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Daily News - Monday, 10 February 2014

Medina visits southwest farmers, offers low-cost financing
President Danilo Medina was in the southwest yesterday, Sunday 9 February visiting goat farmers, beekeepers and fruit and coffee producers in Villa Jaragua, Galvan and the Neiba mountain range. He approved RD$37 million for farm production, but stressed that the money would have to be repaid. "I am not improvising or throwing around state money. State money is money paid by the citizens and I have the duty to defend it. We want this money to reach the people and help them improve their living conditions," he said.


DGII does well in January
The Department of Taxes says that January was a good month for collections. It happily announced that it received RD$27.5 billion, that is RD$3.57 billion more than for the same period last year. He said this was 100.3% of the budgeted amounts for January 2014, and a 15% increase compared to the same month in 2013.

The total includes RD$72.6 million for the tax amnesty and RD$2.9 billion for the tax reform approved by Law 253-12.

Indirect taxes were up 106.7% and represent 64% of the total taxes.


A spendthrift Ministry of Education
A report in today's Diario Libre, Monday 10 February, focuses on the Ministry of Education's free spending on transport vehicles and advertising. Diario Libre says that the Ministry of Education received RD$99.6 billion last year, in response to public demands for 4% of GDP to be assigned to education. Nonetheless, according to financial reports, the Ministry's expenditure included a spending spree on transport equipment, including 35 luxury SUVs of the total of RD$624 million spent on new vehicles. This included the purchase of 160 pickups ordered for the Ministry. The Ministry has spent RD$53 million on advertising in addition to the advertising chapter already authorized by the Central Government.


Time to close the IDSS
The director of the governmental Health Sector Reform Commission (CERSS) Humberto Salazar says that the Dominican Social Security Institute should be closed down. "My proposal is to comply with the law. The hospitals under the Social Security should now go under the Public Health Services Network, he said. He said that the childcare and elderly day centers should go under community entities and that with those affiliated to the health plan provider (ARS Salud Segura) and the governmental health plan (Seguro Nacional de Salud) create the new Administrative Institute for Labor Risks with its own funds. Salazar made the comment when labor union representatives said they wanted to preserve the IDSS in its present form. Salazar reminded them that Law 87-01 that created the social security system is clear in that it gave a five-year timeframe for the IDSS to adapt to the new system. That was 13 years ago. He said that the government could not continue backing an institute that is financially and organizationally dysfunctional. Salazar said that the IDSS does not fulfill its role and has not been capable of adapting to the present needs of the health sector.

The business sector has advocated for the closure of the IDSS that adds an additional charge to the cost of hiring.


Senate makes it easier for criminals and impunity, says AG
Attorney general Francisco Dominguez Brito says he is very concerned at the changes approved by the Senate to the penal procedures code that he fears will benefit organized crime and impunity in white collar crimes. In a letter sent to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Dominguez Brito warned that the changes include the limitations to the extension of a trial. He said that with the clause all that would be needed is to start the case so that the maximum time for the case would start and then the case would be forced to expire. "To do that would be to open the doors of drug trafficking, people smuggling, administrative corruption and assault and robbery," said Dominguez Brito. "This counter-reform would then mean that after arresting a criminal the case would have to be discarded if the judge is presented with a police report dated four years ago. He suggested that the case should start when the individual is sent to preventive custody or proof is presented as had been approved in the Chamber of Deputies, not what the Senate approved.

He also criticized the fact that the changes approved by the Senate would definitely order closing a case that has been filed for six months. He said that would be the equivalent of guaranteeing impunity.



The aging Cardinal cracks down again
The latest controversy surrounding the aging Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez arose when a reprimand he blasted against a Jesuit priest was videoed and put online. The Cardinal, who is past retirement age, had strong words for the Jesuit priest Mario Serrano for his stance on granting Dominican nationality to undocumented immigrants during a meeting of the Dominican Confederation of Religious Members (Condor) on 26 January. The video circulated to the point that it even reached the Vatican. The Vatican Insider responded with a comment.



Tributes in La Romana Latin Baseball Hall of Fame
David Ortiz and Robinson Cano were presented with awards at the Latin Baseball Hall of Fame celebration at the Altos de Chavon amphitheater on Saturday, 8 February. David Ortiz was honored as the Golden Latino for his performance with the Red Sox. He was given a standing ovation by the full house at the amphitheater. Felipe and Moises Alou were also honored that evening. Felipe Rojas Alou handed his son the statue that named him a Latin baseball immortal. "I am very proud of my son Moises, who is a winner in baseball and who should continue working for baseball," said Felipe Rojas Alou. He urged his son to continue at the helm of the Leones del Escogido, a team he rescued after years of continued losses.

Moises Rojas is also responsible for the Dominican Republic's win at last year's World Baseball Classic.

On Saturday, 13 former Major League Baseball players were inducted to the Latin Baseball Hall of Fame at the Altos de Chavon ceremony.


Dominican comedy is popular in Puerto Rico
Roberto Angel Salcedo's "Vamos de robo" thriller-comedy is the most popular movie in Puerto Rico this week. It was filmed in Santo Domingo, with no doubles. As reported by Caribbean Cinemas, it was the best selling film on the weekend, with higher attendance rates than Frankenstein, Devil's Due, The Nut Job and Ride Along. The film has been showing in Puerto Rico since 30 January. Dominican actors and comedians Fausto Mata, Anthony Rios, Manolo Ozuna, Carlos Sanchez, Cheddy Garcia, Lisbeth Santos and Nashla Bogaert star in the production.


Mexico wins Caribbean Series
The Mexican team has won five Caribbean Series championships since 2002, including three of the last four, reports El Caribe analyzing the recent Mexican victory in Isla Margarita, Venezuela. The Mexican team of Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo captured the championship on Saturday, 8 February. The Dominican Republic didn't make it to the playoffs.

Junior Davis Cup Tennis at Parque del Este Tennis Courts
The Junior Davis Cup Tennis competition is being hosted by the Dominican Republic from February 24th to March 1st. The event features the best players in the region in the 13-16 age group.

This is a pre-qualifying tournament where the winning team earns a place alongside the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Final Qualifying round will take place in May.

Approximately 16 countries are expected to take to the courts at the National Tennis Center for the weeklong event. Many of the world's top senior players have competed in this event in their region during their tennis developmental years.

Agora presents Pavel Nunez in concert
Shopping malls have become popular event centers in Santo Domingo. Coming up this month is the Wednesday, 19 February Pavel Nunez Concert. Nunez is a leading contemporary Latin pop music performer. The presentation will be 8pm at the level 1 atrium of the Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy avenues mall.

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

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