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Daily News - Friday, 01 April 2011

In compliance with IPACRD
The Presidency says the Fernandez administration and the ruling PLD party have fulfilled the government plan to fight corruption. In a government statement, the Fernandez administration says it has met 95% of commitments under the Anti-Corruption Initiative (IPAC).

The Presidency says that only 3 of the 95 activities that were scheduled over the 10 months of work has not been initiated.



Central Bank governor defends DR economic model
Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu defended the current economic model in the DR. In a speech at the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the Santiago Central Bank office, Valdez disputed recent business sector statements that the model has run its course, that it is exclusionary and needs to be replaced.

Valdez says that what is needed is to execute actions aimed at reorienting, expanding, diversifying and improving the existing model. He said there is evidence that the present model has generated jobs, reduced poverty and inequality.

Valdez spoke of the rapid recovery of the Dominican economy post-crisis, how macro-economic stability has been maintained, inflation has been controlled and there is relative stability in the exchange rate and high economic growth above the Latin American average. He said this has been recognized by international organizations. He said that studies at the Central Bank indicate the exchange rate is adequate. He said the national workforce survey showed that between April 2004 and October 2010 some 589,003 new jobs were generated, despite adverse international conditions. He said unemployment has declined from 19.7% in October 2004 to 14.1% in October 2010.

He said the creation of informal jobs is typical in Latin America and the Caribbean. He said the informal jobs level of the DR at 56% is below Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Honduras and similar to levels in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. He estimated 700,000 Dominicans could no longer be categorized as poor over the same period.

Interest rate increase to adjust inflation
The Central Bank has announced an increase in the overnight annual interest rate from 6% to 6.25%, effective 1 April 2011. The Lombard Interest Rate remains at 9.5%. The Central Bank said the objective is to close the gap between the interest rates and control inflation.

The Central Bank reports that in February 2011, the monthly inflation rate was 1.20% and the inter-annual rate climbed to 7.29%, above the ceiling of 5-6% inflation established in the monetary program with the International Monetary Fund, under the Stand-by Arrangement.

Foreigners need to renew ID
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) is reminding foreign residents in the DR to regularize their status, as reported in Hoy. JCE president Roberto Rosario says that only 7% of the 40,042 with expired IDs (cedulas) have renewed their ID. The JCE has granted an amnesty on penalties and has given foreigners a grace period lasting until 30 April to renew paying only RD$1,000. Rosario said they would not be extending the deadline. Whoever fails to renew before the deadline may have to pay RD$500 for every year the ID has expired.

He said that the list of 40,042 foreigners includes some who have not renewed their ID for as much as 12 years. He said of the 3,165 foreigners who have gone to renew their ID, most are Haitians, Chinese, US, Spaniards and Colombians. He said that of 6,125 US citizens with expired document, only 374 have gone to renew it. Of the 4,388 Haitians, 426 have renewed. Of the Spaniards with expired documents of 3,024, 342 have renewed.

Constitutional coup?
Lawyer Jose Marte Piantini alerts to the argument defended by the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, Abel Martinez and Pared Perez that President Leonel Fernandez vetoed the Organic Bill of the National Council of the Magistracy according to Art. 102. Martinez and Pared Perez argued that the article allows the approval by simple majority of an organic bill objected by the President.

"Where is the problem? The President, when he vetoed the bill, modified the intention of the legislator, and then, the approval in the Chamber of Deputies should have been in virtue of what is established in Art. 112 of the Constitution that says that to modify an Organic Bill the favorable vote of two-thirds of those present in both houses is necessary," he writes.

In his opinion, the way the Chamber of Deputies approved the bill, with a simple majority, should be declared in violation of the Constitution.

He says a negative precedent is being set. "This precedent takes us to a constitutional coup that could lead to the disappearance of constitutional laws. The Executive Branch when not in agreement with a law would just have to let Congress approve it, and then the President would observe it. The bill would return to Congress and then Congress would approve the bill as if it were an ordinary bill with a simple majority."

The 2010 Constitution establishes the category of organic bills, those that are created by the Constitution itself, differentiating them from ordinary laws that can be approved with a simple majority in Congress.



Adocco acts against corruption
The Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (Adocco) and the civic movement "Toy Jarto" (I'm Fed Up") have submitted a request to the Chamber of Deputies calling for senator and former president of the Dominican Municipal League, Amable Aristy Castro to be put on political trial for alleged irregularities. They base their request on an audit by the Chamber of Accounts in 2006. The findings of the audit were again revealed on the Alicia Ortega TV program.

