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Daily News - Monday, 07 July 2014

No for now to San Juan-Santiago highway
The Medina administration has announced that it will not go ahead with the construction of the proposed highway between San Juan de la Maguana and Santiago. Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said there is no longer time to build the highway, initially budgeted at US$400 million. The Medina administration has said it would not start any works if there was not enough time for their completion. The proposed route for the controversial highway cuts through several national parks and was strongly criticized by environmental experts.

Castillo said that the road between Monsenor Nouel province and the Cruce de Ocoa would be completed with the construction of the Sabana Lara-Rancho Arriba, Rancho Arriba-Juan Adrian and Juan Adrian-Piedra Blanca stretches, as reported in El Dia.

Read more in Spanish: http://eldia.com.do/carretera-cibao-sur-seguira-en-los-papeles/

Import taxation up
The Customs Agency has reported a 17% increase in revenue during the first six months of 2014. Customs revenue totaled RD$37.26 billion, up from RD$31.83 billion for the same January-June period in 2013.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.listindiario.com/economia-and-negocios/2014/7/7/328838/Recaudaciones-DGA-crecieron-un-1707

Competitiveness Council urges passing of Export Bank bill
The National Competitiveness Council is calling for Congress to pass the bill that creates the Dominican Export Bank (Bandex) during this legislative session. Andres van der Horst Alvarez said the project is important for national development. The bill needs to pass in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. Van der Horst says that legislators should change an article that would enable the government to make use of 10% of the pension fund, as reported in Diario Libre.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/economia/2014/07/07/i688121_consejo-nacional-competitividad-pide-congreso-nacional-aprobar-bandex.html

Visit Merca Santo Domingo and get your cedula
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has installed an identification station at Merca Santo Domingo, the Greater Santo Domingo wholesale produce market. All nationals need to renew their IDs, as reported in Listin Diario.

The free service is available from Mondays to Saturdays from 8am to 4pm and on Sundays from 9am to 2pm.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.listindiario.com/la-republica/2014/7/7/328867/JCE-instaura-centro-cedulacion-en-el-Merca-Santo-Domingo

Open consultations on Naturalization Law 169-14 ruling
The government is inviting citizens to send in their viewpoints on the ruling proposed for the Naturalization Law 169-14. The law establishes a 60-day timeframe for the ruling for the law's implementation to be issued. The law establishes a special regime for people born in the national territory who were irregularly registered in the Dominican civil registry and on naturalization.

The ruling establishes the Medina administration's commitment to provide staff and material resources for the free procedure to be carried out by the Ministry of Interior and Police, its 90-day timeframe, the procedures themselves, to be carried out for naturalization. The ruling lists the types of evidence of birth in DR territory that will be accepted.

The Legal Advisor to the Presidency gives a 10-day period starting 7 July 2014 through 18 July at 6pm for citizens to comment and make recommendations.

The text of the ruling can be downloaded and read on the Legal Advisor to the Presidency website at http://www.consultoria.gov.do/listadet.php?codigo=140

Sugar bagasse to generate energy in San Pedro de Macoris
The National Energy Commission has announced the start of construction of the San Pedro Bio Energy plant in San Pedro. The plant will generate 30 megawatts of electricity using bagasse, a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process, from the Cristobal Colon sugar mill in San Pedro de Macoris. It will be the largest biomass generator in the country. San Pedro Bio Energy president Edgar Pichardo says the project will generate energy using biomass, producing steam to power the Cristobal Colon operation and electricity. Any surplus will be exported to the national grid. Pichardo said the plant should be operational by September 2015.

Hard Rock Cafe now open at Blue Mall
The Hard Rock Cafe has announced it has opened a new restaurant on the 4th floor of Blue Mall, the Santo Domingo shopping and entertainment plaza located at the Winston Churchill with Gustavo Mejia Ricart intersection. The new Hard Rock Cafe covers an area of 1,000 square meters and is open for organization of events. Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo has closed its Colonial City venue.

JetBlue announces summer rates
Jet Blue is advertising promotional tariffs for travel abroad from Santo Domingo or Santiago to New York's John F. Kennedy airport. The rates are being offered because the flow of incoming traffic is greater in July when hundreds of thousands of Dominicans travel home for their summer vacations. The JetBlue rates are US$144 one way with taxes included on the SDQ or STI to JFK routes.

