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Daily News - Wednesday, 19 February 2014

New natural gas terminal to be built in San Pedro de Macoris
President Danilo Medina was in San Pedro de Macoris yesterday, Tuesday 18 February for a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new natural liquid gas terminal.

Antillean Gas, Ltd. is building the terminal, which will have capacity to receive one million metric tons of natural gas and storage capacity for 127,000 cubic meters of natural gas. The project is reported to cost over RD$13 billion.

Speaking at the event, board member Juan Vicini said that in 18 months President Medina would be able to inaugurate an installation with a generating capacity of 100 megawatts with fuel oil or diesel and a new 400-megawatt combined cycle turbine that will only consume natural gas. He said this meets the electricity sector objectives as set out in the National Development Strategy. He said the state now has the challenge of building a transmission line from San Pedro to Guerra and another to connect the DR with Haiti to supply power to the neighboring country.

Also speaking at the event, Rolando Gonzalez Bunster, president of Basic Energy, a shareholder in the project, said that in its first phase the terminal would supply the generation of 1,000 megawatts in San Pedro de Macoris with the cleaner fuel that is expected to also reduce the cost of generation.

The executive vice president of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE), Ruben Jimenez Bichara, said that the project would contribute to the stability of the Dominican electricity system.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo, Customs director Fernando Fernandez, US Ambassador James Brewster, and the Bishop of San Pedro de Macoris, Monsignor Francisco Ozoria were also present for the event.



President Medina opens schools in Azua
President Danilo Medina was in Azua yesterday, Tuesday 18 February, opening five new schools.

They were the Juan Bosch high school with 22 classrooms in Sabana Yegua, Ana Elpidia Sanchez High School on the Sanchez highway, Luis Ramirez School at kilometer 15 in Azua, the Sacred Heart of Jesus School on the Azua Peralta road and El Higuero School on the Sanchez Highway.

The schools, with a total of 60 classrooms, were built at a cost of RD$210 million.

Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret said that President Medina had brought about a revolution in education by completing 10,000 new or renovated classrooms at 919 public schools this year at a cost of RD$23 billion.

Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said that facilities in the new schools included laboratories, libraries, kitchens and cafeterias.

Father Juan Manual Camacho blessed the new schools and provincial governor Luis Vargas welcomed the visiting dignitaries.

Today the President will open another six new schools in Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris) province as the program continues.


Excellent year for BanReservas
The general administrator of the government commercial bank Banco de Reservas (BanReservas) Enrique Ramirez Paniagua says that the bank earned more than RD$5 billion in 2013, which he described as unprecedented in the local financial market. He said that the net profit was RD$1,201.56 million above the budget for the year. This is Ramirez's first year at the helm of the bank.

He said that the assets grew by 25.3% in 2013, compared to the average of 15.5% and that the defaults on credit cards had dropped significantly, down to 1.9% by the end of the year, when the year before they stood at 5.6%. This is a 66.4% decrease, which he said was an extraordinary improvement.

Ramirez Paniagua said that the challenge for 2014 was to increase staff training, and cut operational costs and other expenses. He said they also wanted to expand into areas where they had no presence and continue to contribute to the national economic development.



Road improvements for Santiago
The director of the Office of Supervising Engineers for State Works (OISOE), Miguel Kareh Pimentel, has announced several works to be started in Santiago in coordination with the local government.

Following a meeting between Pimentel Kareh and Mayor Gilberto Serulle, they agreed to join forces and prioritize the needs of Santiago. Pimentel Kareh said that all roads in the southern part of the city would be paved at the same time.

He said that roads in the areas of Arroyo Arriba, the road to San Jose de las Matas, the roads in Janico, and the road from Janico to Juncalito would be paved.

In addition he said that the works at the Cabral and Baez public hospital would be completed.


Traffic restrictions on Los Alcarrizos overpass
The Ministry for Public Works (MOPC) has announced that from today, Tuesday 19 February, the elevated section of the Duarte Highway in Los Alcarrizos in Santo Domingo West will be partially closed from 8:30pm to 6am for general maintenance. The overpass will remain closed by sections each night until the work is completed.

In addition, they said that work on the Presidente Troncoso Bridge that connects the capital with Haina and the rest of the southern region is proceeding well.


Sugar exports doing well
The director of the Dominican Sugar Institute, (INAZUCAR), Casimiro Ramos, says that the country exported around 80,000 tons of sugar to the European market in 2013 and that they are expecting to export the same amount this year.

He said that they received around US$200 million from exports of sugar and by-products to markets in Europe and the United States.

He went on to say that production was in full swing and they did not have to import any sugar in 2013 in order to meet local market demands.


New rector wants to reduce corruption at state university
The new rector-elect of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) Ivan Grullon has revealed that the University payroll includes several millionaires who are earning between RD$70,000 and RD$100,000 a month.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Tuesday 18 February, Grullon warned that he would take action against corruption at the UASD and no one who did not work would be paid a cent. He said they would eliminate all superfluous positions and all duplications in the payroll.

He went on to say that he would take measures to reinforce security at the campus and disarm anyone found carrying weapons.

He pointed out that his term in office would be based on rescuing the university so that it was a model of public management, and an academy of trust for the population. In addition, for deserving students he would establish basic jobs in three shifts for which they would be paid RD$5,500 a month.

He called on the students, employees and teachers to help him to have tenure of high quality with no chaos and no disorder leading to acts of vandalism.


