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Daily News - Monday, 01 September 2014

Hector Valdez Albizu confirmed at Central Bank
President Danilo Medina has confirmed Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu in his post for another two years. This is the fifth consecutive time his term has been extended in the past 10 years.

Valdez also served as governor of the Central Bank from 1994-2000 during the last Balaguer administration and the first Leonel Fernandez government (1996-2000). Fernandez placed him at the helm of the Central Bank when he returned to office in 2004.

Decree 304-14 issued on Thursday, 28 August 2014 extends his mandate for another two years. Monetary and Financial Law 183-02 establishes that the governor of the Central Bank is appointed for two years but the mandate can be renewed.

Valdez is the longest-standing governor of the Central Bank. Before him, Diogenes Fernandez held the post for 13 years, from 1963 to 1976.

President Medina confirmed deputy governor Claritza de la Rocha in her post in the same executive order.



JP Morgan praises Dominican economy
A visiting mission from global financial services firm JP Morgan has issued a report praising the performance of the Dominican economy. The financial group highlighted that the economy has registered a 7.2% GDP growth in the first half of the year, according to the new methodology used by the Central Bank, as reported in Diario Libre.

In addition to the fast-paced growth and broad macroeconomic stability, JP Morgan also highlighted that the PLD is likely to win the next 2016 presidential election, for a fourth consecutive time given the high ratings enjoyed by the Medina administration.

In April 2014, JP Morgan participated in the Dominican Republic first offering of 30-year dollar debt since 1994. US$1.25 billion in securities due in 2044 were issued at a yield of 7.45%. JP Morgan Chase & Co together with Goldman Sachs Group arranged the transaction. This is in addition to the US$1.5 billion in overseas bond markets that were raised last year.



Energy and Mines Minister warns about Loma Miranda Park
On Sunday, 31 August 2014, Energy and Mines Minister Pelegrin Castillo warned about the high compensation costs Dominican government would have to pay to landowners in the Loma Miranda mountain area. Last week, Congress passed a bill granting protected National Park category to a 42km2 area of the mountain. The Constitution requires the government to compensate landowners for the expropriation.

Glencore-Xstrata is one of the landowners.

Castillo stated: "It is ironic that Glencore-Xstrata that purchased the Falcondo deposits a few years ago, after their environmental impact study was rejected and with the evidence they do not have the social license to carry out the extraction, in virtue of a law that includes instructions for expropriation, may now end up receiving large-scale compensation, and in certain way be relieved of its environmental and social obligations."

Castillo said that in the absence of a National Land Use Law and after the 2010 Constitution, that before declaring new protected areas, especially national parks, the decision ought to be based on multi-disciplinary scientific studies of undeniable national and international credibility.

"Unfortunately, those studies have not been carried out in the case of Loma Miranda. That means then that compensation to a group of owners including the large mining company, without true knowledge of the real value of the expropriated area and the possible amounts of the compensations, is a high-risk decision with unknown consequences." The press release states that until the approval of the law, Loma Miranda had only been included as a reference for its panoramic views in the "La Vega Real Panoramic Corridor" by Decree 233 of 1996.

Castillo said that the sources identified in the law for the compensation payments are not appropriate and will be insufficient to comply with Art 51 of the Constitution.

He said that Swiss-based mining company Glencore-Xstrata has the option of invoking the 2004 Agreement for the Reciprocal Protection of Investments between the Dominican Republic and Switzerland, and therefore it is highly probable that the case will end up in an international court.

Castillo said that the problem could be traced to the absence of state policies to guarantee secure, transparent, responsible and fair use of renewable and non-renewable resources of the metallic and non-metallic mining industry.

Read more in Spanish:



Dominican doctor gets FDA patent for orthopedic device
The head of the Arthroscopy Unit at the Ney Arias Lora Public Hospital, Dr. Rafael Ben, received a FDA patent in February 2014 for the orthopedic device he invented in order to help poor patients at the Ney Arias Lora Public Hospital. The device costs half as much as the imported version.

Hospital director Dr. Felix Hernandez proudly made the announcement during the 4th Scientific Meeting organized by the hospital last weekend on the occasion of the center's fourth anniversary. Dr. Hernandez said that the new device costs around RD$50,000, while the market price for imported devices is RD$125,000.

The device makes it possible to fix a fracture and ensures the patient will keep the length of the affected limb.

He said they have already used around 70 of the devices with excellent results.

