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Daily News - Friday, 26 September 2014

National Budget to be announced
The Presidency is holding its final meeting to discuss the 2015 National Budget at 10am today, Friday 26 September 2014. The budget is due to be sent to Congress no later than 1 October 2014.

Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta says that most budget increases will be allocated to the Ministry of Education and to paying the country's foreign debt, adding that assignments for most ministries will be kept at the same level.

"We have to comply with the 4% of the GDP for education and the growth of the economy means we have to add around RD$10 to 11 billion to the education budget for this year, because the GDP is up," said Peralta. He added that the service of the debt was up another RD$20 billion.


DR signs agreement with OCHA to strengthen disaster prevention and response
The Dominican Republic has signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to strengthen Dominican capacity to prevent and respond to natural disasters. The agreement was signed by deputy minister of the Presidency Zoraima Cuello, and Valerie Amos, under-secretary general and emergency relief coordinator for OCHA as part of the Dominican agenda on the occasion of the country's participation in the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations.


Birthrate down in the Dominican Republic
A recent study by the National Statistics Office (ONE) has found that while from 1990 to 2010 the number of births was around 200,000 a year, the trend shown during 2010-2015 suggests there could be a slowdown to around 100,000 births a year by the end of this century. The report says that in the 1950s each woman would have around seven children on average, but this declined to three by the 1990s and as of 2010, Dominican women were having around two children. ONE speculates that the birthrate could decline to one child per woman by the end of the century.

The research also found that the infant mortality rate was also down in 2010. In 1950 the infant mortality rate was 155 deaths of children under the age of one per every 1,000 live births. By 2010 this had declined by 83%, with 27 deaths per every 1,000 births.


UNDP Human Development Report shows advances for DR
The UNDP resident representative in the Dominican Republic says that for the first time the country is ranked among 53 countries with higher development levels, including 20 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report places the DR's human development index (HDI), which based on life expectancy, education levels and income indicators, at 0.7. This has been achieved despite the fact that the country has to absorb mass immigration from neighboring Haiti, which is included in the list of the least developed countries in the world.

Notwithstanding, the Dominican Republic kept its ranking of 102nd of 187 countries in human development, according to the United Nations.

The announcement was made by Luciana Mermet, Deputy Resident Representative at UNDP, during the presentation of the 2014 Human Development Report - Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. The report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.

During the announcement, she said the biggest challenge for the Dominican Republic is wealth distribution. She said the report reflects data studied from 2011-12 and does not include the progress made during the Medina administration.

Making the presentation at the Crowne Plaza yesterday, Thursday 25 September 2014 Mermet called for more programs for women and young people, who are included in the more vulnerable groups. Nevertheless, she said that more women than men are graduating from high school in the Dominican Republic, unlike the average situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite this, only 51% of women enter the workforce, which is below the regional average.

Melisa Breton was the coordinator for the UNDP Human Development Report in the Dominican Republic.







AIRD: Country needs better industrial policies
The president of the Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD) Ligia Bonetti has issued a warning about the decline in manufacturing due to a lack of proactive industrial policies. She said that there has been a drop in manufacturing from 21.8% to 12.3% of GDP, as reflected in the 2007 National Accounts analysis.

She said that time was running out to meet the indicators that were established in the National Development Strategy Law (END), when speaking during the monthly American Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, 23 September 2014.

She called for the establishment of effective and sustainable industrial policies aimed at creating formal jobs, and increasing exports and social cohesion. "It is time to adjust the course and accelerate the changes," she said.


World Bank: US$550 million lending program
The World Bank has announced a new US$550 million lending program and advisory services for the Dominican Republic over the next four years (2015-2018).

The new strategy was jointly prepared by the Dominican Government and the World Bank Group (WBG), comprised of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

"The Dominican Republic has significant potential to create more and better jobs, as well as to improve access to finance, to more reliable electricity and telecommunications, and to improve services in education, health, water and social protection, for the poorest 40% of the population," said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank director for the Caribbean. "This new strategy reflects a common effort to boost results on the ground in these areas", she said.

