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Daily News - Thursday, 07 August 2014

Hector Valdez Albizu; GDP grew 5.2%
Hector Valdez Albizu, governor of the Central Bank was the keynote speaker at the Dominican Association of Exporter luncheon yesterday. Valdez Albizu shared with the group the most recent economic statistics of the country and relayed a forecast that total exports would reach US$10 billion in 2014. He said that the economy as detailed in the latest economic reports had grown by 5.2% while the country's accumulated inflation rate was calculated to be 1.93% in the first half of the year.

The Central Bank Governor said that if the current trends in economic growth continue for the rest of the year, the Dominican Republic's economy will easily meet the 5% annual growth as forecast by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). This is double the 2.5% average annual growth rate forecast for the Latin American and Caribbean region for 2014.

Valdez Albizu told his audience that Dominican exports had tripled from 2000 to 2013, primarily due to non-traditional and mining exports, and contributions made by the export manufacturing zones and tourism. He said there have been advances in diversifying exports and opening new markets.

"We are talking about organic and conventional fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, including bananas, avocados, mangos, melons, dry coconuts, and peppers as well rum and beer. Our capacity to increase exports is not limited to food items, we can also become important exporters of cement, steel, plastics, cosmetics and fertilizers, among others," he mentioned.

Valdez Albizu stressed that the new environment that is conducive to exports should motivate other local industries to export their products and services.

He reported that ferronickel exports that were 24.6% of total national exports in 2000, have been supplanted by gold, which accounted for 26% of exports in 2013. The total value of goods exported in the first half of 2014 was estimated to be US$5.00 billion, surpassing the US$4.82 billion of exports in the first half of 2013.

Valdez revealed that in the first half of the year tourism receipts were US$2.98 billion, up 11.7%. Remittances tottaled US$2.26 billion, up 10.2%. Foreign Direct Investment increased to US$1.13 billion, up 15.1% compared to the same period in 2013.

Nevertheless, Valdez Albizu said the challenge is still to create an export culture that will turn the Dominican Republic into a regional export leader so the country can gain access to 900 million consumers through the European Union/EPA agreement and United States and Central America/DR-CAFTA agreement.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.bancentral.gov.do/notas_bc/2014/08/06/519/gobernador-banco-central-informa-exportaciones-totales-de-bienes-superaran-los-us10000-millones-en-2014

Adoexpo says exports up 39% in four years
The president of the Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), Sadhala Khoury said yesterday during the monthly lunch meeting of the group at the Hotel Embajador, that total exports were up US$2.69 billion in 213 compared to figures reported in 2010. Exports increased from US$6,815 million in 2010 to US$9,600 in 2013, a 39.4% increase.

Khoury said the DR exported US33.62 billion between 2010-2013, which indicates that production and export capacity in the Dominican Republic has increased 40% over the last four years.

Khoury expressed hope that that sooner rather than later government officials will understand the responsibility of getting the One-Stop Shop Export Services facilities up and running rests upon their shoulders. These comprehensive export service facilities are vital to create a more competitive and robust export economy.

Read more in Spanish: http://acento.com.do/2014/economia/8162557-adoexpo-afirma-exportaciones-aumentan-39-por-ciento-en-cuatro-anos/

Import permits overwhelm the Minister of Agriculture
In an interview published in El Caribe, Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez acknowledged yesterday that the issuing of import permits by his Ministry has become a plague. Estevez recommended that the processing and granting of import permits should not be at the discretion of the Minister.

He complained that the granting of import permit requests has overwhelmed the Ministry where there have been reports of "irregular business deals" being executed within the government agency in the past.

Estevez would prefer that a structure be created with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Customs Agency, Ministry of Industry of Commerce and the Executive Branch to collectively be responsible to process and issue import permits.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/08/07/ldquolos-permisos-importacion-son-gran-flagelordquo

Verify online if your government contract check is in the system
Controller General Rafael Germosen Andujar says that beginning this August, government contractors will be able to find out if disbursements for procurement and contracts have been made by accessing the controller general website. Germosen Andujar explained the new online platform allows for public providers and contractors to check for certifying of contracts and payments by the Controller General Office.

He made the announcement during the closing event for the First National Congress on Public Management, Risk and Control held this weekend in Punta Cana.

