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Daily News - Friday, 29 August 2014

President will have last word on Loma Miranda
The high cost of state compensations in the case of the declaration of Loma Miranda as a national park by Congress is a main issue to be considered by President Danilo Medina. The bill has been passed in Congress and now it is the President who needs to decide on declaring the La Vega mountain a protected area. The President can enact or object to the bill. If no action is taken within 10 days the law goes into effect.

On of the larger landowners in the mountain, Falcondo is expected to take the state to an international court to demand payment of around US$4 billion in compensation for not being able to operate their mining concession in the area. The DR has yet to win an international arbitration case.

The Ministry of Environment had already prevented the proposed mining from going ahead, on the grounds that the environmental impact study did not meet requirements. The National Park declaration will make the mining ban permanent.

The Senate sent the bill to the Presidency yesterday, Thursday 28 August 2014. It was fast-tracked in Congress, at a time when public opinion was firmly against the proposed extraction. Falcondo has a poor track record when it comes to recovery of mined areas.

To compensate landowners, the bill established an increase in mining permit costs in order to fund compensating for the ban on land use in the area. But this would not be enough to compensate Falcondo is a case were won in an international court.

Late entries and terminally ill can get their pension funds early
The National Social Security Council (CNSS) has approved a harmonized proposal to return payments made into the system plus accrued interest to contributors who registered for the pension funds at 45 years of age or more and who lose their jobs before reaching retirement age. The CNSS also approved returning payments made into the system to terminally ill people who are certified by the CNSS.

In both cases, the contributors may not have completed the required minimum of 360 months of payments into the system for receiving of a pension at the retirement age of 60, as established in Social Security Law 87-01. The payments system began in 2003.

Resolution 350-02 to this effect establishes that early retirement can be received in one lump sum in the case of terminally ill people. In the case of affiliated who registered at the age of 45 or over, beneficiaries can opt to receive contributions paid into the system plus interest accrued in one lump sum or scheduled payments that will not be less than minimum wage if the accumulated sum is determined to be enough. Article 39 of the Social Security Law 87-01 establishes that the government would provide the difference if the amount paid into the system is not enough.

The Superintendence of Pensions needs to prepare the administrative procedure for refunding the contributions made by affiliates within the next 60 days.


Scholarships to Brazil
The Embassy of Brazil in the Dominican has announced that its scholarship program has awarded three scholarships to students of architecture and civil engineering. Dominicans have studied medicine, plastic surgery, dentistry and sciences in Brazilian universities over the years. This year three students from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Universidad Catolica Technologica del Cibao received the scholarships. The winners were Stephanie Sanchez Peralta, Diana Carolina Byron del Rio and Pedro Manuel Batista Susana.

Last year six students from UASD, INTEC and UNIBE won the scholarships. The previous year's winners are now completing their studies.

The Brazilian embassy says that the main goal of the cooperation agreement is not in the funding made available for the two-year scholarships, but in the transfer of knowledge and that with access to more advanced technologies the beneficiaries can begin to implement solutions that strengthen development in the Dominican Republic, according to Brazilian ambassador Jose Marcus Vinicius de Sousa.

Beauty products exports increase
Small businesses, mainly headed by women, are growing in the area of wellness, cosmetics and beauty products. In an interview with Listin Diario, the president of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Manufactures of Cosmetics (Apymefac), Dinorah Subero and vice president Julia Jimenez said that last year, exports of beauty products totaled US$57 million. Exports were 63% to the US, 11% to Cuba, 7.7% to Puerto Rico, 7% to Haiti and 4% to Panama. Subero and Jimenez confirmed there is great export potential for the cosmetics. They highlighted how the Cuban market is growing. "The Cubans prefer Dominican products, especially hair products, because of the similarities in climate and the quality," said Julia Jimenez. The products in most demand are shampoo, rinses, styling cream and hair straightening products.

The executives said that the obstacles to growth are the advance tax on future earnings, electricity costs, insurance, and social security payments. She said that as a result 60% of beauty companies operate in the informal sector. The executives say they try to encourage these companies to formalize their business so they can benefit from exporting, training, selling to the government and other advantages.

Apymefac is organizing the Dominican Cosmetics Fair 2014 at Galeria 360 shopping mall in Santo Domingo on 23-24 September 2014. There will be product exhibitions and suppliers from Brazil, Germany, Colombia and the US will be attending, and there will be talks.


Cement increasingly being used in road paving
Carlos Emilio Gonzalez, president of Cemex Dominicana, announced yesterday, Thursday 28 August 2014, that the company's cement will have been used for around half a million square meters of highway pavement this year. He said that while this is just a small portion of the pavement of the country, prospects are for growth in sales.

"I am sure that there will be more cement roads," he said. Cemex promotes the use of cement based self-compacting material for its durability, safety and reduced environmental impact. Gonzalez said it was a long-term investment. "I think the country cannot have the luxury of having to repair a highway and having to do so three or four years later because of the rains," he said.

Gonzalez was speaking during a launch event for Evolution Eco, a new self-compacting reinforced concrete product.

