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Daily News - Wednesday, 28 October 2009

DR and Vietnam
President Leonel Fernandez has announced plans for signing of an agreement for technology and education exchanges with Vietnam. The Presidency reports that the agreement also seeks to increase trade and will contain provisions on transport and energy generation.
The announcement was made by Fernandez who met with a Vietnamese delegation led by Nguyen Hong Quan, Minister of Construction, at the Presidential Palace yesterday. The government and Vietnamese business delegation was in the DR to study the progress of the Dominican economy and explore possible investment opportunities.
Fernandez highlighted the DR's willingness to strengthen ties with Vietnam saying, "We in the DR feel a deep admiration and a great respect for the Vietnamese people," as reported in Hoy.

US$100 million in Taiwan funds
Taiwan has agreed to contribute US$100 million to the DR from 2009-2012. Half is a non-refundable donation. Taiwan Ambassador Isaac Tsai and Economy & Planning Minister Temistocles Montas, together with Alejandra Liriano representing the Ministry of Foreign Relations signed the memorandum of understanding on the distribution of the aid. Government entities that will receive chapters of the donation are the First Lady's Office, the ministries of Public Health, Foreign Relations, Women, and Interior & Police. Part of the funding will also go to the Center for Export and Investment, the Border Development Department and the National Statistics Office.

Camilo warns of reduction
Rafael Camilo, the director general of Customs (DGA), says Customs collections in 2009 are forecast to be 12% less than last year. Collections are expected to be down RD$10 billion and RD$12 billion by year's end. Camilo says that all imports, from appliances to vehicles and everything in between, have fallen since 2008.

Montas defends debt
Minster of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas is defending the government's increasing debt by saying that its overall purpose is to stimulate the Dominican economy. Montas added that the government would continue taking on debt as a strategy in the face of the international crisis. He added that the government could not just stand by helplessly. Montas was responding to comments by Manuel Diez Cabral, president of the DR Industries Association (AIRD), who commented that the increased debt could put the country's relative macroeconomic stability in danger. Diez commented that the public debt is at US$18.2 billion and that agreements on the way with the IMF and other multilateral and private banks could add another US$4 billion. He said that already the US$18.2 billion debt is 39.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (estimated at US$46 billion).
Montas argued that the United States is currently increasing its debt to stay above water.

Chile & the DR
The Dominican ambassador in Chile, Pablo Marinez, has told Listin Diario that there is a good market for Dominican rum, coffee and cigar exports in Chile. He highlighted the many air connections, with direct flights by Lan Chile from Santiago de Chile to Punta Cana and connections with Copa Airlines through Panama and Taca through Lima, Peru. He said Chilean tourism to the DR has been increasing. In his opinion, Dominicans should learn more about Chile. "Chile is an example of what the DR should be. It has strong institutions and laws that are applied to all equally, without privileges," he said. He informed that the embassy was organizing a mission of Chilean business leaders to the DR and stated that for there to be more trade, more information on both Chilean and Dominican markets needs to be exchanged. Recently, the Dominican Embassy took part in the "Caribbean: Business Opportunities for Chile" seminar, organized by Chilean export promotion body Pro-Chile.
Sergio Ibarra, president of the Dominican Republic-Chile Chamber of Commerce believes that there would be more trade if the DR would sign a free trade agreement with Chile as it has with Central America and the Caribbean, the United States and Europe. He thinks that manufacturing in the DR could be advantageous to Chilean companies that want to export to those markets.

Informality is a formality
The informal sector has become a "formal" economic sector in the DR. Not so much for the way it operates, but the way it has generated jobs, revenues and rate at which it has grown. According to Lisandro Macarulla, the president of the National Business Council (CONEP), 545,000 new jobs were created in the DR between 2000 and 2008, but of those 160,000, or only 29% were created by the formal sector of the economy. This means that 71% (385,000) of all jobs created in the previous eight years were in the informal sector.
Macarulla was speaking at the Forum on Local Development and Jobs, organized y the Ministry of Labor at Santo Domingo's Hotel Intercontinental V Centenario. He said that despite the Gross Domestic Product having grown 40% from 2004 to present, the growth has not taken place in the traditional productive sectors: these jobs have been created in trade and service sectors, as well as in government.
Macarulla quoted sources reported by the Central Bank and added that the growth of the informal sector is a concern for the DR. The informal sector involves micro-enterprises, farming and small-scale services, where wages, productivity and levels of social protection are generally much lower than in the formal sector. Much of this work is also temporary and part-time, with less job stability and benefits to employees.
Also speaking during the forum, Labor Minister Max Puig said that the unemployment rate is at 14.9%, and every year 100,000 young people enter the job-seeking arena. He said the authorities are working to reduce unemployment to 13.9%, the level in 2000.

Call center adds jobs
The Nearshore Call Center opened its newest facility in the DR this week. Eddy Martinez, director of the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD) represented the government at the event. The call center, located in Villa Juana, has a capacity for 1,830 operators, making it the largest center of its kind in the DR and one of the largest in the Caribbean. The company first started working in the DR in 2006, with just 100 operator positions. The new center is expected to provide an employment boost for Santo Domingo, especially Villa Juana and the surrounding areas.

