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Daily News - Wednesday, 20 August 2014

President Medina unenthusiastic about re-election
President Danilo Medina had always stated that he was in government for the four-year term for which he was elected. The 2010 Constitution bans consecutive presidential re-election.

During a one-hour-and-a-half press conference for journalists covering the Presidency held at the Presidential Palace on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Medina administration yesterday, Tuesday, 19 August 2014, President Medina nevertheless left open the possibility of his seeking re-election, but stated he would do what the party decided. Earlier in the press conference, he had clearly stated that his three daughters opposed his seeking a consecutive term.

He explained that he is two years from the end of his government and that it is normal for the subject of re-election to come up. In the past, despite the constitutional mandate, other Presidents have sought to make changes to the Constitution to allow them to seek re-election. At present, posters are on display across the country and groups are campaigning for his re-election. At this two-year point in government, President Medina is said to have an unprecedented 80-90% popularity rate.

"I believe that I should adhere to the term, and once the time is right, I will issue my opinion, if it is still required on the matter," the President told journalists.

In the same press conference, Medina said he is a PLD party man and would honor the mandates of the party.

Answering a question earlier in the press conference on the effects of the Presidency on his family, he told reporters:

"I come from politics. I got involved in politics as a teenager; I was in politics with FUSD at the UASD. When I got married I was already a legislator, a member of the PLD Central Committee."

He explained that when his daughters were born he was an absent father, but his daughters participated in his presidential political campaign through a youth group. Nevertheless, he said his three daughters don't want their father to continue as President. They are not power-inclined and do not like to be the center of attention. He said that his family accepts him, and knows he has a commitment and wants to do well.

"I didn't reach the Presidency as a novice. I came with a lot of experience. I had been a deputy for 10 years, president of the Chamber of Deputies. I knew the country and politics. On two occasions I had been minister of the Presidency. That is why I was able to get started right away. I am aware of the responsibility I have and what is expected of a President - greater levels of responsibility and commitment to the people. Not everyone is collectively inclined. Most of the population has eyes only for their individual interests. One has to serve both, and know what is paramount," he said.

See the complete press conference at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHi5E2KdEXY

Medina backs coal-fired plants deal
President Danilo Medina has spoken out in favor of continuing government plans for the construction of two coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 674 megawatts. The first of the plants is due to enter into operation in 2017. The government argues that the plants will provide power at a much lower cost, thus forcing power generation companies to reduce the cost of the electricity that they currently sell to Dominican power distributors. The power is sold to the distributors at a higher cost to what the distributors charge their consumers, requiring major subsidies from the central government.

He motivated the entire country to defend their construction, saying that they were important for the sustainability of the public finances.

Medina said the goal is to save 1.7% of GDP that today goes to subsidize power costs.

Answering journalist questions, he said:

"We have to work to reduce the deficit of the CDEEE because 1.7 or 1.8% that is delivered to that sector is a situation difficult to sustain, and thus the importance of the coal nfired plants. There is a conspiracy, but the power plants should be defended if we are to have a sustainability of public finances. And I am not going to receive the benefit of those plants because they enter into operation in 2017."

Medina defended that for the first time there is a clear objective to work to reduce the electricity subsidy in the Dominican Republic.

Ruben Jimenez Bichara, executive vice president of the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) said that coal-fired plants were chosen because not until 2020 will low-cost natural gas be able to be sourced from the United States. He said that power generation with natural gas is currently more expensive than with petrol.

See the complete press conference at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHi5E2KdEXY

Medina says corruption is responsibility of justice
President Danilo Medina said yesterday, Tuesday 19 August 2014, that fighting administrative corruption is the judiciary's responsibility.

Regarding crime, he said it is the National Judiciary Council that appoints the prosecutors. "I think there is going to have to be a mechanism to improve the judiciary because people have many complaints," he said.

Regarding gender violence, he said that best contribution is to improve education and reduce poverty. He said that this would reduce violence. He commented on efforts in government by equipping the Police, saying that at the start of his government crime was at 24 murders per 10,000 and now it is at 18 murders per 100,000.

The President went on to say that the 911 emergency line has helped, and that the plan is to extend it to Santiago. Highway patrols are also helping, only missing Puerto Plata to Nagua. The plan is to link all highways to the 911 emergency line.

