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Daily News - Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Construction starts on new Juan Bosch City
In a ceremony held yesterday, Tuesday 2 September 2014, President Danilo Medina symbolically launched the construction of Santo Domingo's largest low-income housing project, "Juan Bosch City." The complex will consist of ten separate neighborhoods with a total of 25,000 low-cost homes, 10,000 of which are scheduled to be ready before the end of the Medina administration in August 2016.

Medina spoke of the 100,000 people who will benefit and of how the Dominican family is a priority for his government and that it deserves decent housing, as the home is the center of life.

He went on to say that each of the neighborhoods would be self sufficient with their own school, health system, green areas, sports areas and commercial centers.

He explained that the name 'Juan Bosch' was chosen - not only because he was the leader and teacher of thousands of Dominicans - but also because the project represented his ideals of solidarity, integration, justice and reason.

The city, located in eastern Santo Domingo, will be built with public and private investment.


President Medina says no to national park status for Loma Miranda
President Danilo Medina has vetoed the bill that granted protected status in the National Park category to Loma Miranda, which straddles La Vega and Monsenor Nouel provinces.

He said that the decision does not mean that he is authorizing Falcondo to mine in the area. He says this would not happen under his government until there is an environmental impact study that complies with international and Dominican standards.

President Medina met with Senate president Cristina Lizardo yesterday, Tuesday 2 September 2014 and delivered a letter to the effect returning the bill. He stated that the bill as approved is incompatible with the Constitution.

In the letter, the President states that his reasons for observing the bill are:

"... I have serious doubts of its compatibility with the Constitution; that international commitments made by the Dominican Government on protection of investments may be ignored; and the adverse effects for the development of the country that a law establishing a national park that bans the use of natural resources within its perimeter, even when the socioeconomic and environmental conditions and mining technologies guarantee their sustainability."

In an editorial, Diario Libre praises the President for the decision. The editorialist says that Congress had simply desisted from analyzing and pondering the bill and submitted to populism.

El Nuevo Diario's editorialist highlighted that President Medina had taken the decision amidst crossfire, given that the National Park had achieved so much public support. The newspaper called for defining a mining policy to prevent legislative populism and cases such as this.

However, PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado described the decision as inappropriate, saying that Medina had politicized the issue as 95% of the population is now against mining in the area.

Father Rogelio Cruz, the priest who has been actively campaigning to ban mining in the area, called for a protest walk in Cristo Rey today and announced future protest activities.





Global Competitiveness Index: DR is 101st of 144 countries
Big government and politics continue to be key obstacles to competitiveness in the Dominican Republic, according to the indicators in the recently released World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index Report 2014-2015.

The Dominican Republic is ranked in 101st place of 144 countries analyzed for the update of the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index Report 2014-2015. The report focuses on the most problematic factors for doing business.

In the current edition, the DR moved up from position 105.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic falls below Puerto Rico (32), Chile (33), Panama (48), Costa Rica (51), Barbados (55), Brazil (57), Mexico (61), Peru (65), Colombia (66), Guatemala (78), Uruguay (80), El Salvador (84), Jamaica (86), Trinidad & Tobago (89), Nicaragua (99), and Honduras (100). Haiti, on the other side of the island is ranked in 137th place.

The index is a tool that assesses the competitiveness of economies across all geographies and stages of development. The GCI seeks to pinpoint the areas affecting the countries' long-term productivity that can be improved.

Productivity is described as the key driver of economic growth.

The World Economic Report says in its conclusion that the current edition of the report highlights the need for more structural reforms and enhanced smart investments to accelerate robust economic growth, create productive jobs and boost inclusive growth with more and better opportunities for all segments of the population.

The Dominican Republic is included in the middle level "efficiency-driven" economies, with the least advance being those rated as "factor-driven" and the most advanced described as "innovation-driven."

The study identifies the most problematic factors for doing business are tax rates, access to financing, corruption, inflation, inadequately educated workforce and inefficient government bureaucracy. The DR did not place in any of the detailed indicators in education and training.