Dr. Ben studied medicine at the state Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo and specialized in orthopedics at the Frank Pais Orthopedics Hospital in Havana, Cuba.


Ernesto Selman urges government to tackle power distribution
Economist Ernesto Selman of the Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Strategies (CREES) says that when the new coal-fired power plants enter in operation, the government subsidy will continue as is. He said that the government currently spends US$1.3 billion a year on electricity subsidies. He said that in four or five years' time when the new coal-fired plants enter into operation, the subsidy will have grown to US$1.7 billion. He said that by 2018, consumption will have increased to 3,000 megawatts from the 2,500 megawatts at present. "This means the plants will be a mere patch on the electricity crisis.

Selman said that the true electricity problem is not one of generation, but distribution and marketing, where there are losses of 35%.

He said that more than the construction of two coal-fired plants, what the sector requires is a structural reform. He said it would have been better for the government to open a tender and purchase the power from the bidder that offers the best conditions.

Selman made his comments when interviewed by Hector Herrera Cabral on D'Agenda, Channel 11.


Foreign youths have fixed jobs
A joint study by INTEC University and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reveals that 48.97% of immigrants to the country between the ages of 10 and 29 have permanent jobs. The study looked into young Haitian immigrants, descendants of Haitian immigrants, immigrants from other countries and descendants of immigrants from other countries, as reported in Listin Diario. The research was headed by economist Luis Vargas who analyzed the socio-demographic, educational and family characteristics of immigrants and descendants of immigrants in the 10-29 year age range, and how they have inserted themselves into the local work force.

Data from the First National Survey of Immigrants in the Dominican Republic (ENI-2012) was used.

The study revealed that 38.68% of immigrants are employed in an occasional or temporary job, and only 8.02% are hired per job.


Fenatrado unhappy with court decision
The trucking association, National Dominican Transport Federation (Fenatrado) has described the Santiago Labor Court ruling that cancels the registration of affiliates working in Puerto Plata as "inappropriate, ill-founded and lacking any legal basis".

Fenatrado spokesman Blas Peralta announced that the association would use all legal means at their disposal to defend their affiliates affected by what they say is injustice and failure to recognize their affiliates' rights.

In a press conference called at the Vizcaya Restaurant in Santo Domingo, he said Fenatrado has appealed and in the new hearing truth and justice would prevail over particular interests. He said the enthusiasm of business groups is premature.

Several business groups have spoken out encouraging the same action to be applied nationwide.

Peralta says that the case has just started to be heard in Dominican courts. He said the truckers have been providing their services for more than 50 years.

He says that articles 378 and 382 of the Labor Code establish that unions can only be dissolved by a general assembly of the union, the closure of the company, or when they are dedicated to other activities.




44-year old cargo regulation used to ban double-load trucks
Herrera Industries Association (AEIH) president Victor Castro is urging the Ministry of Public Works to urgently review Regulation 156 on Dimensions, Weight and Load of Vehicles, given that it dates back 44 years and is extremely outdated.

In a statement, Castro says that the old rules had been "dusted off" by the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) to suddenly prevent double-load freight trucks from using the roads. The new trucking modality had considerably reduced company costs until it was banned by AMET on the grounds that it was affecting land transport safety.

Castro also called for reforms to Vehicle Transit Law 241 that dates back to 1967 and is also outdated.

He said the existence of laws, regulations and outdated resolutions reflects the country's institutional weaknesses. He said this shows how distracted our lawmakers are.

He urged the authorities open up talks between the MOPC and AMET with company representatives.


Leonel Fernandez on the campaign trail
While the ruling PLD party is not expected to name the party candidate for the May 2016 presidential election, former President Leonel Fernandez, who is also president of the PLD, is increasingly active in promoting his aspirations to be the PLD presidential candidate. Yesterday, Sunday 31 August 2014, he attended a meeting of thousands of his supporters at the Sans Souci Convention Center. He spoke symbolically of the winds that are encouraging him to decide to seek to be the ruling party candidate. Political analysts have said that the PLD is likely to win the presidency in 2016 no matter who the candidate will be, given the weak opposition and the popularity of incumbent Danilo Medina.

The organizers of the Democratic Platform event were former Minister of Education Jose Rafael Lantigua, senator Rafael Vargas, professor Jesus de la Rosa and Bernarda Jorge.

During the event, Fernandez highlighted that the 2010 Constitution bans consecutive re-election.