See the complete press conference at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHi5E2KdEXY

Loma Miranda: to be dealt with by Congress
President Danilo Medina has delegated the controversial issue of Loma Miranda to the Legislative Branch. He said the issue dates back many years to when the concession was given to Falconbridge. Given the controversy surrounding the proposed mining, he recalled that the Ministry of Environment contracted the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to review the environmental impact presented by the company. The UNDP recommended improvements in the environmental impact study.

President Medina said that Falcondo had rejected the request to remove the environmental impact study and present a new study. He said given that position of the company, the government decided to reject the environmental impact study and not grant the exploitation permission.

The President said that leading sectors that oppose mining in Loma Miranda are calling for the mountain to be declared a protected area. He said that he would issue his opinion once Congress acts.

See the complete press conference at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHi5E2KdEXY

Budget director: Fiscal Pact yes, Fiscal Reform no
Speaking on the Hoy Mismo TV program yesterday, Tuesday 19 August 2014, the director general of the National Budget, Luis Reyes Santos, said that the most important issue for the Fiscal Pact discussions is quality of government spending. He said that the discussions leading to the Fiscal Pact are appropriate for topics such as the government debt.

"And we are going to have to discuss matters linked to spending, because if we are to give legitimacy to any reform, there cannot be talk of fiscal reform without an effort to improve quality of public spending," he said.

He said there would not be another fiscal reform during the present administration. What has been contemplated is the Fiscal Pact. He said the country's objectives needed to be defined in terms of spending and improving the quality of life of the population in that context. The discussions need to consider how this would be financed.

He said the government was working on the National Budget for 2015, and was currently making the final revisions.

He said that the accumulated government deficit for January-June was 0.55% of the GDP, which is around RD$13-14 billion. The target is to end the year with a 2.8% of GDP billion deficit.

Reyes Santos said that the government is convinced that it has to send the country signals of fiscal discipline so that they can have the legitimacy for the next administration be able to tackle these matters.


Abandoned ship no longer an environmental risk
The Ministry of Environment has completed the works to eliminate the threat of pollution by a shipwrecked bulk carrier, the Konstantino, which is not worth salvaging. The vessel ran aground off the shores of Isla Beata in Pedernales on the southwestern coast in 2003.

The decontamination operation removed chemicals, plastic, and 4,250 gallons of AC-30 sludge, bunker C and others. The task was carried out by Idemar and supervised by the Armada. The Dominican government began to remove the environmental risk posed by the ship in 2007, after a report in Diario Libre newspaper alerted the country to the abandoned ship.

Minou Tavarez protests army chief appointment
President Danilo Medina defended the appointment and promotion of his chief of the Army Major General Jose Matos de la Cruz, on grounds that he was an exemplary military.

Deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal (PLD-National District) had protested yesterday, Tuesday 19 August 2014 via a Twitter message (@minoutavarezm) that President Danilo Medina's newly appointed Army chief is the son of the general who is accused of murdering her father, Manolo Tavarez Justo.

President Danilo Medina promoted to Major General Jose E. Matos de la Cruz, son of retired General Ramiro Matos Gonzalez.

This year, the Attorney General Office summoned Matos Gonzalez for questioning in connection with the murder of Manolo Tavarez Justo at Las Manaclas, San Jose de las Matas on 21 December 1963.



Haiti doubts nationalization plan will work
A mission from the Support Group for Returnees and Refugees (GARR), a Haitian NGO platform, conducted a study in the Dominican Republic between 5 to 8 August 2014. They examined the National Plan for Legalization of Foreigners (PNRE) aimed at tackling the irregular migration situation in the Dominican Republic, established by the Dominican authorities on June 2, and revealed that the situation for Haitians is far from simple.

The PNRE is free as indicated by a sign posted in the registration office, but according to testimonies from migrants, all required documents cost between RD$10,000 to RD$15,000 and sometimes more, and all documents to be submitted must be notarized.

The list of the required documents is very long: bank book, a notarized certificate of domicile, invoices showing that the applicant has made significant purchases in Dominican territory in a store that has a Tax Identification Number (RNC) [the vast majority of Haitian migrants purchase at informal sales points that do not hold an RNC] a certificate of residence [in the absence of proof of payment of rent] issued by a neighborhood committee and signed by seven witnesses, who often demand money for this service.

