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Daily News - Thursday, 14 August 2014

President Medina surprise visit to Politecnico Loyola
President Danilo Medina paid a surprise visit to the Instituto Politecnico Loyola yesterday, Wednesday 13 August 2014. The vocational high school is notable for the high quality of its graduates. Students were having lunch in the cafeteria when they noticed that the President was visiting and would be having lunch with them. Inevitably, "selfies" became the order of the day. The lunch was stewed chicken with rice and beans. The cafeteria has capacity for 1,500 students.

Medina was at the Politecnico to formally receive on behalf of the government improvements to the student residence with capacity for 35 students, roof and classrooms, an investment of RD$75 million. He also gave the symbolic ground start for the construction of a three level 30-classroom building, 26 offices and labs, and a module for teacher offices and student center, an additional contribution of RD$93 million. This is in addition to improvements to be made to old classroom buildings, sidewalks, parking area and sports courts, budgeted at RD$46 million. The government is also funding the construction of a Center for Scientific Research and Innovation, budgeted at RD$214 million. A new residence for 70 students will be constructed with a budget for RD$34.5 million.

The institute rector, Jesuit priest Jose Rafael Nunez presented a report on the completed works and with details of the works that would start next month after tenders are held to choose the contractors. He said that the government support would enable the institution to be renewed and brought up-to-date with the new times.

President Medina was accompanied by Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo and San Cristobal provincial authorities, including governor Julio Cesar Diaz, senator Tommy Galan, deputy Nelson Guillen and regional director for the Ministry of Education Jose Hichez.


Online purchases get a break
In an announcement made yesterday, Wednesday 13 August 2014, the Superior Administrative Tribunal (TSA), in charge of resolving disputes concerning government rules and regulations, put on hold taxing Internet purchases below US$200 until the tribunal rules on the matter. On 30 July 2014, the Customs Agency (DGA) had announced all e-commerce purchases would be taxed as of 15 August.

Courier companies, the Dominican Chamber of Electronic Commerce (Cadolec), the Dominican Alliance for the Defense of Consumers (Asodecu) and the Justice and Transparency Foundation (FJT) filed motions at the TSA to stop the measure.

The basic arguments are that the duty free measure was included in Decree 402-05, derogated in Fiscal Reform 253-12. But Law 277-12 reinstated the duty free measure. The defendants say that an administrative notice of Customs Agency cannot override a law, a presidential decree and the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement that establishes expedited treatment for express shipments.

The most vigorous campaign for the implementation of the tax has been led by the shopping mall organization (ONEC) in the Dominican Republic that consider Internet imports unfair competition.

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Administrative Tribunal puts coal-fired plants on hold
The Superior Administrative Tribunal (TSA) has suspended the construction of the two coal-fired power plants under the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE). TSA president Delfina de Leon said that the tribunal had accepted the motion filed in December 2013 by the Chinese Gezhouba Group Company Limited against the CDEEE, the tender winning companies Odebrecht, Tecnimount and Ingenieria Estrella, along with the General Procurement Office. The motion says that the tender was for a maximum of US$1.5 billion and the work was assigned for US$2.4 million.


Edesur: Existing power capacity costs too much!
Edesur general manager Ruben Montas says that the power suppliers are telling half- truths when they claim there is sufficient installed capacity to fully supply the country's energy demands. Edesur is one of the three power distribution companies that source power from the generators.

Montas said that energy whose cost the population cannot afford is almost as if it did not exist, as reported in the Listin Diario.

He said if the power suppliers would offer power at US$0.14 all the supply would be purchased. However, he says it is impossible to purchase power sold at US$0.30 and US$0.40 to then sell it to consumers at US$0.20.

Montas encouraged all sectors to take part in the preparation of the Electricity Pact. He criticized the way that proposals are being made prior to the signing of the pact. He said the biggest challenge is to make everyone realize that the electricity issue is a problem for all the country, because economic growth will not be possible without more electricity.

Montas said that they are now collecting 98.1% of power served, up from 65.1% at the start of the Medina administration. He said that losses have been reduced to 29%.


Youth problems are big challenge
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in the Dominican Republic Sonia Vasquez focused on the challenges ahead for the Dominican Republic where 38% of the population (around 3.7 million people) is between 10 and 29 years of age. She said that the segment most affected by unemployment is young people and that 24.4% of teenagers do not graduate from high school.

Vasquez said that despite a slight decrease, the teenage pregnancy rate is still one of the highest in the region.

She said that investment in young people is urgently needed.



Fiscal reform has caused glut of expensive apartments
The Builders and Housing Promoters Association (Acroprovi) president Fermin Acosta has denied there is a real estate bubble at present in the country. Acosta said that there is a surplus of unsold units in the upper middle class segment. He attributed this to Fiscal Reform Law 253-12, which eliminated the individual exemption up to RD$5 million for real estate and replaced it with a global exemption per person for all property up to RD$6.5 million. Furthermore, he said that the existence of the Rental Law 4314-55 does not encourage people to purchase apartments for rent. The Rental Law is slanted heavily in favor of tenants.