Fernandez was President of the Republic from 1996-2000 and from 2004-2012.


Stats on inmates in non-reformed jails
A recent poll by the Department of Prisons has found that 30% of 15,951 inmates serving time in 19 non-reformed prisons have had more than one admission to prison. The survey showed that 21% (3,104) of prisoners were serving their second time in prison, while 9% (843) had been to jail three times, and 2% (280) had been four times, and 0.6% (115) had been there five times, as reported in Diario Libre. 70% (10,435) were serving their first time in jail.

The 15,951 inmates polled included 486 who had been deported from abroad. 31% of those serving time had been sentenced for homicide. 53% are serving 5-30 year sentences, including 1,611 who were serving 20-year sentences.

The survey also found that 60% of inmates were single, 16.5% said they did not know how to read and write, most of whom were at the Pedernales, Neyba, San Juan and Azua Km. 15 jails in the southwest.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/09/01/i771161_los-presos-ido-una-vez-crcel.html

Dominican in SyFy movie
Dominican actor Hector Then appears in the Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda movie showing on SyFy Channel. The production was filmed in the Dominican Republic in June and July 2013. Then plays Harold Smith, a US tourist who together with his wife (Mangui Rodriguez) and son visits an aquarium that keeps marine monsters. Smith bribes an employee to be able to take photos of Sharktopus when the problems start.

The film is directed by Kevin O'Neall and is a sequel to Sharktopus (2010).

Other actors are Robert Carradine, Conan O'Brien and Katie Savoy.

Then got his start in theater taking a short course at Casa de Teatro in 1997. He later studied with Manuel Chapuseaux, Enrique Chao, Ivan Garcia, Rolando Diaz, Antonio Melenciano, Maria Remola and Maria Castillo.

Milos Raonic had to sweat to beat Victor Estrella
Ranked 80th in the world when he entered the US Open, 34-year old Dominican tennis player Victor Estrella battled 23-year old Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in a third round loss on Saturday, 30 August 2014. This was the first time a Dominican had played in the US Open, and he also made history by being the oldest player ever to debut in the US Open. Winning the first two rounds represented around US$100,000 in earnings for Estrella, a career record.

Raonic, seeded 6th by the ATP, had to sweat over two hours and 45 minutes of play. He attributed his win to the tie-breakers. He conceded to Estrella:

"It was difficult. He's playing well. He's playing with a lot of aspiration. Victor played really well, this is a very special week for him."

President Danilo Medina sent Estrella a message via Twitter, congratulating him for making Dominicans proud.



DR beats New Zealand, loses to Ukraine
The Dominican Republic basketball selection (ranked 26th in the world by FIBA) lost its first game in the FIBA World Cup to Ukraine (ranked 45th), 72-62. But the team held fast and defeated New Zealand (ranked 19th) in its next game, 76-63. This was the team that barely lost to Turkey (76-73), which is ranked 7th in the world.

It was a great night for Houston Rockets forward Francisco Garcia who scored a game-high 29 points.

On the win, coach Orlando Antigua told FIBA News:

"We played the kind of basketball we are capable of," said the 41-year-old, who will take charge of the University of South Florida after Spain 2014.

"We moved the ball around better and got some open shots and made them. Defensively, I think we did well to make it difficult for a talented team like New Zealand to take their shots.

"We will take it one game at a time," Antigua said of his team's last three Group C fixtures. "We have been doing that so far and we'll continue to keep things simple.

"But I would say this: I'm sure every coach out there has said this. This is the World Cup. Every team is good to get to the World Cup. There are no easy games, there are no bad teams."

The DR now plays Finland (39th) on Tuesday, 2 September 2014 at 21:30 Madrid time, and then USA (1st) on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 21:30 Madrid time.









Dominican Cosmetics Fair 2014
The Association of Small and Medium-sized Manufacturers of Cosmetics (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.

Arts and Crafts at the Modern Art Museum
The Ministry of Culture and the Modern Arts Museum in Santo Domingo is sponsoring a course on Art in the Third Dimension with teacher Monica Ovalles. The fee is RD$3,000 per person, and the course starts on Tuesday, 16 September from 4 to 6pm in the MAM basement. Courses in stained glass making, filigree, metal works, porcelain, wood painting and fabric painting will follow. For more information on the courses, call 809 685-2154 ext. 223 Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. The MAM is located on Av. Pedro Henriquez Urena, Plaza de la Cultura, Santo Domingo.

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

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