Upon delivering the request, Julio Cesar de la Rosa Tiburcio, director of Adocco, and Elizabeth Mateo, spokesperson for Toy Jarto, expressed hopes that the Chamber of Deputies would appoint a commission next week to study the accusations that could lead to a political case against Aristy Castro in the Senate.

Writing in Hoy today, news commentator Jose Baez Guerrero calls for an end to "so much niceties." He calls for justice to act. The audit revealed a sampling of what could have been occurring throughout Aristy Castro's 12 years at the helm of the Dominican Municipal League that manages funds for city governments nationwide. He said that the figures for one year showed that Aristy Castro had funneled RD$116 million of the LMD funds for personal expenditures. The Chamber of Accounts revealed that the LMD spent RD$317,808.22 a day on average (including Saturdays and Sundays) on Aristy's personal expenses.


Every day more luxury vehicles in DR
A report in Listin Diario reveals that the number of luxury brand vehicles on DR roads is on a steady increase. According to statistics from the DGII, as of December 2010 there were 514 Porsches, 663 Jaguars, 10,778 Mercedes Benzes, 6,691 BMWs and more than 252,000 SUVs. The number of SUVs is up 23,259 compared to the total in 2009, about a 10% increase. Of the SUVs, 51.05% are registered in the National District, and 13.58% in the province of Santo Domingo. 10.09% are registered in Santiago.

Other luxury brands circulating in the DR are Lincoln Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Rover, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Buick, Cadillac, Rolls Royce and Lexus.

There are 2,734,740 vehicles in circulation in the DR, according to the DGII. Of these 49.5% are motorcycles and 24.2% are cars.

Most of the vehicles are located in the National District, the Province of Santo Domingo and Santiago. 62% of the vehicles are registered in the Greater Santo Domingo area, reports the newspaper.

Soladek alert
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer warning against a very popular local over-the-counter pharmaceutical product, Soladek. Soladek is manufactured by Indo Pharma, an Indian company.

For years, Dominicans have taken the vitamin solution as an immune-system booster. The FDA now says there is the risk of serious health problems because it contains dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D.

Soladek is marketed with claims that the product treats "hypo and avitaminosis, rickets, growth, dentition, lactation, fractures, infection, convalescence, protection and regeneration of certain epithelium (bronchial, glandular, ocular, cutaneous), corticotherapy, aging and pregnancy."

The FDA says it has received seven reports of serious health problems occurring in consumers using the product. The problems include decreased renal function, elevated levels of calcium in the blood, fatigue, heart arrhythmia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in mental status, increased blood pressure, abnormal heart rate or rhythm, kidney damage and coma.

Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include anemia, anorexia, alopecia, joint pain, bone weakness, bulging eyes, liver abnormalities and birth defects.

Soladek cannot currently be marketed legally in the United States because US law prohibits the sale of products claiming to treat disease conditions without review and approval by the FDA. The FDA issued the warning because it has information that Soladek may be available illegally in the country.

Hoy reports that the National Commission for the Removal and Restriction of Pharmaceuticals would be meeting to determine what action needed to be taken. Meanwhile, J. Gasso Gasso, the distributors of the vitamin, also met with the Ministry.


Cesar Perales is new NY Secretary of State
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of Cesar A. Perales for the Secretary of State of New York. The son of a Puerto Rican father and a Dominican mother, Cesar Augusto Perales grew up in New York City, and is known for his outstanding career as a civil rights lawyer. He will also serve as a senior advisor for policy to the Governor.

"Cesar Perales has devoted his life to public service," Governor Cuomo said. "He is one of our most distinguished New Yorkers and will be an exceptional Secretary of State. I look forward to working with Cesar in making New York stronger and restoring dignity and honor to our state government," said Cuomo upon making the announcement.

He will head the Department of State that provides a variety of services to citizens, community organizations, businesses and local governments. With over 17 divisions, the Department is one of the state's most diverse agencies, and the broad nature of the Department's work has an impact on all New Yorkers.


Crackdown on real estate fraud network in Higuey
A network of lawyers, notaries public and former employees of the property registry in the municipality of Higuey, La Altagracia has been dismantled, announced the Prosecutor General of the Republic and the National Property Title Registrar, as reported in El Caribe.

