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Daily News - Tuesday, 04 November 2014

National Budget reshuffle
The chairman of the bi-cameral commission that is studying the proposed budget for 2015, Senator Tommy Galan, confirmed yesterday, Monday 3 November 2014 that some chapters are being reshuffled, but the RD$630.93 billion total will remain the same. The new budget will be formally presented to the Senate tomorrow, Wednesday, 5 November, he said. From there it will pass to the Chamber of Deputies.

The Judicial Branch will receive a RD$100 million increase in its allocation for Public defense services, the Constitutional Court will receive an additional RD$200 million, and the Supreme Court of Justice will be given another RD$300 million to be used by the Executive Branch to build a new Palace of Justice in Santo Domingo Province.

In addition, the Superior Electoral Court will get RD$100 million as well as the 250 million they received in 2014.

Galan added that the Ministry of Public Health would receive RD$4 billion in addition to the RD$60 billion already in their budget for 2015.

The government has also increased funding to farming clusters in 19 provinces by RD$50 million.

The Chamber of Accounts, which serves as a government auditing office will receive an additional RD$50 million.

According to Galan, President Danilo Medina has pledged to provide the Central Electoral Board (JCE) with the resources needed to guarantee that the national elections for 2016 are transparent and fair. President Medina has also asked for extra budgetary resources for the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).

Galan went on to say that around RD$21 billion that had originally been allocated to recapitalizing the Central Bank would be redistributed.

Meanwhile, deputies who serve in the bi-cameral commission protested at not being included in the meeting to finalize the redistribution of the funds. Ruben Maldonado, vice chairman of the commission and spokesman for the PLD block of the Chamber of Deputies criticized their exclusion by the bi-cameral commission chairman, senator Tommy Galan. Maldonado said the Senate could make its decisions, and then the deputies would fulfill their role once the bill goes to their chamber.



DR to uphold its Constitution
The Dominican Republic will uphold mandates from its Constitution and the Constitutional Court, says Foreign Relations Minister Andres Navarro, adding that he would not dispute any decisions coming from the highest court.

He made the comments yesterday, Monday 3 November 2014, in response to the recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights court order that says that the Dominican Republic must change its constitution in order to recognize human rights of undocumented immigrants.

Navarro said that at the end of the day it is up to Dominicans to decide who gets Dominican nationality.

He said the court did not take into account the government's recent efforts to resolve a decades-long problem, including Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 that ordered the implementation of the National Foreigner Legalization Plan to regularize the status of foreigners living in the Dominican republic, and the Naturalization Law 169-14 that gives additional fast-track facilities for people born in the Dominican Republic to apply for Dominican citizenship.

The Court ordered the Dominican state to revoke the constitutional decision and to adopt all legislative measures, even constitutional amendments if necessary, in order to regulate a simple and accessible birth registration process in accordance with international human rights law.

Navarro said the Ministry is awaiting the Constitutional Court's decision on the recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling. The court will decide whether the Dominican Republic's adhesion to the IACHR complied with constitutional mandates.

Navarro commented that the IACHR went too far when ordering the DR to change its constitution, which was based on a national consensus.

He criticized the fact that the voices that are making demands of the DR are the same ones that do nothing to boost investment in Haiti as a way for the people of that country to end their poverty.




Sugarcane cutters demand papers from Haiti
Sugarcane cutters are demanding that the Haitian government provide them with documentation as established in the work contracts signed between 1953 and 1959 that brought them here. Jesus Nunez, coordinator of the organization that works with the sugarcane cutters, says the Embassy of Haiti has not shown any interest in helping the 40,000 association members.

Nunez said that if Haiti does not document the sugarcane workers and their families, around 100,000 people would not be able to benefit from the National Foreigner Legalization Plan.

Only around 5% of the sugarcane cutters have been able to register for the plan because 95% have not been able to present any of the required documentation.


First Lady at Oscar de la Renta's funeral
First Lady Candida Montilla headed the Dominican delegation that attended the funeral of Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta in New York City yesterday, Monday 3 November 2014.

