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Daily News - Friday, 28 March 2014

More new schools open in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata
President Danilo Medina formally inaugurated new public schools in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata yesterday, Thursday 27 March. The schools have been equipped with cafeterias so they can offer the extended school day program.

The four new schools in Santo Domingo Province involved an investment of more than RD$175 million. They are part of the ambitious new school program where 62 schools or more than 700 classrooms have been delivered since 17 February. The President was at the Escuela Concepcion Bona in Buenas Noches, Hato Nuevo in Santo Domingo West, for the symbolic inauguration ceremony.

Other schools delivered were the expansion of the San Miguel Arcangel Military Polytechnic in Villa Mella, the Maria Caro School in Boca Chica, and the La Javilla School in Sabana Perdida.

The schools in Puerto Plata now formally in operation are the Los Rieles II Primary School in San Marcos, Bajabinico Arriba Primary School in Altamira, Isabel Meyrely School in Cupey, Leoncio Polanco School in Candelon, Silvano Reynoso School in Villa Isabela, Sabaneta de Yasica High School in Sosua and Maria Mercedes School in Munoz.

The schools have IT labs, sports courts, multi-use halls, and kitchen and cafeteria areas.




Central Bank bullish on economy
Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu is confident that the country will meet the 4.5% growth target set for this year. As the guest speaker at a National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) lunch-lecture yesterday, Thursday 27 March, he said the country would benefit from the present US economic recovery, where inflation and unemployment are declining. He also commented that the DR would benefit from the global decline in commodities. The Monthly Economic Activity Index (MEAI) shows a GDP growth trend of 5%. Albizu observed that this is the result of more dynamic activity in the farming (up 8.1%), mining (up 29%), construction (up 20%), and tourism (up 10.3%) sectors.

He said that the last quarter of 2013 ended in 7.3%, up 3.3% compared to the same quarter in 2012. According to Albizu, the MEAI increased 8.1% during the first two months of the year, boosted by fiscal and monetary measures.

The Central Bank governor said that economic sectors needed to agree on a fiscal pact for a rational use of resources and an increase in government revenue so that the government no longer needs to borrow abroad.

He said that although it was too much to ask the government for a surplus in its first year, it has achieved a reduction in the fiscal deficit. He estimated that Net International Reserves would close at US$4.7 billion at year's end, a US$310 million increase over 2013.

He forecast a 7% increase in exports stimulated by increases in gold exports and free zone exports in addition to local manufacturing.


New Film Department movie-making manual
The General Department of Cinema has announced the publication of a new manual on incentives for film producers in the Dominican Republic. The manual was launched during the Guadalajara Film Festival and at the AFCI Location Shows in Los Angeles.

The new director, Yvette Marichal told Diario Libre that the manual explains taxation incentives, and information on locations at national parks, and general information such as airport and port information.

It also provides details on the cinema studios in the country and filmmaking facilities.

Indotel focuses on improving telecom services quality
Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) president Gedeon Santos says that they are working to reduce telephone and Internet service costs for consumers. "Studies are underway with possible solutions for price reductions," he said. Santos said that new rules are being finalized to guarantee the quality of telecom services in the country. He says that heavy fines will be leveled on companies not offering quality services to users.

Santos said that at the end of the 1990s, after the United States, the Dominican Republic had the best communications services in the Americas, including Canada. "Nevertheless, we are now among the lower half in quality of telecom services in the region," said the Indotel president. He said that among other reasons, Indotel has neglected its role as a regulator in demanding quality services. He said the focus had been on generating taxation and rapid growth in the sector, while neglecting quality control issues.

He said that as a consumer himself he is not satisfied with the service he gets at home. He said that one broadband service is contracted and another is delivered. He also commented on the interruptions in cell phone service, as reported in Hoy.

More on the excess foreign service
The Dominican government has a bloated foreign service even in countries with which trade is low. A report in Diario Libre today, Friday 28 March, reveals that there are 12 vice consuls on the payroll in the Netherlands Antilles, each making US$1,750 a month. In Trinidad & Tobago, four minister counselors are on the payroll, making US$2,000 a month. Another six counselors are making US$1,600, a first secretary earns US$1,400 and a second secretary is paid US$1,350.

The diplomatic staff in Aruba includes seven vice consuls, while the government has appointed four vice consuls in Antigua and Barbuda.

In Honduras, there are seven minister counselors, five counselors, and more staff.

In the Netherlands there are six counselor ministers, four counselors, three vice consuls and other staff.

The delegation in Brazil includes 12 counselors, nine vice consuls, and four counselors.

In Switzerland four deputy ambassadors have been appointed, each with a wage of US$3,000, in addition to the ambassador. At the Swiss embassy there are five minister counselors, and five vice consuls.

The Dominican government has four minister counselors assigned to Uruguay, in addition to eight counselors. In Belgium, there are four minister counselors and seven counselors.

In Ecuador, the embassy staff includes eight counselor ministers, four counselors.

Foreign service expert Luis Gonzalez is pushing for a new Ministry of Foreign Relations fundamental law to be drafted, which institutes the firing of diplomats who are not at their postings.

For many years the press has focused on the bloated foreign service, which is the result of political patronage. The excess staff often creates obstacles to staff members who are carrying out important work.

In recent months there have been more than the usual arrears in meeting payments for foreign staff, and the present administration's attempts to impose controls and checks on the foreign service have come out into the open.


911 system to start 16 May 2014
Police Chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo says that the National 911 Emergencies System will enter into operation on 16 May 2014. According to Castro, more than 900 new police agents will be assigned to preventive patrols in Greater Santo Domingo in April. He said the city is being divided into quadrants and this has been working well from Avenida Maximo Gomez to Avenida Luperon in the National District. He added that 32 new pickups are being assigned to patrols in Santo Domingo East municipality.

Newspaper to take Euclides Gutierrez case to Constitutional Court
Diario Libre says that it will be taking the case presented against the Superintendent of Insurance Euclides Gutierrez Felix for retaining public information on the liquidation of Segna, S.A. insurance company, to the Constitutional Court. Gutierrez secured a favorable judgment by the Second Hall of the Superior Administrative Court that rejected a writ presented by Diario Libre.


Anthony Santos at Marina Sans Souci
After a successful concert at the Madison Square Garden arena in New York City, bachata singer Anthony Santos has announced he will be taking his show "The Legend of Bachata" to the Sans Souci Marina in eastern Santo Domingo. The concert, scheduled for 28 June, is produced by Lenin Ramirez.

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

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