DR1 breaks for Corpus Christi long weekend
Public Procurement Agency repeals fast track buying facility
Tax collections up again
Work advances on 2020 census
Chamber of Accounts not to deliver Odebrecht audits on time
Tunnels and elevated sections to close
Contract ends between Luz y Fuerza and Edeeste
New Dominican proverbs dictionary launched
Former US Ambassador alerts to deals with China
Six die in single vehicle accident
Border Council director prosecuted for incest
El Grande to stay in jail in Omsa case
Dominicans defeat Thailand in Nations League tournament
Gymnast Audrys Nin Reyes wins bronze in Croatia world competition
ProBeisbol to work so a Dominican team can make the Tokyo Olympics

DR1 breaks for Corpus Christi long weekend
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 4 June 2018. DR1 editorial staff is taking off the Corpus Christi holiday that falls on Thursday, 31 May, creating the extended Corpus Christi long weekend for those also taking Friday off. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at http://www.dr1.com

Public Procurement Agency repeals fast track buying facility
The Public Procurement Agency (Dirección de Contrataciones Públicas) announced it has repealed the controversial resolution 15-08 that was issued on 4 November 2008. The resolution, which allowed for the creation of flexible terms for contracting, was sighted by a recent government audit as an instrument used by the Metropolitan Bus Services Office (Omsa) to enter into numerous procurement agreements that evaded scrutiny by normal government contract oversight procedures. Resolution 02-18 of the procurement agency cancelled the authorizations.

The 2012 to 2017 audit by the Chamber of Accounts revealed that former director of OMSA, Manuel Rivas, had authorized billions of pesos worth irregular purchases. Rivas is in jail awaiting the start of the trial.

The audit, which was called after the murder of lawyer Yuniol Ramírez, who was investigating the irregularities at the OMSA, opened the Pandora box leading to public attention and action to check the irregularities at the OMSA. The Chamber of Accounts audit revealed that under Rivas, 51 suppliers received payments, authorized by the director of the OMSA, for RD$3,029,885,296 without signed contracts.

Yokasta Guzman, director of the Public Procurement Office, told the press the OMSA under Manuel Rivas used the facility for most of its purchases of airline tickets, travel, fuel and workshop repairs.

After the announcement by Guzmán, on Tuesday, 29 May 2018, the executive vice president of the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus), Servio Tulio Castaños called for more to be done to check government purchases. He said amendments to the General Procurement Law 340-06 that would further check deficiencies in government procurement practices need to be passed. Castaños Guzmán said that Law 340-06 does not guarantee transparency, has distorted the public function, does not have a criminal consequence regime, and the established sanctions are administrative in nature - that is, there is no consequences regime.

"It is a law that lends itself to bids that can be manipulated, reflects serious weaknesses in the issue of contracting works, among other gaps and distortions. In short, that law must and must be transformed," he said. He asked that President Danilo Medina send the proposal that the Legal Consultancy of the Executive Branch already has to Congress. Finjus and a group of experts worked on the draft that he explained seeks to strengthen the procurement system.


Tax collections up again
The director of the Tax Agency (DGII), Magin Díaz, reported that tax collections from January to May 2018 are up 12%. He attributed the increase in tax revenues this year to the decline in tax evasion. He forecast that if the prices of fuel on international markets continue on the rise, the government would need to take pertinent measures to increase revenues for the state. He also told the press that the collection of tourist card on all fares sold abroad was implemented to eliminate the negative first impression of tourists that had to stand in long queues upon arriving to the country.


Work advances on 2020 census
As part of the work for the 2020 Census in the Dominican Republic, the National Statistics’ Office (ONE) has been discussing with other countries in the region about their experiences and challenges faced in developing the census. Participating in the discussions are representatives from Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

ONE director Alexandra Izquierdo says new information technologies will be used to optimize data collection, control, processing and dissemination of the data. She also said that the data would form part of the information flow used by government and society, to support political and administrative decisions that can impact millions of people.

The census will cost around RD$3 billion and is due to begin on 14 October 2020 although the mapping of the areas to be visited by the census information gatherers has already begun.


Chamber of Accounts not to deliver Odebrecht audits on time
The Chamber of Accounts announced it would not deliver the audits to works carried out by Odebrecht as requested by the Attorney General Office (PGR) in time for the PGR case deadline of 9 June 2018 for the hearings against the 14 men accused in the preliminary case filed by the PGR. The president of the Chamber of Accounts Hugo Alvarez said they expect to deliver the audits in July.

