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Daily News - Thursday, 24 July 2014

Medina: No surprise visits in August
President Danilo Medina will take a day off this coming Sunday, 27 July 2014, which is Father's Day in the Dominican Republic, and he plans to use the first three Sundays in August to inaugurate newly built or remodeled public schools. The schools need to be ready in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year on 18 August.

Works advance on remodeling of Dario Contreras
The Office of Supervisor Engineers of the Presidency (OISOE) has announced that improvement works underway at the Dario Contreras Public Hospital are making good progress. Most of the country's trauma cases are treated at the hospital, which is located in Santo Domingo East. Engineer Miguel Pimentel Kareh of OISOE says that works in the neurosurgery area are advanced and the newly-equipped block with what he described as "world class installations" should be ready by September 2014. The emergency area will then be modernized.


Build two border hospitals in Haiti
President Danilo Medina has asked the European Union for support to build two large hospitals for Haitian citizens on the border with Haiti. This is aimed at increasing the coverage and quality of health services to Dominicans and Haitians in the border regions. The request is for the European Union to contribute equipment and medical staff to ease the burden of providing health services to Haitian nationals, which currently falls on the Dominican Republic. It is estimated that 80% of the medical services in Dominican border provinces are for Haitians that live in the DR or in Haiti. The request is for the hospitals to be built in Haiti.

Ruling to implement naturalization law is issued
The Medina administration has published Decree 250-14 with the ruling for the implementation of Naturalization Law 169-14. The law establishes a special regime for people born in the Dominican Republic but irregularly registered in the Dominican civil registry and on naturalization. The approved version establishes more precautions against fraud compared to an earlier version.

The ruling is especially flexible in defining who qualifies for Dominican nationality. The ruling allows for a 90-day window to qualify for the benefits of the law. The law offers free naturalization process for all who qualify. A naturalization process can cost upwards of US$1,000 in legal fees. The ruling will be applied by the Ministry of Interior and Police.

The ruling requires public hospitals or private clinics to record the mother's name, and the baby's gender and date of birth. However, the government will also accept sworn statements from seven Dominican witnesses indicating the date and place of the birth, the baby's name and the parents' names.

The government will also accept a sworn statement before a notary public from the midwife who delivered the baby indicating the date and place of birth and the mother's name, and a sworn statement before a notary public from Dominican relatives in first or second degree who have Dominican nationality.

Parents or legal guardians can also request the naturalization of children, but the child must be present during the application.





Biden, Ban Ki-moon and Van Rompuy pressure Dominican government
In the past 30 days, high-ranking officials from the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have visited the country and made recommendations for the Dominican Republic to apply a humane solution to the plight of hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the Dominican Republic who do not have legal documentation, according to a report in El Nacional.

The first to visit was US Vice President Joe Biden, followed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.

They have all made the same request: for the Dominican government to put aside its sovereignty and be compassionate for of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Haiti who do not have legal documentation. The main reason for this situation is that the government of Haiti has been negligent about providing birth certificates or legal documentation to its own citizens, which has led to major problems when they have migrated to a country where legal identity is needed.

El Nacional points out how in a period of less than a month several special envoys have come to campaign for the Dominican Republic to naturalize these people at no cost and with just a neighborhood group or witnesses found to pledge they were born in the Dominican Republic. The Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 states that only offspring born to foreigners with legal residency qualify for Dominican nationality. The Dominican government is offering a fast-track residency process, but in order to qualify the applicants need to have birth certificates and passports issued by the Haitian government.


BanReservas to help people restore their credit
The government commercial bank, BanReservas has announced new facilities for restoring credit rating to people who due to different circumstances have been banned from using banking services. Enrique Ramirez Paniagua of BanReservas said that people with bad credit could attend the Finances School to learn how to manage their finances correctly and take part in a reinsertion program that includes savings and credit products adapted to each individual's needs. He said that more than 54% of Dominicans do not use banking services, according to research by the Spanish firm Tecnocom. He said that a large percentage of the people who do use banking services have a credit score that is below the levels required by financial institutions for offering them credit.


Andres Gluski: export natural gas to Caribbean
The chief executive officer of AES Corporation, Andres Gluski spoke out for the Dominican Republic yesterday, Wednesday 23 July 2014 during a hearing on "US-Dominican Republic Relations: Bolstering Economic Growth and Energy Independence" held by the US House of Representatives Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Dominican Republic wants to be included among beneficiary countries to import natural gas from the United States.

The US House of Representatives has approved Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act to expedite natural gas sales. The bill now must pass in the Senate. Advocates of the approval stress it will reduce US imports, increase export revenues and serve as a geopolitical instrument for the country.

Natural gas from the United States would be sold below the price that LNG is purchased at from OPEC-member countries.

Making the case for the DR to qualify for importing natural gas from the United States, the president of AES Corporation Andres Gluski stressed the importance of natural gas already has in the DR where it has reduced dependence on imported oil from 71% to 36%. The DR imports most of its oil from Venezuela. The Dominican Republic is one of only 15 countries in the world and the only one in an emerging market to have an LNG terminal, in operation since 2003. Gluski said the use of LNG represents savings of more than half a billion dollars per year for the DR.