According to official figures, as of July 30, 2014, two months ago, 97,585 people went to the Dominican centers to inquire, 33,744 have already opened a case for regularization, 633 were able to record using a document, 260 submitted a complete file and only 17 people could receive a positive response.

Given all the requirements and challenges faced by their compatriots to register at PNRE, the GARR mission speculates whether this regulation plan is actually a plan to identify foreigners in order to repatriate them.


911 is working well
In the 11 weeks since it has been in operation, the National Emergency and Security System 911 has attended 44,822 emergencies, and users of the service have reported 91% satisfaction.

The information was provided by the Deputy Minister of the Presidency and 911 spokeswoman, Zoraima Cuello, at a press conference at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Tuesday 19 August 2014. The executive director of the system, Dalvert Polanco, presented the relevant statistics. Cuello said that the increase in user satisfaction from 86% to 91%, demonstrates that they are improving the system on a daily basis. She went on to say that call reception had a 93% level of satisfaction, speed of attention, 83,5% and length of call, 97%.

Dalvert Polanco said that of the 44,822 emergencies attended by 911, 47% were for the National Police, 26% for medical services, 7% for the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), 10% for the Ministry of Public Works and the remaining 6% by the Fire Brigade.

According to Polanco, most emergencies were traffic accidents at 20.3%, violence 19.1%, people in danger 12.7%, domestic violence 9.1%, serious health issues 5.6% and fires 4.2%.

Deputy Minister said that early Sunday morning, 17 August 2014 they had their first birth in an ambulance, which had been called using the 911 service, and it was a 7lb baby boy.


Tuberculosis in decline
Minister of Public Health, Freddy Hidalgo Nunez, says that the Ministry has an US$8 million budget to look after more than 2,000 tuberculosis patients who will be treated free of charge in 1,561 centers around the country this year.

He said that that this was 85% of the money needed to reduce the number of cases by 92% and to achieve the target of eliminating TB.

According to the Ministry, TB cases have been reduced from 62 per 100,000 inhabitants to 57.

He went on to say that the government was committed to eradicating tuberculosis and that a great deal had been achieved in the last two years, by providing free treatment to those in need.


Major drug haul in Santo Domingo
During the last 48 hours the Police Central Anti Drug Department (DICAN) has confiscated more than US$34,000 and a sack of marijuana weighing 60lb, which is 27,216g.

Police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete and DICAN director Carlos Valerio Fernandez said that the cash and drugs were seized in two raids made in San Isidro, Santo Domingo East, and Capotillo in the National District.

Fernandez said that it was a drug network that supplied part of the city, including Capotillo, La 42 and Simon Bolivar, and that investigations were underway to get the drugs before they reached their sales points on the street. He said that Alberto Espinal Brito, aged 35 and Darwin Figueroa Espinal, 24, had both been arrested in San Isidro.

As well as the drugs and the cash they confiscated a firearm, a GPS, cell phone and two vehicles.

In the Capotillo raid Edyson Perez de Leon and Estrella Martinez were both arrested and found to be in possession of the sack of marijuana.


Omega freed
The Santiago prosecutor has freed the popular urban merengue singer Antonio Peter De La Rosa (Omega), because the people he shot in Santiago have refused to press charges.

Felix Antonio Rumaldo Martinez, Yeison Manauris Gonzalez Perez and Adalberto Genao Francisco, withdrew the charges against him saying they had no wish to carry on with the process.

Omega has been in Rafey jail on remand in Santiago since 2 June 2014, when he was found to be responsible for a shooting on 14 March 2014 in Colinas Mall on 27 February in the city. The singer's lawyer, Robinson Fermin Garcia, asked for his release, given that the victims did not want to press charges, but the Public Prosecution service said that they had to take action in these sorts of cases, citing articles 29,30 and 31 of the Penal Code.


DR basketball team to play USA at Madison Square Garden
The Dominican national basketball team is scheduled to face team USA today, Wednesday 20 August 2014 at Madison Square Garden. The exhibition game is one of many training games leading up to the FIBA 2014 Basketball World Cup that will be held in Spain from 30 August-14 September. The US team is the champion of the previous World Cup. The USA vs. Dominican Republic game will be followed by a match between the USA and Puerto Rico in two days' time. The Western Hemisphere is represented in the tournament by the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican team will play preliminary matches in the 24-team Basketball World Cup in Bilbao against Group C rivals Finland, New Zealand, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

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

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