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Daily News - Tuesday, 08 April 2014

President Medina congratulates President of Costa Rica
President Danilo Medina has congratulated President-elect of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solis, who won in the second round of the elections on Sunday 6 April, with more than 70% of the vote.

Medina sent Solis a letter via the Ministry of Foreign Relations saying that his time in government would contribute to strengthening democracy, peace and solidarity in his country. President Medina also hoped that Costa Rica for continued economic development in his country and that there would be an increase in commerce and cultural exchanges with the Dominican Republic. The President expressed that the election of President Solis would give a boost to multilateral exchanges between the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica via the Central American Integration System, (SICA).

The new president of Costa Rica is a 56-year old historian and public servant who has worked as an educator and in non-governmental organizations as well as being a politician. He studied history at the University of Costa Rica and earned a Master's degree in the United States.


Efforts in place to reduce student absences after holidays
Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret has instructed school directors to take measures that will motivate students to return to school on time after the Easter holidays.

Amongst the measures mentioned by the Minister was scheduling exams in Mathematics, Spanish Language, Social Science and Natural Sciences for Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 April, immediately after Easter week. The scheduling of these important exams is intended to ensure that the students return to class on time.

Baret said that he has been concerned that on days following holidays there was poor attendance. For example, on February 28 (after the Independence Day holiday), only 56% of students attended class.

He said that the principals and directors of the schools should come up with innovative ways to encourage students to attend classes right after Easter.

Baret went on to say that the regional and district Directors and the Community Education Committees should participate in radio and TV programs to urge parents to send their children to school after Easter Week.


SICA to receive money from Spain
The Assistant Coordinator of Spanish Cooperation in El Salvador, Angel Marcos, has announced that for the third stage of cooperation with the System of Central American Cooperation (SICA), they have promised to invest 12 million euros in assisting in the development and implementation of security strategies in Central American and the Dominican Republic.

The General Secretary of SICA, Hugo Martinez, has said that during three day conference (to be held from 7-9 April, in El Salvador) projects will be discussed such as working together to buy medicines, developing the unified tourism campaign. 'Central America: So Small, So Large', implementing the Security Strategy for Central America (ESCA) and a program to promote small and medium sized businesses (MIPYMES).

Martinez added that SICA wanted to promote Central America and the Dominican Republic as a multi destination and said that the eight SICA countries (El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras) should instead of competing among each other focus on promoting regional cooperation to make the region more attractive to tourists.


Constitutional Court revokes appeals for Haitian immigrant children
The Constitutional Court has overturned three decisions handed down in 2012 by Court of Appeals that had ordered the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to issue ID cards (cedulas) to three offspring of Haitian immigrants. The court decisions that were overturned were in favor of Polino Yosefe Nicolas, Ysidro Pierre Pie and Danilo Yan, who had appealed to courts in El Seibo and San Pedro de Macoris, to claim their Dominican identity cards. In the three cases, the Constitutional Court accepted the reviews requested by the Central Electoral Board with their rulings 042/14, 043/14 and 044/14.

The Constitutional Court ordered the JCE to hand over their birth certificates so that they could determine whether they were valid or not.

The rulings of the Constitutional Court give the JCE 45 days to submit the birth certificates in question to the civil court and another 10 days to the Department of Migration to issue a special temporary residence permit to the descendants of the Haitians until the National Foreigner Legalization Plan (Art. 151 of the Migration Law 285-04) determines the conditions for regularization of this specific case.


Iberia announces return to Santo Domingo this September 2014
Iberia Airlines is promoting bargain fares from Madrid to Santo Domingo (SDQ) starting 1 September with five direct flights. The airline is promoting fares as low as 299 euros plus taxes per one-way flight segment.

Flight IB 6501 will depart Madrid to Santo Domingo on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 11:50 am, arriving to Santo Domingo at 2:40 pm. The return flight IB6500 will depart on the same days at 4:10 pm arriving in Madrid at 6:15am.



Sales of new vehicles dropping
The Association of Vehicle Manufacture Concessions (ACOFAVE) announced at a press conference that over the last six years, the import and sales of new and used vehicles has dropped by more than 36%. The Association attributes the decline to the increase in taxes on vehicles.

Enrique Fernandez, executive president of ACOFAVE, said that through the various tax reforms for each imported vehicle, the state receives 63% of the value of the vehicle for standard imports and 51% for imports covered by free trade agreements.

In relation to the actual sales prices, the government receives 33% and 29% in taxes.

In 2013, 56,173 new and used vehicles were imported down from 87,975 in 2007.

Fernandez added that in 2013, some 34,396 of the imports were used vehicles of which 26.77% were SUVs, 61.0% were cars and 2.92% were pick up trucks.

