DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 22 May 2019



Danilo Medina meets OPIC acting president David Bohigian
President hands title deeds to Maria Trinidad Sánchez farmers
CNZFE: More export free zones authorized
Sandy Filpo of ACIS: Think differently, the robots are coming
United Kingdom trade with DR doubles in past 10 years
Ministry of Public Works clears sargassum in Boca Chica
Around 4,000 vehicles impounded for rundown tires
CIPLA plastic surgery clinic shut down
DR ranked average in Latin America in FM Global Resilience Index
Milagros Ortiz Bosch: Choose Abinader by consensus
Helicopter crash in Puerto Plata leaves three dead
Four dead in construction collapse in Santiago
Fake consulate closed in Dajabón, on the border with Haiti
Executives sent to jail for tax evasion
Hurricane season starts early
Dominican women’s volleyball defeats Russia

Danilo Medina meets OPIC acting president David Bohigian
President Danilo Medina received David Bohigian, acting president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), on 21 May 2019. The meeting took place at the Presidential Palace. Bohigian was accompanied by US Ambassador Robin Bernstein. The OPIC is a self-sustaining US government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.

As reported, President Medina and Bohigian also discussed security cooperation in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. "Through closer coordination with valued partners such as the Dominican Republic to identify high-impact investment opportunities, we can build prosperous societies in the Caribbean and ensure greater security throughout the region," Bohigian said.

Last March, in a meeting with Caribbean leaders, including President Danilo Medina, US President Donald Trump reaffirmed the US commitment to work with partners in the region to foster economic growth and strengthen cooperation.

"Private sector investment is a powerful engine for prosperity and stability," said Bohigian. His visit to Santo Domingo is as part of a high-level OPIC delegation on a visit to the Caribbean to explore investment opportunities in the energy sector and other key sectors.

The Dominican Republic is the fourth stop on a tour of five Caribbean countries. The delegation has already visited the Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti, and will then head to St. Lucia.

OPIC's current portfolio in the Caribbean includes more than US$250 million invested in projects ranging from small business loans to power generation, agriculture and low-cost home mortgage loans.

Speaking to the press on his visit, Bohigian spoke of meeting key business leaders and government leaders to talk about key infrastructure, including ports and roads and other ways that we can support the Dominican economy. "We are also talking about how we can support entrepreneur and women and small and medium-sized businesses that will help build an inclusive economy for the 21st century," he said. He explained upon his return to Washington, D.C. he will meet with US President Trump and the US Congress to highlight the many opportunities for doing business in the Dominican Republic.

During the visit to Santo Domingo, Bohigian toured the DP World Caucedo maritime terminal and free trade zone in Boca Chica accompanied by Caucedo's executive Manuel Enrique Tavares. He also visited the nearby facilities of AES Dominicana, meeting with its directors.

As reported in Diario Libre, Bohigian spoke of the importance of the building of quality infrastructure that is enduring in time and that the Dominican Republic and the United States have done so for hundreds of years.

The visit of Bohigian comes at a time when the Dominican government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of China for the construction of the Port of Manzanillo in the north coast. Likewise, underway with the Chinese is a US$600 million loan for electricity transmission line improvements. There is also talk with the Chinese for the construction of a railroad to link the north and south of the Dominican Republic.


President hands title deeds to Maria Trinidad Sánchez farmers
On Monday, 20 May 2019, President Danilo Medina handed over 1,288 definitive title deeds for land occupied by producers measuring a total of 16,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) in the northern province of María Trinidad Sánchez.

The Presidency reported that the land handed over is located in Baoba del Piñal and Agropampa, where occupiers had spent over 30 years growing rice, coconuts, oregano cacao and other fruits on the properties. Also benefiting were farmers in Mata Bonita, Los Pajones, La Piragua, El Guarapo, Piñita, Ochoa, Los Pajuiles, Línea 15 and Pueblo Nuevo.

José Dantés, director of the Permanent Commission for State Title Deeds said that María Trinidad Sánchez is the second in definitive title deeds distributed by the government, with a total 5,152 including the recent titles.


