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Daily News - Friday, 07 March 2014

13 women honored for International Women's Day
In commemoration of International Women's Day, which falls tomorrow, Saturday 8 March, the Presidency and the Ministry of Women decorated 13 women for their contributions to society in the areas of education, community and professional work, science and technology, politics and the arts. The awards were presented at the Presidential Palace this morning, Friday 7 March, at a ceremony attended by President Danilo Medina, Vice President Margarita Cedeno, Minister of Women Alejandrina German and First Lady Candida Montilla. Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and legal advisor to the President Cesar Pina Toribio also attended the event.

President Medina also sent a message of congratulations to Dominican women, saying that his support for women was reflected in government programs.

The award was presented to:

Olga Altagracia de Leclerc and Portalatina Taveras Chireno, education; Candida Diaz de Ramos and Hanoi Jacqueline Sanchez Paniagua, professional work; Ligia Amada Melo, politics; Esperanza Encarnacion Tejeda, arts; Juana Maria Sosa and Altagracia Rosario Lopez, community work and philanthropy; Gina Maria Ruiz Solis, sports; Emilia Antonia Guzman Capellan and Maria Zunilda Nunez Payamps, health; Argelia Ramona Aybar Munoz and Rosanna Clotilde Elias Pena, science and technology.

Highway tolls will increase to RD$100, says government
The Ministry of Public Works has announced the increase of the four tolls on the highways connecting Santo Domingo with the rest of the country, but did not set a date. The new fares will be increased from RD$30 to RD$100, says Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo. Vehicles will need to pay RD$50 in each direction. The highways with toll increases are Las Americas, Duarte, 6 de Noviembre and Carretera Sanchez, as reported in Diario Libre today, Friday 7 March. Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo made the announcement on the Amanece 23 TV show on Channel 23.

The Ministry of Public Works controls the toll booths that were privatized during the Leonel Fernandez administration.

21 new generals and four rear admirals
President Danilo Medina (Decree 62-14) has created 21 new generals and four rear admirals for the army, air force and navy and the police. The Dominican Republic is thought to be the Latin American country with the highest number of high-ranking military officers.

The 11 new army generals are Ramon Enrique Jimenez Pena, Rafael Antonio Carrasco Paulino, Sugar Puttzi Frugis Martinez, Pedro Pablo Hurtado Cabreja, Ruben Dario Contreras Polanco, Julio Cesar Solano Duran, Luis Alberto Coronado Abreu and Vicente Mota Medina.

With Decree 61-14, President Medina created four new rear admirals for the Armada (Navy), Edmundo Nestor Martin Felix Pimentel, Franklin Jacob Diaz Gilbert, Emilio Recio Segura and Felix Ernesto Cedeno Guerrero.

Decree 59-14 names four new air force brigadier generals, Elvis Marcelino Feliz Perez, Richard Vasquez Jimenez, Nelson Miguel Moquete Checo and Oscar Ceballos Hidalgo.

Decree 60-14 orders the promotion to general of Pablo Arturo Pujols, Rafael Atahualpa Cabrera Sarita, Orlando Pichardo Reynoso, Teresa Martinez Hernandez and Jacinto Minaya Herrera. Overall, there were 5,927 promotions in the armed forces and the police.

Ministry to fix up El Conde
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia has announced that the Ministry plans to renovate El Conde, the Colonial Zone's main pedestrian shopping street, as part of the current urban renewal works. El Conde is not covered by the IDB-funded Colonial City project, but Garcia said it would not be left behind. Calle El Conde, once the country's main commercial street, is lined by a collection of majestic but neglected architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.

During a press conference while representing the Dominican Republic at the ITB Travel Fair in Berlin, Garcia said that the city was receiving an impressive number of visitors. Garcia said that the project's completion has been delayed due to the area's World Cultural Heritage status, which requires special care when making any changes.


