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Daily News - Tuesday, 14 October 2014

President Medina swears in new officials
President Danilo Medina swore in the new Minister of Public Heath, Altagracia Guzman Marcelino yesterday, Monday 13 October 2014, as well as other government officials appointed last Friday, 10 October.

The new appointees include Chanel Mateo Rosa Chupany as executive director of the National Health Insurance company (SENASA), new advisory minister Soraya Castillo and new provincial governors for Dajabon, Ramona Rodriguez Quezada, Rafael Cuevas Jimenez for Bahoruco and Ivan Rivera Bastardo for Puerto Plata.

Medina also swore in Eliseo Lopez as Administrative Board chairman of the Northern Electricity Generating Company (EDENORTE), Carlos Collado, Administrative Board member of EDENORTE and Geraldino Gonzalez, Administrative Board member of the Hydroelectric Generating Company (EGEHID).

Carlos Troche was sworn in as Deputy Minister for Public Works and Communications, and Director General of Construction and Maintenance of Rural Roads and Onesimo Reyes, Director of the Puerto Plata Corporation of Aqueducts and Sewers (CORAAPLATA).

In addition, Marius De Leon was sworn in as Director of Pensions at the Treasury, and Juan Antonio Cuello Ortiz as executive secretary at the Cocoa Commission.

Finally, President Danilo Medina swore in Marino Collante as Airports Department Director, Major General Rafael De Luna Pichirilo as Civil Defense director, Cesar Florentino as Lotteries Superintendent and Nelson Sanchez as Insurance Superintendent.


Literacy plan going well
According to preliminary data, 350,000 Dominicans have now learned to read and write as part of the National Literacy Plan.

Pedro Luis Castellanos, director of the General Office of Special Presidential Programs (DIGEPEP) and Technical Team Coordinator of the "Quisqueya Learns with You" National Literacy Plan said that people began attending the courses in January 2013 and to date 697,455 have been enrolled, representing 82% of the country's estimated illiterate population.

During a press conference, Unesco Education Programs Specialist Mirtha Velasco said that the country was not prepared for such a large-scale response and that there were problems but they were being channeled through the Ministry of Education.


Budget is financial tool, not much help for development
National Budget director Luis Reyes Santos admits that improving the quality of government spending is a task that is still pending in this country. He said that the country has not got the programs or the capacity to monitor the spending. As a result, the budget is a mere financial instrument and not a development strategy tool. Reyes is deputy minister of Hacienda in charge of the budget. He said that in the past three years some pilot programs have been begun to allow for better budget execution monitoring.

Reyes acknowledged that the department has never had the capacity to monitor budget implementation, but he said there is more transparency and efficiency in the use of the funds.


Trade Observatory pinpoints weaknesses in exports
Economist Pavel Isa Contreras of the Dominican Trade Observatory (ODCI) says that the local export sector still needs a great deal of improvement. Exports went from US$5.19 billion in goods and US$8.07 billion in services in 2000 to US$8.54 billion in goods and US$13.881 in services in 2011.

The observations follow an assessment made of the sector from 2000 to 2011, "Selected Performance Indicators of Exports in the Dominican Republic: Evaluation of a Decade."

Isa Contreras concludes that general and structural indicators suggest a sluggish behavior of exports, a noteworthy decline of the export value as proportion of GDP and a significant reduction in share in world markets. The indicators of composition of exports reveal the need for a restructuring process. The assessment showed that while apparel exports declined, new primary exports have emerged and there has been considerable diversification of exports.

Read the assessment in Spanish at: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=87026374005

Samana Highway guzzles taxpayer money
The Santo Domingo-Samana toll highway, known as the Juan Pablo II Highway and Autopista del Nordeste, still depend on government subsidies. Reportedly, the government will have to come up with RD$2.5 billion to meet its concession contractual obligations for 2015. In just two years the subsidy has increased dramatically, from RD$933 million in 2013 to RD$2,272.1 million this year.

The rising tolls have had an adverse effect on traffic on the highway. The Samana Cluster warns that the road has harmed the tourism industry as domestic travelers choose to visit other destinations where the tolls are low.

The Juan Pablo II highway was built with Colombian investment and the concessionaire is in charge of administering the tollbooths for 30 years with a minimum guaranteed income, which, if not reached needs to be subsidized by the government. The 106.59km road has three tollbooths charging tolls ranging from just over RD$400 pesos for cars up to over RD$1600 pesos for large trucks.


Doctors not happy with sanctions
The Dominican Medical Association executive board has declared that it is in permanent session, warning that its members would not accept the penalties imposed on the doctors at the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital where 11 children, mostly babies, died the weekend before last.

The doctors said that the public hospital was in mourning and that they had not been negligent. CMD president Pedro Sing said that the word "negligence" should be taken out of the report issued by a government-appointed commission. The doctors also demanded the reinstatement of hospital director, Rosa Nieves Paulino.

