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Daily News - Thursday, 06 November 2014

Senate passes the National Budget
The Senate passed the RD$630.94 billion National Budget in two readings for its approval yesterday, Wednesday 5 November 2014. Senator Tommy Galan (San Cristobal-PLD), chairman of the bicameral commission that reviewed the budget, presented the bill with 22 of 32 senators present.

An addendum was included with RD$400 million in re-allocations that will go to the Constitutional Court, the Superior Electoral Court, the Chamber of Accounts, the National Prosecutor Office and the National Competitiveness Council.

The bill now moves to the Chamber of Deputies for approval.

DGII collects RD$160 million from sale of new stickers
The Tax Agency (DGII) announced yesterday Wednesday 5 November 2014 that it has collected nearly RD$170 million so far in the renewal of vehicular registrations, known in Spanish as the "marbete". The road use permit stickers must be placed on the vehicle's windshield. The stickers can be obtained at 395 renewal points around the country, and at more than 700 financial institutions like banks and savings and loans associations, as well as online from www.dgii.gob.do. In some areas such as Elias Pina, Pedernales, Jimani, Villa Vasquez, and Sanchez the tax collection agency reports a marked increase in renewals. For example, in Samana, over 3,800 marbetes were purchased for a total of RD$7,723,200 which is RD$1,678,000 more than at this time of the year in 2013. The deadline for renewals is 31 December.

The IMF is here! The IMF is here!
The Superintendence of Banks and representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met earlier this week to review the performance of the Dominican financial system during the current year. At the end of the meeting, the Superintendent of Banks, Luis Armando Asuncion Alvarez, reported that the IMF mission members said they were satisfied by the indicators for earnings, efficiency and quality of the credit portfolio of the banking sector, as well as the strength of its assets. One of the issues the Superintendent of Banks discussed with the IMF was the RD$50.7 billion increase in private sector credit. The superintendent also stressed the solvency of the system and its ability to absorb any losses associated with different risks. Asuncion Alvarez added that they have observed an improvement on the banks' return on investment, which reached 27.6% in September 2014.

The IMF also met with executives from the State Electricity Companies (CDEEE) to review the current situation of the Dominican electricity system and its prospects. During this meeting the CDEEE vice president Ruben Jimenez Bichara presented a report on the comprehensive plan that the CDEEE is implementing in order to tackle the difficulties in the national electricity sector, which outlines the progress made during the last two years. Jimenez Bichara mentioned the progress being made towards changing the fuel generation matrix, which will allow a reduction in costs and make the electricity system more financially sustainable. Central to this presentation was the construction of the two coal-fired generation units at Punta Catalina as well as the changes in the combined cycle generation units in Los Mina.

Tripartite dialogue begins on changes to Labor Code
With a warning from labor sector representatives that they will not settle for any proposal that reduces benefits for workers, the Tripartite Dialogue for the reform and modernization of the Labor Code began again yesterday, Wednesday 5 November 2014. CNUS union leader Rafael (Pepe) Abreu noted that they are in agreement with the need to reform the articles related to aspects of procedure, regulations, in addition to the technological contextualization, but they reiterated their defense of economic and contractual benefits for employees.

"We want to reiterate that the union movement is not willing to compromise, because the workers' gains have been achieved at a great cost, and we do not want to leave future generations with a worse Code than the one we have," warned Abreu in his speech during the event at the Intec university yesterday, Wednesday 5 November 2014.

In the meantime, the management representatives restated their vision of seeking to reduce informal work starting with the reforms to the Labor Code. "The business sector reiterates its openness and commitment to take an active part in this dialogue in order to prepare a proposal for labor reform that reduces the level of informality and creates the conditions for creating more jobs, which improves working conditions and workers' benefits," said National Business Council (Conep) president Manuel Diez.

Government borrows from IDB to develop San Juan province
The Senate has passed a US$35 million loan to be used to improve farming production and competitiveness in the southwestern province of San Juan de la Maguana. The plan is to help farmers' associations in the area in the introduction and use new farming techniques. US$15 million of the funds will be used to install controlled-environment greenhouses and another US$7 million will go towards transforming irrigation systems. US$13 million will be spent on training courses for the farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture will be responsible for the project's implementation.


