Government to borrow to build water system plants|
President Danilo Medina submitted a loan for EUR 5,247,247 to Congress yesterday, Monday 6 October 2014, to finance the construction of five water supply systems for seven communities in the municipal district of Los Botados in Yamasa, Monte Plata province. The project also includes the construction of a regional water system for Los Botados, Reparadero and La Pina, with treatment plants, pumps and a distribution system.
The loan is to be provided by the government via the National Drinking Water and Sewers Institute (INAPA) and the Sociedad Espanola de Tratamiento de Agua, a Spanish water treatment company.
Maintenance works on underpasses in Santo Domingo|
The Ministry of Public Works announced the shutdown of the Nunez de Caceres tunnel in Santo Domingo today Tuesday, 7 October 2014 from 10pm to 6am on Wednesday, 8 October. The tunnel is being closed for maintenance work (cleaning and lighting).
On Wednesday, the Ministry will shut down the underpass at Ave. Hermanas Mirabal with Charles de Gaulle from 9pm to 6am on Thursday, 9 October 2014.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Public Works will work on the underpass at 27 de Febrero with Maximo Gomez from 10pm to 6pm.
On Friday, 10 October 2014, work will be carried out at the Las Americas Expressway tunnel on the same schedule.
Tobacco company shares up for sale|
The Executive Branch has authorized the sale of all of the government shares in La Tabacalera, currently 49.5%, via a decree that allows the Patrimonial Fund of Reformed Businesses (Fonper) to approve the offer in the next general shareholders' meeting.
The decree, issued on 15 September 2014, indicates that the sale is justified on the grounds that the Dominican state should not have a stake in economic activities linked to products like tobacco, which are harmful to human health.
Fonper will issue a tender for the sale, and Congress will need to give its approval prior to the completion of the sale.
British American Tobacco has been in discussions with Santiago-based La Tabacalera since 2000.
More tax increases on the way|
The effects of the 2012 tax reform are still being felt as they are phased in. Come January 2015, there will be a 2% increase in the sales tax (ITBIS) on sugar, coffee, yoghurt, chocolate, margarine and oil, from 11% to 13%. These products have all been subject to a gradual increasing scale from 8% in 2013 and will eventually reach 16% in 2016.
In addition, the tax on alcohol will also increase with wine going up to RD$540.10 per liter from RD$514.10 and vodka, rum and whisky going from RD$457.30 a RD$498.40.
In addition there will be another 10% tax over and above ITBIS on alcohol.
The tax on a packet of 20 cigarettes, which currently pays RD$45 in tax, will increase to RD$50.
Re-election and Leonel Fernandez dilemmas|
In her editorial column today, Tuesday 7 October 2014, Diario Libre's Ines Aizpun comments on the Dominican presidential tradition of changing the Constitution to suit the head of government.
She says that since the current Constitution outlaws consecutive re-election, it would be logical for discussions to center on who the ruling PLD party candidate will be and not the current focus on how to change the Constitution so that Medina can run again.
"Will there ever be a President who respects the Constitution he swore to respect and have respected?" she asks in today's editorial. "A President who is coherent with his word or another politician who 'sacrifices' himself for the good of the people," she comments.
Aizpun writes that the problem of the lack of institutionalism starts with assuming that the Constitution is "only valid" for three years.
"Leonel Fernandez appears to have a different dilemma," she writes. "Why would someone who has been President for three terms want to do so again?" She wonders if he has any other interests, another way of life, personal goals, wishes, or plans. "Why can't he serve his country, if that is his motivation, from another platform that is not of total power that the position grants in a highly presidentialist country without strong institutions?" she asks.
She concludes: "What implications does it have that we believe it is normal for the Constitution to be changed to the beat of the specific desires of one or another group?
"The political class has to regenerate itself. There is no workshop sponsored by international agencies, donations to the civil society... that can have an effect on this topic. Danilo Medina should be the first to do something convincing."