Scholarships for Dominican journalists
This is the best of times for young people seeking to continue their studies abroad. The Dominican Republic's leading journalists' union, the Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas (CDP) has announced that the Ministry of Higher Education is offering scholarships for studies in digital information systems, masters in information sciences as well as several others for journalists interested in library and archiving studies in Spain, Mexico, Chile and the United States.

The scholarships are for the Juan Carlos III in Madrid, Universidad de Sevilla, Universidad de Granada, Universidad Autonoma in Mexico, Universidad Alberto Huratdo in Chile and University of Illinois in the USA.


Single Window for Investments is limited to tourism real estate
Business sectors are calling for the government to expand the scope of the one-stop window for setting up a company. The Single Window for Investment (VUI) is only operating for investments in tourism real estate, according to a report in Listin Diario. The facility is aimed at cutting the red tape needed to invest. The single window is still expected to operate for agriculture, agribusiness, infrastructure, footwear, cinema and audiovisuals, energy, industry, information technology, manufacturing, mining, technology, telecommunications and textile sectors, by Decree 626-12 that established the facility in 2012. At the time, the decree declared investment as a national interest, and the single window sought to contribute to increasing the flow of investment and the business climate.


Effective public spending not more taxes, says Pedro Silverio
Economist Pedro Silverio Alvarez is urging the government to take the route of seeking more efficient spending instead of continuing to increase the burden on taxpayers. In an opinion piece in Diario Libre today, Friday 7 March, he mentions two studies that can serve as references: the World Bank Global Governance Indicators study that examines the indicators of voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of government to measure the way governments manage social resources and economic for development, and the IMF Working Paper "Quality of Government and Living Standards: Adjusting for the Efficiency of Public Spending" by Francesco Grigoli and Eduardo Ley.

He says that if the conclusions of these two studies are combined and applied to the Dominican Republic, it can be inferred that our country falls behind Central American countries in efficiency of public spending and corruption control. He adds that we are less efficient than the average of the 24 countries included in the second study. He says the level of inefficiency and corruption is over 35% of public spending.

He concludes that public spending is a major source of distortions for the Dominican economy. These distortions are associated with inefficiency, whether for corruption or negligence that means an excessive use of resources or inputs to generate the same level of goods and services.

"In consequence, it is counterproductive to talk about increasing the tax burden when postponing a reform of public spending," he writes. Silverio says that the tax legitimacy has to be earned through a public spending policy that translates into public services of reasonable quality. "Meanwhile, the Dominican economy will continue to be burdened by an incoherent tax structure and very inefficient public spending," he concludes.

Silverio was dean of economics at the PUCMM, the DR's largest private university, for many years prior to working as governor of the Central Bank in the past Leonel Fernandez administration.




If the government is really interested in creating jobs...
In Diario Libre's editorial column yesterday, Thursday 6 March, Ines Aizpun focused on the issue of job creation. She acknowledges that creating jobs in the private sector is not easy, and that Dominicans like to have their own businesses, to be entrepreneurs.

"That means there is the potential, the vocation, the desire, the aspiration to create jobs. One, two, three jobs per small business. Eight, ten and little-by-little things would take off," she writes.

But then she drives in reality. "Creating a company in the Dominican Republic is confusing, expensive and very difficult. There are all kinds of obstacles. There are unthinkable fiscal advantages that are clearly unfair and have not succeeded in ending tax evasion but instead strangled people who are starting out. Juridical insecurity that affects large foreign investors... and the small local businesspeople who normally have fewer resources at their disposal.

"Politicians, already rich with businesses that are obvious unfair competition. The obstacle of the electricity deficiencies, the high interest rates and low productivity that starts with such basic things as transport and double taxation that hopeful businesspeople starting out are faced with.

The authorities say that progress has been made and point to the single window that is in operation.

If we want the economy to be formalized, for new companies to be created, for them to be sustainable... then the basic rules of the game need to change. The government cannot be an obstacle and then the omnipresent solution the unemployed resort to, producers and businesspeople... if they have connections.


