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Daily News - Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Medina convenes stakeholders for Electricity Pact
President Danilo Medina has called a meeting between the Economic, Social and Institutional Council (CESI), government and civil society institutions and other stakeholders to prepare the scenario for the discussion and drafting of the National Pact for Electricity Sector Reform. Art. 35 in the National Development Strategy Law 1-12 (ENDI) ordered the Electricity Pact to be signed no later than 25 January 2013. The private sector has been calling for the meetings, criticizing the government for taking decisions that should have complied with the pact.

In Decree 389-14 President Medina gave the participants in the discussions six months from the start of the process to the signing of the agreement to reach a national consensus on the new model for generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity that results in a quality electricity service at a lower cost, which is more stable and does not represent a fiscal burden for the government.


Abel Martinez: Cutting RD$50,000 monthly from lawmaker perks
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Abel Martinez, has announced the immediate elimination of RD$100 million from the Social Management Fund, otherwise known as "el barrilito." He announced that a chapter of RD$50,000 a month received by each deputy would be redistributed.

Martinez said that the money for this chapter that had been set aside for November and December 2014 would be distributed to the hospitals and health centers that are known for their credibility, transparency of resource management and service to people on low incomes.

He reminded journalists that when he took over as president of the Chamber of Deputies in 2010 he immediately gave up his "barrilito" and handed back the credit card he was given as president that had a RD$150,000 and US$10,000 monthly spending limit.

The monthly allotments are in addition to others, such as the RD$176.9 million the legislators received for distributing Mother's Day gifts and another RD$14 million for assisting whom they choose to make sweet beans during Easter.

The legislators have been open about the so-called "slush fund" allotments, but have met with much opposition from groups that criticize that the reported philanthropy is political patronage.




New hospital director will not impose penalties
The new director of the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Public Hospital, Dr. Jose Miguel Ferreras has assured that he has no plans to penalize anyone. He said he wants to work together with the staff to solve the problems affecting the hospital.

Yesterday morning, Tuesday 14 October 2014, he held his first meeting with the heads of the departments at the hospital to hear the main needs. He said that he had received his training as a pediatrician in the hospital in the 1980s and that most of the doctors working there were his friends, so he was confident that they could work together in harmony and do everything possible for the patients.

Dr. Ferreras was appointed after Listin Diario headlined that 11 children had died at the hospital in one weekend. The story provoked widespread outrage and led the government to take action to resolve the long-standing problems at the hospital that hospital staff had tried to report on numerous occasions.


Public Health Ministry owes RD$7 billion
New Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzman Marcelino reports that debt carried by the Ministry is at RD$7 billion. A source told Diario Libre that the commitments include arrears with public hospitals, medicines and suppliers. When her predecessor, Freddy Hidalgo Nunez took over in 2012 a debt of more than RD$1 billion was left by his predecessor, Bautista Rojas Gomez.

The debt at the Ministry increased significantly after the Medina administration stopped public hospitals from charging patients the so-called "recovery fee" that helped hospital cash flow. The elimination of the fee also resulted in an increase in patients demanding services at the hospital.

To improve cash flow at the hospitals, new Minister Guzman has said that priority will be given to integrating the hospitals with health providers (ARS), both private and public. Guzman is the former director of the government health provider, Senasa.

"We need the authorities of every hospital to commit and implement all that is necessary to sell services and bill the health providers, even if they start only with Senasa", she said, as reported in Diario Libre.


Another public hospital has a new director
Doctor Reyson Pavon has been appointed director of the Vinicio Calventi Public Hospital in Los Alcarrizos, replacing Alberto Diaz. Diaz resigned following a series of complaints about the bad administration of the hospital, culminating with a strike by surgeons on Monday, 13 October 2014.

Doctor Reyson Pavon is an Air Force doctor.


Aristy and Ayuso: It was not a retraction
Lawyer Jose Alejandro Ayuso says that senator Felix Bautista has broken their "gentlemen's agreement" not to release information publicly on the 26 July 2014 agreement to end litigation prior to the decision by the Miami, Florida court that is hearing the case of Felix Bautista vs. Jaime Aristy Escuder and Jose Alejandro Ayuso for the publication of "The Dark Side of Sunland" book. The case is being heard in Miami after the book was distributed there.

