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Daily News - Tuesday, 14 January 2014

DR in World Bank Doing Business survey
According to Sandra Gonzalez, director of the Business Team at the Dominican Republic Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, the country is being included in an analysis by the World Bank to measure doing business regulations in six regional Central American countries, including the Dominican Republic.

Gonzalez said that the study examines the complexity and cost of regulatory processes, including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, paying taxes, and trading across borders.

The project is called "Doing Business in Central America and the Dominican Republic" and the researchers will be visiting the cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Higuey, Dajabon and the ports of Caucedo and Puerto Plata.

The team will then travel on to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador to conduct similar research, before issuing their report in October.

These reports, which have produced since 2005, have measured 292 reforms in more than 355 cities in 55 types of small and medium-sized businesses in seven Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.

The findings are used to identify good practice and the report also contains recommendations for reforms.


Next elections to be computerized
According to Central Electoral Board president (JCE) Roberto Rosario, some seven million Dominicans will be able the vote in the 2016 presidential, municipal and congressional elections when the JCE will introduce a totally automated system using new technology. The JCE will be issuing new identity cards including the electoral information.

He says that the 2016 elections will be the most complicated in the last 20 years with around 4,130 posts up for grabs. He went on to say that the new identity cards would cost RD$500 million, which was included in the budget and it would take around a year and a half to provide them to everyone in time for the 2016 presidential, congressional and municipal elections.

He said that the JCE would replace manual vote counting and printing of the results sheets and automate it.


Peso devaluation increased payment to power generators by US$112.1m
The government will have to pay US$112.1 million or RD$4.6 billion more to power generators as a result of the 6.3% depreciation of the peso.

As reported in El Caribe, power distributors paid power generators US$1.88 billion, including the additional US$112.1 million caused by the depreciation of the currency. The information comes from a study presented by the CDEEE during a panel discussion hosted by the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors (Codia), "Current Situation and Comprehensive Plan of the Electricity Sector" presented by the director of Distribution and Reduction of Losses at the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE), Radhames del Carmen.

Del Carmen reported that from January to November 2013 the electricity sector showed a deficit of US$877.8 million, a 2% reduction compared to the previous year's deficit.


Agriculture up 3.1% GDP compared to 2012
The Minister of Agriculture Luis Ramon Rodriguez was proud to announce that the agriculture sector under the Medina administration had a growth of 3.1% of GDP compared to the previous year. He said that greenhouse space had increased by 1.6 million meters.

Speaking in a Presidency press conference yesterday, Monday 13 January, Rodriguez said that the farming sector strategy was part of a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty. He said that at the start of this term of government, statistics showed that 57% of rural inhabitants were poor, compared to 38% in urban areas. The minister said the government's farm-sector policy is based on four axes: strengthen food security by investing in necessary areas, mitigating poverty, promoting exports, and reforming public farming sector institutions.

Rodriguez reported that exports of non-traditional farm products were up 23% in 2013, compared to 2012. He estimated that farm exports would reach US$1.2 billion, breaking the US$1 billion mark for the first time.


Dominican takes the chair at OAS
The Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the Organization of American States (OAS), Pedro Verges, has taken the Chair of the Permanent Council of the OAS, held during the past three months by Peru.

Upon receiving the gavel that represents the Council's authority from his predecessor, Ambassador Verges highlighted the historic ties that bind his nation to the OAS. "For our country, and to me personally, is a great honor to assume the Chair of the Council of this Organization, which for us is of paramount importance, since we were among the first countries that shaped it and have followed all of its institutional history to the present," he said.

The Dominican diplomat said his country "is engaged in a continuous process of institutional and democratic strengthening which will not rest for a second. And on that basis we will work to strengthen the OAS not only in our territory, but also in the territories of our brother countries vying for the same."

Ambassador Verges said that during the three months he holds the Chair he will work to strengthen the OAS "as much from the administrative point of view as the institutional point of view, and also in strengthening all the programs of the Organization to promote what it represents."

Secretary General Insulza recalled that when he took office, eight and half years ago, the Chair of the Permanent Council was held by the Ambassador of Peru, Alberto Borea, who was succeeded by the Dominican Ambassador Roberto Alvarez. "This means that today we are witnessing a complete cycle in the Council, where the 34 countries participating in the Organization have assumed the Chair of the Council.

The handover ceremony, which took place yesterday, Monday 13 January was also attended by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin, and several Permanent Representatives of the member countries.

The Permanent Council's statutes establish that the chair be held by each of the Permanent Representatives in turn, following the alphabetic order in Spanish of the names of their respective countries, and the office of Vice Chair, by identical standards, following reverse alphabetical order. The Vice Chair of the Council will be the Permanent Representative of Venezuela, Ambassador Roy Chaderton.


Danilo faction said to lead, PLD votes still being counted
President Danilo Medina's followers within the ruling PLD are claiming victory in the election of new party Central Committee members, which took place on Sunday, 12 January.

According to the initial bulletin Medina's supporters obtained 25 out of the 37 posts available, with the director of the National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewers (Inapa) Alberto Holguin, receiving the highest number of votes so far. Medina supporters who are on the list of the top 37 votes for the posts include Miguel Mercedes and Robert de la Cruz, who work directly with the President.

With only 7.17% of the votes counted, media reports suggest that many party members started to become annoyed that the Commission has been announcing the winners without having counted 100% of the votes. As a result, 100 candidates have signed a document asking for a full count.