The World Bank support will be used to improve access to quality public services, including education, health, water and social protection by increasing the number of new teachers recruited under a competitive selection system, doubling the number of children vaccinated, providing access to improved sanitation to approximately 128,000 poor people in Puerto Plata, and strengthening the flagship safety net Progresando con solidaridad. Funds will also be used to increase access to electricity, telecommunications and other infrastructure by reducing losses in the electricity sector, investing in renewable energy and improving access to more efficient and reliable ICT services through a national broadband network interconnecting 15 provinces.

The project will also allocate funds to building resilience to external shocks by installing a new telemetric network for managing water resource flows, building and rehabilitating four dams and developing a national integrated information system.

It also includes funding to improve the business climate by halving the time taken to register new companies, improving access to finance for over 60,000 small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, and providing more public-private partnerships.

There are also chapters for use of the money to promote efficient management of public resources by strengthening fiscal management, budgetary processes and civil society capacity in budget analysis and oversight.

The World Bank announced that as part of the program, it will be supporting the private sector that is complemented by a MIGA guarantee for US$107.6 million for the toll road to Samana for MIGA's client, Autopistas del Nordeste. The high cost of the toll road for travelers is considered a major obstacle to tourism development in Samana.

Read more: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/dominicanrepublic

Milton Ray Guevara at the World Conference on Constitutional Justice
The president of the Constitutional Tribunal, Milton Ray Guevara is traveling to South Korea to attend the 3rd Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (WCCJ). The event will take place in Seoul from Sunday, 28 September 2014 through 1 October.

The event focuses on the topic of "Constitutional Justice and Social Integration," and is being hosted by the Constitutional Court of South Korea. The four-day international conference brings together top leaders in constitutional justice from around the world. The Congress will be attended by the heads of all courts exercising constitutional jurisdiction, such as constitutional and supreme courts, as well as the representatives of international organizations from approximately 100 countries, who will present ways of resolving the intensifying social conflicts faced by the world at large.

The World Conference on Constitutional Justice, a permanent body uniting constitutional courts, constitutional councils and supreme courts across the world, was organized to promote constitutional justice as the key element of human rights protection, democracy and the rule of law.


Bid to ban cell phone use in jails
On Tuesday, 23 September 2014, the Chamber of Deputies fast-tracked a bill that bans the use of cell phones in jails and establishes the blocking of telecom signals from jails. Deputy Juan Julio Campos (PLD-La Altagracia) said that cell phone use has enabled criminals who are in jail to commit fraud and other crimes.

The bill establishes that the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (Indotel) needs to coordinate and guarantee that all the country's jails, correction and rehab centers have the equipment and infrastructure needed for blocking the calls, as well as data and image transmission. The Attorney General office needs to ensure that the Department of Prisons and Indotel can meet the obligation to purchase, install and maintain the signal blocking equipment in jails.

The bill also calls for the installation of telephone booths in all jails so that inmates can communicate with their relatives at fixed days, hours and time periods.

It establishes that whoever violates the dispositions will be subject to three to five years in jail and fines of five to 10 times the minimum salary in government.


Study in the UK Fair in Santo Domingo and Santiago
The UK Embassy in the Dominican Republic is hosting the 2nd Fair of British Universities in Santo Domingo and Santiago. The event promotes studies at seven UK universities. The meetings will take place on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 in Santo Domingo at the Hotel Embajador from 3:30 to 8pm, and in Santiago at the Hotel Gran Almirante on 1 October 2014 from 3:30 to 7:30pm.

Representatives of the Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Harper Adams University, Hult International Business School, University of Nottingham, University of Portsmouth, University of Reading and Middlesex University will be in the Dominican Republic to present their programs to potential students and also to reach agreements with local universities for joint programs.

The UK Embassy will also be providing information on the Chevening Scholarship programs during the event.

For more information, see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/354921/Great_Universities_Fair_Information_Leaflet.pdf

Leonel Fernandez on campaign trail in Lawrence, Mass.
Massachusetts newspaper the Eagle Tribune reports on former President Leonel Fernandez's visit to the city of Lawrence where he accepted a proclamation to run for President in 2016 from local officials. Lawrence has a large Dominican population, and its mayor, Daniel Rivera, is Dominican.