Read more in Spanish:



Half of public school kids to receive a full day of classes
Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret announced that 860,000 students in 1,689 public schools will attend school for the full-day sessions when the new school year starts on Monday, 18 August 2014. He said this represents "a new paradigm for Dominican education."

Amarante Baret said the goal for the 2015-2016 school year is to have 1.7 million of the 1.9 million public school students nationwide attending classes in the extended school day programs that begin at 8am and end at 4pm.

The Minister said that more than 400 new public school buildings have already been integrated into the program since this February. He said more schools will be ready to host the extended day classes before the school year starts.

Finally, Amarante Baret announced that the curriculum and associated school programs would be completely updated and revised in time for the 2015-2016 school year.

JCE announces 862 birth certificates cleared for delivery
Roberto Rosarios of the Dominican Central Electoral Board (JCE) reports that his agency has approved Dominican identity documents be issued for 862 new Dominicans who are descendants of non-resident foreigners. Roberto Rosario said that the birth certificates are being issued based on rulings of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Constitutional Court ruling 168-13 and Naturalization Law 169-14.

He explained that of the 862 cases, 481 are cases that were verified and confirmed, another 381 cases fall under the regulations outlined in in the Naturalization Law 169-14. Rosario commented that another 75 cases will soon be approved, while 62 filings or registrations will be annulled due to falsification of data provided to the JCE.

National Motoconcho Agency: a new government department?
Ines Aizpun writes today in the Diario Libre editorial page about the request of motorcycle taxis that the government authorize that these 'moto-conchos' can charge each passenger a full fare if two passengers share a ride on the motorcycle.

The editor points out that the DR has the dubious distinction of having the world's second highest fatality rates caused by traffic accidents, with 41.7 victims per every 100,000 inhabitants.

She laments that the motorcycle taxis' request is likely to be approved given the fact that it is a highly politicized issue, and the general elections are coming up soon.

Aizpun also observes that the public transport unions frequently blackmail the government with threat to disrupt order, if their demands are not met. She mentions these are the same transport workers that through their monopoly in the transportation sector, subject the public to exorbitant affect the fares and cargo rates, and are responsible for countless accidents on our nation's roads.

Aizpun finds it remarkable that no public official has dared to demand that the transportation union leaders provide explanations for the poor transportation services their members provide or their complete control of the transportation services market.

Aizpun is the first to announce that there is a proposal being considered that would create a new government agency: The National Motoconcho Office. She speculates that this new agency would be a new source of many more government jobs.

Aizpun wonders if its director will arrive on a motorcycle "with two passengers."

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/opinion/2014/08/07/i735591_tres-motor.html

Traffic accidents: epidemic in DR
Andrea Oliver, president of the Dominican Automobile Club (ACD) addressed the Federation of International Automobilism (FIA) Congress on Mobility and Sports meeting in Santo Domingo and highlighted the high cost of traffic accidents in the Dominican Republic. Oliver likened traffic accidents in the Dominican Republic to an epidemic, such as dengue.

The congress is organized by the FIA, ACD and Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and is taking place 6-8 August 2014 at the Hilton in Santo Domingo.

The statistics Oliver presented showed that there are, on average, 4,000 deaths caused by traffic accidents each year. This translates to a rate of more than 40 per 100,000 inhabitants. This high fatality rate is more than double the rate reported for Latin America (16 per 100,000) and five times the fatality rate across Europe (8 deaths per 100,000) per annum.

Speaking at the event, Oliver highlighted the commitment of the ACD to road safety and pointed to specific efforts to increase the awareness of the high number of traffic accidents reported and the importance of reducing these numbers. Oliver said that a combination of deteriorating roads, unsafe vehicles, reckless driving, a lack of use of safety equipment, such as safety belts and protective helmets, and a poorly functioning emergency transportation system for accident victims as the major causes of the high traffic accident death rate in the Dominican Republic.

Oliver noted that road safety is a global problem, with 1.3 million persons losing their lives and 50 million seriously injured every year as a consequence of traffic accidents. He said that by 2020, an estimated 2 million people will die each year in traffic accidents, making it a greater cause of deaths than any pandemic.

"We have to take action, we are part of the problem and we can be part of the solution," said Oliver.