CNZFE: More export free zones authorized
The National Council of Export Free Zones (CNZFE) approved permits for the development and operation of two new free zone manufacturing parks and 13 free zone companies. These are estimated to create around 2,635 direct jobs. The companies will be investing around RD$1 billion in the new manufacturing plants and are expected to generate US$16 million in revenues a year. The parks will be built in Boca Chica in Santo Domingo province and Nigua in San Cristóbal province.

13 companies were authorized to operate in the provinces of San Pedro de Macorís, Santiago, Santo Domingo and Monseñor Nouel (Bonao).

The National Council of Export Processing Zones reported the activities of the approved companies are: aging and liquor production; international call center services; manufacture of wood furniture, metal and textiles; processing of tobacco and its derivatives; collection and recycling of plastic, paper and cardboard; manufacture of cases, cloths and cleaning solutions for lenses, and gift bags.


Sandy Filpo of ACIS: Think differently, the robots are coming
The president of the Association of Merchants and Manufacturers of Santiago (ACIS), Sandy Filpo proposed the government do many things differently. In an interview with Diario Libre newspaper, he recommended decentralizing government and public investment.

In the interview, he suggested the Ministry of Agriculture relocate to the center of the country in order to be closer to where more of the farms are located. Right now the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters are in the capital city of Santo Domingo that is equidistant for southwestern and central farm areas.

Filpo backed the construction of a cross-island railroad but says the construction should start in Puerto Plata, and not in Santo Domingo.

ACIS board member Marcos Santana also backs the construction of a new road connecting Puerto Plata and Santiago that would cut the driving time to 25-30 minutes. At present, the drive takes over an hour. He says the quicker road would mean more tourists arriving by cruise ship to Puerto Plata could make day trips to Santiago.

Santana would like the government to apply strategies so that the economic growth bonanza reach more people. He observed paramount should be achieving greater happiness of the Dominican people. He remarked the people of Costa Rica, with a per capita of US$14,000 are happier than those of Singapore, with a per capita of US$56,000.

Sandy Filpo of ACIS says that the cost of transport, energy, the low purchasing power of the population and the lack of infrastructures are challenges to be met. He criticized that Dominican governments over the past 30 years have allowed a private company to operate as a union, creating a monopoly and resulting in the most expensive cargo transport in the Central American region.

He called for the renovation of the closer Manzanillo Port in northwestern Montecristi for cargo. At present, cargo needs to be shipped from ports in Santo Domingo, at a much higher cost. He observed the port is delayed because of conflicts of interests.

He mentioned the high energy costs that represent 15 to 30% of company costs. He said Santiago has the highest energy costs in the Central American region.

He also remarked the increasing number of Indian and Chinese businesses that are operating in the Santiago commercial areas.

Filpo says ACIS backs the reclassifying of companies as part of updating the Labor Code. He says the labor representatives had agreed to discuss this after the approval of the past minimum wage increase, but this did not happen. He alerts that companies are already automating production. “When a businessman discovers that a robot brings fewer problems and is more efficient than a human, what is he going to do?” He observed an Oxford University study indicates that of 942 professions and occupations, 48% will disappear. He says the DR will be feeling this in the next five to 10 years.


United Kingdom trade with DR doubles in past 10 years
United Kingdom Chris Campbell says trade with the Dominican Republic has doubled in the past 10 years. In an interview with Juan Guiliani Cury of Listín Diario, the ambassador said UK companies are looking into exporting pork, chicken and lamb to the Dominican Republic. Campbell observed that diplomatic relations between both countries go back to 1848, or more than 170 years.

Ambassador Campbell said that exports from the UK to the DR have now surpassed US$150 million. Exports from the DR to the UK are now more than US$105 million, a year. 90% of Dominican exports are organic bananas, mangos, avocados and recently, chocolate.

The Dominican Republic imports whiskey, medicines, electric machines, medical equipment and vehicles from the UK. Faced with the concern over the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, last year representatives of the Dominican Agricultural Board (JAD) met in London to discuss the implications of Brexit. Campbell assures that there would be no change in the imports from the country to the United Kingdom following Brexit.