Money back for Miley Cyrus ticket buyers
Concert promoter Saymon Diaz says he will legally challenge the 21 August 2014 decision by the National Commission of Public Entertainment and Radio Programs (CNEPR) that banned a scheduled concert by Miley Cyrus and her Bangerz Tour on 13 September 2014 in the country on the grounds that the singer "performs acts that are contrary to Dominican morals and customs."

He said in the meantime, he would refund everyone who had purchased tickets to the concert.

In June promoters announced that the US singer would be playing a concert as part of her "Bangerz Tour" at the Quisqueya Ball Park in Santo Domingo on 13 September 2014.

Dominicans protest high taxation
Using the social media and email, a message seeking to raise awareness among Dominicans of the high taxation paid is doing the rounds, calling for a reduction in the size of government. The message reminds Dominicans that they pay the highest electricity rates while still having to run expensive back-up power systems, they have to pay for private schools, purchase water storage, contract private security guards, pay the most expensive restaurants in the region, the highest airfares, and are obliged to pay for the high cost of trucker unions...

The document notes that Dominicans pay:

18% of ITBIS (VAT)
10% Selective Consumption Tax
28% Telecom tax
28% Income Tax
25% Complementary Income Tax
15% tax on lottery
40% tax on fuel
13% customs tax
1% property tax
0.15% bank transfer tax
2.87% charge for pension plans
3.04% health provider tax
38% on restaurant bills (18% ITBIS, 10% obligatory tip, 10% customary additional tip)
1% tax on assets
Advance payment of ITBIS

The item also comments that the government refuses to eliminate the slush fund that benefits legislators and has not reduced the high wages of government officials, some of whom are paid as much as RD$2 million per month.

Also mentioned are the high cost of health services and pharmaceuticals.

All this while government officials drive 8-cylinder SUVs, have unnecessary bodyguard convoys, use of helicopters, and practice nepotism.

The message also criticizes the way that additional benefits - another 62% - are added on to nominal wages, increasing the cost of the work force.


Malaysia Airlines suspect under arrest in Santo Domingo
A citizen of Iran under arrest in the Dominican Republic since May 2013 is being investigated by the US for possible ties with a terrorist group that could be linked to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 earlier this year.

The flight with 239 people on board disappeared on 8 March 2013, and so far no trace or explanation has been found.

According to reports, 34-year old Ali Bitazar was arrested for importing US hi-tech equipment that could be used to reroute airplanes.

Dominican prosecutors asked for custody in June 2014 after confirming that the suspect was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). He is accused of threatening national security and the security of foreign nations in violation of domestic and international laws.

As reported in El Dia, the local authorities say Bitazar acted in complicity with Dominican customs agent Juan Fidel Santos Cabrera who in return for a payment replaced the motherboard of the imported equipment at the Las Americas International Airport. The last operation was carried out in April. The National Investigations Department (DNI) had bugged the two men's cell phones and discovered that Bitazar had plans to travel to Panama for six months to complete an undetermined "project," as reported in El Dia. According to the authorities, the motherboard was sent to Dubai via courier companies and then on to Malaysia. Bitazar, who is being investigated by Dominican and US intelligence officers, is also accused of evading RD$180,000 in import duties.

A report in Hoy indicates Bitazar is being held at the San Pedro de Macoris jail after a decision of the Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals of the National District. Case documents indicate that Ali Bitazar is the owner of Codex Solutions, a company that was dedicated to the purchase of electronic equipment and software in order to remove the motherboards to be sent to Iran, as reported in Hoy newspaper.

As reported, the Iranian is also the owner of the Taxi Sonido company that operated together with Dominicans Grisalda Sanchez and Juan Fidel Santos Cabrera. As explained, Castro would pick up the equipment purchased online at the courier companies, while Santos Cabrera, a customs agent at Las Americas International, would exchange the motherboards in an illegal act, while evading taxes.

One of the items was telecommunications hardware valued at US$25,038 that was imported from Van Nuys, California in the United States.

As reported, Bitazar was investigated after an intelligence operation lasting several months. Castro is out of jail on bail, while Santos, who was also the company accountant, is on the run from the law.

As reported, Bitazar's operations in the country were being monitored by state prosecutors working with the National Department of Investigations (DNI) international and anti-terrorism division.



Stolen boat capsizes with Haitians off Uvero Alto
A Haitian woman drowned, another was rescued and another 18 are missing is the result of a boat that capsized yesterday, 28 August 2014, some four nautical miles off the beach of Uvero Alto in northern Punta Cana.

Armada (Navy) chief Vice Admiral Edmundo Nestor Felix Pimentel identified the victim as 47-year old Charite Valezco.

The Armada rescued Yesila Denisa, who was taken to the rural clinic in Veron, where her condition is said to be stable. Two persons were arrested on suspicion of being the organizers of the trip to Puerto Rico. Denisa said that there were 20 people on the boat, but the whereabouts of the remaining passengers is unknown. As reported, the boat, Alexandra, had been stolen from a water sports outfit in the area. Adverse weather conditions are reportedly what caused the boat to capsize.


