Despite high cost, banking is above average in Dominican Republic
DR attracts half of FDI to the Caribbean
DR needs to take advantage of trade agreement with Panama
Diversified energy matrix makes DR less vulnerable to natural disasters
ADIE says state power distributors not buying sufficient power
Supermercado Nacional bets on its Brangus beef to gain market share
Osiris de Leon: Environment minister is acting as if he was a farmer
Odebrecht case awaits Supreme Court decision on Judge Ortega
Italian couple dies in traffic crash on Autovía del Este
Patrol chooses wrong person to ask for cash tips
Woman arrested for keeping marijuana plants
Repeat robber at Basilica de la Altagracia arrested
Beryl not a danger for Dominican Republic
Audrys Nin was named Athlete of the Year 2018
17th Women’s Pan American Volleyball Cup in Santo Domingo

Despite high cost, banking is above average in Dominican Republic
According to Global Findex, the database on bank accounts around the world, 55% of Dominicans older than 15 years old already has a bank account. This is above the Latin American average of 54% and that in 13 Latin American countries, including all in Central America with the exception of Costa Rica.

Alejandro Fernandez, of Argentarium, says the formal market demands, better banking regulations and the new banking subagents located in pharmacies and corner grocery shops explain the boom in numbers of people with bank accounts.

He said as the income level increases, more Dominicans will open bank accounts. Nevertheless he said across the board Dominicans complain about the high cost of banking services, but only 38% of those who do not have a bank account said it was why they haven’t opened an account.

The study also revealed that 19% of Dominicans kept savings in a financial institution, but the same percentage kept their savings with a traditional “san” or with a relative.

Global Findex is compiled by the World Bank. The database is the world’s most comprehensive data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. Launched with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the database has been published every three years since 2011. The data are collected in partnership with Gallup, Inc., through nationally representative surveys of more than 150,000 adults in over 140 economies.

DR attracts half of FDI to the Caribbean
More than half of the direct foreign investment the Caribbean received in 2017 was concentrated in the Dominican Republic, according to a recent report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The report highlighted the Dominican Republic received US$3.57 billion of the US$5.84 invested in the Caribbean in 2017.

In the Caribbean, FDI inflows were up by 20%, while the composition of FDI inflows has shifted with a decline in investment in natural resources and an increase in services and manufacturing. In the services sector, investment has grown in renewable energies and telecommunications.

The ECLAC briefing paper “Foreign Direct Invesment: Latin America and the Caribbean” is critical to the lesser positive impact of FDI on national development in the Latin American and Caribbean region, including helping to generate positive effects on employment, productivity or sustainability.

Overall, the report says that cases that stand out are the increasing investments in the automotive sector in Mexico and Brazil and manufacturing and services for export in Central America and the Dominican Republic. “But these cases are still not enough to drive a transformation of the region’s production structure,” highlights the report. It recommends that FDI attraction policies need to be integrated into sustainable development plans in the region, affording particular importance to building local capacities, both for attracting FDI and for tapping its advantages.

DR needs to take advantage of trade agreement with Panama
For years now, Panama has been the big winner of the Partial Scope Trade Agreement maintained with the Dominican Republic. As reported, the Dominican Republic in the first quarter of 2018 imported US$119 million from Panama but exported barely US$7.9 million to that Central American country.

The president of the National Council of Free Zones, Luisa Fernandez stated: “We have been living with our back to Central America and only concentrating on exports to the United States and Europe.” She spoke during the signing of an agreement between CNZFE and the Colon Free Zone of Panama that seeks to increase investment and trade between both countries.

Manuel Grimaldo of the Panamanian free zone said that Dominican businesspeople need to strengthen trade ties to overcome the deficit that is running with Panama. “An increase in sales of both nations will be made possible with the exchange of technical information and management of productive processes to facilitate the increase in business,” he said when participating in meetings with Dominican public and private sector.

Grimaldo said Panama sells US$600 million a year in goods to the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic has around 690 free zone export industries in operation with exports in 2017 more than US$5.9 billion, or 56% of national exports. The sector generates around 165,000 direct jobs and another 300,000 indirect jobs.

Grimaldo explained the new agreement "will seek to share the best practices, the promotion and development of the free zones regime and develop common actions that contribute to strengthen the companies established in the Colon Free Zone and in our country."

