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Daily News - Friday, 08 August 2014

President Medina back from Colombia
President Danilo Medina returned from his two-day trip to Colombia where he attended the inauguration of President Juan Manuel Santos. While in Colombia, President Medina took time to visit a large low-income housing project, Ciudad Verde, on the outskirts of Bogota. The 50,000-unit housing project is considered a model of sustainable, affordable housing and comes complete with a range of public and private sector services. President Medina visited a day care center in the Ciudad Verde project with similar characteristics to the day care facilities that the First Lady Candida Montilla supports in the Dominican Republic. President Medina had left the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, 5 August 2014 and was back in Santo Domingo by Thursday evening.

Read more in Spanish:

http://presidencia.gob.do/comunicados/danilo-medina-asiste-juramentacion-del-presidente-juan-manuel-santos

http://presidencia.gob.do/comunicados/danilo-medina-regresa-tras-participar-en-toma-de-posesion-de-juan-manuel-santos

http://presidencia.gob.do/comunicados/danilo-medina-en-hogar-infantil-de-ciudad-verde-colombia-entrevista

Customs Agency announces 42% surcharge on Internet purchases
The Customs Agency said that starting 15 August 2014,all customers who purchase items over the Internet purchases will be required to pay 18% ITBIS (Value-added tax), plus a luxury tax and the applicable import taxes. In all, it is estimated that an average tax bill for Internet purchases will hover around 42%.

Civil society groups, couriers and even legislators oppose the new tax structure, saying these taxes violate the 2010 Constitution, Decree 402-05, Law 277-12 and the DR-CAFTA trade agreement.

Lawyer Laura Castellanos said that the Customs agency inspectors have visited leading couriers in the country, including UPS, DHL, FedEx and Amerijet this week. Castellanos called the measure retaliation and intimidation. The couriers have gone public to encourage consumers that use Internet commerce to protest the new tax measure.

The president of the Dominican Association of Couriers (Asodec), Jose Burdiez (who is the manager of UPS operations in the Dominican Republic), reiterated Asodec's strong opposition to the new taxes.

The courier companies predict that the new taxes will dramatically reduce Internet purchases and that the loss of this business will also negatively impact Dominican exporters that take advantage of the empty cargo space on freight airliners to ship their goods to foreign destinations.

The Internet tax case is being heard in the Superior Administrative Court (TSA).

Owners of stores represented by the National Commercial Business Organization (ONEC) call Internet purchases unfair competition and lobbied with the Customs Agency for equal taxation. Fernandez took their side saying that the Internet purchase exemption was being used by businesses to import goods without paying taxes, which was unfair competition for the retail stores.

ONAPI says there are very few Dominican inventors
Dominicans are known for their creativity, but it seems that very few have registered their new creations. During the 2000-2013 period, the National Industrial Property Office (ONAPI) received 3,015 patent invention requests for registration. But of these, only 188 (or 6%) of the total applicants were Dominicans. Foreigners accounted for 94% of all patent applications received by ONAPI.

Listin Diario newspaper feature raises the question of whether the problem is that Dominicans are not aware they should register their products.

Companies or individuals from the United States presented 1,413 requests for patent registration, followed by Germany with 347 and Greece with 204.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.listin.com.do/economia-and-negocios/2014/8/7/332827/Donde-esta-la-genialidad-de-los-dominicanos

Manuel Diez Cabral: government needs to end its inertia
The president of the National Council of Business (Conep), Manuel Diez Cabral, called for authorities to end inertia and begin to confront the challenges the country faces.

He recommended that government stop the cycle of borrowing that is increasing the socio-economic burden for future generations.

Diez said that in the past 12 years, 65% of private employment has been generated by the informal sector, which means that more than 2.3 million Dominicans are not protected by the Labor Code.

Diez Cabral also called for reforms in the electricity sector. The National Development Strategy Law calls for the drafting and enactment of the Electricity Pact, which has been delayed by the government.

He made his comments while speaking to Santiago businessmen yesterday, 7 August 2014, in an activity organized by the Association of Industries of the North Region (Airen), the northern chapter of Conep. Present at the event were Carlos Iglesias, of the American Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Filpo of the Association of Merchants and Industrialists of Santiago (ACIS) and Luis Jose Bonilla, of the Santiago Free Zone Association.

"We have not defined medium and long term national industrial policies, our education system continues to operate under the same guidelines from last century," Diez Cabral said.

He commented that it is alarming that domestic help and motorcycle taxis are the two largest sources of jobs in the national economy. Motoconcho employment is not regulated, and domestic help has very flexible employment conditions.