Also speaking at the Congress for the Dominican Republic, the president of FundaRed, Mario Holguin told participants that in the past 36 months (2011 to 2013), the Dominican Republic has lost US$4.09 billion due to the effects of 14,717 traffic accidents during that period. He said that these figures include the loss of lives, property, expenditures in health, damages to environment and other associated socio-economic impacts.

"Each tragic traffic accident costs the country 67 times their GDP per capita because we do not have an effective, comprehensive plan to promote road safety, he said.

Holguin said that part of the problem is the lack of legal and institutional frameworks for the development and implementation of a systematic national road safety plan.

He said road education programs needs to be incorporated into school curricula starting in elementary school. The government should raise the minimum standards required for road safety knowledge for all drivers in the country. In addition, Holguin urged that the public and private sectors work together to develop effective campaigns that stress road safety.

Holguin called for an overhaul of the obsolete Drivers Law 241 that dates back to 1967.

The FIA unites over 235 motoring and motor sport club members in over 140 countries, and serves as a facilitator to communicate and exchange ideas among its 60 million members with a focus on safety and environmentally sound choices for road travel.

The FIA Congress is jointly organized by the Federation of International Automobilism (FIA), the Automovil Club Dominicana (ACD) and the Federacion Dominicana de Automovilismo (FDA). Attending are officers of the Dominican government, Interamerican Development Bank, automobile club members from around the world, FIA Foundation, FIA Institute, International Road Assessment Programme that conducts independent safety assessments of road design in developing countries.



Government alert for entry of ebola
Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo said that airports and ports have been alerted to watch for patients with symptoms of ebola virus. The alert is especially for travelers that could have been in Africa prior to traveling to the DR. There are no direct flights to Africa.



Victor Diaz Rua promotes presidential candidacy of Fernandez
Former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua is campaigning for the presidential candidacy of former President Leonel Fernandez. News reports say that Diaz Rua told PLD members to not commit now to any candidate because the former President and president of the PLD would announce his formal intention at being elected presidential candidate of the party in January 2015. Other PLD political party members have announced their aspirations to be the ruling party's presidential candidate in the May 2016 election.

Diaz Rua is under investigation for corruption in office and money laundering, reports Hoy.

El Nuevo Diario reported that the political groups Mujeres Independientes de Leonel (MIL) and Juventud de Leonel (Judel) have organized propaganda to promote Fernandez's return to the presidency in 2016. JUDEL and MIL announced that on Sunday, 10 August 2014, Leonel Fernandez would preside over a political act with the swearing of thousands of youths to participate in the movement.



DR goes for bronze in Centrobasket 2014
The Dominican Republic national men's basketball team plays Cuba today as it battles for the bronze medal in Centrobasket 2014. Puerto Rico yesterday got the best of the Dominican team, defeating the DR 7-73 in the semi-final round of the tournament. The bronze medal would give the DR a slot to play in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

Bruno Mars coming for Festival Presidente
The Presidente Beer-sponsored Festival Presidente this year goes global and multi-genre. This year there will be pop, electronic music, R&B, rap and other urban music beats together with the Latin beats of salsa, bachata, merengue. On the list of performing artists is US singer-songwriter Bruno Mars. Franklin Leon, president of the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, announced that coming for this year's event, set for 3,4 and 5 October 2014, are Daddy Yankee, Mana (Mexico), Gilberto Santa Rosa (Puerto Rico), DJ Tiesto (Holland), Calle 13 (Puerto Rico) DJ Duck Sauce (US/Canada), Victor Manuelle (US), Wisin y Yandel (US), Prince Royce (US) and Daddy Yankee (US). Participating from the DR are Yiyo Sarante, Alex Matos, Hector Acosta, among others.

The calendar is:

Friday, 3 October: DJ Tiesto, Calle 13, Duck Sauce, Don Miguelo, Vakero, Mozart La Para.

Saturday, 4 October: Bruno Mars, Daddy Yankee, Prince Royce, Chiquito Team Band, Sexappeal, Yiyo Sarante, Alex Matos, Hector Acosta, Miriam Cruz

Sunday, 5 October: Mana, Wisin y Yandel, Anthony Santos, El Mayimbe, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle.



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

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