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Daily News - Monday, 12 May 2014

Ready, set... here comes the 911
The government is running a trial today, Monday 12 May to test the 911 emergency system. Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo is heading the initiative for the Medina Presidency and coordinating with all the government departments involved. A three-minute video is has been produced to prepare residents in the National District for using the system. The video lists the types of emergencies for which residents can call the helpline, and warns against making fake calls.

The plan is for the system to be available in the National District and the Province of Santo Domingo by the end of the month.

The state-of-the-art 911 headquarters are located at Av. Abraham Lincoln at the intersection with Dr. Nunez Dominguez in the neighborhood of La Julia. Several foreign legations have made sizeable contributions to the new security system.



President Medina calls in sick
The Presidency reports that President Medina was not able to make his customary Sunday surprise visit to give himself time at home to recover from a cold, but he is expected back at the Presidential Palace today, Monday, 12 May 2014.

Medina traveled to Costa Rica on Thursday 8 May to attend President Luis Guillermo Solis' inauguration. He returned on the same day. On Friday 9 May, he was not able to attend the inaugural ceremony for a school in Bahoruco that had been on his schedule. The Presidency reports that this is the first time in two years that he has caught a cold.

The announcement comes at a time when the chikungunya fever that causes joint pain and flu-like symptoms is affecting Dominicans.


Foreigner IDs now being issued
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced the start of issuing IDs (cedulas) to foreigners legally resident in the DR at the JCE station in La Romana and the Av. Luperon near the intersection with Romulo Betancourt Ave. office in Santo Domingo. The issuing of IDs to foreigners will begin this week, he said.

In an interview with Listin Diario, Rosario said that foreigners must show the certificate from the Department of Migration certifying they have been issued their provisional or permanent residency ID. Rosario announced that IDs would begin to be issued abroad no later than July.

The JCE has also posted the links to the centers where Dominicans can get their new IDs (cedulas). There are two links, one for the National District and Santiago, the two largest population centers, and another for the rest of the country. Dominicans have until early 2016 to get their IDs in time for the 2016 presidential election in May that year.



Ruling for government wages sets RD$450,000 top
The Ministry of Public Administration (MAP) has announced that it has sent the Government Wage Bill 105-13 to the Presidency for approval. Minister Ramon Ventura Camejo said that once the ruling is approved all government wages would be standardized. He said this would contribute to a fair remuneration system in government based on government officials' performance and productivity. Employees working in the government legislative and judicial branches, the Central Electoral Board, the Public Defender, Chamber of Accounts, Central Bank, Constitutional Court, Superior Electoral Court are exempt from the regulations of the law. They are the government officials who make the highest wages.

According to Law 105-13 and the ruling, the MAP also needs to carry out studies to establish the wages for the diplomatic and consular corps, and the Armed Forces and National Police.

Art 12 of the law establishes the President's wage at RD$450,000. The Vice President, and the presidents of the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, Supreme Court of Justice and Constitutional Court will make RD$400,000.

The top wages for the presidents of the Superior Electoral Court and Central Electoral Board is RD$375,000. The maximum for the president of the Chamber of Accounts is RD$350,000. Ministers, the attorney general, legal advisor and general controller can make up to RD$300,000, while the Public Defender can make up to RD$250,000.

In the central government, the minimum wage is set at RD$7,500 while the top wage is RD$145,000.

Nevertheless, it sets wages for the positions of director general, rector or superintendent, general manager of government institutions to range between RD$170,000 and RD$240,000.

Government wages for high-ranking officials in the Dominican Republic, perks in government and comfort of offices are greater than the usual in the private sector.


Inflation was 1.53% in first quarter 2014
The Central Bank reports that the inflation rate for the first four months of 2014 was 1.53%. Inflation over the past 12 months, from April 2013 to April 2014, was 3.49%. The Central Bank has forecast a 2014 year's end inflation of 4.5% plus minus 1%. The variation in the quarterly inflation rate, measured by the Consumer Price Index, was 0.43% compared to March 2014.


Taiwan donates for vocational training centers
INFOTEP, the government technical training institute, says it received a donation of US$778,300 from the Taiwanese government on Friday, 9 May, for the construction of five installations in San Juan de la Maguana. The new centers will serve the southern region, according to the Ministry of Economy.

Five workshops will be installed with equipment valued at US$2 million to be imported from Taiwan. The equipment will be used to train locals in food and beverage preparation, computer repairs, packaging, welding and green energy technologies. The US$778,300 donation is part of a larger grant of US$1.3 million support package, said Taiwanese embassy spokesman Tomas Ping Fu.

INFOTEP, director general Idionis Perez received the donations. Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas expressed his appreciation to the people and government of Taiwan.