However, the commission president, Cesar Pina Toribio, assured party members that the results reflected the votes and that all the votes would eventually be counted. The results below are from the first bulletin.



Many more people paying taxes
The Department of Taxes says that tax revenues from natural persons increased by 45.5% in 2013, rising from RD$1.5 billion in 2012 to RD$2.18 billion. He attributed the increase to the addition of many taxpayers who adhered to the fiscal amnesty in 2012.


Fire hydrants to be introduced
Following the fire that destroyed the Duralon business in Santo Domingo's Herrera Industrial district over the weekend, the Director General of the Santo Domingo Corporation of Aqueducts and Sewers (CAASD), Alejandro Montas, has announced plans to install 100 fire hydrants in the National District and Santo Domingo province to be able to improve their response to fires.

He said that he would discuss the proposed installation of 10 hydrants in the John F Kennedy, Independencia and Gregorio Luperon Avenue areas with companies in Herrera.

Montas said that the hydrants would be connected to the Valdesia-Santo Domingo line, which will guarantee a round-the-clock water supply.


Hotel Santo Domingo closed
Hotel Santo Domingo has closed, reportedly for renovations. As reported in Diario Libre, the hotel was going to be purchased by the owners of Guavaberry in Juan Dolio. When Diario Libre reporters inquired, they were told that Tomas Olivo, the owner, was in Spain. The hotel is located at the intersection of Av. Abraham Lincoln and Av. Independencia and fronts the city's Malecon seafront boulevard. Reportedly, the same owners have purchased the Hotel Hispaniola on the other side of Av. Independencia that is also closed. The hotel now is covered by an expansion of incentives of the Tourism Incentive Law 158-01.

Meanwhile, Diario Libre reports that Guavaberry could be facing financial difficulties It reports that Republic Bank has announced there has been a breach of contract and the property could be auctioned for the debt of US$16.5 million.


Children slow to return to school
Although most of the country's schools have been open since Tuesday 7 January, between 5% and 20% of children are still not back at school.

Checking several state schools in Santo Domingo, principals and teachers reported that although attendance was more or less normal, that some pupils had still not returned.

In the San Carlos, Republic of Brazil School there was 81.3% attendance, while in the nearby Republic of Chile School there was 71.7%. The United States Don Bosco School had 86.6% and the Dominican Republic school had 88.4%. Marillac School in Ensanche Kennedy reported 95.6%.

The school principals complained that although schools had opened a week ago, some parents were still not sending their children, which would set them back this semester.


Fight over electricity supply
The Electricity Superintendence (SIE) has suspended work being carried out by the Punta Cana-Macao Energy Consortium (CEPM) to introduce their electricity service to the Municipal District of Nisibon, until there is a resolution to a dispute.

The SIE says that CEPM has violated rights obtained by the Eastern Electricity Distributor (Edeeste) to supply electricity to that area and that it has told CEPM on several occasions that the private company cannot install its electricity there. The Superintendence has warned Nisibon residents who contracted with CEPM that it was illegal and they would be disconnected.


Journalist threatened
Pedro Fernandez, El Nacional newspaper's correspondent in the northeastern city of San Francisco de Macoris, has reported that he has evidence that a local drug dealer known as "Michel" has hired two contract killers to murder him.

The international press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders has asked the Dominican Republic authorities to take the threat very seriously, saying: "The Dominican Republic is a major regional drug-trafficking hub. The risk of reprisals is very high for journalists who dare to denounce the activities of organized crime."

According to Fernandez, who has written a great deal about the wars between drug gangs in that part of the country, his reporting is the reason for this threat to his life. The threat apparently comes from a drug dealer known as 'Michel'. He has criticized the slowness of the police to take action but says he will not be intimidated.

Reporters Without Borders and Fernandez state that they are filing a complaint in order to show the criminals that they cannot act as they please in San Francisco de Macoris.



Police General killed in road accident
A high-ranking officer in the National Police, General Juan Ramon de la Cruz Martinez, was killed early yesterday morning, Monday 13 January, when his car crashed into road barriers over a bridge and slid down to the river. El Dia reported that his son, First Lieutenant Oliver de la Cruz Rodriguez, lost control of the Toyota Prado he was driving when a tire blew out, sliding into the Jatubey River near Sabana del Puerto. The vehicle was totaled.

His son, wife, and security guard who were with him were initially hospitalized in the Juan Bosch Trauma Hospital in La Vega before being transported to the Armed Forces Hospital in Santo Domingo where they are recovering from their injuries.

Cruz Martinez served as police spokesman and director general of Prisons. At the time of his death he was the director of the South Cibao Regional Command, based in Bonao.

Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo suspended his activities for the day and expressed regret at the accident, describing it as a tragedy and stating that they had lost a great policeman.





La Altagracia Concert
On the occasion of the La Altagracia Day holiday on Tuesday, 21 January that honors the protector of the Dominican Republic, the 70-musician strong National Symphony Orchestra will be playing its traditional La Altagracia concert at the Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia in Higuey. The concert itself is set for this Friday, 17 January at 8pm. Maestro Jose Antonio Molina will be conducting the orchestra and soprano Nathalie Pena-Comas will be singing. The event is sponsored by the Banco Popular Dominicano, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The concert will include music by Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Leonard Bernstein. Other compositions on the program include De Espana vengo, Soy espanola and El nino judio by Spanish composer Pablo de Luna.

For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

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