arrested and extradited last April. The DNCD reported that the case involved a kilogram of heroine and US$109,000.

More accident deaths on highways
If you were to ask drivers about the dangers of using the nation's highways, the answers are almost identical: poor signage, poor pavement and poor lighting. And if you asked the transit authorities, they would point out careless and reckless driving by drivers and their lack of respect for the laws and norms of good driving.
Both would be right, as El Caribe reported on Saturday, in an analysis of the more accident-prone highways.
The Duarte Highway has big potholes, dangerous curves and few signs warning of dangers. The Director General of Ground Transportation (DGTT) points out that there are 52 critical points along the highway, especially at Kilometers 14,15,17,40,43,60, and 68 where as many as 7 fatal accidents occurred last year.
El Caribe says that long-time drivers know where the bad spots are and can avoid them in time, but the speeding infrequent users are often surprised by the deteriorated roadway and their evasive actions have caused major accidents. Veteran driver Lucas Velette Pelaez told reporters that "there are potholes where one least expects them: that is the first thing. After that, there are the Miranda Hill segments and Kilometer 60..."
In a similar fashion, the Las Americas Expressway was roundly criticized for the lack of lighting, and the DGTT identified 26 dangerous areas, especially Kilometers 18 and 19 and the zone near the entrance to the airport.
On the other side of Santo Domingo the 6 of November Highway presents dangerous areas near the Cabana Amor, near the entrance to El Cajuilito and in front of the Goya factory.
Data from the Security and Analysis Division of the DGTT show that last year there were 21,000 accidents on the highways last year. Most could been prevented.
The main reasons for accidents were: driver's carelessness (6,047), imprudence (2,197), distractions (1,639), did not maintain distance for breaking (1,172), backing up without precaution (1,709), excessive speeding (876). Mechanical problems (513).
Over the weekend, at least three persons perished and more than a dozen were injured in just two accidents reported over the weekend. In one of the accidents, a religious group traveling from the community of Judea in Monte Cristi suffered a blowout and their minibus overturned, killing one person and injuring 12 others. The incident occurred at Kilometer 56 of the Duarte Highway. The driver, who suffered broken legs, said that there were 15 persons in the van.
In another tragic incident, a crash between a bus and a truck left 2 dead and 5 injured near Kilometer 3 of the San Juan-Azua Highway at 3pm.

Gasoline goes down, diesel goes up
The government ordered gasoline prices reduced yesterday, but they also increased the price of a gallon of diesel fuel.
Gasoline prices fell by RD$1.30 on premium and RD$1.90 on regular. However, there was a RD$0.50 cent increase in the price of both types of diesel. The price of propane for home use or vehicles was not changed.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce ordered premium gasoline to be sold at RD$154 and regular gasoline at RD$145 a gallon. Premium Diesel will be priced at RD$127.60, and regular diesel was priced at RD$122.40. Propane is still RD$65.42.

DR makes it to FIBA Round 2
Despite losing to Argentina in a very battled game, 89-87 in the final day of Round 1 at the FIBA Americas Championship, the DR moved on to the second round of the event. The DR had been ahead at halftime 43-37. In the overtime period the Dominicans had an 81-76 lead after a three point play by Al Horford, but Argentina reacted with a 7-0 run to take an 83-81 advantage. At the end Argentina controlled the ball and secured the win with free throws.
Al Horford led the Dominicans with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Francisco Garcia 20, Luis Flores 16 and Jack Michael Martinez 13. Charlie Villanueva had a bad day with 9 points by shooting 3-13 from the field but he helped on the boards with 10 rebounds.
Monday is a rest day as the teams prepare for the quarterfinals, with each team playing four games Tuesday through Friday. The top 4 teams then reach the 2010 FIBA World Championship.The semifinals will be played on 5 September and the finals the next day.
FINAL STANDINGS (end of Qualifying Round)
(Team - W | L)
Group A
Puerto Rico - 4 | 0
Uruguay - 3 | 1
Canada - 2 | 2
Mexico - 1 | 3
Group B
Brazil - 4 | 0
Argentina - 2 | 2
Dominican Rep. - 2 | 2
Panama - 1 | 3

Voices for Peace lyrical concert
The Ministry of Culture is sponsoring the presentation of the concert "Voces por la Paz" this coming Wednesday, 2 September at the Maximo Aviles Blonda Hall of the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes). Free admission. Known pieces by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Bisset, Gonzalo Roig, Julio A. Hernandez, Aura Marina del Rosario and Tono Abreu will be sung. Lyrical voices are Paola Gonzalez, Pura Tyson, Juan Cuevas, Modesto Acosta, Enmanuelle Vargas, Eduardo Mejia. Pianists Anton Fustier and Irving Paniagua.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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