He called for greater education and employment opportunities for young people, noting that the unemployment rate for youth in the Dominican Republic is 32%.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/08/08/conep-pide-romper-inercia-del-gobierno

Koreans are looking for Dominican business partners
The Center for Export and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) and the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) are sponsoring a Business to Business forum on 21 and 22 August 2014 in Santo Domingo. The purpose of the forum is to catalyze the creation of partnerships between businesses in a diverse range of projects, such as renewable energy, electric and electronic components, sewage treatment, transport, construction, recycling and packaging.

Jean Alain Rodriguez, executive director of CEI-RD, announced that 17 Korean companies are interested in doing business in the Dominican Republic and will be here to meet with possible local business partners.

The event also has the backing of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Korean Council on Latin America and the Caribbean (KCLAC).

Among the Korean companies that will be participating in the event are:

ATech Thermo, Cheonil Co.,Ltd, Engine Tech, ENFC, Iljin Electric Co. Ltd, Daejin Battery, Hanwha S&C, Daewoo International, Abid Korea, Tap Electronics, Rothwell Watertech, Cheil Engineering, Kohea, J&K, Global Consulting, EGOV, Chorusing Co. Ltd and Techwon.

The deputy director of the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Jong Weon Kim praised the robust and diverse industrial sector in the Dominican Republic. Kim noted that the Dominican Republic occupies an important position in the overall economy of Latin American and Caribbean.

Korea works to reduce the number of traffic accidents in DR
The Ministry of Economy announced that it is working with Korean experts to conduct a study with the goal of improving local road and traffic safety systems and reviewing and revising traffic regulations in the Dominican Republic. The study, that is to be presented in a seminar sometime in November 2014, also includes an assessment of road safety in Haiti. The study is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Korea Eximbank at a cost of US$550,000.

The announcement was made at the meeting of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FiA) Congress on Mobility and Sports meeting being held in Santo Domingo from 6 n 8 August 2014.

Korea successfully achieved nearly a 63% decrease in road fatalities between 1990 and 2011. Many of the lessons learned by Korea will be integrated into the Dominican Republic study.

The study is part of a joint consulting project on supporting road safety in Haiti and Dominican Republic. The project seeks to propose a framework for the development and implementation of traffic safety regulations for both the Haitian and Dominican governments. The framework proposed will be part of a road safety management system that would operate in conjunction with a Traffic Accident Data Management System (TAMS).

Implementing these programs would contribute to significant improvement of road and traffic safety in Haiti and Dominican Republic.

The study focuses on collecting and compiling detailed data on traffic accidents, analyzing current systems and regulations for road safety and studying the roles of government and private institutions that have roles and responsibilities in traffic safety. Finally, the study will make recommendations to create an integrated framework to improve the traffic safety regulations in the Dominican Republic.

Current traffic rules and regulations are based on an obsolete law that was created in 1967. A hodge-podge of government agencies currently share responsibility for applying traffic laws in the Dominican Republic. These agencies include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (AMET), the Technical Office for Land Transportation (OTTT), General Authority for Land Transportation (DGTT) and Office for the Reorganization of Transportation (OPRET).

Major hotel chain and DGII reach landmark agreement
Setting a precedent for other hotel companies, the Viva Wyndham Resort local hotel chain reached an agreement with the Dominican Tax Agency (DGII) on hotel operation taxes. This is the first Expected Prices Agreement (Acuerdo de Precios Anticipados n APA).

The APAs allow for the hotel and tax authorities to agree on rates for taxation in the future but only apply to all-inclusive operations.

The agreement was signed by DGII director Guarocuya Felix and by Rafael E. Blanco Canto, vice president of Promotora Dominicana del Caribe, the company that operates the Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach and Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace in Bayahibe-La Romana, as reported by the DGII.

Felix told reporters that the agreement follows many years of talks to develop a stable framework for taxation.

"This is a very important agreement because it sets a precedent for reaching specific, individualized taxation agreements. Previously, the National Hotel & Tourism Association had signed a macro taxation agreement. But this is the first individual agreement signed by a hotel company with the DGII.

Felix noted that the government has established a goal to work with the tourism sector to attract 10 million tourists over the next ten years and in order to achieve this goal, clear rules involving appropriate and transparent tax structures are needed to promote sustainable growth in the hotel and tourist services sectors.

http://www.dgii.gov.do/noticias/Paginas/Impuestos-Internos-y-Viva-Wyndham-firman-primer-acuerdo-de-precios-anticipados-APA.aspx

Authorities register 23,730 cases of chikungunya
72% of all cases of chikungunya virus registered by the Pan American Health Organization are in the Dominican Republic, according to Ministry of Public Health Bulletin No. 11. The virus was first reported in the Caribbean in the island of St. Martin in 2013, from where it traveled to the Dominican Republic this year. Government statistics indicate that the accumulated incidences or cases of chikungunya number 3,567 for every 100,000 inhabitants, as reported in Diario Libre.

