DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
Ministry of Public Health warns of obesity
Blocked teachers to be paid
It’s the season to renew car permit tags
DR slides 12 places in Global Competitiveness Index
Telecoms merger approved with exceptions, Altice protests
New administration for Duquesa garbage dump
Superior Electoral Court annuls PRSC board re-elected Federico Antún
Bomb scare at French travel fair
Investigation into whether Quirinito is alive or dead
Dominican plane makes emergency landing in Venezuela, kills two
Wason Brazobán concert on 30 September
Little Shop of Horrors: new Amaury Sánchez musical

DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 2 October 2017. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at http://www.dr1.com

Ministry of Public Health warns of obesity
The Ministry of Public Health says obesity has become an epidemic in the Dominican Republic and has promised to address the crisis. Actions to be taken are detailed in the Inter-sectorial Plan to Prevent Obesity 2017-2021 that was presented by Tomirys Stephan on Tuesday, 26 September 2017. The National Division for the Prevention and Control of Non Transmissible Chronic Diseases prepared the plan. It proposes an increase in recreational spaces in urban areas, to promote increased physical activities in schools, improve access to fresh foods, increase breastfeeding and control the exposure to sugar-based drinks.

Data from the Ministry of Public Health indicates that men from 15 to 49 years are 28.8% overweight. Among men 15 to 19 years, 13.6% are overweight. Among men 20-29 years, 31.7% is obese. Among those 30-39 years, 52.7% is obese, and among those 40-49 years, 57.1% of men are obese. Overall, Ministry of Public health data shows that 50% of women 15 to 49 years are obese.

The principal causes have to do with lifestyle, consumption of foods with high fat, sugar, salt content, as well as sedentary population.


Blocked teachers to be paid
The 965 teachers for whom the Ministry of Education has withheld their monthly salaries will receive their pay in this month of September 2017. The decision was taken as a result of an agreement between the Ministry and the president of the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP), Eduardo Hidalgo, in which he promised that the blocked teachers would present evidence on their status and whether they were actually teaching.

Hidalgo said that all of the blocked teachers would be paid their September wages and the outstanding months would be paid by check 10 to 15 days later.

The Ministry created a list of 8,000 teachers whose work status was questioned. Following a preliminary re-evaluation of their original list more than half of the teachers in question were integrated back into the system. Still, the status of some 3,928 teachers has not been vetted by the Ministry.


It’s the season to renew car permit tags
The Tax Agency (DGII) has announced that the renewal period for vehicle tags is from 2 October 2017 through 8 January 2018.

Fees for the 2017-2018 period are:
Vehicles with more than five (5) years or up to 2012 of manufacture are RD$1,500.
Vehicles with five (5) years or less of manufacturing or 2013 onwards will pay RD$3,000.

The DGII says that approximately 1,280,000 vehicles need to renew at authorized banks, the DGII offices or online from 2 October through 15 December 2017. The renewal period extends through 8 January 2018 for avoiding surcharges.

The DGII is using the popular Beato (the daring cameraman who became famous during Hurricane Maria) for its promotional campaign.


DR slides 12 places in Global Competitiveness Index
After years of some improvements, the DR now slides 12 places on the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018. The Dominican Republic is ranked 104th among 137 countries included in the index. In 2016-2017, the DR had ranked 92nd. The Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018 presents a framework and a corresponding set of indicators in three principal categories (subindexes) and twelve policy domains (pillars) for 137 economies.

The government is to blame, says the report. The DR scored 129th of 137 countries for its institutions. The three most problematic factors for doing business in the Dominican Republic are corruption, inefficient government bureaucracy and tax rates. Other negative factors are inadequately educated workforce, crime and theft, access to financing, restrictive labor regulations, poor work ethic in national labor force and tax regulations.

The DR is in the bottom ten for the indicators of: diversion of public funds, public trust in politicians, judicial independence, favoritism in decisions of government officials, efficiency of government spending, reliability of police services, and ethical behavior of firms.

On the positive side, the DR scored in the top half of the 137 countries regarding these indicators: business costs of terrorism, quality of roads, quality of port infrastructure, quality of air transport infrastructure, Available airline seat kilometers, gross national savings, inflation, government debt, malaria incidence, business impact of malaria, business impact of tuberculosis, business impact of HIV/AIDS, intensity of local competition, prevalence of foreign ownership, business impact of rules on FDI, burden of customs procedures, availability of financial services, ease of access to loans, soundness of banks, regulation of securities exchanges, availability of latest technologies, FDI and technology transfer, Internet users, domestic market size index, GDP (PPP), local supplier quantity, state of cluster development, and extent of marketing.