Senate passes National Police Organic Bill
On Wednesday, 5 November 2014 the Senate approved a legislative proposal for the Organic Law that will govern the National Police and sets six and seven-year limits on the time a police agent can remain in a post. In the case of generals, the time limit is 10 years with the exception of generals who have been appointed chief, deputy chief or inspector general of the Police. Retirement is required at the end of that service.

The head of the Superior Police Board is the Minister of Interior and Police and in his absence, the Attorney General of the Republic. The minimum time for a promotion is four years, with the count starting after cadet training.

The legislation says that the role of the National Police is to protect lives, people's physical integrity and safety, guaranteeing the free exercise of their rights and freedoms. The bill was studied by a joint commission during the last session of the legislature but it expired and must now go to the Chamber of Deputies for another debate.


Women getting paid more than men in DR!
El Dinero financial newspaper reports on a new trend in several companies where women executives are making more than men. A statistical report by the Social Security Treasury (TSS) states that the average wage in the social security registries is higher for women than for men. The average monthly wage in the formal sector for women is RD$17,108, compared to 16,964 for men, or 0.8% more.

This compares to the same statistics for 2010, when the average for women was RD$13,750 compared to RD$14,153 for men, or 3% less.


Attorney General vetoes a judge
The Attorney General of the Republic has challenged the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) judge of Special Instruction, Frank Soto Sanchez, who is hearing a request to unblock a series of assets confiscated from the Inmobiliaria Rofi SRL company, whose main shareholder is Senator Felix Bautista. The challenge originated when the magistrate suspended the hearing of the process and ordered it sent to the Chief Justice of the SCJ, Mariano German Mejia, so that he could empower the Plenary of the high court to hear the case.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Castillo Diaz suggested the disqualification, saying that judge Soto Sanchez had prejudged the merits of the case in one of the resolutions where he declared his ability to hear the request for the removals. "The judge has prejudged the merits of the request established in his decision when the Justice Department adopted a precautionary measure that affects fundamental rights at the time of requesting that warning notes to third parties should be registered." Initially, the Justice Department representative asked the judge to withdraw from hearing the case.

Frank Soto is a member of the influential Central Committee of the ruling PLD party, and senator Felix Bautista is the party's organizational secretary.


Leonel Fernandez: The future is promising
At an event organized by the Grupo Estrategico Empresarial for which leading business sector members paid US$1,000 a ticket to attend to a talk-interview by former President Leonel Fernandez with former CNN journalist Alberto Padilla yesterday, Wednesday 5 November 2014, Fernandez expressed optimism about the country's future. He forecast that the DR's GDP would almost double in the next decade, from the current US$63 billion to US$100 billion. He said this would bring a wave of growth as has occurred since 2004 when the GDP was US$19 billion. As reported in El Caribe, Fernandez said that industry must now focus on manufacturing durable goods, and mentioned airplanes and airplane parts.

He spoke of high-tech projects, mentioning the Las Americas Technological Institute, created under one of his governments. He also referred to Dominicana Tech, an initiative launched during the eMerge Miami high-tech show in May 2014 with the support of Fernandez's Funglode, as well as ClusterSoft, Santo Domingo CiberPark.

Fernandez spoke in favor of the introduction of a new fiscal pact arguing that the tax burden in the country is 13% compared to 35% in other regional countries. He said the current level of government revenues is not enough to cover 4% of GDP for education, the recapitalization of the Central Bank and the electricity subsidies.

Fernandez's appearance was backed by his supporters who campaigned for his return to the Presidency in 2016. Videos circulating on social media show Fernandez supporters violently preventing demonstrators from protesting outside the event.






Thousands displaced by floods
A total of 4,034 people have been evacuated from their homes as the result of the rains that have been falling over the last few days, which also destroyed one house and affected another 806, mainly in the northern areas of the country. According to the Emergency Operations Center (COE), four towns were cut off, damage was reported to two electricity systems, and the Montecristi aqueduct was shut down. Due to the risk of more flooding, overflowing of tributaries and landslides, the COE has placed 19 provinces on alert.

