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Daily News - Wednesday, 07 May 2014

President Medina inaugurates more classrooms
President Danilo Medina has opened 148 more classrooms in 10 state schools in Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris) province for 5,180 students who will now benefit from the new full day school program.

The schools are Padre Brea, Vicente Aquilino Duarte Polytechnic, Nuestra Senora de Las Mercedes, Olegario Brea Tenares, Teofilo Ovalle Duran and Julia Herrera.

Also Ercilio Garcia Bencosme and Ana Celeste Fernandez primary schools, and the Antonio Serrano Florimon and Monsenor Francisco Panal high schools.

All have science and IT laboratories, libraries, administration offices, sports facilities and kitchens and dining rooms.

During the inaugural event that took place yesterday, Tuesday 6 May, Monsignor Fausto Mejia Vallejo, Bishop of the diocese of San Francisco de Macoris blessed the new installations, and speeches were also made by the Minister of Education, Carlos Amarante Baret, the director of the Office of Supervisory Engineers for State Works, Miguel Pimentel Kareh, a principal, Victoria Altagracia Martinez Ferreira and an eighth grade pupil Dariel Miranda Garcia


President Medina congratulates new President of Panama
President Danilo Medina has congratulated the President-elect of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela who won the elections held on Sunday, 4 May with 39% of the vote.

Medina sent his congratulations personally and in the name of the Dominican people and government and expressed his hope that Varela's time in office would be successful and contribute to the continued development of Panama and democracy there.

He went on to say that he hoped that the Dominican Republic and Panama could continue to work together in both business and cultural exchanges.



Haiti and DR to sign agreements, no bilateral talks
The government on 2 May announced that high-ranking officials representing the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic would meet in Petion Ville area of Port-au-Prince tomorrow, Thursday 8 May to continue bilateral talks. The talks are being held in the presence of observers from the European Union and the government of Venezuela. This would have been the third round of talks aimed at resolving joint issues. The focus would have been on health, tourism, trade, and migration issues.

But this will not happen. Instead on Wednesday, 7 May, the Dominican government told journalists who were heading to cover the event that agreements for trade, health and tourism would be signed at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Port-au-Prince. Neither Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo nor Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe will be attending, government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena told Dominican journalists who were about to board the bus to Port-au-Prince to cover the third bilateral meeting.

As is usual in Dominican Republic and Haiti talks, the most difficult issue has been immigration. The government of Haiti has been lobbying for a naturalization bill to be passed, but it has been delayed in being presented to Congress as the government says the original proposal was in conflict with Constitutional Court ruling 168-13. Since the start of the rounds, the government of Haiti has changed its minister of foreign relations.

The Dominican journalists were told that the Haitian authorities were not able to prepare the necessary logistics for the meeting that was originally scheduled to take place in Jacmel, before being changed to Petion Ville from 6-8 May as requested by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.



DR "10 years behind the times" in competitiveness
The Dominican Republic Federation of Industrial Associations says that the country is 10 years behind when it comes to industrial competitiveness. Despite the obstacles to competitiveness being identified at the time of the signing of the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement, little has been done to resolve them. The association mentions that they include the electricity service deficiencies, access to credit for manufacturing, lack of flexibility of the labor code regarding labor costs, corruption, government red tape, and discretion by government authorities in applying the laws. The situation creates a state of juridical insecurity for investors. Other domestic policies listed by FAIR as obstacles to competitiveness include the so-called archaic tax structure that is costly and complex and penalizes manufacturers, and the cargo and passenger monopolies that increase the cost of importing and exporting.

Association president Porfirio Baez says the country still has the opportunity to correct these problems in the short term through political will on the part of government and with the cooperation and consensus of sectors represented in the Economic and Social Council (CES). He said that comprehensive polices must be designed within the framework of the National Development Strategy for strengthening and increasing manufacturing sector competitiveness.

He called for more flexibility with the labor code saying that as a consequence of the hidden labor costs most Dominican workers do not have social security benefits.

