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Daily News - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Government expects to sign with IMF in July
The Dominican government expects to sign the latest Letter of Intent (LoI) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next 15 July, according to Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas. Montas said that the government's economic team was able to reach a consensus on the Letter of Intent, and if the IMF approves it, the way is opened for the country to an injection of more than US$800 million this year.

Montas said the discussions with the IMF should conclude by the end of the month with the signing of the letter, and they still have time until the 10th or 15th of July to present the Letter of Intent to the IMF board of governors.

The Minister said that the signing of the Letter of Intent with the IMF would allow the country to place a US$500 million sovereign bond issue. The IMF guarantee facilitates the placing of the bonds on the international markets at relatively low interest rates.

The deal will also allow the country to access funds from the IMF as part of the 28-month US$1.7 billion November 2009 Stand By Arrangement itself as well as another US$300 million from other international financial institutions, such as the Inter American Development Bank and the World Bank.


Budget cuts for electricity
Economy Minister Temistocles Montas announced the Executive Branch will send to Congress a bill calling for 12% cuts in National Budget allotments to benefit the electricity sector. The intention is to reallocate 10-12 billion to the electricity sector. The cuts would not affect the Judicial Branch, Congress or Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education budgets.

Sisalril to mediate conflict
The president of the National Association of Private Clinics (Andeclip), Rafael Mena used a Dominican saying to relay the idea that he was caught in between two forces, after the association approved a 14% increase in the cost of services at private clinics. Diario Libre said that the increase has kept the representatives of the Health Risk Administrators of the National Health Insurance (Senasa) and Andeclip at loggerheads with mutual denials of service, is what is being called "a war of interests" where the patients are the losers.

Yesterday, the representative of several owners of private clinics, Rafael Mena, sent a letter to the Superintendent of Labor Health and Risks, Fernando Caamano, in which he requests his mediation in the conflict. Immediately, Caamano accepted the request and announced that he would begin a conciliation process between ARS Senasa and the clinics that have applied the increase unilaterally. He said that he would convene the clinics represented by Andeclip, some 122, and Senasa in order to start the conciliation process, which he expects to end in a harmonious and fruitful solution for the benefit of the affiliates of the system. Mena said that what happens between Andeclip and Senasa is a "hidden war" that he expects to resolve by the end of the week through negotiations.

DR improves standing
Despite complaints by officialdom, the US State Department "Report on Trafficking of Persons" has raised the Dominican Republic from a Tier Three to a Tier Two-Watch List. A small improvement, but an improvement, nonetheless. The Dominican government has had limited success in the prosecution of crimes of human trafficking during 2010, according to the report by the United States Department of State on the Trafficking of Persons published yesterday on the agency web page.

The report can be found here: www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/index.htm

While it acknowledges some efforts by the Dominican government in terms of identifying and protecting a greater number of victims of trafficking, the report criticizes the fact that these have not been sustained in comparison with the previous period of the report, in prosecuting the people to blame for the trafficking, including officials who are complicit in forced prostitution and forced work. "Therefore, the Dominican Republic is placed in Tier Two-Watch List," the report says.

Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso said that it was inappropriate that the United States should auto-designate itself as the arbiter in this case, saying that they appeared to "place themselves above the other nations", and in the case of the Dominican Republic they attributed responsibilities to authorities where they do not belong. "It is equally inappropriate that in this report they speak of the Dominican government without taking into consideration the clear separation of powers, given that for moment it makes signals that appear to refer to the responsibilities of instructions in the Executive Branch of the government but which correspond to the area of the Judicial Power," he said.

Morales Troncoso defended the work that he said the Dominican state is doing to fight trafficking of persons and said that this was recognized by the report, placing the country at "Tier Two Watch List, a level that means it shows a serious commitment."

Subero protests judicial budget cut
The Chief Justice of the Dominican Supreme Court has threatened to resign in protest at plans to cut his operating budget by some RD$19 million a month. According to El Caribe, Subero said that such cuts in the funds that the Judicial Branch receives would be in violation of Law 46-97 that grants administrative autonomy to the Judicial Branch as well as the Legislative Branch. The cuts would also violate Law 194-04 which grants budgetary and administrative autonomy as well as the budget Law for 2011 which assigns the Judicial Branch RD$3,362,204,000 divided into 12 monthly payments of RD$280,183,678.

Subero, ever the jurist, also pointed out that any budgetary reductions affecting the judiciary would also violate Decree 186-11, issued by the President of the Republic, which excluded any institutions that have funding assigned by special laws.