Telecoms merger approved with exceptions, Altice protests
The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) announced on 25 September 2017, with Resolution 056-17, its approval for Altice Hispaniola’s application to merge its Orange Dominicana and Tricom units, subject to conditions. Indotel said the merger encompasses Orange mobile operator absorbing the authorizations, assets and liabilities of Tricom.

Nevertheless, Indotel conditioned the merger to Altice divesting itself of 30MHz of spectrum allocated to Tricom in the 1900MHz band in order to comply with anti-trust implications of the merger. Indotel said that 120MHz is distributed among the four telecoms – Claro, Tricom, Orange and Viva - with 30MHz each. Indotel has said the 30MHz had been assigned to each of four bidders and that the merger of two of them was contrary to the original conditions of this allocation.

Indotel argues that with the divesting of the 30MHz of frequencies in the 1900 MHz band, Altice would still manage 48% of the total spectrum, followed by Claro with 39.5% and Viva with 12.5%.

Another condition included is an order to reduce the price of interconnection fees charged by the entity resulting from the merger.

Altice acquired Tricom for US$400 million from Hispaniola Telecom back in November 2013, subsequently buying Orange Dominicana for US$1.4 billion from the Orange Group. To date, the companies have continued to operate as separate businesses.

Earlier this year Altice announced plans to rebrand its telecom operations worldwide, starting with Tricom and Orange in the Dominican Republic, both of which are in the process of changing their consumer-facing identity to Altice by mid-2018.

Altice in the Dominican Republic has rejected the decision of the board of the Indotel regarding the conditions for the merger. The company argued that since 2013, Indotel was aware of the future merger. “Under these premises in 2014, Indotel prepared its market concentration study with the merger scenario and approved without restriction the change of control of Tricom and Altice. Now in 2017, when Altice has lost market share, there is no justification that Indotel now suggests that our merger generates market concentration,” stated Altice in a press release. The company says that what is even more serious is that Indotel since 2011 had established the criteria for spectrum efficiency where Altice clearly complies with the parameters, even considering the merger, and even opens the possibility of purchasing more frequencies.

Desirée Logroño, senior institutional relations director, said that Altice is in second place in market share, behind Claro that has 53% of the mobile market and 71% of the fixed line market. She said that the Indotel decisions only affect the company that has challenged the dominant player in the market. She highlighted that the competition had forced the dominant player to lower prices for its services, which benefits consumers and contributes to the narrowing the digital divide.

Economist Andy Dauhajre has shared some statistics on the sector and the merge in an article in El Caribe. He explains that Claro has 55% of the mobile market, followed by Altice (Orange + Tricom) would have 41.5%, and Viva would keep its 3.5%. But in the frequency spectrum, Altice (Orange) has 90MHz and Altice (Tricom) has 55 MHz for 145MHz if the merger were authorized under the present conditions, while Claro having 95MHz and Viva 30MHz. As a result, Altice would have 53.7%, Claro 35.2% and Viva 11.1%.

Dauhajre further explains that this would create a competitive advantage in favor of the Altice with least number of mobile lines per MHz assigned in the radio spectrum used to transmit and receive data, that is less spectrum crunch and better service quality. As of 2017, Claro had 4,713,597 mobile lines within the 95MHz assigned to its frequencies. That is 49,617 mobile lines per megahertz assigned. If the merger of Orange + Tricom were to go through, they would have 145MHz for 3,552,801 mobile lines, or 24,502 lines per MHz. He observed that so far Tricom has underused the 55MHz when handling 171,913 mobile lines as of July 2017, or 3,126 mobile lines per MHz. Viva is handling 9,973 mobile lines per each of the 30MHz assigned.


New administration for Duquesa garbage dump
The Superior Administrative Court (TSA) issued a ruling that appoints a temporary judicial administrator for the Duquesa garbage dump in Santo Domingo. Judge Rafael Vargas Goico ordered that the administration of the dump that services garbage from the Greater Santo Domingo municipalities be taken over by a commission that will be headed up by the Ministry of the Environment and include members of Ministry Public Health and the Santo Domingo North City Hall, where the dump is located.

The Ministry of Environment saluted the TSA decision and announced the Administrative Police of the National Environmental Protection Service (Senpa) was assigned to ensure the dump continued operating.

Following the decision, El Nuevo Diario reported that Lajun Corporation began to remove its machineries from the Duquesa dump, causing major chaos at the entry to the dump.


Superior Electoral Court annuls PRSC board re-elected Federico Antún
The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) annulled the meeting of the PRSC member board that took place on 9 June 2017 called by the party president, Federico Antún. During that meeting the board approved that an assembly of delegates meet to choose the authorities of the PRSC. During the assembly that subsequently would take place on 17 September 2017, Federico Antún was re-elected president and Ramón Rogelio Genao was elected secretary general. The TSE ruled that the necessary quorum for that meeting, of half of the 60 delegates of the PRSC board plus one, was not met. The TSE says that Antún could only validate 28 eligible members.

