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Daily News - Friday, 31 October 2014

Medina inaugurates schools in the east
President Danilo Medina visited the southeastern region yesterday, Thursday, 30 October 2014, for the inauguration of 87 new and 24 remodeled classrooms. The schools are located in San Pedro de Macoris (Las Lauras), Hato Mayor (Capote) La Romana (Batey Higueral), El Seibo (Villa Guerrero, La Lechuga, Marchena, Agua Blanca) and La Altagracia (Nido de Amor, Bejucal) provinces.



US$600 million in petrol import savings
Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu says that the DR will make savings of around US$600 million due to the expected continued downward trend of petrol prices on world markets. Valdez Albizu gave a talk "The Dominican Republic and its Prospects in the Latin American and International Context" yesterday, Thursday 30 October 2014, during the II Congress of Banking and Economy in Latin America (CLEC 2014) organized by the Association of Commercial Banks of the DR and the Latin American Federation of Banks (Felaban) that continues today, Friday 31 October 2014 at the Central Bank auditorium in Santo Domingo.

He said that crude prices have dropped from US$99.36 to US$84.56. This means that the Dominican Republic's current account deficit in the balance of payments could decline from 3.1% of GDP to 2.9% in 2015. Valdez Albizu said he expected petrol prices to close at low levels at the end of this year.

On the downside for the government, the decline in the price of petrol will mean reduced revenue for a government that is heavily dependent on petrol taxes.

Furthermore, during the talk, Valdez Albizu highlighted that in eight years (from 2005 to 2013), the Dominican peso had only depreciated 3.9%, which has meant years of monetary stability and certainty that has attracted domestic and international investors.

He forecast that exports in 2014 would be over US$10 billion, tourism revenues would be more than US$5.6 billion, remittances would be over US$4.6 billion and direct foreign investment would be around US$2.2 billion, which means that the DR would receive hard currency for more than US$22.4 billion in these areas in 2014.



ECLAC: Room for better public spending
The head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Economic Development Unit, Willy Zapata, and the lead economist of the World Bank's Global Group for Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management, Fernando Blanco, are recommending guidelines to be incorporated in a comprehensive taxation reform.

Zapata and Blanco made their comments during the II Congress of Banking and Economy in Latin America (CLEC 2014) sponsored by the Association of Commercial Banks of the Dominican Republic (ABA) and the Latin American Federation of Banks (Felaban) that is taking place yesterday and today, Thursday 30 n Friday 31 October 2014 at the Central Bank auditorium in Santo Domingo.

The economists believe that the Dominican Republic has room to improve its taxation policies, but the government needs to continue pushing for more efficient spending, strengthening the taxation administration and ensuring the legality of collecting these taxes. They said that any changes in fiscal policy must be accompanied by an improvement in the composition of public spending. "Nobody wants to pay for a five star hotel and receive a two star hotel service," said the senior economists.


DR and Russia agree to promote trade
The Ambassador of Russia in the Dominican Republic Vladimir Zaemskiy and Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez signed an agreement yesterday, Thursday 30 October 2014 for sanitary measures in support of fruit and vegetable exports to Russia.

Earlier this year, Russia banned food imports from the European Union and has had to source these products from other markets. According to the European Commission, last year the EU exported 11.8 billion euros (US$15.8 billion) worth of agricultural products to Russia, more than a third of Russia's total.

The agreement completes negotiations for an increase in the sale of Dominican fruits and vegetables to Russia.


Holidays in 2015
The Ministry of Labor has just released its holiday calendar for 2015.

Next year's official holidays are:

Thursday, 1 January: New Year's Day
Monday, 5 January: Three Kings Day
Wednesday, 21 January: Our Lady of Altagracia Day
Monday, 26 January: Duarte Day
Thursday, 27 February: Independence Day
Friday, 3 April: Good Friday
Monday, 4 May: Labor Day
Thursday: 4 June: Day of Corpus Christi
Sunday, 16 August: Day of Restoration.
Thursday, 24 September: Our Lady of Mercedes Day
Monday, 9 November: Constitution Day
Friday, 25 December: Christmas Day.

For more information on holidays and the long weekends they create, see http://dr1.com/travel/prepare/holidays.shtml


AIRD calls for better conditions for manufacturing
During its annual commemorative luncheon attended by President Danilo Medina yesterday, Thursday 30 October 2014, the Dominican Republic Industries Association recognized the contributions to industry made by businessman Jose Leon and the National Competitiveness Council (CNC). AIRD president Ligia Bonetti presented the award to Leon for his attributes as a "captain of industry and a person with exceptional human qualities." Executive director Andres van der Horst received the award on behalf of the CNC.

In her introductory address, Bonetti expressed support for government policies aimed at creating conditions for individuals to develop their productive capacities. She also highlighted that AIRD members are not so nearsighted as to forget that their companies will only be sustainable in time if the country's economic and social environment is business-friendly, people consistently increase their purchasing power, education levels and social protection benefits to experience higher levels of welfare. To think otherwise is suicide, she added.