Subero also indicated that whoever institutes and carries out these budget cuts would be subject to removal and ineligible for any other public post for eight years. Subero said: "I will not accept a reduction under any circumstance, nor am I going to be associated with a violation of the law," while interviewed by Channel 37, CDN. When he was asked if he would resign his post, he answered "possibly."

Taiwan donates US$1 million for scholarships
The Republic of Taiwan has supported the studies of young Dominicans overseas since 1999. Yesterday ambassador Isaac Tsai gave the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology a donation of one million dollars (US$1 million).

Minister Ligia Amada Melo said that most scholarship students return and almost all find work. She said that the young people who do not return usually remain overseas in order to continue their studies at a higher level.

She said "these are successful professional people who are fulfilling the objectives of the program by contributing to the economic and social development of the country."

The Minister of Higher Education said that more than 8,000 students have benefited from the program and this year's goal is for 1,300 students to take part in academic studies abroad.

Ambassador Tsai said that 1,447 of these students have studied with scholarships from his country, and the million dollars was the twelfth disbursement made by Taiwan since 1999 when the bi-lateral agreement was signed.

Private schools on tuition increase
Private schools announced raises of 10-30% in tuition for the 2011-12 school year. The Federation of Private Schools ratified a resolution that authorizes charging in advance for the school year and placing in Data Credito, the leading local credit bureau, of individuals that do not meet their payment schedule. The schools also approved a resolution whereby school records will not be prepared for those that are not up to date in their payments. The Federation said that 90% of students have already registered for the next school year.

Rosa Ariza de Valera, a former president of the National Council of Private Schools, said those who cannot pay for private education should send their children to public schools.

EGE-HID uses US$19.5 million at Jiguey
The Odebrecht and CPBO companies will be using some US$19.5 million to repair and restore the Jiguey Hydro-Electric Complex to its former level of performance. The work will take about nine months, according to El Nuevo Diario and includes both the civil engineering part of the structure as well as the electro-mechanical aspects of the complex. The unit will be able to supply electricity to the national grid within six months, according to Victor Ventura Hernandez, the administrator of the Hydro-Electric Generation Company (part of the CDEEE). The Jiguey Dam and Hydro-Electric Station is located in San Cristobal province in the municipality of Los Cacaos. According to Ventura Hernandez, the work consists of the construction of a discharge tunnel for the two units and the completion of the repairs to the Number 2 Turbine, which has been out of service since tropical storms Olga and Noel hit the area in November 2007. The US$19.5 million is being covered with some of Ege-Hid's own resources as well as a line of credit from the Banco de Reservas. The Jiguey Power Station is expected to produce 96 megawatts of power when it is fully refurbished

Good turnout for PLD primaries
In the PLD primaries held last Sunday to elect the presidential candidate for the 2012 elections, 1,063,617 members of the rank and file voted, they represented 47.23% of the 2,251,831 people registered in the party. According to the final bulletin, Number 3, issued last night by the National Electoral Commission (CNE), with 100% of the votes counted, Danilo Medina earned the victory with 907,015 votes (87.18%; Jose Tomas Perez obtained 52,190 votes (5.02%); Francisco Dominguez Brito got 44,967 votes (4.32%) and Radhames Segura received 36,176 votes (3.48%).

Diario Libre reported that the votes received by Medina were the most achieved by a nomination hopeful in the history of the PLD primaries, since the year 2003, when this method was first used to choose the candidate. In the primaries that year, held on 29 June, President Leonel Fernandez won by a wide margin, receiving 416,102 of the 493,284 votes cast, 87.19%, against the 58,807 votes cast for the closest competitor, Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal. For those primaries, the PLD voting rolls had 863,000 members listed. In the convention of 6 May 2007, in which 1,169,913 people were enrolled in the PLD, only 574,297 voted and Fernandez defeated Medina when he received 71.55% of the votes (403,577 against 160,505) with Medina obtaining 28.45%.

According to the final bulletin of the CNE, 690,433 (67.21%) voted for the "Yes" option, supporting the proposal of the Political Committee and the Central Committee that the current party leaders remain in their posts for five more years. On the other hand, the "NO" vote was 336,890 (32.79%). The plebiscite saw 1,062,407 votes issued, of which 1,027,323 were valid and 35,084 were voided. Last night, PLD press secretary Hector Olivo reported that the CNE had been working until 6:26pm yesterday when they issued the last bulletin. After the final vote count, he said all that remained for the National Electoral Commission to do was to deliver the report to the Political Committee so it could plan the delegates' convention where Medina will be officially proclaimed as the PLD presidential candidate.

