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Daily News - Friday, 20 May 2011

Government revenues up 8.9%
The government reports that this year's revenues are up 8.9% compared to 2010, but that they have fallen by 6.6% below the estimates in the National Budget. As reported in Hoy, during the first three months of the year, the reported revenues are RD$63.28 billion, up from RD$58.12 billion in 2010. The government had estimated it would receive US$67,75 billion.

Customs revenues were 2.9% of the total, Tax Department revenues 75% and National Treasury 2.1%.


Mobile accounts
The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) has announced that more than 243,645 mobile Internet accounts are open in the Dominican Republic within the grand total of 622,931 Internet accounts. there are almost nine million active mobile accounts in the DR, almost one per person. The Dominican population is 9,742,000, of which almost four million are Internet users, according to data from Indotel. Indotel says that household Internet penetration is 14%, nevertheless. Dominicans also pay the highest telecom taxes in Latin America, at 28%.

Cows for special needs children
Families with special needs children in Salcedo have received a donation of 12 dairy cows. The cows will be kept at the Diversity Care Center in the Hermanas Mirabal province. Environment Minister and former senator for the province, Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, who is also an advisor to the center, was present. The program has the support of the Ministry of Education and is implemented by the provincial technical office. It seeks to involve the families of children with special needs in productive activities. Rosa de los Santos de Garcia, president of the Union Santa Rosa, is also one of the supporters of the initiative. As reported in El Caribe, Elena Gonzalez, president of the center, said that the initiative gives these children the prospect of earning a living and helps them become productive. "Families and institutions have the duty to include these children and transform society so that it is capable of accepting deficiencies, to understand that there are many different ways of being and that we all have the same rights," she stated during the ceremony. Manuel Acosta, father of one of the children who will take part in the program, praised the actions.

Following the cement trade story
Jamaican and Dominican cement producers are in dispute over their penetration of each other's markets. Local producers are responding to anti-dumping protectionist measures in Jamaica, while Jamaicans are trying to export production surplus to the Dominican market, competing on price.

Consumers may benefit from the dispute. Hardware stores report that the price of cement has dropped RD$25-RD$30, down from a peak price of RD$315 as local authorities and producers and Jamaican cement importers try to sort out the current impasse.

Recently, the consumer protection agency, ProConsumidor blocked the entry of 58,800 bags of Carib Cement from Jamaica until the Ministry of Public Works issues a no-objection certificate. ProConsumidor questioned the quality of the cement.

Docemca, the importer that is affected by the ban, claims that Dominican producers who would be affected by the lower-priced Jamaican import are behind the ban.

Meanwhile, the Association of Dominican Portland Cement Producers (Adocem) published an advertisement today criticizing Carib Cement, its representatives in the Dominican Republic and the governmental Standards and Quality Systems Department (Digenor) for "dishonest behavior, lack of transparency and violation of Dominican laws" in the import of Jamaican cement.

Adocem says the dispute dates back to 15 February 2010 when Jamaica imposed an anti-dumping order against the Dominican Republic on behalf of Carib Cement, alleging the local market was being affected. Adocem says this was not the first time this kind of order had been issued, indicating that other exporting countries including China, Thailand, Indonesia and the United States had also been affected by the protectionist barriers imposed by Jamaica. They make the point that at that time Carib Cement was not able to supply the quantity or quality of cement needed.

Adocem adds that in 2006, Carib Cement was affected by quality complaints within Jamaica itself.

In a chronological account of Carib Cement's import history, they mention that a first shipment of Carib Cement arrived on 19 March 2010 with 2,500 tons of cement. The cement was imported using a company, Materiales de Construccion El Jobo that they say was made up by people who when consulted were not aware of having formed that company for the sale and distribution of construction materials, as specified in the commercial registration.

They also make the point that the shipment was declared in Customs with a value of CIF of US$50, or about RD$80 per bag, which would be undervaluing the total to evade the corresponding Customs taxes.

In their explanation, Adocem says that on 31 August 2010, after a visit to Jamaica, the director of Digenor convened the technical committee to modify the RTD 178 regulation on cement, which consists of safety requirements and guarantees to consumers.

On 25 April 2011 a new shipment arrived with 2499 tons of cement, this time the importer was Importadora Docemca SRL. Digenor issued certificates in their favor but Adocem described them as irregular because the corresponding tests were not made. The company also ignored the need for the Ministry of Public Works to check the technical quality and strength specs before the product's local sale could be authorized.