In terms of new vehicle imports, 42.4% were SUVs, cars were 23.35% and pick up trucks were 17.8%. Fernandez said that this past January was a good month because some government departments had renewed their fleets of vehicles. But vehicle sales in February 2014, were the lowest for that month over the last three years. Preliminary data for March 2014, suggests that sales were trending lower compared to the same month in 2013.

Fernandez argued that the ratio of vehicles to the population is below the Latin American average. He said that the Dominican Republic was in the second to last position in the region, with only Bolivia having less vehicles per capita.


Gas reserves in the DR?
The possibility of domestic gas resources findings for the Dominican Republic is again making the press. An article published in Oil & Gas Journal says that rigorous development activities are pointing to a large accumulation of gas reserves in the Enriquillo basin, west of Santo Domingo. Maleno Oil Co. is carrying out exploration of the Boca Cachon area in collaboration with the Dominican government. The Maleno concession consists of 597,000 acres. Company exploration program includes geologic mapping, gravimetric, seismic and geochemical surveys and the drilling of a well.

Three oil companies, Petrolera Once Once, Murfin Drilling Co. and Maleno Oil are active in the oil and gas exploration sector in the DR.





Police to receive more motorcycles
The National Police has received 390 motorcycles donated by Taiwan that will be used in patrols as part of the new 911 Emergency System soon to be implemented.

The head of Police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo, whilst giving thanks for the donation, said that the motorcycles would reduce police response time in emergencies.

The ambassador for Taiwan, Tomas Pung-Fu Hou, announced more motorcycles would be delivered before the end of the year to help improve security in the country.


Customs officers dismissed
More than 20 employees from the Customs Department at the Las Americas International Airport and the Punta Caucedo cargo area have been fired. No reason was given for the firings.

Those fired include department heads, supervisors and those in charge of warehouses as well as other employees in the airport passenger terminal and the Caucedo cargo area.

The dismissals were ordered by the Director General of Customs, Fernando Fernandez, and have created anxiety and uncertainty amongst remaining personnel at these offices.

Nine employees were fired from the passenger terminal and 13 others from the cargo area.

According to sources, some of those fired claim that that they are protected by the State Administrative Career Law and cannot be fired. It is thought that more employees in these departments and installations will be dismissed shortly.

In addition to the airport, there were other dismissals in the ports of Boca Chica, Santo Domingo and Haina.

All of those fired came into the institution during the government of former President Leonel Fernandez.


Air Traffic controllers threaten strike action
180 air traffic controllers are threatening to strike unless 13 of their fellow workers are given their jobs back. In addition, the controllers are asking for an end to what they feel is 'repression and mistreatment' by the director and other officers of the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC).

Following a meeting of the Dominican Confederation of Dominican Workers, the Dominican Association of Air Traffic Controllers (ADCA) warned of heightened safety and security risks to Dominican airspace should they strike.

According to Wellington Almonte, president of ADCA, the controllers would intensify the fight due to the intransigent attitude of the authorities in following through with a plan to privatize air traffic control, which they say is the brainchild of the director of IDAC, Alejandro Herrera and other officers, politicians and important experts from the private sector.

Almonte went on to say that they were not asking for pay raises, rather only that IDAC respect their human rights, protected under the Constitution. He said that the director of IDAC had refused to enter into talks with the controllers for over a year and that had contributed to the deterioration of the working environment, that it has been worsened with the citing of violations, threats, suspensions and dismissals of the members of ADCA.

Along with Herrera. Almonte implicated the Deputy Director, Santiago Rosa Martinez, and Bolivar Leon Paulino, director of Air Navigation (DINA) in the campaign to weaken the controllers.

He highlighted one of their actions demonstrating an abuse of power was the dismissal of 12 members of ADCA in Feburary, including the president of the association, the vice president, the Finance Secretary, Josue Perez, and eight other members of the board.

He called on President Danilo Medina to intervene to put an end to the situation and order the initiation of talks.


Robbery of meters depletes Water Corporation finances
Thieves have taken to stealing the Santo Domingo Water Corporation meters. Luis Salcedo, of the CAASD operations, said that the thieves sell the meters that cost RD$4,500 as scrap metal to metal foundries for a mere RD$65. The CAASD has reported the theft of more than 3,000 meters with an estimated value for losses of around RD$13.5 million.

Folklore show at Bellas Artes
See the dance company of the National Folklore Ballet at the Palacio de Bellas Artes at shows being held on Tuesdays in April and May at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The show, "Educating", presents an overview of Dominican folklore, explained Elizabeth Crooke, director of the National Folkloric Ballet.

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

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