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    Default DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 29 January 2020

    President Medina creates a committee, calls to suspend construction Leaf Bayahibe
    Ministry of Foreign Relations signs deal to boost business in Santiago
    For the first time, DR has a national youth plan
    Dominican economy grows 5.1% in 2019 despite the drop in tourism
    The Supreme Court publishes in full its ruling on the Odebrecht bribery case
    Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) disputes 176 city government candidacies
    Abinader against government selling shares in Punta Catalina
    Domingo Contreras tells of his plans for the capital city when interviewed by Intec Radio
    Bartolomé Pujals to give priority to mobility, public spaces and waste
    Gallup Poll shows crime is voters' top concern
    Earthquake in Jamaica-Cuba waters raises concern over another big one
    The Toros are the winners!
    Furnished house for Dominicana's Got Talent's Babyrotti

    President Medina creates a committee, calls to suspend construction Leaf Bayahibe
    President Danilo Medina ordered a halt to construction of the Leaf Bayahibe hotel project in the protected area of the National Park Cotubanama, in the east of the country. He acted after widespread opposition to the construction of 96 "ecological" cabañas in the protected area. The hotel is promoted by Grupo Globalia, the owner of Air Europa and Be Live hotels. It has the backing of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Tourism.

    During a press conference, Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo says all construction needs to be stopped in the Guaraguao-Punta Catuano Recreational Area, in La Altagracia Province. He said the President appointed a commission, to be headed by himself, Environment Minister Angel Estevez, and the legal consultant of the Executive Branch, Flavio Dario Espinal, to investigate the hotel project and submit a report to President Medina on the matter. The commission will oversee the preparation of a comprehensive study of all the legal and regulatory norms, as well as the environmental commitments applicable to that protected area. Montalvo said no deadline was set for submitting the report.

    Environmentalists argue that the Ministry of Environment irregularly issued the environmental permit 3771-19. Clearing of the property began on 21 January, a national holiday. The environmentalists say that the Ministry of Environment Resolution No. Resolution 0009-2018 bans all construction in the Guaraguao-Punta Catuano national recreational area. Former Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito called for the environmental permit issued by the Ministry of Environment to be revoked.

    On Monday, 27 January, deputy Fidelio Despradel for Alianza Pais called for Environment Minister Angel Estevez to be summoned to Congress to explain why he issued the authorization for the construction of the project. Despradel stressed the importance of the natural and cultural resources in the area that would be affected by the construction of the hotel.

    National Cotubanamá Park is the most visited natural area in the Dominican Republic.

    Ministry of Foreign Relations signs deal to boost business in Santiago
    Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas and representatives of business and development entities for the Cibao region signed a cooperation agreement on Tuesday, 28 January 2020. The plan is to boost promotional and international cooperation in the areas of business management, investment and trade to strengthen the Regional Agenda of the Cibao and the "Santiago 2030" Strategic Plan.

    Foreign Minister Vargas highlighted the importance of this public-private inter-institutional cooperation in the context of the foreign policy implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Mirex).

    "For the Ministry of Foreign Relations it is very important to foster ties with academia, business and the government. We are convinced that by working together, in a coordinated manner, we will achieve the necessary synergy to establish a true public-private alliance that will allow us to better face the challenges that the world is experiencing," explained the minister.

    He added that Mirex is promoting an active and pragmatic diplomacy that contributes to the consolidation of the country's traditional relations and at the same time energizes foreign trade and promotes the Dominican Republic "as a strategic partner with an attractive investment climate and great opportunities to invest and do business."

    The agreement gives priority to the development of the Cibao Maritime Port System, human capital formation and research centers in agricultural and environmental technologies, as well as ecological, community and cultural tourism development.

    Likewise, the management of solid waste, industrial, agro-industrial and technological parks, territorial branding, business center (Cibao Trade Center), planning and integrated management of the Yaque de Norte River basin, management of drinking water, waste and rainwater, among other projects are key aspects of the agreement.

    The agreement was signed by Juan Carlos Ortiz, president of the Council for Strategic Development (CDES); Juan Mera, vice president of the Association for Incorporated Development (APEDI); Juan Carlos Hernández, president of the Santiago Chamber of Commerce and Production; Juan Bautista Ventura, president of the Northern Region Industrial Association (AIREN); Sandy Filpo, president of the Association of Traders and Industrialists of Santiago (ACIS); Miguel Lama, president of the Santiago Free Zone Corporation; and Luis José Bonilla Bojos, president of the Association of Free Zone Companies of Santiago.

    For the first time, DR has a national youth plan
    Youth Minister Robiamny Balcácer announced the Medina administration's Youth Plan 2020-2030. The plan provides guidelines to ensure the comprehensive development of young people. Young people make up 34% of the country's population and political analysts say will decide the general elections in 2020. President Danilo Medina's term ends on 16 August 2020.

    The document, entitled National Youth Plan 2020-2030, was presented yesterday by the Ministry of Youth in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It focuses on education, employment and entrepreneurship, integral health, environment, justice and citizen security and social and political participation.