The AIRD president stressed that the manufacturing sector wants to find harmonized solutions with the government and other stakeholders such as academia, unions and civil society institutions.

The keynote speaker during the event, Jose Vitienes, called for reforms needed to make manufacturing more competitive. "Reforms are needed to turn the Dominican economy into an export-driven economy with outward growth and high value-added activities that lead to the creation of formal well-paid jobs with benefits for living, health, family and education," he said. He added that businesspeople are willing to go hand and hand with the government in the timely measures. "We will dance the beat that is played. The son that the authorities play and it is with them that we have to tune the melodies and the music programs in frank discussions," he commented.

He expressed optimism that the DR can do better, but said that the country was failing when it comes to competitiveness. He commented that using the GDP as indicator, Taiwan and Ireland have multiplied their growth by 53 and 33 times, while the DR has taken 44 years to multiply its growth five-fold.

The prominent businessman warned that if the optimal conditions are not created for growth, manufacturing will disappear as a consequence of the cheaper imports and the burden carried by industries of inefficient government.

He sees the future in outward growth and seeking global markets. Vitienes commented that electricity, cargo transport and fuel are the three fundamental areas that must be tackled to improve the competitiveness of local industries.



Lawyers accuse Attorney General of seeking political gain
Some of the highest profile lawyers in the country have presented a complaint against Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, saying he is seeking political gain from his position. Lawyers Ramon Pina Acevedo, Carlos Balcacer, Felix Damian Alvarez, Pedro Duarte Canaan and Marino Elsevyf Pineda presented the complaint against the attorney general and 32 of his supporters yesterday, Thursday 30 October 2014. They accuse Dominguez Brito of violating Art. 172 of the Constitution that states that precludes the public prosecutor while in office from running for elective positions or engaging in any partisan political activity.

The lawyers are calling for Dominguez Brito to resign.

The lawyers also accuse him of violating Arts. 79, 80 and 92 of the Public Prosecution Law and Art. 147 of Law 821 on judicial organization, among others.

The complaint was submitted to the Public Prosecution Office and proof was presented in the form of posters of alleged political activities headed by Dominguez Brito.

Lawyer Pina Acevedo told the press the complaint was aimed at protecting the public prosecution office "from the cancer that is political influence."

Lawyer Carlos Balcacer denied that the complaint is related to the prosecutor's investigation into senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan de la Maguana). Bautista is the PLD party organizational secretary, and one of the closest associates of former President Leonel Fernandez who is seeking nomination as the PLD candidate in the 2016 presidential election.


PC: Take Bautista case to Supreme Court
Civil society group Participacion Ciudadana (Citizen Participation) is calling for the trial in the case in which senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan de la Maguana) is accused of corruption in his role of director of the Office of Supervisory Works of the Presidency during the former President Leonel Fernandez administration, and of money laundering.

The civic movement said that the investigations into the case by the Attorney General merit an in-depth investigation in court to establish the truth. Participacion Ciudadana says the scale of the accusation makes the case comparable only to the 2003 banking crisis.

The Supreme Court of Justice is under an obligation to clarify the case and must issue an independent and impartial decision on the facts denounced by the state prosecutors, according to Participacion Ciudadana.

Participacion Ciudadana says that the case compiled by the Attorney General Office has certificates issued by the Tax Agency (DGII) that prove that most of the people carrying out the operations denounced in the case did not pay the corresponding taxes.

Participacion Ciudadana said that the case to be heard at the Supreme Court should be surrounded by all guarantees for those being judged and the prosecutors who to carry out their duty have decided to break with impunity that has favored the increase in corruption in the country when presenting the accusation against a senator.


Metro fire suspect gets one year preventive custody
Judge Alejandro Vargas has ordered one year's preventive custody for 21-year old Frank Kelin Holguin, the main suspect in the Metro Santo Domingo fire. Holguin was sent to the San Pedro de Macoris Correction and Rehabilitation Center. During the hearing yesterday, Thursday 30 October 2014, Holguin said he never meant to hurt anyone and does not know what got into his head to take the action. The fire broke out after he ignited and threw a backpack with inflammable substances inside a Metro car packed with passengers at 8:30am on Monday, 27 October 2014.

Visibly affected and in tears in court, he said he turned himself in after he read a newspaper report about the scale of the damage he had caused.

Outside the courtroom, he told reporters he was sorry. Around 35 people were injured. One of the victims, Francis Alberto Gonzalez remains in the country's leading burn center intensive care unit with serious injuries.

Holguin faces a sentence of up to 40 years in jail if he is found guilty of terrorist charges, as per Law 267-08.

The authorities also suspect there is a mastermind behind the crime.