The 14 men accused by the Attorney General Office are: Ángel Rondón, Andrés Bautista, Víctor Díaz Rúa, Ruddy González, César Sánchez, Radhamés Segura, Conrado Pittaluga, Roberto Rodríguez, Ángel Rondón, Máximo D’Oleo, Julio César Valentín, Alfredo Pacheco, Tommy Galán and Bernardo Antonio Castellanos.

Tunnels and elevated sections to close
The Ministry of Public Works has announced that elevated sections and tunnels will be closed up to and including Friday, 1 June 2018. The work will include the collection of garbage, cleaning, washing and checking the electrics and structure. The closures will affect traffic in both directions from 10:30pm to 5am.

On 30 May, the elevated section on Duarte Highway at the entrance to Los Alcarrizos will be closed. On Thursday 31 May, due to it being Corpus Christi holiday there will be no closures but on Friday, 1 June, the Las Americas tunnel will be closed.


Contract ends between Luz y Fuerza and EdeEste
The company Luz y Fuerza in Las Terrenas, Samaná has said that it will do everything possible to guarantee electricity service in the main tourist area of Samaná province, but the company did not have the power to stop the government from excluding them from the national grid.

Engineer José Oscar Orsini Bosch, president of Luz y Fuerza, made the statement following the announcement in the press by state electrical company EdeEste that on 31 May 2018, the contract between Luz y Fuerza and EdeEste is terminated.

He explained that Luz y Fuerza is denied the government fuel subsidy that is available for the public power distributors and generators. He said this has led to an unsustainable situation and a delay in the payments to EdeEste. As a consequence, Luz y Fuerza had a deficit of more than RD$400 million over the last three years.

By means of a press release, Orsini Bosch said that the actual Electricity Superintendence acknowledged the lack of cash flow and he added that they had been waiting three years for the Superintendence to solve the problem it created by applying a tariff for the end users below the actual costs of providing the service.


New Dominican proverbs dictionary launched
The Dominican Language Academy announced the publication of a new 485-page book, “The Dictionary of Dominican Proverbs”, written by Bruno Rosario Candelier. The book is due to be formally released on Wednesday, 30 May 2018. The dictionary is a collection of proverbs and sayings and represents the fifth dictionary produced by the Academy with the collaboration of the Fundación Guzmán Ariza. The book gathers and explains popular Dominican proverbs, proverbs, maxims, adages and sayings.


Former US Ambassador alerts to deals with China
Former US Ambassdor in the Dominican Republic, James (Wally) Brewster alerted the Dominican government that the Chinese have a reputation of promising and not delivering. "First of all I have to say that I do not speak on behalf of the Embassy or the Government of the United States, but with regard to China there are concerns with a government that is not a democratic government but an autocratic one, a communist government that is so powerful. You have to be sure that there are these checks and balances because there are times when they commit to do things that they do not fulfill,” he said during an exclusive interview for the Report with Alicia Ortega of Noticias SIN. He added that it is up to President Danilo Medina and the Dominican government to determine what is right for the country.

Brewster is preparing a book on his experience as ambassador in the Dominican Republic. His husband, Bob Satawake is also writing a book on his experience.


Six die in single vehicle accident
Four men and two women died on the afternoon of Monday 28 May 2018, in a motor vehicle accident when their vehicle left the road and fell into an irrigation canal on the Arenoso-La Ciénaga Vieja road in northeastern Duarte province at 3pm. The victims were identified as member of the Dominican Army, 25-year old Joel Lora Robles and his brother 20-year old Cristian Lora. Also 18-year old Susana de la Cruz Mora, 24-year old Jhon David Ozuna (El Peluquero), and two other teenagers whose names have not been released to the public.

The victims were travelling in a Kia K5 car. Reports say they were headed from Las Terrenas beach to Cotuí in Sanchez Ramirez province, where they lived. Their bodies were taken to the morgue in the hospital in Arenoso.

According to witnesses, the driver of the vehicle lost control and the car went into the canal. Some people also said that the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and that where the accident happened was a place notorious for accidents. Local residents have called on the Ministry of Public Works to build a barrier or retaining wall along the edge of the irrigation canal.


