DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 23 July 2019



President Danilo Medina announces he will not seek reelection
Scotia Bank CEO visits President Medina
Joint US-DR tax agreement enters into force
National Plan for Vehicle Parking announced
Solar panels for border military
2020 electoral campaign budgets
Asisa Research: PLD support on the decline
Damages reported at the JCE fire on Sunday
There is much demand for call centers in the DR
Malaria cases on the rise
Father's Day special: "Papas Fritos"

President Danilo Medina announces he will not seek reelection
With a year to end his term, President Danilo Medina announced at 9pm on Monday, 22 July 2019 that he would not run for President in 2020. He would not push for constitutional reform to change the transitory clause that impedes him from being the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) candidate in the 2020 general elections. Medina kept the country on edge for months, with his followers repeatedly announcing the National Assembly for Constitution Revision would be convened. It didn't happen.

While Medina followers dominate in the political and central committees that control the ruling PLD, manage the National Budget and the Supreme Court, it is apparent now that they did not have the votes in the Chamber of Deputies to reverse the ban that would allow him to seek a new term in office. In his ambition to continue in power, Medina met with strong opposition from the president of the PLD party, former President Leonel Fernández.

For over a year, most polls have shown that a majority of Dominicans reject constitutional reform. A July Asisa Research poll shows 77% rejection to constitutional reform. Likewise, opposition has escalated and protest marches are gathering followers.

"When I reach the end of my second term and leave the Presidency, I want to go out on the streets and walk like another citizen," said Medina. He advocated that the PLD campaign inject new blood into Dominican politics. "I, therefore, trust that we will witness a clean campaign based on proposals and that injects new blood into political life," said Medina. The President called for business people to trust the economy and maintain stability.

This is the last week of the legislature. An article in Diario Libre makes the point that the intense political activism affected the legislature. Three days before the closing of the legislature, only four bills had been passed, despite a long list of priority bills.

The deadline for the registration of candidates with the Central Electoral Board (JCE) is 22 August 2019.


Scotia Bank CEO visits President Medina
President Danilo Medina received in his office at the Presidential Palace Brian Porter, President and chief executive officer of Scotiabank on 22 July 2019. Ignacio Deschamps, head of International Banking and Digital Transformation at Scotiabank and Gonzalo Parral, Scotiabank general manager in the Dominican Republic accompanied Porter during the visit.

The Presidency reported the executives valued the favorable investment climate in the Dominican Republic. During the visit they explained to the President about the start of the new Scotiabank call center for regional service at the Las Americas Free Zone in Santo Domingo province. Operations are scheduled to begin by March 2020.

As reported, during the meeting, Porter thanked the Dominican government for the support received through the Central Bank and the Superintendency of Banks for the merge of the Banco Dominicano del Progreso with Scotiabank operations in the country. He also expressed appreciation for government backing in the process of the sale of the Scotia Crecer pension fund administrator to the Rizek family.


National Plan for Vehicle Parking announced
Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo announced the creation of the National Plan for Vehicle Parking for Public Use in the Dominican Republic (ParquéaT_RD). The trust seeks to fund public car parks nationwide to improve urban mobility and reduce traffic congestion. Simón Lizardo Mezquita, of the Banco de Reservas Trust Administration Board (Fiduciaria BanReservas), explained the measure complies with decree 180-19 that created the plan and the trust.

The Ministry of Public Works (MOPC) will be in charge of the construction, operation and maintenance of the new vehicle parking areas.


Joint US-DR tax agreement enters into force
The Tax Agency (DGII) says the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) entered into effect as of Wednesday, 17 July 2019. The agreement seeks to improve international tax compliance between the governments of the US and Dominican Republic.

FATCA is the US law intended to bring unreported foreign income and overseas assets under compliance by the US tax authority, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The law is primarily implemented through bilateral agreements, such as the one concluded with the Dominican Republic in 2016 and ratified by the Dominican Congress.

The agreement regulates the exchange of information via an automated system of accounts reportable between the United States and the Dominican Republic. Dominican financial institutions need to identify persons and companies from the United States to send pertinent information to the IRS, including the movement of money, accounts, income and other operations. At the same time, the United States should send to the Dominican Republic information about the US accounts held by residents of the Dominican Republic.

The Ministry of Hacienda has delegated in the director-general of the DGII, Magin Díaz, the application of these measures to avoid double taxation and prevent fiscal fraud. The DGII says training workshops will be offered to assist the financial institutions in complying with the new measures.


Solar panels for border military
The Ministry of Defense (MIDE) signed a cooperation agreement with the National Energy Commission (CNE). The CNE commits to provide solar panels to ensure power at 70 military barracks in the border area, and other detachments and bases of the Army, Armada (Navy) and Air Force.

Defense Minister Rubén Darío Paulino Sem signed for the MIDE and CNE director, Angel Canó for the energy commission.

The parties further agree that the equipment donated by the CNE shall become the property of MIDE. The MIDE will be responsible for future maintenance.

2020 electoral campaign budgets
The pre-candidates for the presidency of the Dominican Republic are allowed by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to spend RD$519 million in the pre-campaign period that began on 7 July 2019 and ends on 6 October. This is RD$70 per voter, and the voting register closed with 7,420,941 voters.

Those wishing to be senators and deputies are authorized to spend up to RD$60 per voter. The highest amount available to the senatorial candidates will be in Santo Domingo province, where a RD$99 million ceiling is set given there are 1,651,530 voters.