Young Dominican scholars honored in NYC
The founding president of the North Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Nurys D'Oleo, has celebrated the work of some outstanding students, among them, the descendants of Dominicans who graduated with high honors. One of the honorees, Eliana Then, who was born in the Dominican Republic, is considered to be the most outstanding of the students who received the prizes and scholarships to continue their studies. Miss Then, according to El Nuevo Diario, received some of the very highest grades at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. Other Dominican students honored at graduations included Ana B. Cruz, from Carnegie Mellon University, Melanie A. Rivera from Fordham University, Florangel de Leon from NYU, Stefany Batista from SUNY-New Paltz, Anna Boatheng from Syracuse, Krisangel Lopez from Villanova, Chloe C. Jones from Vassar and Ashley Pantaleon from Mercy College.

Inter-American Court and Narcisazo
The DR media is reporting on the proceedings against the Dominican Republic at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Beginning at 3pm, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hear the statements of the widow and children of university professor Narciso Gonzalez, "Narcisazo", who disappeared on 26 May 1994. They will also take depositions from two witnesses, one proposed by the representatives of the victims and the other automatically chosen by the Court. An expert proposed by the Inter-American Commission and the representatives of the victims will also give a statement.

In addition, the Court will hear the final allegations of the representatives of the victims and of the Dominican Republic, as well as the final observations of the Inter-American Commission. Judge Rhadys Abreu Blondet will not participate in the process because of her Dominican nationality. On 2 May 2010, the Inter-American Commission filed a lawsuit against the Dominican Republic for the alleged forceful disappearance of Narcisazo as the result of his criticisms of the military and then President of the Republic, Joaquin Balaguer, as well as his participation in the public complaint about alleged electoral fraud in the 1994 presidential elections.

DNCD hauls in arms cache
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has announced the capture of a Peruvian national and a Dominican who are said to be involved in the drug distribution network in the Boca Chica area. Along with the capture of the drug vendors, the DNCD also seized a sizeable weapons cache and several thousands of dollars. Former Peruvian Police colonel Maximo Villosada Angulo and Dominican Sergio Sepulveda Perez were arrested yesterday in possession of two pistols, .45 cal and 9 mm. After the arrests and the initial seizures, the authorities searched the alleged drug dealers' homes and found two rifles, two machine guns, two .12 ga. shotguns, US$57,000 in cash and a package of cocaine. The authorities also seized several vehicles that were used to distribute cocaine to mid-level distributors, according to the DNCD. El Nuevo Diario says that the DNCD seized a Jeep Laredo, a gray Nissan and a black Mitsubishi, which were delivered to the DNCD headquarters, together with the weapons and cash and displayed during a press conference held by DNCD spokesman Roberto Lebron. According to Lebron, DNCD commander Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo, who oversaw the operation together with prosecutors from the province of Santo Domingo, ordered a detailed investigation into the origin of the weapons. This investigation will include units from the intelligence sections of the Armed Forces, the National Police and personnel from the Ministry of the Interior, according to Lebron.

Rains are here today
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) has issued a green alert for the provinces of La Vega, Monsignor Nouel, Santiago, Monte Plata, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Duarte, Sanchez Ramirez, Hermanas Mirabal and San Jose de Ocoa, because of the rains and electrical storms that they expect to continue today and tomorrow.

The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is also watching an area of clouds and rain showers associated with a tropical wave located near the Yucatan Peninsula, which shows a low potential for becoming a tropical cyclone over the next few hours.

According to Diario Libre, there were heavy rains with thunder and lightning that covered the skies of Santo Domingo yesterday afternoon. These rains, according to Onamet, "are being caused by the interaction of a low-pressure trough, associated with a low-pressure area, with the approach of a tropical wave that is now to the east of Puerto Rico, and moving west rapidly, together with the abundant humidity and instability over the island."


Michel Camilo at the National Theater
Leading Dominican jazz pianist Michel Camilo is booked for a performance at the National Theater on Tuesday, 28 June. The concert is sponsored by the Fundacion Amigos del Teatro Nacional. Camilo will be playing music from his Mano a Mano album. He will be accompanied by Giovanny Hidal and Guarionex Aquino on percussion and John Benitez on counter-bass.

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

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