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Daily News - Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Laundered money "not re-distributed"
The judicial authorities have yet to distribute any of the money that has been seized from money laundering, reports Listin Diario. Law 72/02 sets out that laundered money must be given to local non-governmental organizations to help fund their activities, but high-profile cash hauls from well publicized cases like the US$4.6 million in the Sobeida Feliz case and the US$14.5 million in the Quirino Paulino case have yet to be handed over, according to these organizations. Yesterday, 11 NGOs working on drug rehabilitation announced that they were filing charges against Dominican Attorney General Radhames Jimenez Pena for failing to comply with the law. The organizations are accusing Jimenez and Santo Domingo DA Alejandro Moscoso Segarra of trying to appropriate the funds for personal use. The NGOs said that 50% of laundered money must go to the DNCD, 35% should go to the National Drugs Council (CND) and the remaining 15% must go to NGOs that work with drug addicts. CND director Mabel Feliz says she has met with President Leonel Fernandez and although he has asked for the money to be distributed, it remains under tight control.

Mr. Independent
Senator Alejandro Williams says he will now run for re-election as an independent candidate, after his party the PLD's Political Committee rejected his candidacy application. The announcement about William's case came as no surprise after it was revealed that Williams rarely attends congressional meetings and has been notable for his absence from the constitutional reform debates. But Senator Williams is fighting back, suggesting that his rejection by the PLD and subsequent announcements on the issue by PLD electoral commission coordinator Alejandrina German are politically motivated. Williams says that German ran a dirty campaign against him, in order to limit his chances in his senatorial campaign, and favor her husband Jose Maria Sosa's campaign.

Marranzini unrealistic?
Celso Marranzini has a Mount Everest of problems at the State-owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE), but the businessman-turned-energy sector reformer has taken on the challenge and has set 2011 as the year when the DR's energy debt will be paid off completely. The two-and-a-half-year goal may seem unrealistic, considering the problems in the sector and the failures thus far, but Marranzini says he is making headway. Quoted in Hoy, Marranzini said that the CDEEE has already saved US$10 million and other expenses after an initial "housekeeping" exercise. In his first weeks at the CDEEE Marranzini fired the workers and eliminated the expenses that brought no value to the institution and were considered a drain on resources. Marranzini also displayed enthusiasm and hope that a more consistent payment culture would develop in the DR. He said that August, September and October have seen record pay collections of RD$3.4 billion, RD$3.7 billion and RD$4 billion. Marranzini said that everyone has to start realizing that this is not an issue with an administration or a government, but rather the country's problems and that if no one pays then the problem doesn't get resolved.

Information still not free
The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens to have access to information and records concerning public institutions, and serves as a way of maintaining transparency in government, but what happens when there isn't even an office that can deliver this information to citizens? This is a problem with 40% of all public institutions in the DR. According to civic group Participacion Ciudadana (PC), institutions like the Ministry of Culture, OPRET, the Central Bank, the Mining Department, the Insurance Superintendence and 80% of municipal governments don't even have an office for dealing with information requests. PC's Javier Cabreja said that of the 85 main public institutions, 34 do not have an information office.
In related news, the Economy, Planning and Development Ministry has just inaugurated its information office.

Taxes could increase
Thought taxes couldn't get any higher? Think again. The National Revisory Assembly has agreed to include a clause in the new constitution that allows municipal authorities to tax their residents, on top of the national taxes citizens must pay. The stipulation with this new law is that the taxes imposed by the city governments cannot "clash" with national taxes, affect inter-city commerce or exports, or clash with the constitution or national laws.

Sugar and tobacco
Sugar, tobacco and products that aid in blood transfusions lead the list of the DR's most exported products during the first seven months of 2010. Hand-made cigar exports grew by 0.94%, going from US$124.2 million to US$131.8 million. Products for blood transfusions grew by 3.21% going from US$233 million to US$258.9 million, with the product being exported mainly to the US, Puerto Rico, Holland, China, Venezuela, Germany, India, South Korea, Singapore, France, Colombia, Canada, Thailand and the Central African Republic. The 31 most exported products by the DR generated US$1.1 billion in revenue, for a 30.6% increase from the same period in 2008. Exports of these 31 products during the first seven months of 2008 totaled US$805.9 million. Other high-volume exports included cacao, disposable bed sheets, medical supplies, fresh bananas and beer.