Santiago Brito Guzman, Eulogia Margarita Melo and Remberto Jose Duran Cabrera were named as members of the network. The case says that Guzman Brito posed as Felix Gil Morales (someone who had died in 1994) to sell property in La Altagracia.

The investigations into fraudulent property operations in La Altagracia were headed by adjunct prosecutor general Bolivar Sanchz Beloz and the title registrar of Higuey, Pablo Miguel Pena Caraballo.

Electricity fraud at Bella Vista Mall?
Moises Ferrer, assistant prosecutor for the electricity system, has accused Bella Vista Mall of electricity fraud. Edesur is presenting a case against the Sarasota Avenue mall in Santo Domingo for unpaid electricity bills totaling RD$48 million. Ferrer said that electricity fraud is the most common crime committed in the DR.

157 kilos of cocaine found in Samana
The National Drug Control Department, working with the Navy and the Air Force has confiscated 157 packages of cocaine stored in a boat docked in the port of Samana. Rey Urena, Ivan Miguel Tineo Paulino and Luis Alvarez were arrested in connection with the case. The DNCD says that one man, Alfredo Perez Henriquez, was able to get away. The drugs were discovered in the Capricho boat, registration FL-551DP. The confiscation of the drugs took place in the presence of Samana prosecutor Juan Medina. Units of the Navy and the Super Tucanos of the Air Force were used in the operation to uncover the traffickers. The DNCD says the case is under investigation to arrest other accomplices, as reported in El Caribe.

Dance Dance
To commemorate the Month of Dance, the Ministry of Culture is sponsoring an evening with the performances by the leading folkloric, contemporary and classical dancers of the Dominican Republic at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Saturday, 2 April at 8pm. Xenia Rodriguez, Isadora Bruno, Alfa Rodriguez, Zenaida Terrero and Chiqui Hadad will be honored during the event.

In honor of Thelonious Monk
The New Traditions Quartet (Jacob Alonso, Esar Simo, Gustavo Rodriguez and Isaac Hernandez) will be paying tribute to pianist and composer extraordinaire Thelonious Monk during the Sunset Jazz evening at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel of Av. Anacaona 101, Mirador del Sur. The show begins at 6:30pm and getting there early is essential to find seating room. Free admission.

Thimo Pimentel and the 1965 Civil War
The Museum of Dominican Man is inviting the public to attend Identify! Identify! n a photography exhibition by Thimo Pimentel. The exhibition features photographs taken during the 1965 Civil War. The opening takes place on Friday, 1 April at 7:30pm. The exhibition will be open until Monday, 9 May.

Mega concert pro education
"Yellow Voices for a Dignified Education" is a free concert being organized by the Coalition for Dignified Education on Sunday, 3 April at the Plaza de Espana as of 4pm. Those attending should wear a yellow shirt or attire or purchase one at site or from the Coalition for Dignified Education (http://educaciondigna.com)

More than 50 artists and musicians have agreed to perform at the event that seeks to motivate the Fernandez administration to allocate more funds for education. The campaign comes from the legal disposition that orders the government to dedicate 4% of GDP to education in the National Budget. At present, the Fernandez administration dedicates 1.98% of GDP to education.

Some of the acts on stage include: El Cata, Techy Fatule, Huellas Invisibles, Vicente Garcia, Xiomara Fortuna, Bocatabu, Janio Lora, Cerobit, Pablo Cavalo, Tribu del Sol, Marte o Venus, Giordano Morel, Circuito Negro, Pochy Familia and Los Hermanos Rosario, Big Trueno, Las Acevedo, Roldan. MCs for the afternoon and evening include: Milagros German, Sergio Carlo, Karina Larrauri, Mauvi Espinosa, Bolivar Valera, Zenny Leyva, Albert Mena, Mariel Guerrero, Brenda Sanchez, Francisco Vasquez, Tania Baez, Yolanda Martinez, Roberto Cavada, Luz Garcia, Enrique Quely, Rene Castillo, Miralba Ruiz, Mario Peguero, Bolivar Soto, Pamela Sued, Ico Abreu, Kenny Grullon, Raymond Pozo, Miguel Cespedes. This is a production by Homero Guerrero, Ernesto Alemany, Tuto Guerrero, Ivette Nouel and Jacobo del Rosario.

For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

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