Adocem says that Digenor issued a quality stamp without approval from the National Standards and Systems Committee, as established in Law 602.

This is why on 28 April 2011 ProConsumidor ordered the immediate removal of the cement from the market until the required process is completed.

Micro businesses prevail
A local poll shows that 67% of all Dominican companies are micro-businesses. Only 12% of 39,029 companies that operated formally in 2010 employed more than 50 workers. This data is from the Directory of Companies 2010 produced by the National Statistics Office (ONE), as reported in Hoy. ONE says that in the Dominican Republic 42 of every 100 companies have their main office in the National District and seven of every 10 have offices either in the National District, the province of Santo Domingo or Santiago.

Also, the stats show that in the Dominican Republic one of every three formally incorporated businesses belongs to the store category, while one in every nine is a manufacturer. But industry employs many more people. 18 of every 100 people in employment work in commerce, compared to 29 of every 100 who work in industries.

ONE says that in 2009, there were 26,000 formally organized companies.

ONE has published statistical compilations on trade for 2009 and 2010. Also available is Dominicana en Cifras (The DR in Figures) 2010, a comprehensive statistical compilation. It also publishes the Directory of Companies and Establishments 2010.

Venezuelan company acquires Pollo Cibao
Agritrade of Venezuela has purchased Corporacion Avicola y Ganadera Jarabacoa, best known for its Pollo Cibao brand. Corpa president Carlomagno Gonzalez announced an injection of higher international quality production standards and new technology for poultry production. "The integration of Agritade in Corpa is beneficial for all parties. It guarantees the sustainability and strengthening of the poultry industry in the Dominican Republic," said Gonzalez, after announcing the sale.

Agritrade has supplied grain to Corpa for more than 10 years.

The high cost of politics
Politics has cost Dominican taxpayers RD$6 billion in the past 12 years and many are wondering what has been gained. Listin Diario reports today that the Dominican government has disbursed RD$6 billion to the country's political parties since the passage of Electoral Law 275-97 that allocates funds from the National Budget to the political parties. Previously, the political parties benefited from tax exemptions in order to fund their activities. As reported in the newspaper, of the total RD$4.8 billion have been assigned to the PLD, the PRD and the PRSC.

Frei calls for accountability in political funding
Speaking at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) where he was named an honorary professor yesterday, former Chilean President Eduardo Frei called for the approval of a political party law as a mechanism for guaranteeing transparency in the handling of accounts and government funds allocated to politicians. Frei was visiting to attend the launch of a masters program in political studies, sponsored by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) at the PUCMM.

Frei advocated for limits on spending by the political parties. He spoke on the role of political parties and their strengthening in Latin America, while calling for limits on spending and mechanisms for accountability. He said in the rest of Latin America, as in the Dominican Republic, people do not trust the political parties. He also advocated open primaries to limit the imposition of caudillos in politics. He also criticized the fact that so many people in politics are businesspeople. "You can not be in politics and in business. That makes harmony between transparency and ties to corruption difficult," he said.

Frei was President of Chile 1994-2000 and is a senator for the region of Los Rios.

Cuesta's new arts tableware collection
Amaya Salazar is this year's choice for the traditional Casa Cuesta tableware collection, Coffee Art (Arte de Cafe). This year, these collectors' items are notable for the bright coloring of the painter's faceless figures. Other artists that have been featured in past collections include Dionisio Blanco, Guillo Perez, Candido Bido, Yoryi Morel, Plutarco Andujar, Elsa Nunez, Tete Marella and Jorge Severino. The collection consists of coffee cups, dessert plates, small square plates, a large square plate and a round plate.

Climbing Mount Everest
Strong winds thwarted a first attempt by Dominican climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest last weekend. Weather conditions have improved and the good news is that the third climber, Federico Jovine who would not have made the climb last week as he was recovering from bronchitis, has now joined Karim Mella and Ivan Gomez. They say that this Friday evening they expect to report back home they made it to the top. The team members are together at Camp 3, at an altitude of some 7,300 meters.

The trio hopes to become the first Dominicans to climb Mount Everest.


And 1 streetball coming to the DR
And 1, described as the best group of street basketball in the world, has included Santo Domingo in their 2011 tour. The team is booked or a Saturday, 18 June presentation in Santo Domingo's Palacio de los Deportes, and another on 19 June at the Gran Arena in Santiago de los Caballeros.

Streetball is a variation of the sport of basketball, that adapts the sport to playing on less formal courts. The format makes it easier for individual players to showcase their skills.

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

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