In his statements before the US House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Gluski said that in 2013 the LNG terminal supplied enough natural gas to generate 31% of all electricity produced in the DR. He pointed out that when fully utilized, the AES LNG terminal could supply enough natural gas to produce 45% of the country's electricity needs. He said for this to happen, a second storage tank to the existing LNG facility would need to be built to support another 1,000 MW of generation capacity or enough energy to power an additional two million households per year.

Gluski stressed the geopolitical importance of conversion to natural gas and says it is an opportunity to transform the Caribbean. "Dependence on foreign oil with its high volatility and high prices has contributed to the economic and political instability of the Caribbean," he stated. He made the point that the financial assistance that Petrocaribe has provided countries in the Caribbean and Central America in 2013 totaled US$1.9 billion, including US$470 million for the DR, US$370 million for Jamaica and US$220 million for Haiti.

Gluski proposed: "Providing these countries with natural gas from an efficient hub in the Dominican Republic could alleviate the uncertainty of continued dependence on Petrocaribe".

The chief executive of AES Corporation says that by expanding the current AES LNG infrastructure, the DR could become the center of a "hub and spoke" system whereby LNG would be imported from the US in large, efficient tankers and then re-exported in smaller volumes, likely as LNG or as compressed natural gas to various Caribbean islands.

He stressed that studies have shown that the LNG infrastructure in the DR provides an opportunity to transform the Caribbean's energy matrix. He mentioned the DR's geographically strategic location in the Caribbean, that it is a Free Trade Agreement country close to several of the proposed US LNG exporting terminals.

Gluski also stressed that the Caribbean was a better option for US exporters because it will be significantly less expensive to ship US LNG to the Caribbean than to more distant markets in Europe and Asia.



Flavio Dario Espinal: TPP gives Vietnam unfair trade advantage
Speaking at the US House of Representatives Sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere hearing on energy yesterday, Wednesday 23 July 2014, former Dominican ambassador in Washington Flavio Dario Espinal called for attention from the US Congress to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) under discussion in the US Congress. He made the point that the TPP contains certain rules that will undermine recent gains in the apparel industry not only in the DR but also in some Central American countries. "The TPP will allow Vietnam to import yarns and fabric from, say, China, which will reduce its production costs enormously, which, in turn, will give Vietnam an unfair competitive edge against the Dominican Republic and some Central American countries in the US market," said Espinal.


Big government holds back changes for industries
Ligia Bonetti, president of the Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD) says that most of the government's plans for reforming industrial policies and the sector are merely papers and meetings, with little action being taken to improve the country's competitiveness. AIRD representatives told the Corripio news group editors that they have met with several government entities on numerous occasions to discuss the changes needed to improve production and increase exports and jobs, but only promises have been received. They have not met with the government since February. The manufacturers are concerned that by the end of 2015 most exports from the United States will enter the DR without tariffs.


Unemployment in DR is above regional levels
Legislator Victor (Ito) Bisono says that the economic model in the Dominican Republic is based on political patronage. This he says has resulted in instability that can only worsen in the future. He warned that the International Labor Organization's July statistics show that the regional unemployment rate in Latin America and Caribbean is 6%, while in the DR it is 15%. Bisono says the high unemployment rate has been the same over the past decade and forecasts are for it to continue to grow. In recent years, the government has created 70% of the jobs in the formal sector. Most Dominicans currently work in informal jobs.

The PRSC legislator says that the current economic model is sustained by the government taking on debt, deficit spending, political patronage and a state that competes with the private sector. He concludes that this has resulted in the country having a higher jobless rate than the regional average for Latin America and the Caribbean.


Government owes power generators US$706.7 million
The Dominican Association of Electricity Industries (ADIE) says that the Medina administration as of 20 July was in arrears with them for US$601.4 million. The total debt is US$706.7 million.

Open Mobile moves call center to Dominican Republic
Puerto Rican telecoms operator Open Mobile has dismissed 50 employees following the company's decision to migrate its call center to the Dominican Republic. Open Mobile provides mobile telephony services in Puerto Rico through both 3G and 4G LTE technologies. Open Mobile is owned by M/C Partners and Columbia Capital, which acquired Movistar's assets in Puerto Rico in 2007.


Monte Rio Summer Music Fest in Azua
Less than an hour and a half west of Santo Domingo, Azua has many beaches. Now the Ministry of Tourism, Presidente, Barcelo and Pepsi are sponsoring a series of Latin music concerts on the 2km-long Monte Rio Beach featuring El Poeta Callejero, Kinito Mendez, Melymel, Grupo Diamante, Silvio Mora, Mozart la Para, La Grena, Kelly Banda and Yiyo Sarante. The concerts are scheduled for every last Sunday of the month from July to September. Jessica Mordechay says the initiative is part of several events that are being organized by the youth organization Atrevete por Azua y para Azua (Dare for the Sake of Azua and for Azua) with the backing of the Ministry of Tourism.

The first concert will be on Sunday, 27 July with El Poeta Callejero, Kinito Mendez and Grupo Diamante. The second is scheduled for Sunday 31 August with Mozart La Para, Ala Jaza and Kelly Banda.

A third concert will take place on Sunday, 28 September with Melymel, Yiyo Sarante, and La Grena y su Super Banda.

The Dare for the Sake of Azua and for Azua group is a civic-social movement made up of people who were born in Azua or who care for Azua and who seek to make contributions to development through solutions for specific problems affecting the community.

For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

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