A separate faction of the PRSC held a simultaneous assembly on the same 17 September, when José Hazim was voted president, Joaquin Ricardo, secretary general and Victor (Ito) Bisonó, acting president. The motion to annul the Antún presidency was submitted by José Hazim, Victor Bisonó, among others.


Bomb scare at French travel fair
A bomb scare interrupted the activities at the International French Travel Market Top Resa taking place 26-29 September in Paris, France. The exhibition hall at Place de la Porte de Versailles was evacuated when alarms went off after an abandoned bag was found. Minutes later the organizers announced the alert had been a false alarm and that the unaccompanied bag had only contained promotional brochures. The false alarm affected the activities program for the day for the Dominican delegation and others participating in the leading travel fair.

Participating in the event was Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García, who was evacuated along with other delegates from the Dominican Republic.


Investigation into whether Quirinito is alive or dead
Attorney General Office and the National Judiciary Council have acknowledged an investigation is underway into the supposed death of Pedro Alejandro Castillo Paniagua (Quirinito). Castillo Paniagua has been in jail sentenced in 2010 and began serving a 30-year sentence for the 2008 murder of Spaniard Adolfo Justo Cervantes Arellano (Waikiki). Castillo Paniagua’s sentence was reduced to 20 years in 2013. He is the nephew of infamous drug trafficker, former army colonel Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo.
This 2017, Castillo Paniagua was authorized to leave the jail for domiciliary arrest in San Francisco de Macorís, where his wife Jennifer Stephanie Domínguez was named his guarantor. The change was authorized after medical certificates were presented, including one from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences, certifying he had terminal mouth cancer. Among the certificates for the terminal cancer is one from oncologist César Augusto Núñez Rojas. The transfer documents explain the transfer to San Francisco de Macoris was for humanity reasons so he could be near his parents who live in San Francisco de Macorís.

Not long after, Castillo Paniagua was issued a death certificate. When El Nacional reporters called family relatives in Elias Piña these said they expressed doubts about his death. There is speculation the death certificate was part of a scheme to facilitate his escape from justice. The death certificate states he died on 5 July 2017 of a heart attack and complications from cancer at a house located in Residencial Betty Marie in Paseo de los Ríos, San Francisco de Macorís.

As reported, under investigation are judge Jiménez, the forensic scientist who signed the death certificate and the judge of the first circumscription of San Francisco de Macorís who certified the document. The burial site of Castillo Paniagua has not been revealed.


Dominican plane makes emergency landing in Venezuela, kills two
Dominican authorities are investigating who could have been aboard Aero Commander 500 aircraft with Dominican registration that landed in Venezuela, killing two people in the landing. The two men died on Tuesday, 26 September 2017, when the plane attempted an emergency landing in Dabajuro, Falcón state in Venezuela, according to Globovision, a Venezuelan media. The deceased were identified as Kelvin Wiliam Leal and Venezuelan police officer Enmanuel Ferrer.

It is known that the pilot and passenger(s) fled upon landing and were transported in a waiting vehicle. Diario Libre reports that the National Investigations Department (DNI) is carrying out intelligence to investigate who and what was on board the plane. As reported in the media, HI560 departed from La Isabela International Airport in northern Santo Domingo to La Romana and from there to Venezuela. As reported, the aircraft had been stolen from its hangar at La Isabela International Airport in El Higuero.

The DNI is checking surveillance videos. Airport security is responsibility of Specialized Corps for Airport and Civil Aviation Security (CESAC).


Wason Brazobán concert on 30 September
Dominican musician and songwriter, Wason Brazobán, will be performing on Saturday, 30 September 2017 at the Pelicano Beach Club in Boca Chica. Tickets are for sale at Uepa Tickets, Supermercados Nacional, Jumbo and CCN stores for RD$1,500 general admission and RD$3,000 VIP.

Little Shop of Horrors: new Amaury Sánchez musical
“La tiendita del horror”, the comedy musical, opens at Palacio de Bellas Artes with six shows on two weekends from 9 to 18 November 2017. The Amaury Sánchez production is directed by Waddys Jáquez with Amaury Sánchez in charge of the music by six musicians. The show stars are José Guillermo Cordero as the carnivorous plant; Irvin Alberti, the dentist; Javier Grullón Seymour; and Kenny Grullón, the owner of the store. Others are Ilsa Moreno, Alanda Cabrera, Nathalie Sánchez and Judith Rodríguez (Odris).
The Little Shop of Horrors is an adaptation of the off-Broadway musical comedy of the same name by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. It tells the story of a dejected florist shop worker who finds out his venus fly trap can speak but demands a fresh supply of blood. The musical itself was based on a 1960s film.