The event started with a mass in the San Ignacio de Loyola chapel in Manhattan attended by the designer's family and friends as well as representatives from the worlds of international fashion, politics and art.

The First Lady was accompanied by Culture Minister Jose Antonio Rodriguez and the Dominican ambassador in the United States Anibal de Castro.

The mourners also included members of the Clinton, Bush and Kissinger families.

De la Renta died on 20 October 2014 at his home in Connecticut. President Danilo Medina declared three days of official mourning including flying the national flag at half-mast on all official buildings.

The funeral itself was an intimate ceremony with family and friends arranged by his widow, Annette de la Renta and his son Moises de la Renta, followed by a lunch for the closest friends.

During the lunch the First Lady talked with several international figures, including Queen Rania of Jordan, the former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush and the former governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Maria Calderon.


Pan-American Health Organization praises DR's fight against malaria
For a second consecutive year, the Ministry of Public Health is being recognized for its successes in combating malaria. Dr. Jose Manuel Puello will be in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to receive an award together with representatives of Honduras and Guatemala. The DR succeeded in reducing malaria cases by 22% in 2013 compared to 2012. Puello is the director of the Collective Health Department at the Ministry.

JCE in crisis
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) says it is operating under financial constraints. This includes paying for telephone and electricity bills, and even toilet paper and soap. It appears that the JCE is waiting for funds that as yet have not been paid.

On Saturday, 1 November 2014, the JCE said that it did not have the money to hand over to the political parties as they should have done, and that it did not have the funds needed for buying the hardware and software to support the Interior and Police Ministry's implementation of the Foreigners Regularization Plan.

Authorities at the General Treasury office in charge of handing over the funds had no comment to make about the JCE's complaints.


BanReservas says 67% portfolio is private
Enrique Ramirez, the administrator of BanReservas, the government-owned commercial bank, says that 67% of its lending portfolio is privately held. Ramirez made the announcement on the progress that has been achieved in the process of improving the country's largest bank's competitiveness and quality of service yesterday, Monday 3 November 2014. Ramirez said that this year's Expomovil BanReservas vehicle fair approved RD$3.8 million in around 4,000 cars financed during the event.


Cement factories to generate energy from own solid waste
Three Dominican cement companies are ready to generate power using the solid waste that they produce. This will help reduce the volume of waste and fossil fuels emitted by the industries. The companies are Cementos Cibao in Santiago, Domicen in San Cristobal and Cemex in San Pedro de Macoris.

The initiative is part of the EUR4.5 million German-funded Support for the Implementation of a Climate Change-Compatible Plan (Plan Deccc) in the Cement and Solid Waste Sectors.


US$1,000 lunch with Leonel provokes controversy
Social media is full of comments criticizing the US$1,000 per person luncheon talk-interview that former President Leonel Fernandez is giving at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Av. Tiradentes in Santo Domingo tomorrow, Wednesday, 5 November 2014. Acento.com.do reports that a group of young people is organizing a protest against the former President.

The talk-interview is being organized by Funglode, the former President's think tank, and is sponsored by the Grupo Estrategico Empresarial made up of the Cibao International Airport, Sociedad Industrial Dominicana (SID), Coastal, ARS Humano, Grupo Estrella and Mercado Media Network.

Polls show that Fernandez is the strongest pre-candidate for the PLD ticket into the 2016 presidential election.


Senator Bautista in court today
Supreme Court judge Frank Soto will decide today, Tuesday 4 November 2014 whether to accept a request from Felix Bautista to lift the restraining order on the assets of the Rofi real estate company, in which he is a major shareholder.

The date for the hearing was set after the Supreme Court decided to allow Judge Frank Soto to continue hearing Bautista's appeal after the National Council of Lawyers (CONA) accused Soto of bias on the grounds that he had met with Bautista's lawyers and that both are allegedly members of the PLD Central Committee.

The charges are for alleged violation of the Constitution, false deed, misrepresentation of private writing, use of false documents, breach of trust, embezzlement and issues incompatible with his status as a public servant.