Two million vehicles without insurance on the roads
When driving in the Dominican Republic you may practically be on your own. Despite insurance being obligatory, the Dominican Chamber of Insurance Companies (Cadoar) says only 34% of vehicles in circulation are insured. Of 3,215,773 units registered with the Tax Department, only 1,109,400 are insured, says Cadoar. As a result, according to Caodar, public hospitals have to pick up the bill for treating injured accident victims, or the car owner is fully responsible for the medical procedures and car repairs.

Cadoar says that 69.7% of the vehicles in circulation have insurance, and 30.3% have full insurance, but that only 570,852 motorcyclists have insurance. Motorcyclists are responsible for most traffic accidents in the Dominican Republic. Cadoar wants Law 241 on Ground Transport to be modified to enforce vehicle or motorcycle confiscation for people driving without insurance.

Cadoar says last year they received 79,707 claims and had losses of RD$400 million.

Cadoar is calling for changes to Law 146-02, pointing out that it is a requirement of the DR-CAFTA.

The breakdown of registered motor vehicles is:

Motorcycles: 52.2%, or 1,678,979
Cars: 22.3%, 717,087
Buses: 81,660
SUVs: 312,170
Trucks and pickups: 372,238
Dumpers: 19,165
Heavy machinery: 19,978
Others: 14,496

The statistics indicate that of 3.2 million vehicles, 1.6 million motorcycles are on the roads in the National District, 12.7% in the province of Santo Domingo, 7.7% in La Vega and 60.5% in other provinces.

Of the cars, 41.4% are in the National District, 22.2% in Santo Domingo, 10.8% in Santiago and 25.6% in remaining provinces.

Of the buses, 36.2% circulate in the National District, 24.2% in Santo Domingo, 7.8% in Santiago and 31.8% in the rest of the country.

Of the SUVs, 33.5% is registered in the National District, 18.6% in Santo Domingo, 13.1% in Santiago and 34.8% in the rest of the country.


Grupo SIN at Color Vision
Channel 9 (Color Vision) will be televising productions by Fernando Hasbun and his wife, investigative journalist Alicia Ortega starting today, Monday 12 May. The TV duo used to work at Channel 2 (TeleAntillas) before moving to Channel 7 (Antena Latina) and are now relocating to Channel 9. The new programming at the station with the Grupo SIN productions includes El Despertador with Edith Febles and Marino Zapete at 8am. At 2pm, Noticias SIN newcast. From 7pm-8pm Grupo SIN produces Noticias y mucho mas (News and much more). Journalist Alicia Ortega herself will return to TV from 8 to 9pm with her El Informe investigative journalism show. For the inaugural program, she will present the results of a poll carried out by Penn Schoen & Berland.

Traveling for sex with minors? Think twice
Tourists planning to have sex with minors in the DR should read about 48-year old Vernon Lythcott's recent experience. The New York Daily News reports that he was charged in court in New York for allegedly arranging to have sex with underage girls in the Dominican Republic. After a first trip in January, he was planning to travel here again but his trip was interrupted when he was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. A complaint filed on Friday, 9 May 2014 at the Brooklyn Federal Court indicates that Lythcott, of Brooklyn, had paid two 15-year-old girls to have sex with him for US$80. As reported, a Homeland Security special agent stationed in the DR was tipped off about the tourist and interviewed both victims prior to placing the complaint.

It is a federal crime in the United States for US citizens to travel to other countries to have sex with children, regardless of whether they are breaking the law overseas.

In 2013, 19 people were arrested nationwide on sex tourism charges, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Nine people were convicted in that time period. In the past 10 years, 260 US citizens have been arrested and 205 convicted on sex tourism charges. According to a US Justice report, as many as 80% of child sex tourists in Latin America and 25% in Southeast Asia are US citizens. The Justice report says that US sex tourists travel to certain countries mainly because gaining access to children is frequently aided by parents or organized crime groups and because many predators believe their anonymity, transient status, and, in many cases, the limited attention to such crimes by local law enforcement officials makes their discovery unlikely. Within these countries, predators typically travel to very impoverished areas where they are more likely to be able to pay for access to children.



Joseph Gatti and Adiarys Almeida at the National Theater
The 8th Benefit of World Dance Stars will be held at the National Theater's Carlos Piantini main hall this coming 31 May to 1 June. This time, audiences in Santo Domingo will be able to watch classical dance performances alongside hip-hop. The event is a benefit for the Nest for Angels Foundation for children with cerebral palsy. Internationally renowned Joseph Gatti and Adiarys Almeida, formerly of the Cincinatti Ballet, will dance Bajadere and Nothing, Anna Merkulova and Jon Vallejo will dance Vertigo, and Florian Lochner and Garazzi Perez will dance New Sleep. Dinu Tamazlacaru will dance Le Burgeois and Gopak.

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

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