More discussions over Loma Miranda
Without ruling out the possibility of allowing mining to go ahead in Loma Miranda, the Minister of the Environment, Bautista Rojas Gomez, declared that the authorities would act in the country's best interests when considering Falcondo's application to mine resources in the La Vega area. At the same time, the Academy of Sciences reiterated its opposition to the proposal to extract nickel in the area. The Academy of Sciences has highlighted Falcondo's negative track record when it comes to redressing environmental damage caused in its Bonao concession area.

Yesterday Tuesday, 18 February, the media published statements by the government's Mining director Alexander Medina who supports authorizing Falcondo to mine in the area. Medina argues that 2,000 jobs will be saved and the government will receive significant tax revenue.

Medina said that Falcondo is only waiting for the approval of the environmental impact studies by the Ministry of Environment in order to start extracting nickel.

Rojas Gomez said that they were still waiting for terms of reference for the proposed mining of the area and once all the studies were completed and he had all the information they would decide how to proceed.


Need for better police investigations
During the official launch of the Dominican Republic Investigation Manual yesterday, Tuesday 18 February, the Attorney General, Francisco Dominguez Brito, questioned the investigative process used by the National Police, saying that he believes that there is a need for police scientists who are better trained and qualified.

He said that if this is not resolved, the country will have the same problems and went on to say that 2,000 police investigators were needed, with good and competitive salaries, who could become a new part of the police in the Dominican Republic.

He said that a police officer with a sixth grade education was neither capable of conducting investigative work at a crime scene, nor had the experience to interrogate suspects.

He said that there were some cases that could be solved easily, where the perpetrators could be easily identified, but there were others where investigative techniques were needed, which was where the weakness lies.


Nuria clashes with Venezuelan ambassador on TV
An interview by TV journalist Nuria Piera with Venezuelan Ambassador Alberto Castellar yesterday evening, Tuesday 18 February descended into a heated exchange of accusations of disrespect. The journalist and the ambassador ended up trading insults.

During the interview, the Venezuelan ambassador insisted that the US government was backing the recent university protests to destabilize the Maduro government. Ambassador Castellar blamed businessmen in his country for the economic crisis.

Nuria Piera brought the interview with the ambassador to an abrupt end.

Piera would later apologize to Dominican audiences for the interview arguing the ambassador wanted to control the interview.




Dominicans repatriated
The United States Immigration and Customs Service has repatriated a group of 80 Dominicans who have completed sentences in US jails for a range of crimes, 38 of them for drug dealing.

The deportees were met by members of the Migration Department, Officers from the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), the National Investigations Department (DNI), National Police, and the Specialized Airport and Civil Aviation Security Corps (Cesac).

They were then taken to the Migration Office where they were processed and those with outstanding warrants in this country were detained.

As well as sentences for drug dealing, the deportees had also been jailed for murder, robbery, assault, document fraud, rape and other crimes. They had served their sentences in jails in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio and other places.

This group brings the total repatriated this year to 267, higher than at the same time last year.


Frank Reyes declares his innocence
Bachata singer Frank Reyes spent more than two hours yesterday, Tuesday 18 February, with the Public Prosecutor of Bonao, Jose Luis Farias Mosquea, at the end of which he was allowed to stay out of jail.

Reyes, who has been accused of raping a minor, said when he left, accompanied by his lawyer, Loammy Pena, that he had come to Bonao from overseas to make himself available, stressing that he was innocent and that his accusers just wanted to cause him trouble.


DREAM Family hosts brunch in Cabarete
On Sunday, 23 February from 11am to 3pm, the Velero Beach Resort will be hosting a Sunday benefit brunch, a fund-raiser for the DREAM Project education programs in Cabarete. The program reaches out to 4,000 young people and 7,000 community members. The organizers say a "first-class US-style brunch with a Dominican flair will be served. They are also promising "the most complete silent auction of the year with amazing deals", endless activities for the kids and a sand castle competition to end the afternoon.

Now in its tenth year, DREAM continues to lead the way for Dominican based non-profits, now priding itself as a 100% model. This means that 100% of donations go straight to programs and the DREAM Board covers operational costs. This simple strategy has ensured that DREAM is the most cost-effective and efficient organization in its field, with a focus on what matters most, the education of our youth.

To buy your tickets, just click on http://dominicandream.org/2014/01/24/brunch.html or stop by the DREAM Office in Cabarete at Plaza Novus Mare, above the Orange Shop.

Agora Mall presents Pavel Nunez in concert
Shopping malls are becoming increasingly popular as venues for cultural events in Santo Domingo. This evening, Wednesday, 19 February, leading Dominican contemporary singer-songwriter Pavel Nunez will be appearing at Agora Mall. The concert starts at 8pm on the level 1 atrium of the Mall, at the intersection of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy avenues.

Success stories in the Colonial City
The Colonial City urban renewal program is inviting the public to a series of presentations on successful sustainable cultural heritage management. A lecture on heritage tourism development in Salta, Argentina will take place at 5pm today, Wednesday, 19 February. The presentation is by Ana Cornejo Remy, deputy tourism development in the province of Salta. This will be followed by a presentation of the results so far of the archaeological research being conducted in conjunction with the urban renewal works in Santo Domingo's Colonial City at 6:30pm. On Thursday, 20 February, architect Emilio Martinez will present a case study on the Plaza de Mercado in Santurce, Puerto Rico at 5pm. This will be followed by a presentation on developing tours to heritage sites by DTS-CODESPA, consultants for the Colonial City project.

The talks will take place at the auditorium of the Telecommunications Cultural Center at Calle Isabel la Catolica at the corner with Calle Emiliano Tejera in Santo Domingo's Colonial City.

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

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