Remand for man involved in attempted prison breakout
A San Cristobal judge, Tomas Isaac Jorge, has sent Juan Diego Montero to three months in prison on remand. Montero is one of the two men accused of taking part in the attempted escape from Najayo jail on Friday, 24 October 2014. He will serve his protective custody sentence at the La Victoria prison.

The decision affecting the other suspect, Jairo Brito, will be made once the Public Prosecution Service has studied the evidence against him.


Rains causing chaos in north and northwest
A Haitian man has drowned in Santiago Rodriguez and more than 100 homes have been damaged in the Loma de Cabrera area in the northwestern province of Dajabon, due to floods caused by the heavy rains affecting the Cibao region since Saturday 1 November 2014.

The Santiago Rodriguez prosecutor, Rafael Bueno Rodriguez, said that Nelton Pierre drowned in the Arroyo Blanco Abajo River. He said that Pierre was drunk and had jumped into the river, even though other people warned him not to.

In addition, the Masacre River broke its banks and left more than 100 families underwater in Loma de Cabrera. Members of the Civil Defense in the area said that at least 78 homes have been damaged, as well as personal belongings.

The areas worst affected by the flooding of the Masacre River are the communities of La Gallera, La Auyama, Quisqueya and Los Gomez, and losses include drowned livestock.

Authorities said that it has been raining in the area since Saturday, but that on Sunday, 2 November 2014 the heavy rainfall lasted for more than four hours and caused the river to overflow.

It has also been raining in the province of Santiago, especially in the areas of Baitoa, Sabana Iglesia, Janico and San Jose de las Matas, source of the main rivers that feed the Tavera-Bao and Lopez-Angostura dams. Water levels at the Tavera-Bao dam actually rose by a meter, according to reports.

The Bao and Janiquito rivers in Janico, Santiago province also broke their banks and some houses were flooded, but no major damage has been reported.

Several areas in Santiago city center, including Juan Pablo Duarte and 27 de Febrero avenues, the southern ring road, and Estrella Sadhala Avenue, were also affected by flooding, leading to long traffic jams.

In Luperon, a farmer, Armando Villaman was injured when he fell into a drainage ditch near his home, and dozens of homes have been flooded in Luperon municipality and the center of Puerto Plata city. The worst affected sectors in Puerto Plata are El Javillar, Ensanche Duboc, Las Mercedes, Barrio Haiti, Playa Oeste, Padre Granero and Bello Costero.

Large areas of plantain crops have been ruined by the strong winds that accompanied the rainfall, as well as cassava (yuca), sweet potatoes and taro (yautia) plantations.

The provincial governor of Puerto Plata, Ivan Rivera has asked President Danilo Medina to help the families displaced by the floods, which now total more than 300.

The mayor of Luperon, Danilo Morrobel said that the rains have also affected dozens of families and damaged crops. Ministry of Agriculture specialists are on their way to assess the damage in the area.

Nine provinces are now under green alert due to the rains associated with a frontal system in the north of the country that is moving slowly to the east-southeast. The Emergency Operations Center (COE) says that the provinces under alert for floods and landslides are Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde (Mao), Montecristi, Puerto Plata, La Vega, Espaillat (Moca), Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua) and San Pedro de Macoris (especially the Los Llanos area).

The COE is also keeping a green alert in place for the whole Atlantic coast from Cabo Engano in the east to Manzanillo in the northwest, including the Bay of Samana, due to high waves. Operators of small and medium-sized boats are being advised to stay in port.



Small Business Week
If you are a small business owner in the Dominican Republic, drop by the Semana Pymes 2014 event at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel in Santo Domingo from 26-30 November 2014. The fair, which is being organized by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, showcases opportunities and solutions for the problems facing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs.


Michel Camilo & Tomatito at the National Theater
Grammy-award winning Dominican pianist, composer and jazz musician, Michel Camilo is booked for a concert this evening, Tuesday 4 November 2014 at Santo Domingo's National Theater. This time Camilo will be playing with Tomatito, the famous Spanish flamenco guitarist. Camilo is best known for his blend of jazz, Latin and classical piano work with a tropical Dominican touch.

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

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