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Daily News - Thursday, 26 June 2014

MINERD sifts through teaching candidates
The Ministry of Education (Minerd) is in the process of adding 800,000 more students to the Extended School Day Program. The education authorities are assessing candidates for between 6,000 and 7,000 teaching posts within the system. Deputy Minister Luis Matos and Human Resources director Vivian Baez told Listin Diario that their original target for the coming school year was to add 600,000 to the current 200,000 students in the Extended School Day Program. However, they said that the goals were changed to try and add 800,000 to the current group for a total of nearly a million students in the full day program. They added that 21,000 candidates were considered during the 2014 Eighth Contest for Teaching Posts. The greatest shortage is of science and mathematics teachers, followed by secondary school teachers. This is only the second time that there has been a contest for high school teachers. As a side note, Deputy Minister Matos said that 50% of the candidates failed the test on logic with one candidate scoring a 0 (zero) and others scoring perfect 20s in the test. Candidates have to have at least a bachelor's degree and go through the selection process.

Central American health ministers meet in Santo Domingo
Health ministers from Central America and the Dominican Republic are meeting in Santo Domingo today, Thursday 26 June 2014, to discuss advances in health care in the region. The 40th Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic (COMISCA in Spanish) is being held as part of a series of events during the Dominican Republic's pro tempore presidency of the Central American Integration System (SICA). Ministers from Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Belize have confirmed their attendance, along with representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Pan-American Health Organization, and development agencies USAID from the United States and JICA from Japan.

The Ministers will focus on health priorities and advances in the work of the technical commissions.

The meetings are being held on the eve of the meeting of heads of state and government of the Central American Integration System (SICA) that will open on Friday, 27 June 2014 in Punta Cana.

IDB approves U$100 million for improved health care
The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a $100 million dollar loan for the health sector in the Dominican Republic. According to Listin Diario, the loan is to increase "spending efficiency in the sector and improve the quality of the services provided to the country's poorest people." The loan is part of a line of credit for investment projects that could go as high as US$300 million. The program objective is to improve the administrative capacity of the services by expanding the financial model based on the results of Public Health "0" region (Santo Domingo, Monte Plata and the National District). The program will benefit some 900,000 people, which, according to the IDB, represents 29% of the poor in the Caribbean nation. Priority will be given to primary care and preventive care.

OAS gives Haitian President Martelly a plan
Michel Martelly visited the offices of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Wednesday 25 June 2014, and was received by secretary general Jose Miguel Insulza. One item on their agenda was the election process in Haiti and another was the plan of action to support Haiti's plan to provide identification documents to Haitians who are living illegally in the Dominican Republic. The OAS leader gave President Martelly an action plan to support the Government of Haiti in providing identification for Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic without documentation. The action plan was prepared at the request of President Danilo Medina and the Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe. The "Diagnostic for the Identification of Haitian Migrants Residing in the Dominican Republic," drafted by the OAS Universal Civil Identity Program in the Americas (PUICA), proposes concrete steps to provide birth certificates and National Identification Cards to an estimated 200,000 undocumented Haitian migrants living and working in the Dominican Republic. The project, which is expected to last for a year and a half, will include 23 offices and a mobile unit to reach remote communities. Providing legal documentation to Haitian migrants represents the first step in the regularization of their residency status in the Dominican Republic.

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Deputies reject modifications of proposed Loma Miranda National Park
After four hours of debate yesterday, Wednesday 25 June 2014, the Chamber of Deputies voted to reject the modifications made by the Senate to their bill to create a National Park at Loma Miranda. 96 deputies voted against and 39 voted in favor, while nine abstained. Most of the positive votes came from the PRD deputies. The deputies approved the original proposal but the senators modified the bill by identifying the funding sources for reimbursing the Falcondo Company and the other landowners as well as expanding the park boundaries. The legislation now goes back to the Senate for approval, and if the Senate rejects it, the proposal will be discarded.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Special Commission that studied the legislative proposal on the Loma Miranda National Park, Rafael Calderon, said that the modifications made by the Chamber of Deputies have rendered the legislation un-Constitutional. He cited articles 51 and 237 of the Constitution. The deputies rejected the Senate provisos that indicated the funding source for the acquisition of the lands from the property owners. Calderon also noted that the version approved by the deputies violated the General Law of the Environment.

