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Daily News - Thursday, 17 December 2009

Investments & exports in 2009
The Center for Exports & Investment (CEI-RD) reports that foreign investments made in 2009 had reached US$1.76 billion as of September.
CEI RD forecasts that by year's end, foreign investment should total US$2.1 billion. Eddy Martinez, director of CEI-RD, pointed to investments in the mining, real estate, telecommunications, commerce, industry and energy sectors. He said that investments have come from Canada, Mexico, US, Spain and Switzerland. Martinez added that exports would close the year with a decline of 15% over last year, but expressed optimism for growth in 2010.

Days sans blackouts
Celso Marranzini VP of the State-owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE), promises that there will be zero blackouts nationwide on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (24, 25, 31 December and 1 January). He promises "100% of electricity". On other days in the Christmas holidays, he said that 2 to 4-hour blackouts have been scheduled in the areas that are not on 24-hour circuits. He said that 82% of the demand is currently being served. Marranzini has been in the job for 118 days. As reported in El Dia, he said that one of the achievements of his efforts is that the CDEEE now operates with transparency. He said that when he arrived to the post the CDEEE did not have an Office for Freedom of Information Access, and now the CDEEE is rated 12th of 92 government offices in terms of transparency.

Bottlenecks get worse for Xmas
Christmas shopping has made traffic unbearable in Santo Domingo. The delays caused by slow traffic need to be taken into consideration for any activity. Traffic jams continue until around 8pm.

Inflation at 5.66% to November
The accumulated inflation figures for the DR, registered 5.66% during the first 11 months of the year, which is slightly less than the 6.01% registered for the same period in 2008. These figures were released by the Central Bank. The CB says that 70.32% of the accumulated inflation, or 3.98 points, was due to an increase in fuel and electricity prices. The Consumer Price index (CPI) registered at 1.07% in November, when it showed a variation of 0.23%.

Green jobs coming
During his presentation at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Vice President Rafael Alburquerque announced that the DR, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO), would help implement "green jobs" as a way of combating the rising unemployment rates. He said that these jobs would not only help fight unemployment, but will also help conserve the environment and minimize the effects of climate change. The VP announced that a special conference with the ILO would be held in September 2010 and said that the work would focus on the issues of renewable energy, water, tourism and construction of environmentally friendly housing. Listin Diario reports that United Nations specialist staff would meet with local specialists in order to develop a joint project between the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), the National Technical and Professional Training Institute (Infotep), the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Environment.
During the conference Minister of Environment Jaime David Fernandez presented the Caribbean Corridor project together with representatives from Cuba and Haiti

Doctors re-hired
Doctors Juan Suero and Senen Caba have been reinstated by the Ministry of Public Health. The announcement was made after Caba and Suero met with Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez. The two men were fired in August after a violent altercation with Dr. Roberto Lafontaine at the Francisco Moscoso Puello hospital. Rojas also announced that a new commission has been assembled by President Leonel Fernandez to find a definitive solution to the dispute between the government and the public sector doctors. The commission will include Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, an experienced labor mediator.

Economic observations for 2010
Three local business organizations said that adverse international economic and financial conditions provide less cause for concern than the Fernandez administration's excessive spending and borrowing.
The president of the National Wholesalers Organization (ONEC), Pedro Perez Gonzalez, the president of the Federation of Industrial Associations (FAI), Ignacio Mendez, and the president of the Association of Herrera Industries, Manuel Cabrera told El Caribe that loans needed to be channeled to the productive sectors.
El Caribe reports that a confidential report the International Monetary Fund prepared in October forecast that the Dominican economy would touch bottom at the year's end, after which a below potential growth period is expected through 2014.
Perez Gonzalez said that ONEC is concerned at what could happen after the May congressional and municipal election. He said that the country has an oversized state sector and a growing government payroll over the past years.
Ignacio Mendez said that the Dominican economy depends on how the US economy and that of Europe are faring, as these are the two leading markets for the DR.

