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Daily News - Wednesday, 12 March 2014

President Medina meets South Korean Delegation
The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of South Korea, Park Byeong-Seung visited President Danilo Medina yesterday, Tuesday 11 March at the Presidential Palace accompanied by a high-level commission from his country's parliament.

The visit was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between South Korea and the Dominican Republic.

Byeong-Seug said that South Korea was interested in making more investments in the country for closer economic links. He highlighted areas such as information technology and the implementation of smart customs systems.

He spoke of the interest shown by President Danilo Medina in learning from the experience of more developed countries, saying this has increased his respect for him.

He was accompanied by Gyu-Back, Man-Woo Lee, Jin-Hoo Chung, Sang-Jik Lee, Min-Soo Park and the South Korean ambassador in the country, Dong-Sil Park.


President Medina inaugurates more schools
President Danilo Medina inaugurated two schools and a polytechnic in the National District costing over RD$142 million adding 66 classrooms to the Dominican education system yesterday, Tuesday 11 March.

The new centers are Domingo Savio School with 22 classrooms, La Hora de Dios School with 18 new classrooms in Herrera, and Bartolome Vega Polytechnic with 26 classrooms.

La Hora de Dios Este, which has science laboratories, libraries and a play area, was taken by surprise by President Medina's visit.


Will the tolls be increased to RD$100?
Will the Ministry of Public Works go ahead with the announced decision to increase tolls from RD$30 to RD$100 on the Las Americas, Duarte, 6 de Noviembre and Sanchez highways? There is widespread opposition to last week's announcement by Ministry of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo. The minister has said the government chose the increase in tolls rather than implement the November 2012 taxation measure that would levy a 1% tax on assessed vehicle value for circulation permits. The government has already postponed implementing this measure on two previous occasions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Works is preparing the toll booths for the two-way charge, as tolls are only charged in one direction on these four highways at present. A start date for the toll increase has not been announced.

An article in today's El Dia, Wednesday 12 March says that even without the announced increase to RD$100 for the round trip on the Las Americas, 6 de Noviembre, Duarte and Carretera Sanchez highways, road tolls in the Dominican Republic are already the highest in Latin America. Journalist Leisy Torres lists all the tolls (in all categories) for seven of the country's nine toll roads, with the exception of the eastern highways.

The report describes the plight of people who have to cross the tolls for work every day. On the Las Americas, 6 de Noviembre, Duarte and Sanchez highways the tolls are the same for commuting one kilometer as for 100 km.

When it made the announcement last week, the Ministry of Public Works said that the increase in tolls on the highways leaving Greater Santo Domingo would be effective by the end of the month. The government expects to recoup around RD$1.5 billion that has been spent on road renovations.



Ministry of Public Works gives go-ahead for San Francisco Bypass
Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo has announced that preparations are in process for the construction of the San Francisco de Macoris city bypass in the northeast. The highway is for traffic headed from Tenares to Nagua in the northeast. The bypass would reduce driving time for those using this road to travel to Samana.

He said President Medina authorized the works two months ago and land and financial studies have begun and should be ready in 45 days. He said that the work is estimated to cost US$37 million. He said that the senator for Duarte province had delivered a complete proposal on the highway to President Medina. Castillo made the comments during a visit to the province yesterday, Tuesday 11 March, where he announced that over 58 kms of major roads would be paved, including Los Rieles, Calle Jose Reyes, Carretera Bijao, San Felipe, and Carretera Atabalero.


CEI-RD, ProIndustria to promote one-stop shop for investors
The Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) says that the investment proposals worth more than US$300 million submitted at the single window or one-stop shop operation (VUI-RD). Jean Alain Rodriguez of the CEI-RD made the announcement yesterday, Tuesday 11 March after signing an agreement with the director of ProIndustria, Alexandra Izquierdo to encourage national and foreign investment. The agreement will lead to the creation of a platform to attract local and foreign investors. The agreement seeks to promote the VUI-RD facility.

The VUI-RD is aimed at reducing bureaucratic hurdles. It will take the Dominican Republic's complex, numerous and time-consuming government administrative procedures and simplify them for investors.

Rodriguez said that foreign investment totaled more than US$2 billion last year. He said that exports were up 5%, or around US$500 million, from US$9.05 billion to US$9.57 billion. He said the country ships 3,700 product lines to 170 countries. This includes a 2.5% increase in industrial free zones.


New Family Code
President Danilo Medina has sent to the Senate a bill for the Family Code. The bill calls for the creation of a new Miinistry of Family and Social Development (Mifdes) and the creation of a new National Family Protection system.

Among new measures, the bill would allow either partner in a marriage to establish residence separate from the one they have together, without going against the rules of conjugal cohabitation. It also establishes the option for the husband to take his wife's maiden name with or without the usual "de". The Code also proposes to promote paternal responsibility and allows single mothers to give their children the father's surname.

In addition it eliminates the words "natural or recognized child" from any official documents. According to the proposal, once they are of age, children should contribute financially to their parents and look after them and help them in their old age, and with whatever illness or vulnerable situation they find themselves in.

The long code, drafted by a commission under Vice President Margarita Cedeno, compiles legislation pertaining to the family that is in the Civil Code and other laws as well as to establish a Comprehensive National System for Family Assistance.

Although it states that the couple should each be 18 years old in order to marry, it allows for 16 year olds to marry as long as they have the consent of their parents, and should they disagree then the child can appeal to the Juvenile Court for them to take the decision.