Dario Contreras ceases admissions|
The Dr. Dario Contreras Trauma Hospital in Santo Domingo East will stop admitting inpatients on a temporary basis as of this week as the admissions area of the hospital will be demolished and rebuilt.
New patients will be referred to the Francisco Moscoso Puello, Marcelino Velez Santana and Vinicio Calventi hospitals.
Hospital director Dr. Manuel Cuello made the announcement and said that other services such as consultations, emergencies, intensive care, pediatrics and surgeries would continue as usual.
On average, Dario Contreras has around 450 patients.
Architect Marcos Nunez said that they were making good progress on the remodeling and he expected the neurosurgery unit, surgical block and inpatients area to be complete by December.
Record number of children die|
A total of 11 children, including eight under the age of one, died over the weekend at the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital in Santo Domingo where they were patients. According to hospital staff, their deaths were caused by problems with the oxygen system.
Authorities at the hospital say the children were all in a critical condition but staff working over the weekend said that the integrated oxygen system broke down, and two of the elevators were not working which meant it was difficult to move oxygen tanks into the patients' rooms. Two of the deaths occurred on Friday 3, four on Saturday 4, and five on Sunday 5 October 2014. Three were newborns, five were under a year old and three over a year old. Most were in the intensive care unit and the others in the neonatal unit.
According to medical staff, they usually have four or five deaths each weekend and very occasionally seven, but this weekend the number was higher than usual.
They said that they have had an integrated oxygen system for a while, but the downside was that the younger residents do not know how to use the manual system and change tanks which causes a problem if it breaks down.
Hospital director Rosa Nieves Paulino said that the hospital treats very sick children and it could not be said that the weekend deaths were due to a lack of oxygen as patients with breathing problems would have been given immediate manual ventilation. However, each case would be investigated, she said.
Five of the children were from Santo Domingo and the rest from San Cristobal, Samana, Peravia, San Pedro de Macoris, Azua and Elias Pina.
US-DR extradition treaty to be updated|
Representatives of the Attorney General Office, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Legal Advisor to the Executive Branch and the United States Embassy will meet at the Ministry of Foreign Relations today, Tuesday 7 October 2014 to discuss modifications to the extradition treaty between the US and the DR, which dates back to 1909.
According to Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, the changes are aimed at increasing the both nations' capacity to fight against international crime.
Dominguez Brito said that the treaty needed updating, as there are new types of crime and sentences that will have to be included, including aspects related to technology, terrorism and contract killers.
Italy to open consular office at EU mission|
The Italian government has announced that it will open an office at the European Union mission in the country that will be in charge of consular affairs, as reported in Diario Libre. According to the report, an unnamed source disclosed that all visa requests would be made through that office and sent to the Italian Embassy in Panama for completing the process.
Spain's ambassador Jaime Lacadena has also said that prospective travelers to Italy could apply for Schengen visas at the Spanish Embassy. He said that most Dominicans who travel to Europe enter via Spain, the destination for most direct flights from the DR to Europe.
Organic bananas doing well|
Dominican bananas are competing with leading Latin American producers Costa Rica and Ecuador and are well known as one of the world's sweetest varieties, says Ramon Fana of the Dominican Association of Producers of Bananas for Export (Asexbam), as reported in Fresh Plaza. According to Fana, association members will produce 380,000 boxes of first class bananas, 90% of which will be shipped directly to Europe and the other 10% to the United States.
Asexbam members cultivate both conventional and organic, fair trade bananas. Fana says that 70% of the local crop is organic and 30% conventional.
As reported, over the next ten months, Asoxbam expects production to increase by around 20%. As of January 2015, the price of 18.4 kg boxes is also expected to go up from the current price of US$9.60.
Haitians lead in boat trips|
The US Coast Guard says that nearly 5,478 Haitians and 3,722 Cubans have been caught by US authorities in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and the Atlantic, compared to 601 Dominicans over the 2014 US fiscal year.
On Monday, 6 October 2014, El Dia reported that 65% of all arrested in illegal boat trips leaving the Dominican Republic were Haitian. The Armada (Navy) has arrested 1,260 people, of whom 805 were from Haiti.
