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Daily News - Monday, 06 October 2014

Medina visits rabbit and goat farmers in Bahoruco
President Danilo Medina was in the southwest on Sunday, 5 October 2014 where he visited rabbit and goat farmers in Mena Arriba, Mena Abajo and Los Robles in Bahoruco province. He met with members of the Farm Producers' Association of La Buena Fe (Asoproabfe), which rears rabbits and later with goat farmers in Los Robles, Tamayo. The government will provide funding so that the associations can expand their memberships and advance their goals.


Energy and Mines Minister Pelegrin Castillo backs mining
Minister of Energy and Mines Pelegrin Castillo has called for the rational development of mining resources in the country. Speaking at a luncheon organized by the Roundtable of Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic on Friday 3 October 2014, Castillo said that there was no doubt that mining needed to be one of the strongest pillars of Dominican economy.

"The country's foreign investment indicators, exports, credit and its economic growth in recent years have been notably impacted by this complex and risky activity that is intensive in capital and technology, and subject to major risks, included the risk of being misunderstood and denigrated," he told his audience.

He stressed that if contribution of mining to the economy has been significant, these will continue to be in the future given the known resources if the correct strategic decisions are taken.

The event had the backing of the Dominican Chamber of Mining (CAMIPE).


Telecoms not investing what is needed
Dominican Telecom Institute (Indotel) president Gedeon Santos has told Diario Libre that the government wants telecommunication companies to increase their investments in quality of service, which has declined significantly in recent years. Santos says the government wants the country to return to the quality of the telecom services in 1990s, when Dominicans could proudly say that they had the best communications services in Latin America.

Santos, who was appointed by President Danilo Medina in July 2013, said that Indotel's aim is to work on regulation, connectivity and expanding the number of Internet subscribers, currently only 14% of households.

"In the area of regulation, quality has dropped, and investment, and we need to rescue both," he told Diario Libre.

He said consumer centers would be opened where Dominicans can take their complaints against the telecoms companies and be heard. He said that Indotel would play an initial role as mediator.

He announced that the government would provide Internet education and funding for computer purchases. Micro, small and medium-sized companies will benefit from another plan to teach them how to create a webpage for their business, and use Internet banking. Santos said that the telecom centers opened in the past were mainly used for entertainment, so the focus has now turned to homes and small businesses for a more efficient use of government resources.


Percentages not working in budget laws
The Medina government is complying with the law that requires the government to spend 4% of GDP on pre-university education, but Diario Libre points out today, Monday 6 October 2014, that the time has come to change the laws that peg budgetary allocations to percentage of GDP.

As reported, Congress pegged the state university allocation to 5% of GDP, city governments to 10% and judiciary to 4.10%, just to mention some examples. As reported, these assignments would represent 38% of the RD$630.9 billion budget set for 2015 if they were met.


Government to borrow RD$44 billion for public works in 2015
The Medina administration will need to pass foreign loans worth RD$44.4 billion in 2015 to finance government works proposed for 2015.

The public works include:

Thermoelectric power plant/CDEEE: US$650 million

Rehabilitation of Power Distribution Lines/CDEEE: US$120 million with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

Ozama River Wastewater Station/CAASD for EUR55.7 million

Farming Research and Development Program/Ministry of Agriculture US$22 million/ IDB.

Funding for Micro, Small & Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs)/ Ministry of Industry and Commerce, US$30 million/IDB.

Social programs/ Social Polices Cabinet/US$75 million/IBRD.


Fiscal deficit more than RD$22.7 billion
The central government fiscal deficit for the first eight months of the year is at RD$22.7 billion, according to the National Budget Office (DIGEPRES). The Medina administration spent RD$304.8 billion and had revenue of only RD$282.1 billion. As reported in Diario Libre, the deficit was financed through loans. The Ministry of Hacienda says the deficit is equivalent to 0.8% of GDP.


20 cents of every peso paid in taxes goes on interest payments
The National Budget has allocated 20 cents of every peso in tax revenue to make interest payments on public debt, or around RD$87.17 billion. That is twice the sum allocated in 2007 (ten cents) and almost five times what was paid in 2000, when it was four cents.

Interest payments scheduled for 2015 on the internal and external debt are 23% more than what was estimated for 2014 and is 2.9% of GDP estimated for 2015.

"The capacity for the country to pay rests on the government's potential for generating taxes and for 2015 the tax burden will have increased to a record 19.4%," said Jose Luis de Ramon, of Deloitte Dominican Republic.


More blackouts expected as arrears increase
The Dominican Electricity Industry Association (ADIE) reports that the government has accumulated a debt of US$905 million in arrears, a new record, according to a story in Hoy.

This is up from US$818 million in August 2014. ADIE says this affects the capacity of the generators to supply the service, and plant shutdowns are likely to cause increased blackouts. ADIE reported that at this time of the year, two years ago the debt was at US$580 million.