Health authorities have recorded only 23,730 cases. But these same authorities acknowledge that there are certainly many more cases of chikungunya in the general population n noting that the majority of the people affected by the virus are being treated at home and those cases have not been reported to the government.

Despite the wide high incidence of chikungunya in the population, only three deaths have been attributed to the virus. Cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in 19 provinces throughout the country. Health officials note that, at the present time, the spread of the disease has declined in the Greater Santo Domingo and San Cristobal, where the disease began. Health officials report that the southwestern province of San Juan de la Maguana has the highest number of suspected cases of the virus.

Dr. Pedro Sing: Ebola could enter from Haiti
The president of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD) Dr. Pedro Sing urged that more sanitary controls at the border with Haiti be established.

As reported in Acento.com.do, Dr. Sing said that the border with Haiti is the most vulnerable entry point for Ebola to enter the Dominican Republic. He stressed to the officials at the Ministry of Public Health that implementing control measures at land border crossing sites are more urgent than conducting screenings at airports and seaports.

"The sanitary controls at the land borders need to be strengthened. For example, how many Haitian students could have been in Africa or Europe where they may have visited family," he commented. He said that isolation units should be established to deal with suspected cases. Dr. Sing noted that these controls are not currently is place at the border.

Dr. Sing speculated that it is more likely that incidences of Ebola would first occur in Haiti, and from there the disease could enter the DR.

Dr. Sing called for the government to create a committee of public health experts and physicians to develop a national action plan to deal with a possible threat of Ebola and create a quarantine unit that would prevent the spread of the disease. He said the currently, the Dominican medical system is not prepared to deal with the disease.

Dr. Sing noted how chikungunya has spread throughout the country due to the weak institutional health prevention and treatment infrastructure. Chikungunya was first reported in the Caribbean in St. Martin in 2013 prior from coming to the DR.

He reminded the population that Ebola has a mortality rate of 90% and patients die of internal hemorraghing, kidney and heart failure. Symptoms of Ebola include high fever, joint paints, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Transmission is by body fluids.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today, 8 August 2014, called the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa an international emergency. WHO officials stress the alarming rate of the spread of the disease requires a massive, coordinated response across all national and international government and civil sectors.

Currently, the outbreak is affecting Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. These countries have reported 1,070 confirmed cases, and 436 "probable cases". WHO estimates that 932 deaths due to Ebola have been confirmed through 4 August 2014.

http://acento.com.do/2014/actualidad/8163026-fortalecer-frontera-defensa-ebola-rd-presidente-cmd/

Reducing the cost of justice
The president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Judge Mariano German Mejia, favors the creation of alternative justice options to facilitate conflict resolution.

Speaking during the III Summit on Alternative Methods for Conflict Resolution for Access to Justice and Municipality organized by Participacion Ciudadana and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the president of the Supreme Court of Justice said that only harmonious solutions through alternative methods for conflict resolution can breach differences and guarantee peace in society. He favors promoting and establishing flexible and lower cost mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts, as reported in El Caribe.

German Mejia says that these mechanisms, that do not require the opening of new courts, make it possible to increase capacity and efficiency of the justice system, and speed up the hearing of cases.

German Mejia stressed that he believes in peaceful resolutions of conflicts through continuous dialogue, that respects the rights of individuals to voice their perspectives and note their differences.

He said that the State should fulfill its obligation to create an environment where respectful civil discourse is nurtured and conflicts are resolved in a way that contributes to the development of a peaceful society.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/08/08/scj-pide-flexibilidad-solucion-conflictos

150 years for murder of artist Jose Carlos Fernandez
Judges Pilar Rufino Diaz, Daira Medina and Clarivel Nivar Arias imposed the maximum sentence of 30 years each on Miguel Angel Bautista Mota (El Bola), Maximo Darvin Almanzar Guerra (Warrior), Jesaisas Benjamin Mota Lorenzo (Nino), Jorge de Jesus Mancebo and Argenis Antonio Batista Rodriguez (Prototipo) for the murder of artist Jose Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez was the son of the late merengue musician Jochy Hernandez and journalist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

The sentence was handed down by the Fourth Collegiate Tribunal of the Penal Chamber of the Court of the First Instance of the National District on Wednesday, 6 August 2014.

Jose Carlos was the drummer for the rock group Exsanguination Throne and appeared in concerts in Argentina and around the world. He was murdered on 2 September 2012, stabbed 27 times at a Gustav Bar on the Winston Churchill corner Jose Amado Soler during a heavy rock concert. Reportedly, he was confused with another person. At the time of his murder he had been in the country for several days on vacation.