    Dominican economy grows 5.1% in 2019 despite the drop in tourism
    Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu announced the Dominican economy grew 5.1% in 2019, despite the drought and pronounced drop in tourism arrivals, the main source of foreign exchange for the country.

    Valdez Albizu said that inflation was 3.66%. He said this was below the range established by the authorities for the year.

    During the press conference on Tuesday, 28 January 2020, Valdez Albizu stressed that the Dominican Republic is a leader in economic growth in the region. He explained that the sectors contributing most to the economic performance are construction (10.5%), financial services (9%), energy and water (7.4%), transport (5.3%), health (4.3%), agriculture (4.1%), trade (3.8%), mining and quarrying (3.4%) and local manufacturing (2.7%).

    National exports grew by 8.7%, with gold exports standing out with an expansion of 13.5%. Remittances totaled US$7.08 billion, 9.1% more than in 2018. Regarding foreign direct investment, the official explained that it reached US$3.01 billion, for an increase of 18.8% over the previous year.

    In 2019, explained Váldez Albizu, 133,713 new jobs were created and the unemployment rate closed the last quarter of 2019 at 5.9%.

    However, tourism revenues decreased by 1.2% and were US$7.46 billion between January and December last year, when the country received 7.5 million tourists. In 2019, the country was affected by a negative media campaign related to the death of American tourists in hotels in the first half of 2019. Local authorities attributed the deaths to natural causes, but a negative press campaign speculations did much harm and thousands of bookings were canceled. A United States FBI toxicology report, confirmed the reasons for the deaths, but the damage had been done.

    Imports also fell slightly, by 0.4%, to US$20.28 billion in 2019, due to the decline in international oil prices.

    The Supreme Court publishes in full its ruling on the Odebrecht bribery case
    The Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) read the 71-page text of its ruling on the Odebrecht case on Tuesday, 28 January 2020. The Supreme Court notified the parties of its decision to divest itself of continuing the cases against Angel Rondon Rijo, Victor Jose Diaz Rua, Porfirio Andres Bautista Garcia, Conrado Enrique Pittaluga Arzeno and Juan Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez.

    The Supreme Court of Justice orders its Second Chamber only to continue the case of Senator Tommy Galán Grullón. It says the Criminal Chamber of the First Instance Court needs to name the judges to hear the other cases.

    Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) disputes 176 city government candidacies
    The PLD says the candidacies of 176 contenders for municipal positions for other parties violate Political Parties Law 33-18 and Electoral Regime Law 15-19 that ban pre-candidates from switching parties during an election campaign.

    The motion is untimely. It comes after the ballots for the 16 February 2020 election have already been printed.

    Temístocles Montás submitted the motion for the party. The 176 candidates are competing for mayor, city council and other positions in city governments in the 16 February 2020 election. He says several politicians are running for other parties after not being favored with the position in the PLD primary on 6 October 2019.

    District electoral boards need to issue a determination.

    Abinader against government selling shares in Punta Catalina
    The presidential candidate of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) Luis Abinader said he opposes selling 50% of the shares of the Punta Catalina thermoelectric plant, the coal-fired mega plant built by the Medina administration. The power central is described as the largest single public investment made with taxpayer money. The Medina government created the company Sociedad Comercial Central Termoeléctrica Punta Catalina to prepare for the deal with private investors.

    "This financial effort has represented an enormous budgetary sacrifice of resources," said Abinader. He recalls that the power plant was touted by the Medina administration as the solution that would bring competitive electricity tariffs, would allow for the government to reduce electricity subsidies and would strengthen the negotiating capacity of the government with private generators.
    "These promised benefits would not be achievable with the transfer of shares to private investors," he said.

    "We are convinced that by keeping the thermoelectric plant in the hands of the state we would have the opportunity to introduce new energy offers without having to incur new loans," he said.

    "The plant has already been built and if it remains in state hands, the kilowatt-hour could effectively be sold for less than 8 cents, not for 9 or 10 fixed cents, unchanged for three decades, as would be the case if we make the sale as planned, he said.

    "The objections that we will now raise do not mean in any way we oppose public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects in the electricity sector or in other areas, but rather the rejection of this specific operation, because it would harm the economic, social and political interests of the Dominican people.

    "Regarding Punta Catalina, the Dominican people doubt the credibility of the government's energy policy. A hasty and non-transparent sale would confirm the people's doubts. This dark mantle of doubt would also fall on the private investors who accept these terms and sabotage any future possibility of reliable public-private partnerships. That is why transparency must be the prerequisite for any solution," he concluded.

    He said that amid an electoral process and just a few months away from a change of administration, prudence advises against making improvised decisions that could compromise or condition the new government's energy and financial policy.

    Abinader spoke on the subject when he presented his National Campaign Command and new party venue.