Border Council director prosecuted for incest
National District prosecutors arrested Donni Santana Cueva, a former ambassador and director of the National Border Council for alleged incest with a stepdaughter. He was sent to the Palacio de Justicia de Ciudad Nueva jail in Santo Domingo to await the assigned judge’s pre-trial custody ruling. He was recently fired by the government. Art. 331 of the Dominican Penal Code, amended by Law 24-97 on Gender and Intrafamily Violence penalizes incest.

Rumors on the case had circulated in social media after it was revealed by journalist Maria Elena Núñez who did not reveal the name of the government officer arguing she would wait for the Attorney General Office to investigate. Later the PGR would remit the case to the National District Attorney Office, asking prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso to take charge.


El Grande to stay in jail in Omsa case
A court in Los Mameyes has ratified the coercive measure of one year in preventive custody for José Mercado Blanco (El Grande), implicated in the murder of lawyer and university professor, Yuniol Ramírez. The judges made the decision after the defense did not present the necessary appeal to change the previous ruling.

El Grande’s lawyer said that the court had turned itself into a populist court and did not deliver justice as it should. Ramón Ramírez, lawyer representing his brother Yuniol, agreed with the judges and said they had followed the law.


Dominicans defeat Thailand in Nations League tournament
The Dominican women’s volleyball team (ranked 9th by the FIVB) scored an important victory to the home-based Thailand team (ranked 16th) in Bangkok, Thailand in the Volleyball Nations League tournament. In its third week of the preliminary round, the Dominican team had only defeated Argentina. The score was tight, nevertheless, and well battled by both sides. The DR won the three sets (21-25, 22-25 and 20-25).

Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek said: “I’m very happy with this victory and most of all I’m very happy with the way my team played today. It was very important for us to gain the points. Our serves and defense system were very good today, so I’m just happy about the way the team performed today.”

The Dominican Republic is one of 16 teams that are competing in the preliminary round over five weeks in a total of 20 pools of four teams each. China, as host, will then compete against the best five teams in Nanjing, from 27 June to 1 July 2018.
This week, the Dominican team will play the US (ranked 2nd) on 30 May, and Germany (ranked 13th) on 31 May.


Gymnast Audrys Nin Reyes wins bronze in Croatia world competition
Dominican gymnast Audrys Nin Reyes again surprised competitors from around the world winning the bronze medal in parallel bars at the World Artistic Gymnastics Cup that ended on Sunday, 27 May 2018 in Osijek, Croatia. This is the first time Nin Reyes wins a medal in parallel bars in a world cup. He is known as a pommel horse specialist. In the World Cup he ended fifth in the pommel horse event.

Yamilet Peña, competing for Dominican women, placed seventh in the pommel horse event. Peña had placed 6th in the London Olympic Games.

Nin Reyes and Peña next will compete in the FIG World Challenge Cup in Koper, Slovenia from 31 May to 3 June 2018.

The tournaments are preparatory events for the two Dominican gymnasts that expect to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Medellín, Colombia, the Panamerican Games in Lima, Peru as they prepare for a slot in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


ProBeisbol to work so a Dominican team can make the Tokyo Olympics
Dominican businessman Felipe Vicini presented the initiative ProBeisbol (ProBaseball) that will fund efforts so that money not be an issue for the Dominican Republic not winning one of six slots available to play in the baseball championship of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The initiative is in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and the Dominican Olympic Committee. Vicini said ProBeisbol unites private and public sector efforts in this direction. ProBeisbol directors are Kai Shoenhals, Manuel Luna, Moisés Alou and José Gómez.

Baseball was not contested at two subsequent Olympics, in London and in Rio de Janeiro, but has made its way back to the Summer Games for 2020.

"I'm happy for baseball. Very happy to have a strong league, three immortals in the Hall of Fame of Cooperstown and many Dominicans in the Major Leagues. But in the past Panam we turned in an embarrassing performance. At the Olympic level we have not advanced. That has to change,” he said.

Vicini said that already their support helped the Dominican team to move up in the international ranking from 16th to 12th last year. “That means that with work and effort we can achieve the goal,” he said.

To make the Olympics, the team must remain ranked in the top 12 place on the 2018 WBSC world rankings at year’s end. These teams will then play in the Premier 12 tournament in Tokyo in November 2019. The top six winning teams will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Present for the presentation of the new initiative were Sports Minister Danilo Díaz; Luis Mejía, president of the Dominican Olympic Committee; Vitelio Mejía, president of the Dominican Professional Baseball League; and Héctor “Tito” Pereyra, president of the Dominican Baseball Federation.