While Fernandez has not made an official announcement as to whether he will run again for office in 2016, he took part in an event where hundreds rallied in support of his candidacy in Boston, Massachusetts on Tuesday, 23 September 2014.

"As a former president, I am just an unemployed man," Fernandez joked from the podium at City Hall.

Polling stations will be set up in key US cities for Dominicans to vote in the election.


Attorney General upholds confidentiality in the Super Tucanos case
The Attorney General Office had little to say about the international investigations into alleged corruption in the case of the purchase of Brazilian Super Tucanos during the Fernandez administration. In response to press inquiries, the Attorney General Office confirms there is an ongoing international investigation in which the Dominican Republic has participated in compliance with Art. 46 of the United Nations Convention on Corruption, and the United Nations Convention on Organized Transnational Crime. It adds that in the interest of the success of the international investigation there is a commitment for confidentiality in the current case.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the United States and Brazilian authorities are investigating the sale of airplanes by Embraer SA, through bribes allegedly made to high-ranking military officers in the Dominican Republic and Argentina. Investigations into the purchase by the Dominican state of eight Super Tucano aircraft during the President Leonel Fernandez government have revealed that the Brazilian company could have incurred in bribery in order to push through the sale. For the purchase, the government took on a US$93,697,887 debt with the Brazilian export promotion bank, the BNDES.

El Dia confirmed that Colonel Carlos Piccini Nunez, mentioned in the story as key in the US$3.5 million extra payment made, is an active officer in the Air Force assigned to escort former minister of the Armed Forces, Major General Pedro Rafael Pena Antonio, who was in the position when the purchase was made. Pena Antonio was chief of the Air Force when negotiations for the purchase of the Brazilian jets began and Piccini Nunez was director of special projects for the Armed Forces.

At the time of the purchase, Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez rallied for the passing of the purchase contract.





Cut gender violence at the roots
INTEC University's Gender Studies coordinator Lourdes Contreras says that more work needs to be done to reduce gender violence from the roots, as reported in Diario Libre. Contreras said that public policies continued to focus on administering justice when few cases that get that far compared to the number of women who suffer physical, sexual, physiological, emotional and patrimonial violence. She said that figures from the first half of 2014 show that almost twice the number of gender-related murders were registered compared to the previous year: 27 cases in January-June 2013 compared to 45 for the same period in 2014.


Scotia Bank parking armed robber "was acquitted in Francina Hungria case"
The Police have named the man accused of shooting and robbing 59-year old Canadian businessman Raymond Maurice Olsen in the Scotia Bank parking lot on Santo Domingo's Lope de Vega avenue on 15 September 2014 as Melvin Perez (Bululu). The information was obtained from security tapes and witnesses.

Perez was accused but acquitted in the case of the shooting of engineer Francina Hungria who was blinded in the attack on 23 November 2012. The court only sentenced one person for the crime, releasing the others on legal technicalities and lack of proof.


Drugs confiscated at Multimodal Caucedo Port
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), state prosecutors and the Freight Containers Control Unit at the Multimodal Caucedo Port have seized 179 packages suspected of being cocaine or heroin, reports DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina. Three unnamed persons have been arrested. The drug was camouflaged within a freight container registered to NYK Logistics & Megacarrier ship Conti Elektra that had arrived from Brazil and was bound for Puerto Rico.



US tourist killed in triple crash on Coral Highway
A US tourist, Ashley Fraser, has been killed in a traffic crash on the Coral Highway between La Romana and Higuey, the Metropolitan Transport Authority reports. The accident occurred when the driver of a Mitsubishi SUV lost control and hit the Nissan minibus in which Fraser and her husband Melville Dwayne Herron were traveling. The minibus driver, Eleiony Aquino Rijo, was also injured. In the accident, the Mitsubishi SUV also hit a Kia car driven by Miguel Angel Mercedes Ubiera, who was unhurt. The collision occurred at 3pm on Thursday, 25 September 2014, about 500 meters from the tollbooth in Benerito.