Ministry of Public Works clears sargassum in Boca Chica
Ministry of Public Works brigades were hard at work in Boca Chica to remove tons of sargassum that invaded the beach located east of Santo Domingo city. As reported 70% of the seaweed has been cleared.

The director general of the Highway Maintenance Program of the Ministry of Public Works, Colonel Douglas Borrell said that the brigades had been working since Monday on the extraction of the sargassum and has removed more than 70 tons. He said they are using rakes to remove as little of the sand as possible and not affect the beach.

He said the seaweed has also affected the Playa de los Muertos in San Pedro de Macoris and beaches in Barahona, as it moved to the west.



Around 4,000 vehicles impounded for rundown tires
The Ground Transport and Transit Safety Agency (Digesett) has announced that it has retained around 4,000 vehicles nationwide for violation of the resolution that establishes minimum tire tread depths.

Digesett spokesman, Hilman Pimentel told Listin Diario newspaper that to date 4,163 vehicles have been ticketed and confiscated by agents as the tires on the vehicles were not in the condition required as laid down in Intrant Resolution 002-2019.

All types of vehicle have been confiscated including heavy goods vehicles, cars, public shared taxis, trucks and SUVs.

Pimentel said that the vehicles were being held in a variety of detention centers and in order for the owners to collect them the owners needed to bring adequate tires and change them within the compounds. Then, once they have paid their fines, the vehicles will be released.


CIPLA plastic surgery clinic shut down
The Ministry of Public Health is giving patients at the International Center for Advanced Plastic Surgery (CIPLA) 72 hours to complete their procedures or transfer to other centers. The Ministry ordered the complete shutdown of the clinic after the death of 51-year old Altagracia Díaz. The physician in charge of the liposuction, Dr. Hector Cabral, had stated in a press conference that the patient had presented an unexpected event at the beginning of the procedure. An autopsy later revealed the patient had died from a pulmonary fat embolism, or a fatal clot in a lung.

Ministry of Public Health subsequent inspection of the clinic revealed several violations of licensing.


DR ranked average in Latin America in FM Global Resilience Index
The Dominican Republic is ranked 71st of 130 countries on the 2019 FM Global Resilience Index that compares risk. The index was created to help companies evaluate regions, site business operations and select partners and make more informed strategic choices about a country’s business environment. The tool enables companies to compare different countries.

Latin American and Caribbean countries included in the 2019 Index are ranked:
Uruguay 46
Chile 50
Argentina 58
Brazil 60
Costa Rica 61
Panama 64
Colombia 66
Mexico 67
Dominican Republic 71
Peru 79
Trinidad & Tobago 89
Ecuador 101
Jamaica 103
Nicaragua 112
Guatemala 116
El Salvador 117
Bolivia 119
Honduras 121
Venezuela 129
Haiti 130


Milagros Ortiz Bosch: Choose Abinader by consensus
Former Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch proposed that the largest opposition party, the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) act to name their presidential candidate now in order to gain time.

Leading polls indicate that businessman Luis Abinader, who ran for the party in 2016, is the favorite inside and outside the party with a significant difference over former President Hipólito Mejía. The PRM has said it will elect its presidential candidate in the primary organized by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) on 6 October 2019, but the highly respected politician feels that the party has more to gain by getting an early start.

The PRM is the main opposition party. The party to beat, the ruling PLD, has not yet announced its presidential candidate and has also said it would choose the candidate in the 6 October simultaneous political party primary.

The JCE schedule establishes that the political party campaigns start on 7 July 2019, but intense campaigning is already underway, in violation of the Political Parties Law.


Helicopter crash in Puerto Plata leaves three dead
On Tuesday, 21 May 2019, two passengers died and the pilot was seriously injured when a helicopter crashed in Puerto Plata province. The pilot, Army Major Jesus Mendez Cuervo was taken to the Ney Arias Lora burn center in Santo Domingo, but died later at around 5am on Wednesday, 22 May, as reported in a Diario Libre update on the accident.

According to Colonel Enmanuel Souffront, director of investigations for the Civil Aviation Board, the helicopter crashed near Muñoz, at kilometer 7 on the Playa Dorada-Montellano road. The helicopter was five nautical miles west of landing at the Puerto Plata International Airport. The helicopter had taken off from La Isabela International Airport in Santo Domingo and then made a stop in La Vega to pick up passengers.