He stressed that small business are the entities that create most jobs and are most effective in reducing poverty.


Dominican exports up 8.53% in first quarter
The executive director of the Dominican Republic Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD), Jean Alain Rodriguez said on Tuesday, 6 May that free zone industrial exports were up 10.14% and non-free zone exports 7.18% for a composite 8.53% increase in exports. Export categories showing increases were medical devices, footwear and clothing in the free zones, along with scrap copper, gold and silver alloy, metal rods and steel for construction, raw cacao and bananas.

ANJE calls for less government spending
Laura Pena Izquierdo, representing the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) is calling for a fiscal pact to be drafted, as well as a reduction in government spending. She expressed concern at the rising level of foreign indebtedness taken on by the government. Pena Izquierdo urged the government to reduce its spending and reach electricity and tax agreements with the private sector to ensure an increase in competitiveness and thus production and export levels. She said that a fiscal pact is essential to start taking steps to reduce public debt in future years.


Shippers call for end to transport monopoly
The National Association of Shippers says that if the country is to benefit from the DR-CAFTA with the United States it needs to improve and democratize ground transport by eliminating the present monopoly. Speaking at a Senate hearing yesterday, Tuesday 6 May, association president Teddy Heinsen said that clear and precise regulations for the implementation of logistics centers in the country must be approved. "A business owner needs to be able to send and receive merchandise easily and that is not the case at present," he said. He was critical of the existing cargo monopoly in which 25-year old trucks are being used.


US military exercises in Barahona
Members of Task Force Larimar's Military Information Support Operations (MISO) team traveled throughout Barahona in the south west, to inform local citizens of an upcoming medical readiness training exercise (Medretes), which also includes dental readiness training exercises and construction projects as part of 2014 humanitarian civic assistance mission Beyond the Horizon (BTH). The mission is supported by the United States Army South, which provides humanitarian assistance to various Latin American countries by providing medical care to local citizens at no cost, building schools and medical clinics that may help improve the quality of life of the residents of the countries participating in the event.

"Our mission out here us to support the commander's intent of informing local citizens about the Medretes, Dentretes and constructions projects in progress," said Corporal John Matthew Urby, in charge of the MISO team.

With the construction projects ongoing, the MISO team wanted to ensure that the local citizens were not receiving misconstrued information about why the US Military is in their country.

"We informed them about the construction projects," said Anderson. "We want them to know what we are building and why we are building it."

Urby, who was part of two previous Medretes, said that the local population was very thankful for the previous medical training exercises and they are expecting the help of local citizens to spread the word about the next two Medretes.


Only 3% pay traffic fines
Deputy Tobias Crespo has revealed that of all drivers who receive traffic fines in the Dominican Republic, only 3% actually pay up, according to data from the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET).

He described the figure as alarming and said it sends the message that people can keep on breaking the law without any consequences and called for an end to the situation.

He went on to say that drivers who did pay their fines were the people who could least afford it such as motorcycle taxi drivers and delivery drivers with fines of between RD$1,000 and RD$1,500.

He said that although AMET had a proposal for penalizing drivers with outstanding fines, with measures that include not being allowed to renew their driving license, whilst it seemed simple, in practice it was not.


Garlic contraband confiscated after crossing border
The Specialized Border Security Corps (Cesfront) in coordination with the Ministry of Defense Intelligence Unit have confiscated 769 sacks of garlic, weighing around 17,000 pounds that was being brought in to the Dominican Republic from Haiti.

The contraband was found during an operation yesterday, Tuesday 6 May on the Clavellinas-Villa Jaragua road inside a truck and the driver Francisco Remedio Pena Matos and his passenger, Leonardo Sena Rivas were both arrested.

A press release from Cesfront director Brigadier General Santo Domingo Guerrero Clase said that the garlic was hidden and covered with sand. Both garlic and the truck were sent to the Intelligence unit head office in Santo Domingo for investigation.