Changes proposed to legislators' perks
A proposal to reduce the overly generous perks received by legislators in the Dominican Republic is doing the rounds. The proposal exposes some of the privileges that come with the job of legislator.

Legislators in the Dominican Republic are entitled to rule in their own favor, and have done so generously over the years at the taxpayers' cost.

An editorial in acento.com.do quotes the proposal. The recommendations include one for legislators to be paid their wages only during the term for which they were elected, and not for life, as at present. It also suggests that they contribute to social security, in the same way as other salaried employees. Another proposal is for legislators to pay for their own retirement plans, as all other Dominicans do, and not to expect taxpayers to fit the bill for their generous retirement plans. It also establishes that the legislators should not be able to vote for any increase in their wages and for the immediate elimination of the notorious slush funds. The slush fund (known as 'el barrilito') provides extraordinary funds for Mother's Day, Easter, etc. It proposes that the legislators will have to contribute to the same healthcare plan as all other citizens, instead of having their own special one. It proposes that the legislators should comply with the same laws and obligations as all Dominicans, and proposes a maximum of two legislative terms per legislator.

Read more in Spanish: http://acento.com.do/2014/opinion/editorial/8153057-propuesta-para-cambiar-los-privilegios-de-los-legisladores/

San Francisco de Macoris mayor accused of RD$400 million fraud
The Specialized Prosecutors for Administrative Corruption (PEPCA) are calling for the opening of the trial of San Francisco de Macoris Mayor Felix Manuel Rodriguez Grullon who is accused of misuse of RD$400 million together with three other officials, as reported in 7dias.com.do

The other accused are officials Jerson Neris Lizardo Perez, in charge of payroll at the municipality, treasurer Fior D'liza Genao Hernandez, and an accomplice, Ana Hilda Bobie Aquino de Lizardo.

PEPCA director Laura Guerrero Pelletier says that they are accused of committing crimes including conspiracy with government officials, document forgery, fraud, bribery, and association with criminal intent.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.7dias.com.do/portada/2014/07/07/i167521_procuraduria-pide-juicio-contra-alcalde-sfm-por-malversar-mas-rd400.html

Protests at lenient sentence for police colonel's murder
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito says he will appeal the 10-year sentence for UASD student Hector Eduardo Pichardo Hernandez, convicted of having fired the shot that killed police colonel Julian Suarez Cordero during unrest at the state university. The police colonel was unarmed at the time. The judges hearing the case at the Third Collegiate Court of the National District, Natividad Ramona Santos, Rafael Pacheco and Arlin Ventura discharged the other accused students (Wilson Daciel Javier Nicasio, Diogenes Isidro Gutierrez, Victor Alfonso Gonzalez Hernandez and Eddy Giovanny Bonilla Cabrera) for lack of evidence.

The murdered colonel's son, Elvis Julian Sanchez, said the family had received dozens of threatening calls during the legal process urging them to drop the charges.

Saharan dust adds to summer heat
The Dominican Republic is experiencing particularly hot summer weather. The meteorological agency (ONAMET) says that dust from the Sahara is affecting the Caribbean region bringing a blanket of haze. Drought is also affecting the country and its water supplies. Onamet director Gloria Ceballos warned that the Saharan dust could cause respiratory problems and eye inflammation in some cases. The tiny particles are also known to contribute to cardiovascular problems as well as respiratory diseases like asthma, especially in children.

Over the weekend, the effects of the heat wave were relieved by brief but very welcome showers caused by a trough passing over the country.

Onamet is forecasting high temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius for Greater Santo Domingo and lows of 24-26C in the early mornings.

Zarzuela Luisa Fernanda to the National Theater
The main hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo will be the venue for a production of the Spanish zarzuela "Luisa Fernanda" on Friday, 8 August and Saturday 9 August. This is a production of the Sociedad Pro Arte Latinoamericano. Zarzuela is a traditional Spanish operetta with dancing, singing, and drama all in one. The main roles will be played by Cuban-American mezzo-soprano Mabel Ledo (Luisa Fernanda), Venezuelan baritone Gaspar Colon (Vidal Hernando), Dominican tenor Edgar Perez (Javier Moreno) and Puerto Rican soprano Melliangee Perez.

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

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