ADIE says that the power distributors, now managed by the government, have not been capable of collecting for the power served, accumulating a deficit of around 33%.

As reported in Hoy, the power distributors bought power on average at 16.6 US dollar cents and sold it at 18.5 cents (US$).


DR on alert for Ebola
The Ministry of Public Health has announced that the country's first Ebola isolation ambulance has been equipped. Ministry of Public Health Emergencies and Disasters director Dr. Entola Martinez said the unit has been fitted with the bio-security equipment needed to move a person suspected of having the lethal disease.

The Ministry also said it is now obligatory for airlines and the Immigration Department to notify the Ministry of Public Health Epidemiology department of any individual who enters the Dominican Republic after having traveled to one of the countries identified as affected by the disease.

The announcement comes after the Center for Disease Control in the United States announced that local health authorities had diagnosed a first case of the disease in Dallas, Texas.


28 October is deadline for Haitian naturalization
The Presidency and the Ministry of Interior and Police are reminding potential applicants that 28 October is the deadline established in Naturalization Law 169-14 for registration of children of undocumented Haitians born in the Dominican Republic before 18 April 2007. The law established a free fast-tracked process for naturalization but those interested needed to apply for registration in the Foreign Birth Book (Libro de Nacimientos Extranjeros) by that date, a first step in the legalization process.

Applicants need to present a certificate of birth in a Dominican hospital, a sworn statement before a notary public by the person who assisted in the birth, a sworn statement by seven Dominican witnesses or sworn statements by Dominican relatives witnesses of the birth. After submitting the document, applicants have 30 days to complete the documentation.

Law 169-14 established a special procedure for people who had been irregularly registered in the Civil Registry to apply for Dominican nationality.



The Economist highlights PetroCaribe at risk
The Economist reports on how PetroCaribe, the Venezuelan energy-assistance program for the Caribbean and Central America places the Dominican Republic in a vulnerable position. The Economist says that the deferred payments established by the program for Venezuelan oil exports represented an average of US$2.3 billion a year for Venezuela.

"So far, the desire for influence in the Caribbean has outweighed economic pressures in Venezuela. But there are already signs that PetroCaribe's terms are becoming more stringent: Guatemala withdrew from the group last year after the terms became less favorable. The possibility that the program may eventually be wound up prompted a recent report from Scotiabank, a Canadian lender, to call PetroCaribe "more noose than lifeline".

Each PetroCaribe member has a separate energy-co-operation agreement, but the terms are broadly similar. The agreements can be cancelled or modified with just 30 days' notice, cutting off the flow of new financing and forcing countries to pay market rates.


Venezuelan businessman builds electric car in Montecristi
Venezuelan William Mercay has built a prototype of an electric car that he says is ready for production and export to other Latin American countries. The Teldiux Allien vehicle can be charged from any 110-watt electric outlet. It has three wheels, one at the front and two at the back, a 52-horse power engine and has a potential speed of 120 kmh.

Mercay says that the success is based on the export of the parts to other countries. He said the micro family businesses would manufacture the parts. Border Development General Director Miguel Bejaran congratulated Mercay on the venture and offered support for starting production in Montecristi under the tax incentives of Law 28-01.


Who is the senator in the WSJ corruption report?
A Wall Street Journal report released last month coinciding with President Danilo Medina and former President Leonel Fernandez's visit to New York City mentioned an unnamed Dominican senator who was allegedly paid a bribe as a key figure in the Super Tucanos purchase.

All eyes focused on PLD senator Felix Bautista, but now online news outlet Acento speculates that the WSJ was referring to another influential senator.

Acento reports that Felix Bautista was not a senator during the President Leonel Fernandez government when the 2008-2009 negotiations for the planes took place.



US Embassy to open visa office at Galeria 360
The United States Embassy is making it easier US visa holders. Ambassador James Brewster has announced that as of 12 November a visa center for servicing non-immigrant visa requests will be open at the centrally located Santo Domingo mall, Galeria 360. The services are open to those applying after the date.

Non-immigrant visas will now cost US$26 less for applicants at the new Centro de Atencion de Visas. There will be also improved e-mail and call center response for applicants, as reported in Diario Libre.

Brewster said that the procedure would be faster and less costly and all for a single fee. Applicants for tourist, student or temporary work permits will pay US$160 or the equivalent in Dominican pesos at the Banco Popular. The fee covers the appointment, customer service and delivery of the documents.

The new office decentralizes the US Embassy service. As of 12 November 2014, applicants for renewals can submit their documentation at the Galeria 360 offices and do not have to visit the US Embassy complex at Los Rios in northern Santo Domingo.

Nevertheless, first time visa applicants will need to schedule two appointments on different days n one at the Centro de Atencion de Visas at Galeria 360 and another at the Consulate in Los Rios for the interview.