As part of the "gentlemen's agreement", both parties would wait to make the settlement public. He made the statement during the Carmen Imbert Brugal radio talk show on 94.1FM.

The comments are made after the agreement appeared in the media yesterday, Tuesday 14 October 2014 with a slant that suggested that the authors of the Dark Side of Sunland had retracted their statements. Aristy and Ayuso say the press release did not come from them.

Both Aristy Escuder and Jose Alejandro Ayuso were prompt to say they stood by the information in the book that looks into government corruption and irregularities, despite acknowledging that some details have been corrected.

On Monday, 13 October 2014 senator Bautista announced the agreement that had been reached in July, saying that the defendants acknowledged the judicial decisions in the country that had relieved Bautista from penal responsibility and charges of corruption.

"It was simply an agreement, a pact based on judicial decisions in the Dominican Republic. I will always be looking for the truth to prevail and what I did was to use mechanisms provided by the law for this purpose. If someone defames me, I will go to the courts to prove that what was said was incorrect," said Bautista, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.

Speaking to the press yesterday, 14 October, Aristy said that Felix Bautista was the one who decided to withdraw the defamation suit. Aristy said that the Miami court had established that the book's content did not defame Bautista, but that there were errors in some of the details. The errors include the claim that the private account for the deposits for Sun Land, owned by Consorcio Hemisferio Oriental, received deposits worth US$112 million, but the court established that only US$67 million was transferred and the rest of the money was used by Sun Land at its discretion from January to August 2007.

Aristy said that Bautista had spent US$160,000 on the suit in legal fees. He added that the main reason for the signing of the agreement was that Sun Land was allegedly preparing to sue the Dominican state for US$235 million for rescinding the contract that was signed in 2007. Sun Land planned to support its case with revelations from the Miami court case, according to Aristy. He said that as part of the agreement, Sun Land has agreed not to sue the Dominican government. He said that if Bautista had not lifted the suit, Sun Land could have used revelations made in the book to sue the Dominican state.

He said a second part of the book is being researched but he does not know if it will be published or not. Nevertheless, as reported in El Nacional, Aristy said that new documentation to which he has had access reveals that the "scale of the violations against the state by Sun Land were greater than as published in the book and that it is up to the authorities to use that information.

Meanwhile, the case for corruption and asset laundering against Bautista continues to be heard in the Supreme Court. The Attorney General Office has accused him of using his position as director of the Office of Supervising Engineers of State Works (OISOE) during the Fernandez administrations to siphon off millions into around 40 companies, most dedicated to construction or asset accumulation.






Bautista hearing delayed
The Supreme Court of Justice has postponed the hearing whereby Senator Felix Bautista will oppose the legal notification affecting property in the Rofi corporation until 21 October belonging to the property group, Rofi, until 21 October 2014.

Supreme Court judge Frank Soto made the decision following a request from the National Lawyers Association (CONA), the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (Adocco) and Citizens Movement against Corruption (C3). They are asking for more time to go through the documents as they were only given them by Bautista's defense late on the day before the hearing.

On 1 October, Bautista directly accused Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito of engaging in political persecution against him as he did not support his aspirations as a presidential candidate.

For his part, Dominguez Brito said the reason behind the legal restraint advisory on the properties was that it was thought that Bautista was a money launderer and he said that as director of the Office of Supervising Engineers of State Works (OISOE) he managed to develop a complex network, both social and financial, to hide and cover up millions of pesos and properties. He said that he was able to spend significantly more than he earned legally as a government official, and that Rofi SRL was just one of around 40 companies he allegedly used.



Cemex goes solar in San Pedro de Macoris
The Mexican cement giant, Cemex has announced the start of operation of a 1.5-megawatt solar power capacity at its plant in San Pedro de Macoris. The company says that this is part of its commitment to sustainability with a reduction in the carbon footprint and a way of mitigating its environmental impact.

The 5,040 solar panels can generate up to 2.2 million kilowatts/hour all year round, the equivalent of supplying power to 2,000 homes, said plant operations director Jesus Garcia Cardenas.