Fast solving of journalist theft
The Police have arrested eight people in connection with the theft of several items from two journalists who had come from the United States to cover the funeral of St. Louis Cardinal ballplayer Oscar Taveras who was killed in a car crash on Sunday, 26 October 2014.

The arrests were made yesterday evening, Thursday, 30 October 2014. The items had been stolen from inside their parked rented vehicle.

Police spokesman Jose Armando Brito Melo named the eight arrested men as 18-year old Alejandro Tavares Batista (El Durito), 26-year old Freddy Rosario Almonte, 20-year old Francis Castillo (Palli), 27-year old Pedrito Lopez Diaz and 27-year old Jhoel Mejia Rosario, all of whom are Dominicans, and three Haitians, 21-year old Orsun Yusef, 21-year old Yonit Torcina and 20-year old Frigane Onaltal, residents of Los Castillos, Sosua Abajo, La Union and Villa Nazaret in Sosua.

The suspects are accused of breaking the car window to steal two backpacks containing Apple and Renovo brand laptops, a key chain, a professional camera battery, a red briefcase, three mobile chargers, a cell phone, four books, notebooks, two sets of earphones, and some clothes.

The stolen goods belonged to Christopher Lee and Derrick Stephen Gould who work for the St. Louis Cardinal team and had parked their rented Fiat car outside the Sosua cemetery while attending the promising young ballplayer's funeral.

The eight suspects will be arraigned in a Puerto Plata court. Most of the stolen items have been recovered.


Haitian women arrested for prostitution in Dajabon
The Police arrested a dozen undocumented Haitian women who are suspected of engaging in prostitution in public areas in the border city of Dajabon, as reported in Listin Diario. They were arrested by Specialized Border Security Corps (Cesfront) agents and state prosecutors, headed by assistant prosecutor Danis Minaya.

The authorities said the women were soliciting clients in the city's two public parks. The women were handed over to Migration Agency authorities for deportation to Haiti.

As reported, some of the women explained that they had migrated to the DR to earn money for their relatives in Haiti, saying that they would return because they have no work in Haiti.


Looking for Rosa Maria Martinez
The authorities are on the trail of Rosa Maria Martinez, who used US passport 518408207 to rent a vehicle that is suspected of having been used in the attack on Najayo Jail on Monday, 27 October 2014. Four inmates and two jail security agents were killed in the incident.

The Public Prosecutor's Office has distributed a photo of the woman to the media. The Hyundai Santa Fe vehicle was rented from the OAR vehicle rental agency on Km. 21 of the Duarte Highway (La Guayiga). The rental company says that the day before the crime, the woman had called to say that the vehicle had been stolen and that she was injured at the Dario Contreras Hospital. Investigators say she was never treated at the hospital. The woman did not present any statement on the matter to the Police.

Spokeswoman Tessie Sanchez said that they have asked the United States embassy to confirm the passport's authenticity. The photo was taken after a rental agency employee noticed the woman was nervous.



Victor Estrella: Central American & Caribbean games flag bearer
The Dominican Olympic Committee has announced that 33-year old Victor Estrella has been selected as the Dominican team flag bearer in the opening parade of the 22nd Central American and Caribbean Games to be held in Veracruz, Mexico from 14-30 November 2014. He is the Dominican tennis player who has had the most wins in the Davis Cup, and is a former gold medalist in the Mayaguez 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games and bronze in the Pan Am Games in 2011.

Playing as a professional, he reached the second round of the US Open in New York. As of 31 October 2014, he is ranked 65th in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals.




'Las Preciosas Ridiculas' at the Sala Ravelo
Germana Quintana presents "Las Preciosas Ridiculas" at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater, Santo Domingo. Friday, 31 October 2014, and Saturday 1 November and Sunday, 2 November. Friday to Saturday at 8:30pm, Sunday at 6:30pm. Tickets: RD$500 general admission and students with ID RD$300.

Oscar de la Renta: 50 Years at Bellas Artes
Do not miss the exhibition on the late Oscar de la Renta and his influence and impact on fashion and design over the past 50 years. The exhibition closes on 15 November 2014 at the National Gallery of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo.

The exhibition is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 to 5pm. On Thursdays, the art gallery is open from 10 to 9pm. On Saturdays and Sundays the hours are from 12 noon to 6pm. Free admission.

The Wailers concerts: 19-20 November
The Wailers Band, the reggae band formed by the remaining members of Bob Marley & The Wailers, following the death of Bob Marley in 1981, is booked for two concerts at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo at 9pm on Wednesday, 19 November and Thursday, 20 November 2014. The performances are part of The Wailers' "Legend Tour 2014". To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Legend, the best selling reggae album of all time, the band has recreated the classic album in its entirety and is performing these songs during concerts scheduled for cities in the United Kingdom, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

The performances are part of their tour to celebrate the 30 years of the album with Bob Marley. Standing admission is RD$2,000.

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

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