Best and worst indicators for the DR in the GCI:
The best being those in the top 50% (72 or less) and the worst, those being in the bottom 25% (108 or less)

Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regulations (65)
Transparency of government policymaking (54)
Efficacy of corporate boards (62)
Diversion of public funds (132)
Public trust in politicians (128)
Judicial independence (121)
Favoritism in decisions by government officials (132)
Wastefulness of government spending (118)
Business costs of crime and violence (121)
Organized crime (115)
Reliability of police services (139)
Ethical behavior by companies (124)

Quality of roads (53)
Quality of port infrastructure (52)
Quality of air transport infrastructure (52)
Available airline seat km/week, millions (49)
Quality of electricity supply (128)
Mobile telephone subscriptions (109)

Macroeconomic environment:
General government debt, %GDP (47)
Gross national savings, %GDP (123)

Health and primary education:
Malaria cases/100,000 pop (19)
Business impact of malaria (28)
Quality of primary education (138)
Primary education enrollment (110)

Higher education and training:
Quality of the education system (132)
Quality of math and science education (142)
Quality of management schools (109)

Goods market efficiency:
Intensity of local competition (72)
Agricultural policy costs (67)
Prevalence of foreign ownership (39)
Burden of customs procedures (51)
Extent of market dominance (116)
Effect of taxation on incentives to invest (121)

Labor market efficiency
Cooperation in labor-employer relations (55)
Flexibility of wage determination (55)
Hiring and firing practices (61)
Redundancy costs, weeks of salary (116)
Effect of taxation on incentives to work (118)

Financial market development
Availability of financial services (52)
Soundness of banks (45)
Legal rights index (113)

Technological readiness:
Availability of latest technologies (60)
FDI and technology transfer (29)
Mobile broadband subscriptions/100 pop (72)

10th pillar: Market size:
Domestic market size index (67)
GDP (PPP$ billions) (69)
Exports as a percentage of GDP (112)

Business sophistication:
Local supplier quantity (61)
Local supplier quality (72)
Value chain breadth (65)
Control of international distribution (59)
Extent of marketing (58)
Nature of competitive advantage (115)

Government procurement of advanced tech products (59)
Quality of scientific research institutions (113)
Availability of scientists and engineers (115)

The full report can be downloaded from http://www.weforum.org/reports

AES Dominicana sells 20% of shares
The company headed by engineers Manuel Estrella and Felix Garcia has announced that it has reached an agreement to buy up to 20% of the shares of AES Dominicana.

The agreement was signed in New York.

AES Dominicana started out as an electricity generating company in 1997 and is one of the main supports for the national electricity system, providing around 40% of the energy needed by the country.


Change in US visa prices
The United States Embassy Consular Section has announced changes in the cost of visas that will be applied as of 12 September 2014.

The fee for most non-immigrant visas such as tourist, business, transit and student will remain unchanged, at US$160.

The fee for a non-immigrant 'E' visa will be reduced from $270 to $205 but applicants who have already paid will not receive a refund.

The cost of non-immigrant 'K' visas, for visits from girlfriends or boyfriends or fiances are being increased from $240 to $265. Immigrant (IV) visas for immediate family and spouses have increased from $230 to $325 and immigrant (IV) visas for workers have been reduced from $405 to $345.

The fee for immigrant visas such as the I-360 and IV special visa will also be reduced from $220 to $205 and the charge for the Legal Declaration of Financial Support, or affidavit, will increase from $88 to $120.

The fee for the SB1 visa for applicants seeking a new residency once they have lost the status will be reduced from $275 to $180. The cost of renouncing US Citizenship will also increase from $450 to $2,350.

The new rates come into effect as of 12 September but applicants who have already paid have until 11 December to conclude the process without paying any more. More information is available on the embassy web page.



Accused prosecutor arrives in court on a stretcher
Judge Jose Manuel Arias in San Jose de Ocoa suspended the hearing against former Public Prosecutor Miguel Jose Cuevas Paulino yesterday, Tuesday 2 September 2014, after the accused arrived in court on a stretcher.

The judge agreed to the request to suspend the hearing that was to establish the terms of remand or bail against Cuevas Paulino who is under investigation after being accused of planting a gun under a mattress during a raid on the home of a suspected drug dealer, Erin Manuel Andujar, known as Pena.

The judge also agreed to confirm the date for the hearing once a series of tests had been carried out on the accused and asked for him to be carried out of the court on his stretcher and placed in an ambulance, closely guarded by police.


Police on killing spree in Santiago
A National Police patrol has killed three men in an alleged exchange of gunfire in Santiago, bringing the number of killings in the city to a total of five in less than 36 hours.