    Domingo Contreras tells of his plans when interviewed by Intec Radio
    Domingo Contreras, running for mayor for the National District on the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) ticket, says he wants to empower people, promote a culture for order, respect for norms and public spaces and tourism in the capital city.

    He said he commits to lowering the temperature of the city by 2 degrees, by planting 40,000 trees and a million bushes. He says he will foster an environmental mentality in city residents and encourage students to become involved. He said city residents have the right to public space and that this is important for mental health.

    Contreras says his city government will focus on new governance, environmental sustainability, transit, mobility and accessibility, talent as a capital and a city that takes advantage of the development of tourism.

    The PLD candidate for mayor also stated that the city needs to divide the territory into polygons to take advantage of its social and intellectual capital and the characteristics of each territory. He envisions working collectively with the community.

    Domingo Contreras was the first to be interviewed on radio by Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) students. Others that will follow are Carolina Mejía, running for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Bartolomé Pujals (Alianza Pais), Hugo Beras for the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Johnny Ventura, for the People's Force (FP).

    Contreras says he will issue a resolution whereby businesses and buildings need to have security cameras that are connected to the city government intelligence center. This will be connected to the National 911 Emergency System.

    Follow the INTEC interviews with city candidates on YouTube at @INTECrd

    Bartolomé Pujals to give priority to mobility, public spaces and waste
    33-year old lawyer Bartolomé Pujals is the youngest of those running for mayor for the National District. He says he has gotten involved in politics to contribute to making the changes Dominican society is demanding. He is running for Alianza País. He says he represents civic movement Green March (Marcha Verde) that in the past 12 years has fought for the rights of the people, from the 4% for education, Loma Miranda national park and the fight against corruption.

    He says on his program for the National District government, he is focusing on mobility, public spaces and waste. He wants to see the city government back as the manager of city transport. He foresees opening exclusive lanes for public transport.

    He will work to double the number of public spaces in the city. He says today the green areas of the city are less than 10% that has made it at least two degrees hotter in the city. He wants to see more parks, squares and cultural centers in the city.

    He will tackle the problem of improvised markets at traffic lights. He says the chaos is because of lack of authority and regulation.

    He proposes to create a pension fund for informal vendors and six-year plan to remove businesses from the Duarte with Paris city intersection. He says he will turn garbage into money, with a strong focus on recycling as part of his city government solid waste management.

    Gallup Poll shows crime is voters' top concern
    Gallup-Hoy asked eligible voters from 16-21 January 2020:
    What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? The response was overwhelmingly "crime."

    70% of the eligible voters say it is the country's main problem. The same issue is priority for more than 70% of residents in metropolitan areas. The very high perception that most people have of crime does not vary by political sympathies, gender, or geographical areas.

    A third of citizens, mentioned unemployment and the high cost of living as the country's main problems. As for unemployment, the problem is more worrying for 38% of adults aged 25-34, and 35-44, according to the survey that was carried out from January 16-20, and which has a confidence level of 95%. Regarding the high cost of living, the issue is important for 32% of women and 27% of men, as well as for 39.4% of people between 45 and 54, and 40% of residents in the northern region.

    Earthquake in Jamaica-Cuba waters raises concern over another big one
    Local authorities issued a 10-minute tsunami alert after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake swept through the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba. Ramón Delanoy, director of the Seismological Institute of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), said the tsunami warning was issued for the country because the magnitude of the earthquake warranted it until the data was properly verified. Delanoy said the earthquake took place on the northern tectonic fault.

    "We have had several tremors north of Puerto Plata, in the Atlantic, and we were very worried that this earthquake had run north of us, because it was between the Caribbean and the North American plate," Delanoy said.

    The Seismological Institute records at least 20 earthquakes in the Dominican Republic, the largest being 4.3, the others ranging from 2.8 to 3.7.

    The Toros are the winners!
    The Tigres del Licey lost 7-1 in game 5 of the 9-5 playoffs. The Toros del Este fans enjoyed every minute of the game played at the Frank Micheli Ball Park in La Romana. Jeimer Candelario won the Most Valuable Player award.

    The Toros will now represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series, scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico from 1 to 7 February 2020. The Toros had also won the regular season.

    Furnished house for Dominicana's Got Talent Babyrotti
    The winner of the Dominicana's Got Talent reality show, Francisco Campusano (known as Babyrotti for his Pavarotti-like voice) used his award money for a new home he shares with his grandparents. Urban artist Mozart la Para and Jompéame Foundation contributed to the happy ending for the 13-year old who competed for weeks on the Channel 9 reality show.

    La Para and the Jompéame Foundation held fundraisers to deliver the new home. The plan was to raise RD$180,000 for a year's rent, when many more contributors made it possible for him to get a new home. The new home is located in the San Miguel de Manoguyabo neighborhood in Santo Domingo West.

    The Presidency Social Assistance Plan (PASP) contributed the furnishings. Iris Guaba of PASP delivered the furnishings for Babyrotty's home.
    Last edited by Dolores; 01-29-2020 at 08:26 AM.

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