Helping prospective immigrants
Dominicans planning to immigrate to Spain now have an organization to advise them on their labor rights and how to avoid being exploited in the workplace before they travel to Spain. The program is being run by the Iberian-American Association for Cooperation and Development of Human Rights (AICODE), which provides a range of services for immigrants in Spain. The association's president, Elvira Pabon AICODE was founded in 2004 to help Dominican, Peruvian and other immigrants become aware of their rights, and to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in Spain. AICODE has established an alliance with Dominican Training Institute INFOTEP and will provide its services for free. This is the first time the program is in the DR, after successful experiences in Peru and Colombia.
For more information see www.aicode.org

Guerrero "not afraid"
Senator Wilton Guerrero says he does not fear the threats against his life and says he is committed to fighting drug trafficking. Guerrero did say that his security measures have been reinforced with the addition of more bodyguards. He declared that he was aware of the threats that an assassin has been hired and a murder plot is aimed at him. Guerrero, nevertheless, says he is not scared because he knows this "war" is against crime. Guerrero added that he is very much aware of the danger, saying that those who work in this business could attack at any time.

Money laundering probe
The Coordinator of the Anti-Money Laundering Unit, German Miranda Villalona said that he would investigate whether or not any politicians are involved in laundering or handling drug money. Miranda said that investigations are underway and that in time the names of the people being investigated would be announced. Miranda confirmed the "rumor" that paid hit men had come to the DR to kill Senator Wilton Guerrero and DNCD director Rolando Rosado Mateo. The announcement of the investigation stems from original comments made by the head of the Ethics Committee, lawyer Vinicio "Vincho" Castillo, who recently announced that he had information that some candidates planning to run for office in the congressional and municipal elections were linked to drug trafficking.

Rains on the way
Light rains, strong winds and thunder and lightning are expected throughout the DR today and tomorrow. A tropical depression is located over the southeastern part of the country, moving eastwards at 24kph. La Altagracia, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris, Puerto Plata, Santiago, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Samana, Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Monte Plata, Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui) and San Cristobal provinces are expected to see most of the rains. Santo Domingo and the National District are expected to see light rains and cloudy skies throughout the day.

Cheering on Martha
Tonight fans can tune in and watch as young Dominican singer Martha Heredia bids to advance on the hit reality TV show, Latin American Idol. Heredia has become a firm favorite with fans in the DR and beyond for her singing and personality and has a strong chance to advance even further in the show. In an interview on the "El Mismo Golpe con Jochy" show Heredia commented on how fortunate she was to have made it this far in the show. She believes that her performance on the show "has changed from one day to the next." The program airs on Telesistema Canal 11 and fans wanting to vote for Martha can type in the words "Martha" and send to the number 43657, via cell phone. A charge will be made.

World Series in swing
Game 1 of the 2009 Fall Classic will begin tonight with a bevy of questions and expectations. Could this be the year that Alex Rodriguez erases his post-season demons of the past and becomes the player he was expected to be? Will Pedro pitch his final game in baseball and leave the game a champion? Can the Phillies be the first back-to-back champs since the 1999-2000 New York Yankees? Does Joe Girardi have the experience to push his team to the finish line and take New York to their record 27 World title? This could be one of the more exciting World Series in years as both teams have high-powered offenses and the big-name Yankees always draw the interest of even the most nonchalant baseball fan. The Series has been nicknamed the Liberty Series because of monuments in both cities and also the Turnpike Series, because of the turnpike that connects the cities. This will be the teams' first World Series meeting since they met in 1950, when the Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.

The baseball scores
The standings have been a roller coaster ride for fans with teams clinging to razor-thin leads. The way the season has gone thus far, a two-game winning streak is enough to catapult their team to first place in a two-day period. In last night's games the Toros shut out the Estrellas 6-0, making sure they stayed in the cellar, while the Escogido took advantage of the Tigres del Licey, winning 5-4. The Gigantes weren't so lucky as they were dwarfed by the high-flying Aguilas 4-3.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 6 - 3 .667 --
ESCOGIDO 6 - 3 .667 --
LICEY 5 - 4 .556 1.0
AGUILAS 4 - 5 .444 2.0
ESTRELLAS 3 - 6 .333 3.0
GIGANTES 3 - 6 .333 3.0
Azucareros vs Licey, Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo 8pm
Escogido vs Aguilas, Estadio Cibao, Santiago 8pm
Gigantes vs Estrellas, Estadio Tetelo Vargas, San Pedro de Macoris 8pm

America to perform in Santo Domingo
Classic folk-rock group America is booked at the Teatro La Fiesta at the Hotel Jaragua for Saturday, 21 November. Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek, songwriters and performers of the popular 1970s and 1980s hits will be here to perform classic songs like "A Horse with No Name," "Ventura Highway, "I Need You" and "You Can Do Magic". Pedro Garcia of SkyPro is promoting the performance.
For more upcoming nationwide events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar and for Santo Domingo events see http://www.dr1guide.com
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