Falcondo says it will only mine 23% of Loma Miranda
Falcondo Xstrata Nickel executives say that the mining company will be contributing to the protection of the Jaguey River basin and the biodiversity in the Loma Miranda mountain, and will only mine 23% of the area, as reported in Hoy. Company environmental adviser Fernando Cabrera and its mining director Edwin Deveaux say that infrastructure would be built on 11% of the area and the mining operation would be one kilometer away from the Jaguey River.

Deveaux says that Falcondo has permission valid for 75 years from the Department of Mines for extraction works and is the owner of the land where the proposed mining would take place. It is only waiting for the Ministry of Environment to issue the corresponding permit.

The Catholic Church, community groups and the Academy of Sciences are leading a campaign to create a protected area in order to ban mining in Loma Miranda. Environmentalists point to the environmental devastation in the nearby Bonao area caused by Falconbridge's nickel mining operations.


Foreign press picks on DR with KKK case
The appearance of a troupe dressed in Ku Klux Klan costumes in the 2014 National Carnival Parade has been used in international press reports to again blast the Dominican Republic as a racist country.

The Ministry of Culture has argued that the carnival is a plural event, where groups are free to choose how they parade.

Other troupes that mock human rights violations also took part, according to lawyer Carlos Salcedo who writes on development and institutionalism in El Dia today, Friday 7 March.

The other troupes included The Roman Empire, the Demons of the Chief (criticism of dictator Trujillo), the Oriental Dynasty, the Nazis, the Rebellion of the Vatican, the Vultures of the Empire as well as the Ku Klux Klan.

"In the Dominican Republic people have the right to participate and act with freedom without censorship of their cultural life as a nation (Art. 64 of the Constitution) and the state should guarantee the freedom of expression and cultural creation, access to culture in equal opportunities and promote cultural diversity," he writes. He says that to impede these cultural manifestations would be arbitrary and omissions could result in penalties being imposed on government officials for violations of fundamental rights.

Salcedo says that the Los Ku Klux Klan is a mocking representation of a radical racist group in the USA that engaged in burning black people in the belief that they were inferior and it is an expression of protest against that extremist and discriminatory group. "Someone who doesn't put on a costume and doesn't mock anyone is out of place in the carnival, because carnival is that: a time for satire and humor, with its sting."




Irka Mateo celebrates International Women's Day
Folk musician Irka Mateo is giving a special concert in celebration of International Women's Day on Saturday, 8 March at 9pm at the Centro Cultural de Espana in Santo Domingo's Colonial City (C. Arz. Merino). The concert will be a tribute to Anacaona, the Taino Indian woman who is a historical symbol of powerful women, resistance and the arts.

Irka Mateo is a talented composer who has successfully taken music from the countryside and merged it with contemporary Latin American and Caribbean rhythms to create original sounds. She will be accompanied by the Palotre band.



Orchid Exhibition at Botanical Gardens
This is one event not to be missed. The National Botanical Gardens is one of the loveliest public spaces in the Caribbean. Every year it invites the public to the exhibition of exotic orchids by the local orchidology society. The traditional Dominican Orchidology Society's 62nd Exhibition and 32nd Contest from 13-16 March is a truly spectacular extravaganza of colors and exotic forms as well as a great opportunity to purchase rare orchids. The exhibition is open from 9am to 6pm.

Soberano awards goes classical
Classical ballet choreographer and teacher Alina Abreu has been entrusted with the dance productions for the El Soberano Awards this year. The awards, produced in the style of the Oscars, honor the best in show business in the Dominican Republic. In an interview with El Dia, Abreu said that this was the first time that classical ballet would be such a major element of the event. She says that 42 dancers would be performing on stage. The El Soberano Awards, which take place on 18 March, will be televised from the National Theater in Santo Domingo.

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

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