DR moves to round two in 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship
The game against Croatia (ranked 23rd in the world) in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship was a tough and exhausting one. The Dominican national women's volleyball team (ranked 10th in the world) won the second tiebreaker in a game that went 3-2 (25-22, 25-13, 22-25, 24-26, 19-17).

With its defeat of Croatia on Thursday, 25 September 2014, Dominican Republic moved to the second round of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Italy.

In Pool A, the Dominican Republic competes against Italy, Germany, Croatia, Argentina and Tunisia. The DR defeated Germany 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 25-21 and 24-26), Tunisia 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-10), and Croatia 3-2 (25-22, 25-13, 22-25, 24-26, 19-17).

With still two more match days in Round I pool play, the Dominican Republic and Germany claimed their next round tickets. Other teams that qualified are Italy (ranked 4th), Brazil (ranked first), China (tied in 5th) and Russia (tied in 5th place).

A total of 60 matches are played during the first phase of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship, running from September 23-28 with the best four teams of the four pools advancing to the second competition round.

For details of the game, see:




Sonidos del Son at Centro Cultural Espanol
Dominican musician Kundengo Minier will be playing at the Centro Cultural Espanol on Calle Arzobispo Merino in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. Kundengo Minier is the creator of a musical style and has played abroad in the US, France, Cuba and Guadeloupe. During the performance on Saturday, 27 September 2014, homage will be paid to Dominican "son" music star, Bartolito del Rosario.

The Centro Cultural Espanol is also holding a photography exhibition, Sonidos del Son, on the work of Kundengo Minier through 19 October 2014. A documentary on the life of Kundengo Minier will be shown on 8 October at 7pm. Minier is also well known for creating genuine guitars built from recycled materials.


Willie Colon at Sambil
Legendary salsa performer Willie Colon is booked for a performance at Sambil Mall's auditorium in Santo Domingo this evening, Friday 26 September 2014. The concert starts at 9pm. General admission is RD$4,500. Special guest seats from RD$6,450 to RD$9,850. Tickets are for sale at uepa.com

Weeks of Spain celebration
The Embassy of Spain is sponsoring a month of Spanish cultural activities in Santo Domingo and Santiago from 25 September through 30 October 2014. The events include Spanish films, theater, sport, dance, fashion, gastronomy and lectures on Spanish history.

Spanish Ambassador Jaime Lacadena says that the objective is to celebrate the ties that unite Dominicans and Spaniards.

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in the Dominican Republic, Casa de Espana and Spanish Embassy organizations are taking part in the events.

The Ambassador says that one of this year's highlights will be the "75 years of EFE" photographic exhibition focusing on the first Spanish language news service. The collection of 75 historic photographs opens on 13 October 2014.

Lacadena adds that the events are also showcasing some of the best of contemporary Spanish culture.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the publication of the iconic Spanish children book "Platero y yo," several events have been included in the Weeks of Spain celebration. There will be a performance of "Platero y yo" by Compania de Teatro Guloya on 18 October at 7pm at the Centro Cultural Espana, and this will be accompanied by a photographic exhibition "Juan Ramon: Space and Time". This will be preceded by a talk by Antonio Orihuela on 15 October at 6pm at the Centro Cultural Espanol. This event is co-sponsored by the Fundacion Zenobia-Juan Ramon Jimenez.

Ambassador Lacadena announced the opening of an exhibition of 10 photographers from Ibero-American countries today, Friday 26 September 2014 at the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo.

Spain will also be taking part in the Long Night of Museums on Saturday, 27 September with an exhibition "Shared Customs" at the Centro Cultural Espanol on Calle Arzobispo Merino in the Colonial City.

There will be film festivals sponsored by the Department of Films (DGCine).

In the area of gastronomy, expect wine tastings and other promotional events coordinated with leading supermarkets.

Hip Hop at Centro Cultural Espanol
A Hip Hop ConCierto, a retrospective on the evolution of Hip Hop in the Dominican Republic by several groups will be held at the Centro Cultural Espanol in Santo Domingo Colonial City. The show seeks to illustrate how the cultural movement has served as a way for young people to express themselves and channel violence and turn it into creativity. Performances by Dkano, Sr. Kr, Gaudy Merci, Stros. 11 October 2014 at 9pm.

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

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