Victor Estrella wins round 2 at US Open
Victor Estrella is set to play a Top 10 player in the US open on Saturday, 30 August 2014. This is a first for the Dominican Republic. The 34-year old Dominican tennis player Victor Estrella earned the privilege when he defeated 17-year old Croatian boy wonder Borna Coric yesterday, Thursday 28 August 2014 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the US Open in New York. This game saw the eldest vs. the youngest player in the Grand Slam tournament draw.

Estrella is now the only Dominican to ever have played in the US Open. He is also the player to debut at the oldest age in the leading Grand Slam tournament. In Round 5, Estrella, ranked 80th by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), will go against 6'5" tall 23-year old Milos Raonic of Canada, who is ranked 6th. This is Raonic's third US Open. In 2012 and 2013 Raonic reached the fourth round.

As reported in El Caribe, this will be the second time Raonic and Estrella will have met. The first time was during the 2010 Davis Cup when Estrella lost in five sets to Raonic (7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (3) and 7-9.

For Estrella reaching the third round means US$35,754 for the first round and US$60,420 for the second round win, for a total of US$96,174 in earnings as of 28 August 2014.





Tigres vs. Aguilas games cancelled in Brooklyn
The Tigres del Licey and Aguilas Cibaenas were scheduled to play two exhibition games in a baseball stadium in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, 11 October and Sunday, 12 October 2014 at the MCU Park in Coney Island but they have now been cancelled. The games had been endorsed by the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, the Dominican Baseball League (Lidom) and Major League Baseball. No reason has been given for the cancellation.


Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos Diamond League results
Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos, gold and silver medalists in the London 2012 Olympics, competed in the Diamond League events in Zurich yesterday, Thursday 28 August 2014. Sanchez ran in the 400m hurdles and Luguelin in the 400m dash.

Felix Sanchez clocked in a 49.31 in the 400 m hurdles event won by Cornel Fredericks of South Africa with a 48.25 time. He was 7th.

In the 400-meter dash, Luguelin Santos also came 7th with a time of 45.51 in a race won by Lashawn Merritt of the USA with a time of 44.36.



70% off day at Ferreteria Americana
Time to go shopping at Santo Domingo's Ferreteria Americana department store that is offering 70% off and weekend of super sales n 29, 30, 31 August 2014. Next door Ikea also is offering many sales prior to Christmas merchandise.

Pablo Cavallo & Metanoia at Cinema Cafe
Pablo Cavallo & Metanoia will be playing their Hope concert this evening, Friday 29 August 2014 at 9pm at Plaza de la Cultura's Cinema Cafe in Santo Domingo.

Mega Merengue Concert in Punta Cana
The Ministry of Tourism is sponsoring a Super Mega Concert at the Be Live Hotel Punta Cana tomorrow night, Saturday, 30 August 2014. If you enjoy merengue music, this is the time to book a stay at that hotel and dance the night away. Also starring are Kinito Mendez, Steffany Constanza, and Pochy and his Coco Band. 10pm.

Girlfriends meet again at Teatro Las Mascaras
Teatro Las Mascaras presents, "Travolta's Girlfriends," a comedy by Uruguayan playwright Andres Tulipano. In the leading roles: Lidia Ariza, Grace Moore, Pamela de Leon, Wendy Alba and Marisol Marion-Landais. Directed by Germana Quintana, the play tells the story of a reunion between four 42-year old friends after years of not seeing each other.

29, 30, 31 August 2014. Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm, Sunday at 6:30pm. Tickets: RD$400.

The theater is small and their plays are popular, so to get a seat go early, or reserve by calling Tel 809 687-9788. Calle Arzobispo Portes 56, near the corner of Arzobispo Merino, Colonial City, Santo Domingo.

Wine tasting at the Hostal
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando Gallery is hosting a charity tasting of Argentinean wines tomorrow evening, Saturday, 30 August 2014 from 7:30 to 9:30pm. The event will raise funds for the Santo Domingo Archdiocese food bank. The hotel has organized an evening of high quality wines accompanied by delicious Argentinean snacks. Tickets are RD$1690 per person, with taxes included. Reservations to Tel 809 685-9955.

Stand up comedian Ivan Marin at Blue Mall
Colombian comedian Ivan Marin is booked for a performance at the events hall of Santo Domingo's Blue Mall tomorrow, Saturday, 30 August 2014. The show will open with singer Covi Quintana. Tickets are RD$700, RD$1,000 and RD$1,800 (open bar).

Hamlet at the National Theater
Globe to Globe Hamlet from London presents "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare at the National Theater in Santo Domingo tomorrow evening, Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 8:30pm at the Carlos Piantini Hall of the National Theater. The three-hour stage production is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the United Kingdom Embassy in the Dominican Republic.

The play, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, has a cast of 10 talented actors of different nationalities. The performance at the National Theater is part of a world tour by the London-based theatrical company.


Enrique Iglesias Sex and Love concert
Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias is bringing his "Sex and Love" world tour to Dominican audiences tomorrow evening, Saturday 30 August.

He is booked for a performance at the Fillmore Ballroom of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.

Descemer Bueno and Cuban reggaeton duo Gente de Zona who played on the hit single "Bailando" in the "Sex and Love" album will also be taking the stage. The music video for that hit was shot in Santo Domingo.

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

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