Haitians on the run in the Dominican Republic|
Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Program yesterday, Monday 6 October 2014. It includes a US$122,000 donation for a telephone information line to improve services to foreigners seeking to regularize their status under the National Foreigner Legalization Plan. The Dominican government is offering free legalization services to people who present minimal documentation.
The plan seeks to ensure that all living in the Dominican Republic are legal and could help to uncover people with criminal backgrounds.
However, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, many prisoners who escaped from Haitian jails crossed the border to the Dominican Republic, although the authorities did not know how many or where they were. Fadul said he was aware that more than 4,000 Haitians who escaped from jails in Haiti could be in the country. More than 30 National Police officers are involved in tracking down the escapees, but progress on their detention is slow due to a lack of sufficient data, as reported in Listin Diario.
Fadul said that more than 200 inmates broke out of Croix des Bouquets prison a little less than two months ago, and they had information on the fugitives. He praised the Police investigative teams and said that the investigations into the whereabouts of the fugitives were progressing.
Ebola in Spain|
A nurse who treated a patient repatriated to Madrid from Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, new reports revealed yesterday, Monday 6 October 2014. The nurse is thought to be the first person to have contracted the virus outside West Africa.
There are several direct flights a day from Madrid to the Dominican Republic.
DR to benefit from Cornell University programs|
Cornell University students will be getting real world experience by traveling to the Dominican Republic as part of a pledge by billionaire David Einhorn for US$50 million to the Cornell program.
Cornell University announced on Monday, 6 October 2014 that its new Engaged Cornell initiative will be launched with a US$50 million gift that will be given over ten years by the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, as reported in Forbes Magazine online. The program aims to give all Cornell undergraduates exposure to hands-on practical learning experiences both in the US and around the world by 2025.
As reported in Forbes, Judy Appleton, vice provost and director of the Engaged Cornell program, says the funds will support Cornell students who currently go to countries like the Dominican Republic to learn about healthcare delivery issues and obstacles.
200+ police agents killed or injured this year|
National Police Chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo says that so far this year, 130 police agents have been seriously injured and another 91 killed by criminals.
He said that they were continuing their fight against crime but many agents were being killed or seriously wounded in the process. However, around 126,000 suspected criminals had been arrested during his time as head of the institution and had to face justice.
Maria Gabriela Brugal wins silver in FEI World Jumping Challenge|
Dominican Republic equestrian rider Maria Gabriela Brugal has won the silver medal in the FEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2014 held on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa over the weekend of 4-5 October 2014. Charley Crockart from Zimbabwe won the event, while Rainer Korber of South Africa won the bronze.
As reported in Horse Talk, the purpose of this competition is to provide international competitive opportunities for less experienced riders living in comparatively remote countries, and the qualifying series takes place over 10 geographical zones.
Brugal competed against 18 riders representing 11 nations n Dominican Republic, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, Paraguay, Qatar, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Brugal also competed in this summer's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Recycling art at Altos de Chavon School of Design|
Zoo is happening at Altos de Chavon on Gustavo Mejia Ricart 50, Naco in Santo Domingo. See works created by Luis Rivas inspired by environmental conservation. The artist recycles materials to create a zoo of pieces to highlight the need for protecting vulnerable species. The exhibition opens on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 7pm at the Santo Domingo headquarters of the Altos de Chavon School of Design.
Frank Sinatra Concert at Las Terrazas del Meson|
Enjoy a film of the memorable 1982 Frank Sinatra Concert for the Americas at Altos de Chavon, which will be shown on a giant screen at Las Terrazas del Meson de la Cava in Santo Domingo this evening, Tuesday, 7 October 2014. Also enjoy videos of Diana Krall (Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival), Diane Schuur, Tony Bennett, Manhattan Transfer, Ella Fitzgerald and The Rat Pack. From 7pm at Av. Mirador del Sur No. 1, Tel. 809 930-1840.
For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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