The doctors, who were all wearing black ribbons, were confronted by police and military personnel who surrounded the hospital and stopped journalists from entering.

Yesterday, Monday 13 October 2014, the new hospital director, Jose Manuel Ferrara, who was appointed by President Danilo Medina on Friday, did not arrive for work.



More peppers to be sold
Weis-Buy Farms Inc.is expanding its Dominican Republic greenhouse pepper deal.

Over the past year, the Fort Myers, Florida-based marketer and growers' agent has tripled the number of loads of colored bell peppers it ships from the country.

For this season, it plans to load up to 10 trailers a week of red, yellow and orange peppers, compared to the three trailers a week it shipped last year, said Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer.

This winter will be the fourth year Weis-Buy plans to ship product from Dominican Republic greenhouse farmers who grow and ship from 494 acres of production and packing facilities in Constanza and Ocoa.

They also grow greenhouse miniature cucumbers, cubanelle peppers and vine-ripe tomatoes.

Salesman Michael Shapiro said that because the greenhouses are on mountains up to 4,000 feet above sea level, the moderate temperatures allow year-round production, and the less expensive sturdy plastic greenhouses keep costs low.


Dominican Republic makes Guinness Book of Records
The 2015 Guinness Book of World Records has just been released, marking its 60th anniversary. This edition includes a selection of incredible travel-related world records.

The Dominican Republic makes the list as the Deadliest Place to Travel by Road, as the country recorded 41.7 road deaths per 100,000 during the year 2010, the highest rate in nations with a population of more than one million, according to a 2013 report by the World Health Organization.



Tragedy in Puerto Plata nightclub
Three young people were killed and around five were injured in a shootout at the La Canita Rancho Tipico nightclub in Puerto Plata in the early hours of Monday morning, 13 October 2014. The government announced the shut down of the center while investigations continue.

The deceased were Henry Alejandro Grullon, Luis Mercedes Batista and Pablo Gomez and the injured were Yerlin Batista Hernandez, Elvis Bienvenido Balbuena, Juan Alberto Payan and Sterlin Sanchez Castillo.

The incident took place at around 12:30am on Monday in the La Canita nightclub that is located on the road that leads to the new dock in the city of Puerto Plata. According to reports, it resulted from a personal dispute between the victims and the perpetrators. The police say that they are looking for the two men said to be responsible, Jeffrey Ramon de la Cruz Nunez (Gueba) and another identified only as "Alinson".





More arrested trying to get to Puerto Rico
The Dominican Armada (Navy) says it stopped 86 people trying to get to Puerto Rico illegally over the weekend of 11-12 October 2014.

Captain Juan Pablo Sandoval Garcia said that 56 people, 26 Haitians and 30 Dominicans were arrested in Las Canitas in La Altagracia province.

Another 30, one woman and 29 men, were arrested out at sea, in a joint operation with the US Coast Guard.

In addition, with the assistance of Naval Intelligence, a man who is well known for organizing illegal journeys to Puerto Rico was also arrested.


Deportation of Haitians increases
The border security corps, Cesfront says that in the past 30 days it has deported 3,145 undocumented Haitians at the border with Dajabon. Most of the foreigners were arrested when traveling in vehicles, bicycles, motorbikes or on foot to cross the border. Most of the arrests were made in Copey, Montecristi, Vigia, Don Miguel, Santiago de la Cruz and Dajabon, says the Cesfront report.


Hurricane Gonzalo poses no threat
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) and the National Meteorological Office (Onamet) say that Hurricane Gonzalo will only bring rains and high surf to the east and northeastern coasts of the Dominican Republic as it moves north on its route to Bermuda.

As it continues on its northwest track moving away from the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Gonzalo has become a category two storm, packing winds of up to 175 kilometers per hour by this morning, Tuesday 14 October 2014. Forecasters say it will soon become a category 3 storm as it moves northwest away from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Onamet director Gloria Ceballos said that rainfall would not be significant because the waters are concentrated around the eye of the storm.

Rains are forecast for today, Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 October 2014, especially in the east and northeast of the country.

Nonetheless, the COE is maintaining a green alert for the provinces of La Altagracia (Higuey), El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Samana and Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), for potential moderate rainfall.



Best voices for hunger concert
The Food and Agricultural Organization agency (FAO) of the United Nations is sponsoring a concert this Friday, 17 October 2014 at 6pm at the UASD Aula Magna in Santo Domingo to send a message to fight global hunger. Victor Victor, Milly Quezada, Pavel Nunez, El Prodigio, Xiomara Fortuna, Bobby Delgado, Janio Lora and Minister of Culture Jose Antonio Rodriguez will be performing. The event commemorates World Food Day (celebrated worldwide on 16 October) and for admission those attending are asked to bring canned food, cartons of milk, packets of pasta and other food items that do not require refrigeration.

The MCs for the concert will be Mariasela Alvarez and Freddy Ginebra.



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

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