The incident took place in the early hours of the morning, yesterday, Tuesday 2 September 2014 on Estrella Sadhala Avenue at the corner with Hatuey. Only one of the victims, 31-year old Justo Rigoberto Cruz Cruz has been identified so far.

The Police said that the deceased had criminal records for drug dealing and two of them for murder and that they hired themselves out as hit men, kidnappers and armed robbers. Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete said that they belonged to an alleged kidnapping gang who also used to wear military uniforms. He said that the men started shooting at a police patrol, whose members then returned fire and killed them.


Police agents fired
The Executive Branch has dismissed and forcibly retired 79 members of the National Police including senior officers, for a variety of reasons.

In some cases the dismissals and retirements included disciplinary measures against two Colonels who were forced to retire.

In addition, three Lieutenant Colonels are being investigated by the Police and four Majors and two Captains were also forced to retire.

Twelve First Lieutenants and 21 Second Lieutenants were dismissed as well as five Sergeant Majors, four Sergeants, three corporals, 23 privates and one enlisted man.


Haitians arrested in yola
On Monday, 1 September 2014, Naval Intelligence agents arrested 11 Haitians who were trying to get to Puerto Rico illegally.

Armada (Navy) chief, Vice Admiral Edmundo Nestor Felix Pimentel, represented by spokesman Navy Captain Juan Pablo Sandoval Garcia said that the eight men and three women were arrested in a boat (yola) in La Romana. They also announced the arrest of Jesus de Leon Berroa in Higuey. He had been sought by the authorities for some time for suspected links to an organization that arranged these illegal journeys.


Washington Post on Dominican food and baseball
The Washington Post describes how Dominican food and baseball are a winning combination. In a story published on 2 September 2014, the newspaper follows the custom of Dominican baseball players who are already established in a baseball city to make sure the newcomers from the Dominican Republic can get their fill of rice, beans and stewed chicken. This is seen as a positive way of helping the newcomers adapt to playing baseball in the United States.


DR defeats Finland in FIBA Madrid
The Dominican national men's basketball team (ranked 26th) was too much for the tall men of Finland and their full court of fans in Bilbao, Spain. The game ended 74-68 in a game that was hard fought by both teams. The final quarter was the most difficult.

The DR plays the United States (ranked first) at 3:30pm today, Wednesday 3 September and Turkey (ranked seventh) tomorrow, Thursday 4 September 2014.

In the FIBA World Championship, the 24 competing teams are divided into four groups of six teams apiece, with every team playing each other once. The DR is in Group C with the USA, Ukraine (DR lost to Ukraine), New Zealand (DR won that one), and Finland (DR won again).

After the first five games of each group are played, the top four teams from each group advance to the traditional single-elimination stage.

With its win against Finland, the DR has a good chance of moving on to the elimination stage despite still having to play the tougher teams of the group, Turkey and the United States. But the top four are not yet decided, and less so after New Zealand defeated Ukraine (73-61) on 3 September 2014.


Cultura Profetica at Hard Rock today
The Puerto Rican reggae group Cultura Profetica has included the Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo at Blue Mall in their Americas tour for 2014. They are performing today, 3 September 2014 at the Winston Churchill mall location.

Novocentro Fine Arts film festival for 25 Sept-8 October 2014
Novocentro in Santo Domingo is advertising its next film festival at its Fine Arts Theater. The Av. Lope de Vega cinema is well known for bringing lesser-known films to Dominican audiences.

"Yo soy la salsa," a film by Andres Vanderhorst, directed by Manuel Villalona will be shown on the opening night.

The film festival will take place from 25 September to 8 October 2014 and some 50 films will be shown. A jury made up of movie producer Desiree Reyes, journalists Jose Rafael Sosa, Pachico Tejada, Joan Prats and Alfonso Quinones, Amelia Deschamps and Santiago film critic Jose D'Laura will select the best film, best director, and the best male and female actors for awards.

Festival director Zumaya Cordero said that several of the films have already won awards in festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Toronto, Cesar, Goya, San Sebastian, Havana and Cartagena.

Six short films by talented Dominicans will be competing this year and the winner will attend the Havana Film Festival in December.

Orange Telecom is sponsoring the festival, and will be awarding a US$8,000 cash prize to the best film as chosen by Orange clients attending the festival.

Novocentro offers online selection of numbered seats.

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

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