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Daily News - Friday, 11 April 2014

Tolls free for the Easter holidays
The Ministry of Public Works said that to assure a smooth flow of traffic and to reduce congestion around the toll booths on the nation's highways, the government has suspended the collection of tolls over the Easter weekend. No tolls will be collected from Friday through Sunday, 18-20 April.

Peak domestic travel time fills hotels
The National Hotel & Tourism Association, Asonahores advises the public that most hotels and rental units are fully booked for the Easter weekend. A spokesperson for Asonahores says that the Easter holidays is the busiest time of year for its member hotels. Today, 11 April, is the last day of classes at most schools nation-wide. Classes will not resume until Monday, 21 April. Arturo Villanueva of the Hotel Association says that resorts usually set aside 15-20% of their available rooms for the local bookings, but that even many of these rooms were reserved three to four months ago. Villanueva said that hotels are reporting a 10% increased demand for rooms this year.

Special measures have been put in place to increase safety of travelers, including increased patrols and speed checks on the highways. Also it is important to advise that there are bans on the use of motorized watercrafts in beaches across the country.

The Center for Emergency Operations that is coordinating the multi-institutional safety and public health program, announced yesterday, that more than 30,000 volunteers stationed at 512 posts would be assisting travelers at beaches, swimming spots, roads, highways all around the country. The operation includes bici-ambulances, ambulances, tow-truck stations, auto repair shops, mobile hospitals at strategic points nationwide.


Medina: Constitutional Court should rule on citizens' right to sue for corruption
President Danilo Medina said that it is the Constitutional Court that should decide on whether the paragraph that allowed citizens to sue government officers suspect of corruption in office is in violation of the Constitution, as some legislators have argued as the recent for its elimination in the modification of the Penal Procedures Code. The code was returned by the Presidency to the Legislative Branch.

In the recent review of the Penal Procedures Code, legislators eliminated the right of citizens to sue government officers for corruption in office. The president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Perez says that the mechanism for citizens to sue government officers for corruption is not contemplated in the Constitution, as reported in Diario Libre. Pared Perez said that the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Abel Martinez had explained to him that the elimination of the citizen right was done to adapt the code to the Constitution.

President Medina believes the paragraph should be reinstated and the decision as to whether it violates the Constitution should be left to the Constitutional Court to decide. President Medina also feels that there should not be limitations imposed on government institutions to initiate legal investigations into corruption.



JCE announces ID cards to be distributed first in National District
The president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), Roberto Rosario said that next week all of the equipment needed to issue the new ID cards to seven million people in the Dominican Republic will installed and operating at the 147 ID card centers nationwide. He pointed out that the issuing of the ID card operations will start at the headquarters in Santo Domingo and will be gradually rolled-out across the country in the coming weeks and months.

The ID cards issued will serve as voter registration cards for Dominican citizens and will be required to vote in the 2016 election. In 2016, 4,362 Dominicans will be chosen for positions from the President and Vice President of the Republic, 222 legislators and 4,098 positions in municipal governments.

Speaking to the press after the commemorative mass marking 91st anniversary of the JCE, Rosario also said he would be proposing to political parties to replace the manual count of the vote with automatic voting stations. He said that biometric fingerprint readers would be used in the polling stations.


Get your papers in order or risk being deported, says Minister of Interior & Police
The government is requiring that all people living in the Dominican Republic be documented. Minister of Interior and Police says that foreigners will need to get their legal papers in order or risk being deported. He said the implementation of the Foreigner Legalization Plan starts 1 June 2014. He noted that the government is working to document all foreigners living in the country, not only Haitians.

Fadul also stated that the passing and implementation of a new Naturalization Law is not required to enforce the Foreigner Legalization Plan ordered by Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13.

Fadul warned against international pressures. "We cannot accept pressure from anyone," he told the press, speaking on the issue. He said that what is foremost is what the Dominican people think.

"They [international community] can do and say what they want, but ours is a sovereign country and this country is of Dominicans and we are to be respected, as we, in turn, respect the autonomy of every country," he told the press when interviewed after attending the commemorative mass of the 91st anniversary of the JCE at the Santo Domingo Cathedral.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in the Dominican Republic do not have legal documentation. The plan ordered by the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 seeks to ensure that all residing in the Dominican Republic are doing so legally, either as Dominicans or foreign residents. The plan incorporates fast-track authority for people residing in the Dominican Republic to achieve naturalization and residency.

Fadul explained the implementation plan to support the ruling will be transparent and the government will work closely with religious groups, community and civic organizations to assure that the rights of all people are respected.