The limit for spending for senators in the National District is RD$51.1 million, in San Cristóbal, RD$25.8 million, La Vega RD$19.9 million, La Altagracia and Azua RD$10.2 million, Duarte RD$15.2 million, La Romana RD$11.8 million and Espaillat RD$11.2 million.

As far as deputies are concerned, the highest amounts are for area 3 of Santo Domingo East (RD$23.6 million), area 1 in Santiago de los Caballeros (RD$22.3 million), 1, 2 and 3 of the National District, (RD$19.5, RD$13.6 and RD$17.8 million, respectively).


Asisa: PLD support on the decline
According to a poll carried out by Asisa Research Group, the leading problems affecting the country are corruption (40%), citizen security (16%), lack of jobs (14%), cost of living (14%), and drug trafficking (4%).

The poll also revealed that 77% of Dominicans eligible to vote in the 2020 general election are against amending the constitution to enable President Danilo Medina to run in 2020. 20% are in favor. 71% say constitutional reform would be negative for the country and could result in an increase in corruption (51%), dictatorship (40%), promoting chaos in society (28%). 69% favor the recent protests that have taken place in front of the National Congress to protest constitutional reform.

To the question of which political party does the person favor, the results were PLD (March 2019, 55%, July 2019, 44%), PRM (March 2019, 27.1%, July 2019 29%), PRD March 2019, 6%, July 2019, 3%, PRSC (March 2019, 1.6%, July 2019, 1%), Alianza Pais (March 2019, 1.4%, July 2019, 1%). This means the PLD has dropped 11% between March and July 2019.

The poll revealed that Luis Abinader is the strongest pre-candidate in the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRM), with 72% of favor, compared to 21% for former President Hipólito Mejía and 4% for National District Mayor David Collado. The PRM is the leading opposition party.

Those polled listed who they would vote for in the primary of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). These are: Leonel Fernández (35.47%), Danilo Medina (22.14%), Margarita Cedeño 7.48%, Francisco Domínguez Brito (2.37%), Reynaldo Pared Pérez 1.34%, Temístocles Montás 1.29%, Carlos Amarante Baret 1.19%. Others received less than 1%.

The politicians with the highest unfavorability ratings are Hipólito Mejía (23%), Danilo Medina (21%), Leonel Fernández (19%), Ramfis Domínguez Trujillo (7%), Luis Abinader (5%), Miguel Vargas (2%), Guillermo Moreno (2%), David Collado (2%), Pelegrín Castillo (1%).
In the election were between Luis Abinader (PRM) and Leonel Fernández (PLD), the poll indicated that 46% would vote for Fernández and 40% for Luis Abinader. This means a second round vote would need to be called.

The director-general of Asisa, Lilian Pagan, said that the research was sponsored by several business people in the country, concerned about the current situation. She did not share names. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) ruled that polling companies need to name their sponsors and who requested the poll. Pagan said she would tell the JCE if asked but not make it public. Asisa has for years been known to be contracted by PLD politicians.

The poll was carried nationwide between 14 and 19 July 2019.


Damages reported at the JCE fire on Sunday
Laura Castellanos, spokesperson for the Central Electoral Board (JCE), reported on damages at the Inspectorship Unit (Unidad de Inspectoría) of the JCE that was affected by a major fire on Sunday, 21 July 2019.

Castellanos told La Cuestión radio show that they were still waiting for the Police and Fire Department report on the causes of the fire and that of the insurance company on losses. She explained that the damages mainly affected desks, chairs and computer devices. However, the good news is that the equipment did not contain information that was not backed up. She denied the scanners that had been used in the 2016 general election were affected, nor devices that would be used in the 6 October 2019 primaries.

Castellanos said that once the reports from the Police and Firemen on the causes and the inventory and damages report by the insurance company are available, the findings would be shared with the general public.


There is much demand for call centers in the DR
The executive vice president of the Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona), José Manuel Torres says that there is the potential to create more than 60,000 new jobs in Dominican call centers over the next five years. The limiting factor for company expansion is the need for English-speaking operators.

Call centers have become that first job for thousands of Dominican youths. The posts offer relatively good starting salaries of RD$25,000 plus incentives and primarily require fluency in the English language.

Torres said that call centers are one of the most dynamic segments within export free zones and are those with the fastest growth. There are currently 70 call center companies in the Dominican Republic, with 70% of these being in Greater Santo Domingo and 30% in Santiago and the north. In addition, there are some in La Romana.

When interviewed by Diario Libre, Torres explained that the call centers employ 23,000.

Of those currently working, 41% are women and 59% men.


Malaria cases on the rise
Malaria cases have increased this year, with 281 cases so far in 2019. This is 115 more than over the same time period last year, for a 68% increase. From those cases identified, there have been two deaths according to official records.

According to the epidemiological report for week 26, there were 10 cases notified, coming from the National District, Santo Domingo West and East, Los Alcarrizos and Santo Domingo North.


Father's Day special: "Papas Fritos"
Dominican stand up comedian Carlos Sánchez announces the show, "Papas Fritos," for Saturday, 27 July 2019 at 9pm at the Escenario 360. On stage with Sánchez is Colombian comedian Antonio Sanint and comedian-magician Karim González from Spain. The threesome presented the show earlier this year in Spain.

In the show, each tells their take on being a father. Antonio has teenage children that drive him crazy, Carlos has preschool children that need constant attention, and Karim still does not have children, nor does he want to have them. The three narrate the joys and difficulties of being a father or not.

Tickets are for sale at Uepa Tickets, Servicios CCN, Jumbo stores and Supermercados Nacional.