Applicants can choose where they will pick up the issued visas n at Los Rios or Galeria 360.


Traveling to Italy, apply at the Spanish Embassy
The Consulate of Spain will be in charge of issuing visas for travel to Italy, as reported in Listin Diario. Spanish Ambassador Jaime Lacadena commented that Spain has traditionally been the main first port of entry for Dominicans anyway. Lacadena made the comment while being interviewed during the inaugural ceremony of the 8th Hispanidad 2014 Regatta in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 4 October 2014.

The Italian Embassy and consulate are scheduled to close by the end of this year.

The closure will affect around 50,000 Italians resident in the Dominican Republic, in addition to around 130,000 Italian tourists and around 400 Italian companies that do business in the Dominican Republic.


30 years in jail for Bolivian who killed Japanese diplomat
Judges of the Penal Chamber of Santo Domingo Sarah Veras, Yissell Soto and Leonardo Recio Tinedo have sentenced Bolivian Luis Antonio Baldelomar Tirina (Tony) to 30 years in jail for the 28 March 2010 murder of Tadaomi Nakai, representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the Dominican Republic. This is the maximum penalty in the Dominican penal system.

According to the case file, Nakai was having an affair with Baldelomar's wife Glennys Soraya Rochet. The file indicates that the relationship had been approved by Baldelomar. Rochet and Baldelomar had been married for 12 years and had five children. Baldelomar got the keys of Nakai's apartment from his wife. On the day of the murder he is said to have entered the apartment in the Biltmore apartment building on Federico Geraldino Street in Piantini and stabbed the Japanese diplomat.


DR makes it to Final Six Round in FIVB World Championship
Despite losing to China and Japan, the Dominican national women's team achieved the feat of making it to the third round in the FIVB World Championship. The DR will now face China, Italy, Brazil, the United States and Russia.

The championship brought together the best 24 teams, including four from Asia, two from Africa, six from Norceca (North America, Central America and the Caribbean), 10 from Europe and two from South America. At the start of the tournament, the DR team was ranked 10th in the world.

This is the first time the DR has qualified for the third phase, which will be played in Milan.

After winning seven straight games, the DR lost to China 3-2 (19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 10-15), and then to Japan 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 12-15).

Round 3 begins on 8 October 2014 in Milan.


Barry Clifford discovery is not the Santa Maria
As Dominican historians had suspected, the shipwreck discovered in May 2014 is not the Christopher Columbus flagship Santa Maria, as claimed by US sea explorer Barry Clifford.

The Haitian government had requested technical assistance from UNESCO's 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Scientific and Technical Advisory Body, which rejected the methods proposed by Clifford to perform underwater excavations and stated that the team Clifford had proposed for the work was not qualified.

The UNESCO team of experts found copper artifacts at the site and said this indicated the shipwreck was from a later date.

Following UNESCO's recommendations, the Haitian government rejected the explorer's thesis and no longer authorizes him to continue underwater excavations.


It's hot and will get hotter
The weather department (Onamet) is forecasting hot temperatures for Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 October 2014, with relief coming on Wednesday when a trough passes over the country. With plenty of sunshine forecast, these are good days to hit the beaches and mountain areas. Onamet recommends staying indoors from 11am to 4pm, keeping hydrated and wearing light clothing.


Dominican History Book fair 6-12 October 2014
This is your chance to purchase books and increase your knowledge of Dominican history.

The General Archives of the Nation (AGN) has announced a Dominican History Book Fair for 6-12 October 2014 from 8:30am to 9pm. Some 2,000 history-related books will be on display.

The AGN says that over the past 10 years around 2,200 books on historic topics sponsored by several institutions have been published. The AGN has also published 214 works since 2005, when historian Roberto Cassa took over the leadership of the influential institution.

Cassa says that the fair seeks to encourage students, historians, researches, specialists and the general public to become aware of these publications that are an essential complement to the work of preservation and dissemination of Dominican historical memory. The fair also seeks to contribute to strengthening the national identity and will be a space for Dominicans to encounter their past.

The Fair will take place at the General Archives of the Nation, located at Calle Modesto Diaz 2 in the Zona Universitaria, Santo Domingo.

Lulu Live Sessions with Peter Novelli Band
Listen to Blues from New Orleans at the Lulu Tasting Bar in the Colonial City. Peter Novelli plays with Guy Frometa on drums, Rigo Zapata on bass, and Jonathan Pina Duluc on tenor sax, 9pm this evening, Monday, 6 October 2014. Free admission. Arzobispo Merino corner Padre Billini in the Colonial City, Santo Domingo. 809 687-8360 ext. 301

Novocentro Fine Arts film festival
Novocentro in Santo Domingo is presenting an international film festival. The film festival continues through 8 October 2014 and some 50 films are being shown. 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.


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

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