Metro gets routes
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has donated US$1 million to the DR and will be designated to the OPRET for the design, implementation and construction of the Santo Domingo feeder lines. The lines, which were due to be built in conjunction with the Santo Domingo Metro have yet to materialize and has caused concerns that they would never be built. Supporters of the Metro say that once the feeder lines are built it will make the Metro project more efficient and will provide a better service for commuters. The feeder project will cost an estimated US$1.25 million, of which the DR will put up US$250,000. According to Diario Libre the feeder line construction is expected to take 18 months to complete. No word on when construction will begin.

Kidnap victim set free
Another kidnapping has been reported and this time it ended with positive results for the family. This is the story of 6-year old Angel Agustin Jimenez who was kidnapped on Monday. The boy, originally from Santiago, was taken to Mao, Valverde by his captors, where he was later set free. The National Police say they have two suspects, but they have yet to identify them. El Caribe reports that the boy, an asthmatic, had a strong asthma attack while in the custody of the kidnappers. Fearing he would die in their custody, the kidnappers, who according to Listin Diario had asked for RD$1 million in ransom payment, left the boy and continued on.

Yankees clip wings
Ever heard of an angel with an angel? Neither have we, but the Anaheim Angels are praying to the baseball gods that someone or something gives them some help. They will need it against this new Yankee team. Ferocious can only begin to describe the Yankees after they pummeled the Angels in Game 4 of the ALCS championship series. The final score of 10-1 was only a quick view into the deliberate dissection these Yankees have initiated on the Angels. This Yankee team is being led offensively by the resurgent Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez, known as a post-season choker in his post-season career, has been stellar. Having earned a walk, single and two-run homerun, Rodriguez now has 5 home runs and 11 RBI, with a .444 batting average in the 2009 post-season.

Weather update
Rains will continue in the DR throughout the day. Santo Domingo is expected to experience light rains and a cloudy day, with a noticeable drop in temperature. Drivers in and around Santo Domingo, especially on the Autopista Duarte/JFK Avenue, should expect delays and long traffic jams. This was the case yesterday, when a sudden storm made life miserable for thousands of drivers. Flash floods in and around Santo Domingo, coupled with rush hour traffic and construction on the Autopista Duarte backed up traffic for hours. Rain warnings are also in effect for the northern parts of the DR, especially in the regions of Samana, Monte Plata, La Romana, Hato Mayor, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Puerto Plata, La Vega, Santiago Rodriguez and Elias Pina.

UN sponsors Diaz
The United Nations and Dominican endurance swimmer Marcos Diaz will join forces to raise awareness about the fight against poverty. Listin Diario is reporting that the UN will support Diaz's project "Nado de los Continenetes" (Swim of the Continents) and Diaz has stated that his goal is to highlight the gap in resources between rich and poor people. According to Listin, the original proposal for the support was made by Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso and the Dominican mission at the UN in New York. Dominican ambassador to the UN Federico Alberto Cuello Camilo said that Diaz represents the best the DR has to offer.

The Scores
Last night's matchup between the Toros del Este and the Gigantes del Cibao was canceled and will be played on 22 October 2009. The game was canceled as a result of a two-day work stoppage in San Francisco de Macoris. In yesterday's other games the Escogido beat up on the Estrellas Orientales 8-1 with a strong offensive showing from a unit that has been quiet in the first weeks of the season. In the third game of the night the Aguilas tamed their heated rivals the Tigres, 4-0. The game was postponed for a period of two hours due to the heavy downpour that hit Santo Domingo last night.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 2 - 1 .667 --
LICEY 2 - 2 .500 0.5
ESTRELLAS 2 - 2 .500 0.5
AGUILAS 2 - 2 .500 0.5
GIGANTES 2 - 2 .500 0.5
ESCOGIDO 1 - 2 .333 1.0
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