This is the first solar park operated by Cemex in the Caribbean. The company says it will continue to innovate with clean energy solutions including wind and marine energy to continue to contribute to environmental sustainability.


New cave discovered in Boca Chica
Architect Enrique Felix, who aspires to be elected mayor of Boca Chica for the PLD, has announced the discovery of a large cave off Av. Caracol. The cave is said to be similar to the Cave of Wonders (Cueva de las Maravillas) between San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, which is open to visitors.

Felix described the cave as "very impressive" and said it had passages that reach "several kilometers" underground. He said that the Ministry of the Environment's Cave Department was now in charge of studies that could result in it being opened for domestic and foreign tourists to visit.


Ari Barshi: 9th in Laser World
Dominican sailor Ari Barshi placed 9th in the Laser Masters' Worlds Championship in the Standard Master category earlier this month, after competitors from Australia, The Netherlands, United States, Denmark, Germany, Canada and New Zealand.

The Dominican Republic was also represented by Andres Martinez (13th Standard Grand Master), Jorge Abreu (15th Standard Grand Master) and Omar Bros (82nd Standard Grand Master).

The event was held in Hyeres, France from 3-11 October 2014. 116 competitors from 27 countries participated in the championship. Winds were 5-22 knots.

The event is sponsored by Audi and organized by the International Laser Class Association.



Las Preciosas ridiculas at Sala Ravelo
The comedy "Las preciosas ridiculas" will be staged at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater in Santo Domingo, a benefit for the AFS Intercultural exchange organization. The play will take place on Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 6:30pm and will continue from 1-16 November on weekends at the National Theater.

Exhibition on Unity and Diversity of the Amerindian Caribbean
Do not miss the chance to expand your knowledge of the indigenous communities living in the Caribbean islands at the time of the European discovery. Visitors to the Altos de Chavon Regional Archaeological Museum can see the attractive panels in English and Spanish that show the social and economic connection and mobility of the indigenous communities in the Caribbean islands through the study of archaeological site found in Cabo San Rafael, La Altagracia province. The finds were made in a rocky coastal area (150m wide x 300m long) inside the Cap Cana tourism and residential development. The items were uncovered as part of excavations from 2005-2008 by scientists from the University of Leiden - Netherlands and the Museum of the Dominican Man.

Learn more about their subsistence, the exceptional way they built their houses, how they buried their dead, their works of art, their rituals, relationships between the Caribbean communities and about the first encounters between the Indians in the Caribbean and European settlers.

The exhibit is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 9pm. Free admission.

New York Met operas in HD at Novocentro
Films of the New York Met operas are being shown at the Fine Arts Novocentro theater in Santo Domingo.

The dates are Wednesdays: 15, 22 October, 5 and 26 November, 17 December 2014 (6pm), then 21 January, 4, 18 February, 18 March, 29 April at 7pm. Ten days, 14 operas (including two days of double operas). The operas will be screened on the Wednesday following the live performances in New York City.

October operas are:

1. "Macbeth", by Verdi: 11 October 2014. 3 hours 15 minutes. Novo Centro: Wednesday, 15 October at 7pm.

2. "The Marriage of Figaro", by Mozart: 18 October 2014. 3 hours 50 minutes. Novo Centro: Wednesday, 22 October at 7pm.

Cuban Contemporary Ballet to perform in benefit
The Grupo de Ballet Contemporaneo from Camaguey, Cuba will take the stage at the auditorium of the Dominican Sport Hall of Fame located in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. The Cuban dancers will dance for a benefit organized by the Igneri Art/Archeology Foundation and the Dominican Association for Hospital and Health Volunteers (ADOVOHS). The performance will be on Wednesday, 15 October at 8:30pm. The performance, "Vivir, Vivir" recreates the history of the dance company where joie de vivre is told through the lively music of chachacha, mambo, tango, merengue and even disco music.18 Cuban dancers from Camaguey, Cuba will also perform several of their best choreographies over the years. Tickets cost RD$1,500-RD$800 and RD$200 and can be purchased at the offices of ADOVOHS at http://www.adovohs.com

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

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