The alliance was signed within the framework of the first Business Roundtable held by the Colon Free Zone with the public and private sector in the Dominican Republic. It is intended to increase the volume of commercial activities between both countries.

The Business Roundtable featured the participation of 26 Panamanian companies that export products and services from various fields, such as logistics, textiles, toys, schools, watchmaking, household items, beauty and dermatology products, mechanics, among others.

Diversified energy matrix makes DR less vulnerable to natural disasters
Benjamín Villalobos, director of operations of AES Dominicana, the leading local power supplier, explained that the highly diversified energy generation matrix of the Dominican Republic reduces the vulnerability of the country’s electricity system to natural disasters. “The diversified energy matrix of the Dominican Republic is an advantage given that the country does not depend on a single source of fuel, but rather has units that operate in dual manner and different ports for the receiving of fuel both in liquid and gas form,” he highlighted. He spoke during a talk on “Resilience of the Dominican electricity system to catastrophes caused by natural phenomenon” on Tuesday, 3 July 2018, sponsored by the Dominican Association of Electricity Industry.

Villalobos highlighted the installation of an energy storage system for AES Andres and DPP through a battery system maintained stability of the frequency and a distributed deploy of the Interconnected Electricity System (SENI) during the Hurricane Maria in 2017. He said the energy system, identified as BESA, operated permanently and maintained the stability of the charge of batteries above 45%, despite the strong and continued variations that occurred during the hurricane.

ADIE says state power distributors not buying sufficient power
The Dominican Association of Electricity Industries (ADIE) said that the recent increase in blackouts is primarily due to the fact that state owned power distributors are not purchasing the power needed to meet consumer demands. The generators say the generation capacity is sufficient to meet the demand. For example, ADIE says the generators could have supplied 389.76 gigawatts per hour to the system, but the distributors only demanded 360.61 gigawatts per hour, creating a deficit of 29.15 gigawatts per hour. Nevertheless, blackouts of eight to 18 hours are being reported in Greater Santo Domingo.

Manuel Cabral, executive vice president for ADIE, said that the distributors continue to be affected by losses in billing, deficiency of transmission lines, among other causes impeding the companies from being financially sustainable.

"As long as we do not overcome the historical weaknesses that exist in state electricity distribution companies, we will not have the energy supply that we require as a country to continue promoting development," Cabral warned.

Supermercado Nacional bets on its Brangus beef to gain market share
The Supermercados Nacional supermarket chain has invested in the local production of Brangus beef, to grab market share from imported US meat. In a report in Diario Libre, the company explained that Brangus is a breed that originated in the United States and is a mix of 33.67 of Brahman and 66.3% of Angus. The result is Brangus cattle that bred and selected to combine the excellent beef quality of Angus with something a little hardier and resistant to the high temperatures and humidity of the tropics, such as the Brahman.

Brangus cattle gain weight quickly, and the breed’s carcass quality is excellent, producing lean meat with almost no excess fat. In comparative studies, Brangus cattle were shown to have great marbling quality. The meat also has high levels of tenderness, scoring about 97% in the study compared with the pure Angus score of only 94%.

The Brangus Monte San Francisco farm is operated by a company affiliated to Supermercados Nacional in the mountain area of Jarabacoa, La Vega.

Osiris de Leon: Environment minister is acting as if he was a farmer
Geologist Osiris de Leon criticized that San Jose de Ocoa farmers have chosen not to comply with instructions to desist from farming in the Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo protected area. Most farmers had been evicted after an order given by former Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito. Nevertheless, with the appointment of former Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez to lead the Ministry of Environment, it seems there has been a reversal in policy from the Ministry.

Environmentalists complain that the new minister is acting as a farmer himself and recently met with the San Jose de Ocoa farmers who are not abiding by the Ministry’s edict and encouraged them to plant avocado trees in the area. Large plantings of avocado trees are known to deplete to the water supply. The former Minister of Environment had evicted the farmers on grounds that farming was affecting the important mountain source of water for the country.

"These farms are located near the source of the waters for the Nizao River, the Las Cuevas River and the Rio Grande, tributaries that are fundamental for the preservation of the water volumes that are needed in the southern slope of the country,” De León stated. This area does not have the rainfall as the north has because the trade winds when they hit the northern slope of the Central mountain range discharge all the rain in the strip between Villa Altagracia and Bonao, he explained.