Children aged 14 and 15 who wish to marry must have their parents' consent as well as the consent of the Juvenile court.


Textile exports to rise
According to Dominican Textile Industries Association (ADITEX) president David Cortes, textile exports from Dominican Republic are expected to increase and inject RD$700 million into the country's economy, mainly due to the funding facilities and training support that the sector will receive from the National Export Development Bank, which is expected to be operational in June 2014.

Cortes praised the government's decision to turn the National Housing and Production Development Bank (BNV) into a financial entity specializing in export development. The National Export Development Bank, once operational, is expected to facilitate exports by the textile sector of the country.

The bank will be essential to developing competitiveness, generating more employment and foreign exchange for the country, he added.

According to Cortes, the financial facilities received from the bank could be utilized by the enterprises operating in the sector to introduce training facilities and expand production centers for manufacturing high-quality textile products that could be exported.


Santo Domingo Cathedral to be restored
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez headed the launch of a project to restore the Santo Domingo Cathedral, the first in the Americas, with an initial investment of RD$50 million for the first stage.

The Cardinal said that the cathedral would remain open and operating on its usual schedules during the renovations.

According to the Cardinal, the work will be divided into three stages. The first stage involves renovating the cathedral exterior, the second consists of restoring the interior, and the third the surroundings. A Spanish company, Proyectos y Rehabilitaciones Kalam, with experience of restorations at the Banco de Espana, Museo Thyssen and cathedrals in Siguenza, Cadiz and Palencia in Spain, has been entrusted with a large part of this project. It is working with a Dominican team headed by architects Eugenio Perez Montas and Esteban Prieto Vicioso.

The Cardinal said that as part of the project, work is underway on the Cathedral museum, located in an old prison building opposite the Cathedral.

He said the project would also include a tourist information center, improved parking facilities and the restoration and renovation of the three buildings that make up the seat of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo.

Architect Eugenio Perez Montas, director of the Execution Unit of the Archbishopric of Santo Domingo, and the project supervisor, said that the first stage, including the roof, facades, doorways, bell tower and front of the cathedral would be ready by the end of this year and the second stage of the interior would be ready in two years' time.

The second stage involves working with the Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnologico Industrial (CDTI) and the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain.




A plea to save the National Conservatory Park
The Roberto Salcedo city government is building an amphitheater at the Ibero-America Park in central Santo Domingo. Aggressive renovations to the park have changed its character from a peaceful oasis where musicians of the National Music Conservatory could practice in the city to one of mass attendance by noisy city residents. A group of citizens is raising the alert to save the park. The park defenders say that the amphitheater construction also endangers the Santa Ana cave system.


Farmers and government act to stop pig epidemic
The Ministry of Agriculture's Livestock Office is reporting the first cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) and the action being taken to stop the damage.

Caused by a virus, the disease affects newborn piglets and leads to a high number of deaths. It is said to have originated in China and is now present in the United States and Mexico.

According to farmers, losses of pigs to date have reached the hundreds, mainly of piglets up to 15 days of age.

To prevent the spread of the disease, with a direct impact on the provinces of Santiago and Espaillat, sanitary control posts on roads to production areas were reinforced.

After three to six weeks, the disease decreases and finally disappears if proper hygiene measures are taken.



Cuban ballplayer trafficking network disbanded
The Police reported on Tuesday, 11 March that they have dismantled a group that for several years had been transporting Cuban ballplayers to the DR to be signed for professional baseball in Puerto Rico, Mexico and other regional countries as a first step before being scouted for Major League Baseball. Police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said that Cubans Angel Oscar Abueye Valdez and Johan Manuel Jimenez Hernandez are accused of repeated organisation of illegal trips from their country.

The Police said they arrested 12 Cubans near a hotel in Juan Dolio n three women and nine men, according to a report in El Nacional. The Cubans were planning to travel to Isla Mona or Monito on board a Zodiac boat. The police had been on their trail for five months, working in coordination with other security and intelligence authorities, including the Armada (Navy) Naval Intelligence Division.

The arrest comes at a time when the Obama administration has reduced the budget of the US Coast Guard Service. The Dominican Armada says the budget cuts have a negative impact on the restraining of drug trafficking and illegal boat trips in the area. As reported in El Dia, the US has removed the drones that operated in the area, to use them at the border with Mexico.






Latin Artists in New York presents drama in Santo Domingo
The Sala Ravelo drama hall of the National Theater presents "Souffle de Rosas, 3ra Parte," directed by Geovanni Jerez. It is an adaptation of the original by Cristian Cortez, winner of the First Prize for Best Drama in the 2000 Guayaquil, Ecuador contest. Presented by the New York City-based theatre company United Latin Artists in New York (ALUNY), it tells the story of a couple falling in and out of love. Friday, 28 March, Saturday, 29 March at 8:30pm. Sunday, 30 March at 6:30pm. Tickets: RD$400.


Sweet sounds of Covi Quintana at the Library
Singer-songwriter Covi Quintana is performing at the Juan Bosch Auditorium of the Pedro Henriquez Urena National Library in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 12 April at 8pm. Tickets at the door RD$700.


Yiyo Sarante & Don Miguelo for dancing salsa
Free Salsa evening with Yiyo Sarante & Don Miguelo tomorrow, Thursday, 13 March at Afrika Club, Paseo de los Locutores 58, Santo Domingo Tel 809 683-4474.


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

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