"Those that do not cooperate with the Legalization Plan will be deemed to be residing in the country illegally and will be subject to be deported to his or her country. This is a fundamental principle of the law. I wonder what country in the world allows illegals to reside in that county without penalty or sanction," said Fadul, as reported in Diario Libre.



Centro Leon signs agreement with the Office of the Vice President
Centro Leon and the Office of the Vice President through its "Progressing with Solidarity" Program have agreed to collaborate in several arts, culture, environment and social development programs. The support is a part of a corporate responsibility effort on behalf of the former majority owners of the Presidente and Marlboro brands in the Dominican Republic that operate the Centro Leon, a leading cultural institution headquartered in Santiago de los Caballeros, the country's second largest city.

Spokespeople for Centro Leon explained that this initiative seeks to expand their outreach to the community, stimulate production of knowledge and cultural exchanges through the study and promote the cultural artistic heritage of the Dominican Republic in a cultural context.

The goals of the initiative are to continue working to support art and artistic expression and stimulate tourism and the export of cultural industries. At the same time, the initiative seeks to enhance the quality and visibility of the diverse range of arts and crafts of the region.

The agreement was signed at Centro Leon by its director Rafael Emilio Yunen and Altagracia Suriel, director general of Progresando con Solidaridad. On hand at the signing were Vice President Margarita Cedeno and Maria Amalia Leon, director of the Eduardo Leon Jimenes Foundation.

The specific programs to be developed are:

Promoting Arts and Crafts. This program will stimulate the production and sale of high quality arts and crafts through implementing training programs in design skills. The products will be marketed at the Centro Leon and the Manos Dominicanas stores (a program of the Office Vice President) and at shopping centers nationwide.

House numbering. The project will be undertaken in Santiago to address the problem of the house numbering in Santiago communities. The highlight of this program will be the training of youth in creative workshops so that young men and women can develop skills and acquire business acumen so that they can generate income.

Ecoart in the Community with Centro Leon. This program seeks to promote art, culture, values and conservation of environment through recycling of plastics and metals.

Recycled City. The agreement calls for design of murals using recycled glass and other materials that will be collected in communities and beaches. The collection of the materials will be spearheaded by school groups and community based organizations.

Imagined Community. This program seeks to promote community development through channeling the creativity of children and teenagers. The program will be offered in IT centers and will be supervised by the Office of the Vice President Office.

Promotion of Values through Painting. This program seeks to promote the ties between art and artistic expression to positive societal values, as part of the framework of the National Strategy for a Society in Values program. The works of art will become part of an exhibition The Young Duarte in 2014.

Community Educational Visits. This program seeks to coordinate the visits of children living in high-risk areas to Centro Leon where the children will participate in activities that reinforce positive self-esteem and promote positive values and spark creativity.

The first phase of this ambitious initiative will last two years and can be renewed by the collaborating partners.


Telecom competition, here it comes
News stories now report that Claro and Viva had opposed the Dominican Telecom Institute (Indotel) authorization of the sale of Orange Dominicana to Altice. Claro (Compania Dominicana de Telefonos) and Trilogy Dominicana (Viva) said that Altice would create market distortion as they were already the owners of 80% of Tricom. They said this would violate free and fair trade in the telecom sector. But Indotel in its Resolution 017-14 issued on Saturday ignored the observations and went ahead and authorized the sale of Orange to Altice. With the merger, Orange can now offer cable TV services through its Tricom division.

El Dia, in a frontpage story today, 11 April, forecasts a major commercial battle is on the horizon as the two major companies seek to convince consumers they are the best option for mobile, internet and cable services.

At the present time, Claro is the leader in the sector.

El Dia reports that the breakdown of market share is:

Residential lines: Claro has 67%, Tricom 22%, Viva 0.08%

Mobile phones: Claro has 53%, Orange 35%, Viva 0.08%, Tricom 0.04%

Internet: Claro 64%, Orange 31%, Tricom 0.04%

Cable: Claro 44%, Tricom 23%

Consumers are hopeful that the competition among carriers will lead to better quality service and lower prices. The quality of telecommunications and related services has declined in recent years, especially following Claro's acquisition of Verizon. Orange, which has gained a large market share over the past few years especially for its mobile services, has been criticized also for setting high prices and offering questionable quality of service.