He called on both the producers and the ministries of Agriculture and Environment to act to evict all the farmers within the boundaries of Valle Nuevo as soon as possible.

"If you have to take two more months until the land is located for developing their projects, perfect, but they have to understand that it is a protected area and everyone has to obey the law,” he stated.

Odebrecht case awaits Supreme Court decision on Judge Ortega
Judge Francisco Ortega Polanco has put on hold the start of the Odebrecht corruption case to decide on a new request that he not lead the proceedings, as argued by defense lawyers of accused former president of the Senate Andres Bautista Garcia. The case had been scheduled to resume on Friday, 6 July 2018. Judge Ortega said he would await the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice on whether he should continue hearing the case.

An op-ed article in Diario Libre on Monday, 9 July written by former National District prosecutor, politician Guillermo Moreno says that the statement by the director of the anti-corruption (Pepca) unit of the government and by the Attorney General in favor of Ortega is because the government seeks to “avoid that the file fall in hands of a judge who responds to the political faction within the ruling PLD party lead by former President Leonel Fernández.

Moreno explains that the Attorney General Office knows the case has been built in a partial way. Moreno highlights that the Attorney General centered the accusation in government officers and legislators of the period 2001-2004 (Hipólito Mejía) and 2004-2012 (Leonel Fernandez) excluding the works that were built during the government of incumbent Danilo Medina. He also mentions that important government officers and legislators known to be partial to Medina were also excluded from the case.

Moreno said the case is but another evidence of the pull between the two leaders of the ruling party, where part of the judges are aligned with President Medina and the others with former President Fernández. But he says there is a majority that is not aligned with either. He explains the fact of the matter is that the absence of independent justice, given that the judges aligned with the ruling PLD control the decision and control systems of the Justice Branch.

Italian couple dies in traffic crash on Autovía del Este
An Italian man and his partner died on the evening of Thursday, 5 July 2018, on the Autovía del Este from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on the highway from Santo Domingo to La Romana. Stefano Tullili died immediately after the accident, and his girlfriend Erika Cannella died at the Clínica Canela in La Romana. The couple was driving on a motorcycle when struck by a pickup truck.

Patrol chooses wrong person to ask for cash tips
El Dia director Jose Monegro was hassled by the government’s newly launched mixed patrol policy. Monegro explained in a tweet that he was a victim of “macuteo” on the highway from Las Americas International Airport to Santo Domingo on 5 July 2018 when returning from a trip to China where he had accepted an invitation of the People’s Republic of China.

He says on the road into Santo Domingo he was stopped by a patrol and asked by the officer “commando, estamos aqui cuidando, deme todo lo que me trajo” Jose Monegro posted the case on his Twitter account. He said that despite he identified himself as the director of El Dia, the agents reiterated their request for money “so they could pay for dinner”. Monegro said he did not give any cash to the agents, wished them good night, and the agents just stared on as he left.

Monegro doubted the effectiveness of the recent the mixed patrol operation to fight crime.

The Police reported that in the first four days of the mixed patrol operation some 4,959 persons were stopped. Amongst these, they captured 2,159 knives, 42 unlicensed firearms. The mixed patrol operation began on Wednesday, 4 July 2018, nationwide. The Police said that of those stopped, 65 were known criminals, of which 39 were arrested in flagrant committing of crimes. Some 147 vehicles were retained, of which three had been denounced for robbery, 5,543 of 25,289 motorcycles, including one that was sought for being used in a robbery.

Woman arrested for keeping marijuana plants
Authorities arrested a German citizen for keeping a garden of 11 marijuana plants at her home in Residencial Punta Blanca in Bavaro, Punta Cana. The 61-year old Petra Isolde Minten Ostarek was arrested with seven vials of what is suspected to be marijuana oil, 73.1 grams of the bottled drug, a weighing scale, and 11 plants that appeared to be marijuana.

The search of her dwelling was carried out by the Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Police, the Touristic Police and state prosecutors. The police also seized a Toyota SUV, as reported by the regional command of the Police in the East.

Repeat robber at Basilica de la Altagracia arrested
21-year old Derfo Anerson is accused of stealing the offerings at the Basilica Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia for a second time. On this occasion, Anerson was caught after stealing RD$4,824 and US$88 from the coffers (ofrendas) located at the main altar of the Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia.