After hearing of the court decision, the deceased's mother, Maria del Carmen Hernandez called the court decision fair. She said she was having to learn to live with the deep sorrow of the death of her first born. She has three other children. She produces the TV show, "Tell Me Your Story on CDN Channel 37.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/08/08/ldquo-dolor-quita-pero-sentencia-tranquilizardquo

Freight truck crashes into hardware store
A freight truck rammed into a hardware store located at Km. 48 on the Duarte highway when vehicle's operator fell asleep at the wheel. The accident killed the driver and five passengers on board. The truck, that was transporting wood, crashed into the Ferreteria Ciriaco. Preliminary reports from the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) indicate that the driver of the truck in question, Alberto Santos Jimenez, was speeding as he drove to Santo Domingo in the pre-dawn hours when he lost control of the freight truck.

Welcome rains this weekend
Reservoir water levels are still below normal, and effects of the drought still prevail. Now a tropical wave is moving through the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico and is expected to bring welcome rains this weekend, says the National Weather Office (Onamet). Rains are forecast practically for the entire country, with sunny skies returning on Sunday. Expect highs of 33?C and lows of 24?C in Santo Domingo over the next few days.

Football league could start with 10 teams
Will soccer become as popular as baseball in the Dominican Republic? The new football league is expected to launch its inaugural season with at least 10 teams that will be selected among the 25 requests received by the recently created Dominican Professional Football League.

The promoters of the league say that the long-term goal of the league is to build facilities that will be designed specifically for football matches. But, in the meantime, existing football fields and baseball fields could be used to host league games.

The football tournament would start in March 2015 and therefore not conflict with the popular winter baseball season that ends in late February.

Locally, the Dominican Football Federation (Fedofutbol) promotes the Dominican Professional Football League with the backing of the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA), the world football-governing body.

As reported in Listin Diario, requests for the league franchises have come from professional baseball teams -- Licey, Aguilas Cibaenas, Leones del Escogido, Toros del Este and the Estrellas Orientales. Other applications to participate in the new league have been received from ISA (Superior Agriculture Institute - Santiago) and several business groups in major cities throughout the country, including Santiago, Moca, La Vega, San Cristobal, Puerto Plata, San Francisco de Macoris, La Romana and Santo Domingo. Local football clubs, such as Bob Soccer, Bauger Futbol Club, FCEScola, Deportivo Pantoja have expressed interest in participating in the new league.

Listin Diario reports that the league is drafting the rules for the tournament, creating the league's logo and establishing the league's legal framework. Reportedly, a FIFA commission recently visited the Dominican Republic to consult with the organizers of the league, which is led by Felix Ledesma of the Dominican Football Federation. The FIFA authorities discussed a wide range of issues with the Dominican Football Federation leaders, including potential marketing and broadcasting rights.

FIFA has been assisting the Dominican Republic since 2004 on the implementation of a 10-year plan to establish the football league. Ledesma said that players from Haiti would be recruited for the first years of the league.

DR defeats Cuba to win bronze at Centrobasket 2014
The Dominican national men's basketball team defeated Cuba 75-66 to win the bronze medal and qualify for the Toronto Pan American Games basketball in 2014. Mexico won Centrobasket 2014, and Puerto Rico took home the silver medal.

At the event, the Dominican men also earned a spot in the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship to be held in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The 2015 FIBA Americas Championship is a qualifier for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

http://www.fibaamericas.com/en/torneos_cal.asp?t=UEYORJGDNA&xtab=2

Don Juan Tenorio at the National Theater
The Sala Ravelo of the National Theater presents a Dominican adaptation of the famous Spanish drama, Don Juan Tenorio. The adaptation is produced by Jose Zorilla. The play will be staged the weekend of 8-10 August at 8:30m on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Performances will be at 6:30pm. The featured actors in the play are Michelle Almanzar, Carmen Rodriguez, Esther Tejeda, Eleazar Acosta, Fernando Pucheu, Daniel Sosa, Alexander Corleone, Enmanuel Baez and Willy Taveras.

Corey, Sly & Friends at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
For a magic evening of good jazz with Corey, Sly & Friends, check out the Dominican Fiesta penthouse lounge for the Fiesta Sunset Jazz event on Friday, 8 August starting at 8pm.

Zarzuela Luisa Fernanda at the National Theater
The main hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo is the venue for the production of the Spanish zarzuela "Luisa Fernanda" on Friday, 8 August and Saturday 9 August 2014 at 8:30pm. This is a production of the Sociedad Pro Arte Latinoamericano.

Zarzuela is a traditional Spanish operetta with dancing, singing, and drama all in one. The main roles will be played by Cuban-American mezzo-soprano Mabel Ledo (Luisa Fernanda), Venezuelan baritone Gaspar Colon (Vidal Hernando), Dominican tenor Edgar Perez (Javier Moreno) and Puerto Rican soprano Melliangee Perez.

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

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