The high cost of policing waters for the USA
Diario Libre editorial today focuses on the high cost for Dominican taxpayers of the navy policing Dominican waters for Haitian boat people. "Why should a Dominican institution stop nationals of a neighboring country from trying to reach Puerto Rican shores?" asks the editorialist. "How much does the Dominican government spend on a task that seems to fill the force with as much pride as if it were caring for the Dominican border?" asks the newspaper.

Diario Libre points to the high amount of money spent on fuel and the patrols.

The newspaper concludes that the Dominican naval and marine forces are performing a task that should not be part of their duties and certainly the government cannot afford to subsidize this service.

"It is a matter of taking food out of [Dominican government] mouth to feed the US coast guard, and ironically, leaving the US Coast Guard with more resources to act against Dominicans..." writes the editorialist.

"The damage would be then double and the scruples foolish," writes Diario Libre today.


Who represents the unemployed?
Former general manager of the Central Bank and dean of economics at the PUCMM University, Pedro Silverio writes in Diario Libre today about the dilemma that the unemployed are not represented in Labor Code talks.

In the op-ed piece, Silverio comments on the difficulties in reducing unemployment in the Dominican Republic. "Every day it is more difficult to find a job. When that person stops looking for work, then the unemployment statistic is reduced," comments Silverio. He says throughout the times the work market is marked by rigidness that impedes the healthy creation of jobs. As a result, he said the poor and unemployed are potential clients for political patronage when they do not find work.

"A flexible labor market is fundamental," he writes, commenting this is more obvious in times of crisis and presents the case of Spain for parallels to be drawn.

The Medina administration has created conditions for a reform in the labor code, after 20 years of its implementation. Talks are ongoing.

"A reform should not be made to leave things the same. Extra labor costs are, precisely, one of the reasons to carry out the reform," he writes.

He explains that the Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Strategies (CREES) statistics indicates that worker additional benefits and costs are 69.9% of the wage at the end of a first year, but increase to 222.79% at the end of 20 years at the job.

"Nobody, in their sane judgment, can have the idea that it is possible to disregard these rights, on the contrary, the idea is to establish new reference base for the hiring of the work force," he explains.

"Unfortunately, those who will benefit most, the unemployed, are not sitting on the table of negotiation," he writes. He explained the thousands of youths that have not been able to find work due to the obstacles to job creation. He explains that while the increase in labor costs benefits those who can keep their jobs, it is no less true that companies find themselves in the dilemma to reduce their payroll, their capital spending or increase the rate of exploitation of their workers, rather than hiring new people.

He said in Spain a similar negotiation process has taken place. At the end, President Mariano Rajoy applied what he considered was most convenient for the country.

"Perhaps President Medina can take advantage of that experience. Thousands of unemployed will appreciate it," he concludes.


Public relations guru in red with the tax people
The Public Prosecutor has set bail at RD$10 million and has imposed a travel, against public relations guru Wladimir Lendof. Lendof is accused of tax evasion and is being detained at the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva.

According to the details of the case, Lendof was arrested after it was revealed by the Department of Taxes (DGII) that he has been in arrears since 2009. However, Carlos Olivares, the lawyer of Lendof, proclaims his client's innocence and that he will be exonerated when the case comes to trial.




Learn all about orchid growing at La Cadena
La Cadena supermarket chain is inviting the public to a workshop on orchids. The workshop will be led by biologist and landscaping expert Adolph Gottschalk. He will teach about caring for orchids kept inside and outside the house and how to care for orchids. Gottschalk will even offer a clinic where people can bring their sickly orchid plants and get professional advice on how they can be brought back to health. The event will be held on Saturday, 12 April at 4pm and Sunday, 13 at 10am at the parking lot of Av. Abraham Lincoln branch of La Cadena. There also will be an exhibition and sale of orchids and other plants in the parking lot of the Av. Abraham Lincoln branch from Saturday, 12 April from 9am to 10m and Sunday, 13 April from 8am to 2:30pm.

Barbarella returns to DR
The electronic music extravaganza, Barbarella, in its 4th year, will take place at the Quisqueya Ball Park on Wednesday, 18 June. It is sponsored by Presidente beer. Announced for this year are DJs Steve Angello and Hardwell with appearances by AllNight and Manners. This is a chance to hear them play "I Love It" that has reached the 7th position on Billboard's Hot 100 list. Also performing at Barbarella will be Australians Miriam and Olivia Nervo, Dimitri Egas & Like Mike from Belgium, Irish DJ Dyro and DJ Connor Cruise (son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman). The DR is represented by Local Superheroes (Omar Andino and Joseant Hidalgo).

See http://www.presidente.com.do/site/

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

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