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CONEP says government increases informal jobs
Yesterday, Wednesday 25 June, the National Business Council (Conep) accused the government administrations over the past decade for being responsible for the large percentage of informal workers in the country (65%). Conep president Manuel Diez Cabral said that the administrations of the past ten years, headed by the same party that currently holds the reins of the state (PLD), has been more concerned about creating public employment than about conducting the structural reforms that companies need in order to create job vacancies that the people require. During his contributions as the keynote speaker at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmChamDR) Monthly Luncheon, the business leader recalled that since 2004, for each formal job created in the country, there are 14 informal positions, and he maintained that the state generated 70% of those formal jobs during that same period.

Referring to the need for a pact on formal employment that includes several structural reforms, Diez Cabral said that instead of correcting the causes that have reduced the capacity of business to create formal employment that the country needs, the state has concentrated on increasing public sector jobs and increasing social welfare programs and subsidies. "Public decision makers have been more agile in creating new state agencies than in promoting changes in the public policies that control the most sensitive areas of our economy," stated the representative of one of the country's most influential business organizations.

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Chief Justice denies rumors
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) and the Judicial Branch Council (CPJ) chairman Mariano German Mejia has denied rumors that he was planning to resign his post due to ill-health. The magistrate said that the rumor that he was suffering from an illness that would make it impossible to continue with his work at the head of the high court and the CPJ was false. German Mejia is also the head of the National Judiciary School and the National Public Defenders Office. "I am carrying out the roles that I took on when I accepted the responsibility of this position, and I will be here until I finish the corresponding period," German Mejia told reporters. He said that only in the event of force majeure, a situation over which he has no control, "would we put aside the work that was assigned to me in December 2011." The Chief Justice of the SCJ has been fulfilling a tight agenda of activities typical of his position, and he stressed that he has never been known for putting aside the commitments and responsibilities that he took on, regardless of the hardships that this may entail. His term as presiding judge of the SCJ will be up in December 2018.

Chikungunya is really here: 136,000 possible cases
The country has registered 136,835 suspected cases of the Chikungunya virus, including 30,519 new cases, of which eight are confirmed, the Public Health Ministry Central Epidemiology Directorate reported yesterday, Wednesday 25 June. The suspicious deaths attributed to the disease are still at three, and the rate of incidence is 1,318 per 100,000 inhabitants. The epidemiological report says that the laboratory at the Center for the Control and Prevention of Diseases confirmed the presence of the virus in 18 provinces. The authorities, with the aim of learning about the impact of the epidemic, recently carried out a survey with a sample of 942 passengers on the two lines of the Santo Domingo Metro, which showed that 68% (648) of households in the Greater Santo Domingo area have had at least one suspected case of the virus and that 44% of individuals have presented symptoms that are compatible with the disease, while only 3% required hospitalization. They also measured the absenteeism among workers and schoolchildren, and the results showed a 29% level in the first case and a 20% level in the second case. In another statement, Public Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo said that the virus only occurs once, although its effects could last for several months.

Two down and many more to go
This week, the courts in Santiago de los Caballeros have sentenced two men to the maximum 30-year sentence for killing their former wives or girlfriends. In one case, a university professor who killed his former girlfriend and threw her body into the canal was sentenced to pay three million pesos in damages to the family of Miosotis Cabrera Hernandez. Witnesses had identified the murderer and the victim as they walked along the canal in Navarrete. On Monday, 23 June 2014 the judges of the First Collegiate Tribunal of Santiago sentenced a man who had fled to the United States after killing his former wife in Licey al Medio. However the Justice Department managed to get him extradited and he was arrested and charged as soon as he got off the plane. He also received a 30-year sentence.

A century of art in the Dominican Republic
Art lovers will have an opportunity to view 200 works from the Fernando Baez Guerrero art collection later this month.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced the opening of an exhibition showing the collection on Wednesday, 25 June 2014. "A Century of Modern Art in the Dominican Republic" features 93 Dominican artists. The exhibition curator is Amable Lopez Melendez who says that the works of art have been divided into four halls. One area shows works that are characterized for their elasticity and eclecticism. Other works are grouped from 1914-1950, 1950-1970, and 1980-2010.

The Museum of Modern Art is located in Plaza de la Cultura at Av. Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo.

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

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