Souffront and technical specialists are working in the area to determine the cause of the crash. He said the pilot had reported a fire in the engine prior to the crash.

The other two victims are businessmen Juan Heriberto Medrano and Jesus Martin Vargas. Medrano was chief executive of Grupo Medrano in La Vega. The company operates the leading radio and cable TV company. The Medrano group is an important communication company, with operations especially in the Cibao area. Its main brands are Ritmo 96.5 FM, Estrella 90, Canal 105.1 FM, Turbo 98. It also owns Telecable Central based in La Vega. He was son of Cuqui Medrano, who was a senator for La Vega for the PRD. The other deceased is Jesús Martin Vargas, a cable TV businessman San Francisco de Macorís.


Four dead in construction collapse in Santiago
Rescue crews say four persons died on Tuesday, after being buried under the rubble of a hotel under construction on Calle El Sol in front of the Gran Teatro Cibao. Four bodies have been recovered, as of Tuesday. Canine units alert more workers are buried by the debris. The crews rescued workers Daniean Jean and Frank Burgos who were hospitalized.

The chief of the firemen of Santiago says the dead so far have been identified as the workers Haitian Dave Dorivald, 19-year old Joan Manuel Cruz Rivera and Ariel José Tavares Torres.


Fake consulate closed in Dajabón, on the border with Haiti
In an operation between agents of the Specialized Corps of Frontier security (Cesfront) and the Public Prosecution Service, a fake consulate has been closed down in the border city of Dajabón. The consulate was based in Hoyo de Lima and during the operation, several Haitians were arrested and others are being sought.

During the operation, the authorities seized fake passports, equipment to issue passports and visas that were being sold to Haitians for illegal entry into the Dominican Republic.


Executives sent to jail for tax evasion
On Monday night, 20 May 2019, National District judges ordered preventive custody in jail for eight of the ten executives of the Tremols Payero Group, who are accused of tax fraud of more than RD$4 billion. At the same time, the case was declared to be complex due to the number of accused and the number of crimes.

The following were sentenced to spend six months in preventive custody: Leonardo Antonio Tremols Payero, Eduardo de Jesus Tremols Cruz, Hervys Rafael Tremols Payero, Daniel de Jesús Tremols Payero, Carmen Adela Tremols Cruz, Eddy Samuel Tremols Payero, Doris Alexandra López Urbaez and Ramón Rafael Tremols Payero. They were taken to Najayo Men’s and Women’s prisons.

Rafael Alberto Tremols Acosta, had his current coercive measures confirmed including an exit impediment and Marisselly de los Milagros Cruz López was released and freed of all charges.


Hurricane season starts early
Although the Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on 1 June, it is not unusual for storms to form prior to the actual start of the season. On Monday, 20 May 2019, the first tropical storm of the 2019 hurricane season was formed. Named Andrea, the storm is well north of the Dominican Republic in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean some 540 kilometers from Bermuda.

The names that will be used this season are Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.

The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is forecasting that the country will continue to be under the effects of a weather front that will bring rains and electric storms to several provinces in the north, northwest, northeast, central mountain range and the border zone.

The provinces most affected by the rains, which will occur primarily in the afternoons and evenings, are: Santiago, Puerto Plata, Valverde, Espaillat (Moca), Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), María Trinidad Sánchez (Cabrera), Santiago Rodríguez, Dajabón, Elías Piña, La Vega, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao) and San Juan de la Maguana.


Dominican women’s volleyball defeats Russia
10th-ranked Dominican Republic women’s team (The Queens of the Caribbean) defeated 5th-ranked Russia (3-1) during the first day of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League taking place in Brasilia, Brazil. The scores of the game were: 25-21, 22-25, 25-18 and 28-26).

FIVB shared on their website two great blocks by the Dominican women. Diario Libre reports on the strong game by Brayelin Martinez who scored 24 points.

On the first day, the DR upset Russia and the Brazilians upset China. Now the DR will play Brazil.