Pirate state
In today's El Caribe lawyer Marisol Vicens Bello writes that the Dominican Republic has become a pirate state. She criticizes the fact that government officials impose their vision, "and worse still, often their own projects." Vicens criticizes the way that many government officials only promote projects in which they are "partners." She says this probably occurs because each President believes that government posts are gifts to be distributed among allies, family or friends, without the skills or qualifications for the job, and that this has obviously caused serious damage to our country.
"In what appears to be a cynical game or a disregard for institutions and the nation, the important thing is to fill the posts to keep the party members or allies contented and under control. This practice has become generalized and is repeated at all levels so that each government official then creates his own fiefdom to benefit his own, at a high cost in inefficiency and corruption. That is why the promoters of projects, loans and deals that mutate from government to government, and preposterous affairs just keep recurring."
Vicens says that this has distorted public service, turning it into an individual wealth creation tool, as opposing to serving the common good. She says that it now serves purposes contrary to those for which the department was established. She says that is why there are so many police and military officers who are criminals, inspectors and supervisors who are complicit in acts that they should be controlling, and government officials who are more enemies of the objectives they should be facilitating.
"No country can progress in these conditions, even if billions are spent on propaganda that states the contrary. The President needs to fire and prosecute the officials who do not fulfill their role because his commitment is to the people who elected him and not with those who "worked hard in the campaign." If this does not happen he will be affected by the negative consequences," she writes.
She concludes: "If we allow every government official to believe that he has a free hand to do whatever he likes in his department, above the law and national interests or to use the posts for spurious purposes without consequences from the authority that appoints them, then we will end up being a pirate state, uncontrollable even by the authorities themselves."

JCE recognizes parties
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has recognized 4 new political parties and one political movement, which will now be eligible to take part in the 2010 congressional and municipal elections. This brings the total number of official parties to 26. Entities recognized are: Civic Reformer Party (PCR), headed by former General Radhames Zorilla Ozuna.
Dominicans for Change (DXC) headed by former PRSC member and pre-Presidential candidate Eduardo Estrella. Independent Democratic Party (PDI) of businessman Ismael Reyes Cruz.
Liberal Action Party (PAL) of the director of the National Institute of Housing (INAVI), Maritza Lopez de Ortiz.
Independent Movement for Unity and Progress (MIUP) in Santiago presided by Miguel R. Fernandez.

DR lags in human development
The level of human development in the DR is still below the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the United Nations Development Program Human Development Report. The Human Development Index for the country, based on 2007 statistics is 0.777, while the average for Latin America and the Caribbean is 0.821.
Overall, the DR is ranked 90th of 182 countries covered by the study. The DR has a per capita income of US$6,706 compared to US$10,077 for the rest of the Caribbean. Life expectancy at birth is 72.4 years, and there is an 89.1% literacy rate. The country receives US$3.5 billion a year in remittances from expatriate Dominicans. The average remittance per person is US$350 compared to the average for the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, US$114. 77.9% of Dominican migrants go to North America. See
http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2009/

PRD in trouble
Only a few months ago, after the pact between President Leonel Fernandez and PRD president Miguel Vargas was signed, many observers thought the PRD was a strong contender for the 2012 elections. But recent departures of key figures in the party are leaving the once formidable opponent in an unstable condition. Yesterday, former Santo Domingo North Mayor Daniel Carvajal Lois announced he would leave the PRD, saying that he was tired of the manipulation, double talk and betrayal within the party. This is the second day in which a PRD stalwart has left the party ranks. Yesterday, Vicente Sanchez Baret announced his departure from the party. As part of his exit from the PRD, Carvajal took shots at the Vargas leadership, as well as at other members Ramon Alburquerque and Orlando Jorge Mera.

Gas tanker blast injures 2
The lack of adequate controls for the installation of propane gas stations in urban areas again became news. Yesterday two people suffered serious burns when a propane gas tanker which was unloading10,480 gallons of gas at the Gloria Comercial station on Calle Maria Montez 36 in Villa Juana caught fire. The injured are plant supervisor Luis Guzman and the truck driver. The fire occurred at 3pm and caused damage to 12 homes in the area around the plant. The flames also affected a small tire depot and 4 vehicles that were at the propane gas station at the time. The fire was caused by a gas leak in one of the hoses.