Work accident funds now at RD$18.47 billion
The Construction Promoters Association (Acoprovi) has its eyes on the RD$18.47 billion deposited with the government in labor accident funds. Acroprovi wants to convince the government to let them use the funds to build and sell low-cost housing, as reported in Diario Libre.

The funds are under the Fondos de la Administradora de Riesgos Laborales Salud Segura (ARLSS) that has paid out RD$1.4 billion from 2004 to 2013 and accumulated the difference. The funds are deposited as of 30 June 2014 RD$13.4 billion in the Central Bank, RD$2.77 billion in the National Housing Bank (BNV), and RD$84 million in the Banco de Reservas.


Major cement congress to be held in Santo Domingo
The 31st Technical Cement Congress, organized by the Inter-American Cement Federation (Ficem) will take place in Santo Domingo from 8 to 11 September 2014. It is being organized by the Dominican Association of Portland Cement Producers (Adocem) together with the companies Argos, Domicen, Cemex and Cementos Cibao. Around 300 delegates from Latin America are expected to attend the event along with the Dominican hosts. The meeting will present new technologies to make cement production more efficient with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and climate change.

Ficem represents the cement industry in Latin America and the Caribbean and is represented in 25 regional countries, with an annual production of around 157 million tons of cement, for around 5.2% of the world production, as reported in Hoy.

Adocem chairman Carlos Gonzalez said the DR had been chosen because in recent years it has become the country with the greatest cement production capacity per capita in the American continent, above major producers such as Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

The DR has gone from being a cement importer to be self-sufficient and exporting around 30% of its production, Gonzalez said in a press conference held yesterday, Wednesday 13 August 2014 to announce the upcoming congress. The DR has increased production from around 866 thousand metric tons in 1978 to around seven million metric tons today.


Documentation center brings "hell" to Gazcue
Residents of Cayetano Rodriguez and Juan Sanchez Ramirez streets in the Santo Domingo neighborhood of Gazcue have expressed outrage at what they describe as the "chaos" caused by the opening of a documentation center for Haitian nationals. According to a report in El Nacional the center has them living in "hell". Local residents called for the Haitian Embassy to relocate the office immediately. They say they can no longer sleep due to the noise, and complain of a lack of sanitation in the area since the center was opened.

The center has a capacity to serve 30 people, but more than 800 are reported to show up every day. Due to a lack of bathroom facilities, the visitors urinate on the sidewalks, nearby trees and electricity posts, says the report. Outdoor food sales are also affecting hygiene in the area.


Army officers commended for Clifford Brandt arrest
Army Commander In Chief Major General Ruben Paulino Sem has praised First Lieutenant Manuel Benitez Montero, Sergeant Major Cornelio Santana Ferreras and Sergeant Pedro Encarnacion Carrasco for the capture of Haitian fugitive and convicted kidnapper Clifford Brandt together with two other fugitives (Jaroli Morinvil and Toussaint Richardson) who had escaped from the Croix-des-Bouquets jail to the northeast of Port-au-Prince.

The military officers received letters of recognition for their performance at the Army headquarters yesterday, Wednesday 13 August 2014.

The Haitian fugitives were arrested when found without documentation near Hondo Valle in the southwestern DR. They were sent to Jimani for formal handover to the Haitian authorities. The men were captured following a major intelligence effort to prevent the Haitian fugitives from entering Dominican territory.

Border patrols were stepped up following the notification that 329 men had escaped from the jail.


DR to play Team USA in basketball
The Dominican Republic national men's basketball team will play Team USA at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on 20 August 2014. This is a warm-up game for the FIBA World Championships in Madrid from 30 August to 14 September.

The United States is in Group C along with Finland, the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Turkey, and Ukraine. If it doesn't win the World Cup, then it will have to play in the 2015 qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics.

The DR will play Team USA on 3 September.

Ed Kowalczyk at Hard Rock Cafe
Ed Kowalczyk, the lead singer and main songwriter for the band Live, is performing at the Hard Rock Cafe at Blue Mall in Santo Domingo this evening, Thursday 14 August 2014. 8pm. 4th floor, Blue Mall, Winston Churchill and Gustavo Mejia Ricart avenues. Tickets: RD$1,500-RD$2,500.

Listen to his music at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVPA3k9HdMM&list=PL8D835452D6A38DE7

Bossa de Brazil at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
For a magical evening of good jazz with Ritmos de la Noche - El Bossa de Brazil, check out Santo Domingo's Dominican Fiesta Hotel penthouse lounge for the Fiesta Sunset Jazz event tomorrow evening Friday, 15 August starting at 8pm. Dancing.

Urbanova at the National Theater
The Bachata es Bossa concert will take place at the Aida Bonnelly concert hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo tomorrow evening, Friday 15 August 2014. Well known bachata songs have been arranged into bossa nova for the concert. Urbanova is known for its musical fusions. Tickets are RD$500 at the National Theater.


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

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