Seven drowned on Labor Day
Monday 5 May was a national holiday celebrating Labor Day but sadly seven people drowned around the country, including off Saona Island.

According to the police, the victims were Arlin Munoz Castro, 13 and Jose Alexander Suarez Pineda, 24 who drowned off Saona Island when they were visiting as part of a church group excursion from San Isidro in Santo Domingo East. According to the pastor, Miguel Angel Padilla, they were with a group of 94 people and drowned after being swept away by a strong wave.

Nisaida Lose, 21, drowned when she was bathing in Los Pinos river in Rio San Juan with other members of her family and Fritz Tratamaz, aged 36, drowned when he was swimming with friends at the Boca de Yasica beach in Gaspar Hernandez.

Finally, a woman's body was found on the Estero Balso beach in Castanuelas, Montecristi province, but has not yet been identified.


Drug hauls at airport and port
National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) agents have confiscated a total of 73 packets of a substance presumed to be either cocaine or heroin, found inside a suitcase at Punta Cana International Airport and a container inside a ship at the Haina port.

In the first operation at Punta Cana airport earlier this week agents confiscated 55 packets of what is thought to be drugs inside one of five suitcases belonging to a Portuguese woman who arrived from Lisbon. DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina said that agents became suspicious of the cases when they noticed that they did not have the usual security seal and sent them for X rays. The woman, who was questioned by the Public Prosecutor and DNCD agents, says she had no idea about the substance or how it came to be in her luggage.

At the port in Haina, DNCD agents assisted by a K-9 unit confiscated 18 packets of what is thought to be cocaine in a container on board a vessel called Viliet Travel that came from Colombia and was flying the Dutch flag.

The drugs have been sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science for testing to establish the type of drug and exact weight.


National District Prosecutor receives a writ
Yesterday, Tuesday 6 May, Judge Margarita Cristo Cristo issued a writ against the National District Prosecutor, Yeni Berenice Reynoso, who she accused of insulting public officials and verbal violence during a hearing of the case against former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua.

Prosecutor Reynoso has also announced that she has appointed lawyers to deal with the submission by Cristo Cristo.

The judge alleges that on May 2 whilst she was hearing the Diaz Rua case, the Prosecutor claimed that she called another prosecutor on the telephone to talk about a domestic violence case, where she then let the accused go free and that she had been involved in other acts of corruption.

See DR1 forum members' comments on the prosecutor at http://dr1.com/forums/government/142808-yeni-berenice-reynoso-speaks-out-2.html#post1415644


Quieter hurricane season this year
According to US meteorologist William Gray and his team of experts at the University of Colorado, there will be nine named hurricanes during the 2014 hurricane season that could affect the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

The season starts on June 1 and ends November 30.

Tropical cyclones almost always are formed by waves coming off the African coast, which move towards the west and form when the sea temperature is above 26 degrees Celsius. To be named a tropical depression there needs to be a defined circulation and the wind speed should be above 62 kilometers an hour.

A tropical storm is so called with maximum sustained winds between 62 and 118 kilometers an hour and once the wind speed reaches 119 kilometers an hour it is called a hurricane.

According to the expert from Colorado University this year the forecast is for a total of twelve storms of which six will be hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Experts predict that this will be a quieter season than usual as the Atlantic Ocean is cooler due to the El Nino phenomenon.


Mango Cluster prepares June Expo
The annual mango fair at the Central Park in Bani will be held from 5-8 June. The event, organized by Pro Mango, the Dominican Mango Cluster, includes talks, exhibitions and tastings to promote Dominican mangos. The Cluster's work is behind the increase in mango exports from 40 freight containers in 2002 to more than 450 in 2013, for a total of US$11 million in sales. Some 4,025 hectares of mangos are cultivated for commercial sale, 85% in the provinces of Peravia (Bani), San Cristobal, Azua, San Juan de la Maguana and Bahoruco (Neiba) in the south west of the country.


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

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