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Daily News - Friday, 28 February 2014

President Medina forecasts a good year for 2014
Medina says that his government's priorities are to create jobs and improve social equity.

In his State of the Nation Address yesterday, Thursday 27 February in Congress in the presence of legislators, government officers and diplomats, Medina gave a sales pitch for his government's achievements in 2013. He dedicated large sections of the speech to the education and the literacy programs, small business and road construction in a two-hour long detailed description of key projects completed or underway by his administration. The President was speaking to a nation that has already given him an approval rating of over 80%, making him the most popular President ever in his first year. The President detailed the extensive list of achievements and told Dominicans that 2014 will be a good year.

"You can be sure that 2014 will be a year for jobs, productivity and consolidation of our model of growth with social justice," he told the nation.

He emphasized the focus on wealth distribution.

"We expect the growth trend to consolidate itself and we will end the year with around 5% GDP growth, in a framework of financial stability.

"We are working for the growth of the economy, yes, but with fairer wealth distribution.

"We are not content with just seeing the percentages increase; we want that growth to translate into better living conditions for our citizens".

When referring to the education sector, the President highlighted early childhood, extended school day, scholarship, teacher training, and special needs programs. He dedicated his closing words to the national literacy program.

He addressed the health sector, mentioning programs for universal health care, decentralized public hospitals, vaccination, and programs to rid the country of diseases, as well as construction of new hospitals, and low-cost pharmaceuticals initiatives.

He spoke about the model low-income barrio projects at Boca de Cachon on the border with Haiti and La Barquita in Greater Santo Domingo, where residents in vulnerable areas are being relocated.

The President addressed efforts to increase jobs and spoke of programs for providing initial loans to small businesses in all areas.

He devoted a large part of his speech to programs for promoting farming and food production for domestic consumption and export.

He addressed the increase in the number of tourists to the country and new investments that are contributing an increase in jobs. He mentioned the new urban renewal project in the Colonial City, and new large-scale government investment in highways, making the Dominican Republic the best-connected country in the Caribbean.

He promised to resolve the problems of costly and deficient power service in the Dominican Republic before the end of his term of office. He mentioned the installation of coal-fired generators and extensive efforts for more natural gas-fired power generation.

Medina addressed security, highlighting that the 911 comprehensive emergency program would be key in assisting crime victims and preventing crime.

He focused on cultural and sports outreach programs nationwide.

He spoke of the new open dialogue with Haiti. "Never before had our two nations sat at a table to discuss a complete agenda of topics of mutual interest. The talks will continue, always on the basis of mutual respect for each country's sovereignty, with the aim of resolving the needs of our peoples," he said.

While the President spoke of sovereignty and outlined what his government was doing to encourage transparency and accountability in his government, he did not address hot topics such as the naturalization bill, corruption and political patronage inherited from the past, the bill on political parties, or the fiscal pact to put wasteful spending in government in check.

In his closing words President Medina stressed that this was the government of all and for all, and that the best is yet to come. "We will continue to build the nation together, meeting the goals, transforming the Dominican Republic, showing the world that we are capable of doing what has never been done!"



Senate President urges passing Political Parties Bill
The president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez, speaking at the National Assembly yesterday, Thursday 27 February, before introducing President Danilo Medina on the occasion of the State of the Nation address, focused on the Political Parties Bill aimed at putting political party spending in check.

Pared Perez said that Congress could not be blamed for not passing the bill. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) is pressing for the bill to be passed prior to the 2016 presidential election. He said the higher echelons of the political parties are responsible for the delay because they have not been able to agree on key topics.

He said that one of these points was for the primaries to be held on the same day nationwide.

Last week, the Conference of Catholic Bishops called for the passing of the bill aimed at regulating political parties.

The Senate president also referred to the Constitutional Court ruling 168-13 and said that although national and foreign sectors have been critical, they have not analyzed in depth the content of the ruling that he says is aimed at regulating the immigration problem in the country.

DR leads in Junior Davis Cup
The Dominican 13-16 year old tennis players are having a great year in the Junior Davis Cup Tennis competitions at the Parque del Este tennis center in Santo Domingo East. The event is taking place from 24 February to 1 March and matches the best players in Central America and the Caribbean. It is a pre-qualifying tournament where the winning team will earn a place alongside the United States, Canada and Mexico in the qualifying round to take place in May.

The DR boys are playing the semifinals against Guatemala on Friday, 28 February, while the DR girls are playing against Puerto Rico in the semifinals.


Edwin Sanchez wins Independence Cycling Cup
Colombian Edwin Sanchez has repeated his 2013 win of the Independence Cycling championship, becoming the second cyclist ever to win twice in the 35 years of the event. He rides for Formesan. He completed the last stretch with a time of 20 hours, 19 minutes and 34 seconds. He was 1:54 minutes ahead of runner-up Rob Britton, of the Smart Shop Team from the United States. Dominican Pedro Torres (of the National Energy Commission team) was third, clocking in 2:17 minutes after Sanchez.

"I dedicate this win to my father Jaime Alirio Sanchez, who cycles with me early in the morning every day, and to my mother and my girlfriend", said the 29-year old winner.


Biggest carnival of all in Santo Domingo on Sunday
The Ministry of Culture is inviting the public to the Saturday, 1 March (10am) and Sunday, 2 March (11am) carnival parades along the Santo Domingo Malecon. The event will be televised on Channel 4.

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

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