The Police explained that Anerson is a repeat offender. The Police explained that on the first occasion (in February 2017), Anerson’s father, who said he was a Haitian pastor, came from Haiti to ask the authorities to pardon his son. His son would serve eight months in jail after which Basilica head priest Evaristo Areché acceded and desisted from proceeding with the robbery case. After he was released, it is known that Anerson did not return to Haiti with his father.

This repeat offender was caught once again with cash, after breaking open the box that contained the week's offerings that the parishioners were leaving the church, which is the largest in the Caribbean.

Church security had been watching Anerson when he allegedly pocketed a bottle of perfume a faithful parishioner had left at the image of the virgin in the church. The suspected pilfering of the perfume led to a more thorough search of Anerson.

Colonel Cruz González said to commit this sacrilege and robbery, Anerson used tweezers to open the lock of the offerings box and remove the envelopes with the cash.

Beryl not a danger for Dominican Republic
On Sunday, 8 July, the US National Hurricane Center was already forecasting Tropical Storm Beryl would cross the Dominican Republic waters merely as a tropical depression on Monday evening. Forecasters had already maintained the storm would just bring heavy rains to the country. As of Sunday, the storm had continued to weaken. Local weather forecasters, nevertheless, are alerting to possible flooding and mudslides.

The Dominican Republic is neither in the path of the third major storm this year, Chris that is headed north after developing off South Carolina in the United States.

Audrys Nin was named Athlete of the Year 2018
Gymnast Audrys Nin will be the flag-bearer for the Dominican delegation to the Central American and Caribbean Games to take place 19 July to 3 August 2018 in Barranquilla, Colombia. On Thursday, 5 July 2018, he was elected Athlete of the Year by the Dominican Olympic Committee at the annual gala held this year at the Jaragua Renaissance Hotel. He also won the best gymnast of the year award.
Barahona-born Nin was truly outstanding and this year won five gold medals, including a pair of gold medals at world gymnastic cups, a first for a Dominican gymnast.

In his remarks, Nin urged Dominican athletes to “go after your dreams.” He expressed his appreciation for the support received from the private effort, Program Creating Olympic Dreams (Creso).

Best Athletes of 2018 awards went to:
Jennifer María Almanzar, chess
París Goico Lara, archery
Juander Santos, track & field
Nairoby Jiménez, badminton
Nancy Peña, handball
Adael A. Armado Santiago, baseball
Leonel de los Santos, boxing
Fidel Marchena, bowling
Ismael Sánchez, cycling
Manuel Fernández Haché, equestrian
Rossy Feliz Lara, fencing
Juan José Guerra, golf
Juan Carlos López, football
Audrys Nin Reyes, gymnastics
Ramón Junior Domínguez, hockey
Deivys Ferreras, karate
Crismery Dominga Santana, weightlifting
Jéssica Oviedo, wrestling
Frandiel Gómez, swimming
Daniel Cuervo, skating
Gabriel Domingo Bidó, pentathlon
Luis Pérez, racquetball
Juan Miguel Arias García, softball
Cristian Pichardo Padilla, surfing
Víctor Estrella, tennis
Samuel Gálvez, table tennis
Josué Hernández Caba, shooting
Daivis Yunes, skeet
Camila Romero, triathlon
Esneiry Pérez, sailing
Annerys Vargas, volleyball
Breuley Núñez Reynoso, wushu

17th Women’s Pan American Volleyball Cup in Santo Domingo
With five slots available to next year’s Pan American Games, the Pan Am Volleyball Cup opened in Santo Domingo on 8 July 2018. The first match between Trinidad and Tobago and defending champions, the USA ended with the Trinidad team winning a first set against the US team, despite losing the match 3-1. The tournament will be played through 14 July at the Ricardo Arias Pavillion in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center.

In its first play, the Dominican Republic defeated Costa Rica 3-0 (25-14, 25-10 and 25-16). On Monday, 9 July, the host Dominican Republic plays Peru at 8pm and then Canada on Tuesday, 10 July at the same time.

Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek highlightd that the Pan American Cup is a qualifier to the Pan Am Games thus the quality of the event is better as teams send their best to grab one of the five slots. He highlighted the extra pressure of playing at home. “Our goal is at least to win a medal. The team is well balanced after the participation in the League of Nations,” he stated.

The championship is also a preparation for teams that expect to play in the FIVB World Championship in Japan.