Details on the kidnapped girl
An 8-year old girl who was kidnapped in Santo Domingo and later dropped off at the El Seibo public hospital in the east, is the daughter of a former chief of security of ex-Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide and also a security officer in the first government of President Rene Preval. Carolina Barbara Moises, who was kidnapped on Tuesday by a man and a woman at Calle Osa Mayor 5, Residencial Constelacion in Los Jardines del Norte, was later abandoned by the four men and a woman at 4am yesterday. The Police was in touch with her parents in Haiti who said they did not pay any ransom.
One of the girl's aunts, Irene Lois, interviewed by CDN, speculated that she could have been kidnapped to extort the parents, but she did not give any more details. Her parents were expected to arrive today. There were no arrests in the case as of yesterday.

Mayor gets caught
The mayor of a small town near Navarrete has been caught with marijuana and is suspected of being the leader of a drug trafficking ring. According to a report in El Caribe, 70-year old Victor Ramon Garcia was arrested along with 16 other people in connection with the case. The mayor was caught with three pounds of the drug, as well as 85 portions of crack cocaine. The arrest was made during raids part of the Safe Christmas Without Drugs plan.

Canadian man missing
A Canadian expat, last seen on the DR's North Coast, has been missing for a week now, with authorities providing no tangible leads to his whereabouts. D'Arcy Wright, 46, is a resident of Sosua, and according to friends and relatives, he simply vanished a week ago. Reports indicate the only sign of him in the last seven days has been two missed phone calls from his cell phone. If you have any information on Mr. Wright's whereabouts please contact 809 571 2951 or 809 481 2951 or follow any leads here: www.dr1.com/forums/living/...

Horford digs in
The Atlanta Hawks are one of the best teams in the NBA. Didn't think you'd be saying that phrase any time soon? Well, basketball fans can thank the stellar play of Al Horford, who has become the anchor of what is one of the best and brightest teams in the league. The team has the third best record in the Eastern Conference, 18-6, and Horford has taken the opportunity to shine under the pressure of an NBA season. Horford is averaging close to a double-double on the season, with 13.3 points per game and 9.40 rebounds. He is dishing out 2 assists per game, close to 2 blocks, and is only playing 32 minutes per game, making him an efficient asset. But the last 11 games have been more impressive for Horford, where he has averaged a double-double during the last 11 games, including a 15-point, 10-rebound performance against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Escogido makes it to post season
Christmas came early for Escogido fans, as the team has, at least for this season, returned to the glory days that came to define the team. During the first part of the season the Leones' improbable stand atop the standings was looked at as a mere fluke, but with less than a month left in the regular season and the Leones playing their best ball of the season, the fluke what once was, a post-season clinch. The question for Escogido fans is whether or not the team can continue the momentum into the post- season. Their 6-0 victory over the Estrellas pushed the Escogido into the playoffs for the first time in 3 years, and now the fans await the rest of the sports. The standings haven't changed much, with the Toros, Tigres and Gigantes rounding out the top 4. If this remains as is, the Aguilas could be out of the post-season round robin and fans in Santo Domingo could be in for a treat. Could Tigres and Leones fight it out in the baseball jungle? You'll have to tune in. During last night's match-ups there was a bit of tension in the air as teams realized that from now on each game counts. The Gigantes took a step forward with a 4-1 victory over the Toros, while the Aguilas ripped the Tigres 13-1. The Aguilas haven't quit yet, and could be the sleeper team to watch down the stretch.

Standings
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
ESCOGIDO 28 - 18* .609 --
AZUCAREROS 26 - 20 .565 2.0
LICEY 25 - 21 .543 3.0
GIGANTES 25 - 21 .543 3.0
AGUILAS 23 - 23 .500 5.0
ESTRELLAS 14 - 32 .304 14.0
*Clinched playoff berth

 
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