Yellow alerts were issued for Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde (Mao), Montecristi, La Vega, Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), Espaillat (Moca), Duarte/San Francisco de Macoris (especially the Lower Yuna), Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), San Pedro de Macoris (especially in the Los Llanos area), Santiago and Puerto Plata. At the same time, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), Monte Plata, Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui), La Romana, El Seibo, Hato Mayor and La Altagracia (Higuey) remain on green alert.

The floods caused by the rains across the province of Santiago, the Central Cibao and the northwestern border region have caused millions in losses, as they swept away household effects as well as flooding thousands of tareas planted with several crops. In some cases the flooding destroyed bridges and caused landslides, although the latest incidents have not resulted in the loss of human lives.

Rains increase water levels at many reservoirs
The National Water Observatory reports that as a result of the recent rains the water levels at Tavera-Bao, Rincon, Moncion, Hatillo, Sabana Yegua, and Sabaneta have risen, as reported in El Caribe. INDRHI director Olgo Fernandez says that if the rains continue there will be enough water to satisfy the demands of farmers in the southwestern province of Peravia (Bani), or they will have to continue rationing. He also said that some of the reservoirs such as Lopez, Jiguey and Valdesia have seen their water levels go down. National Meteorological Office (Onamet) forecaster Luis Felipe Jerez reports that the frontal system currently dissipating over eastern Puerto Rico is being followed by a low-pressure trough that has led to rain in the north, northeast and central Cibao regions of the Dominican Republic.

Poland notifies DR of investigations into priest
The Warsaw Regional Prosecutor has notified the Dominican authorities of the conclusions of their investigation into Wojciech Waldemar Gil (Alberto Gil). The Prosecutors sent a written accusation addressed to the Wolomin Court of First Instance, in which the priest is accused of 10 crimes including six for sexual assault on minors in the community of Juncalito in Santiago. The Dominican Department of Justice, headed by the Attorney General, Francisco Dominguez Brito, was notified through the office of the District Attorney of Santiago, by means of a communication sent to the District Attorney Luisa Liranzo by the Warsaw deputy prosecutor, Malgozata Adamajtys, who says in the document that Wojciech Waldemar Gil is charged with the crimes referred to of the alleged violation of article 200, paragraph 1 Of the Polish Penal Code and other regulations.

Going after the assets to fight drug trafficking
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has called for the approval of a bill for abolishing the domain right for when carrying out expropriations in drug trafficking cases. He said this would prevent cases like the one involving fugitive drug trafficker Pascual Cabrera who returned to the country after serving a sentence for drug trafficking in Puerto Rico and was able to recover RD$35 million in expropriated goods.

Speaking at the Corripio Media Group luncheon event yesterday, Wednesday 5 November 2014, Dominguez referred to three drug kingpins, one of whom, Winston Rizik Rodriguez (El Gallero) is in jail in La Vega, his arch-rival Jesus Pascual Cabrera, who is the object of an Interpol arrest warrant, and Pascual Cordero Martinez (El Chino) who is also on the run from the Dominican authorities.

Dominguez Brito said that Jesus Pascual Cabrera, together with Winston Rizik and Pascual Cordero are more dangerous than their predecessors, drug traffickers Quirino Paulino and Jose Figueroa Agosto. The Attorney General says they are responsible for over 100 deaths, and that they have operated with the authorities' support. He said that one thing that the traffickers have in common is that they had strong connections with the military forces, politicians and powerful figures in the country. He said increased efforts needed to be made to strengthen the institutions that combat crime, such as the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) and the Police, as well as the judges and other prosecution entities.

Dominguez Brito said that the authorities are concentrating on investigating the covers used for the distribution and sale of the drugs in order to guarantee stricter punishments.

Pascual Cordero is regarded as one of the leading illegal drug distributors in the province of Santo Domingo and the National District, and this differentiates him from Cabrera and Rizik who exported drugs to Europe and the United States.

Dominguez Brito said that they have focused on locating the assets that had been purchased with the laundered money. He explained that that was how they were able to arrest Rizik and issue a preventive custody order against him as the leader of the one of the country's most powerful drug cartels.


Looking for Marleni Consuelo Almonte Pena
The Attorney General Office has identified 32-year old Marleni Consuelo Almonte Pena (cedula 031-0422197-7), as the woman who on 21 October allegedly rented a gray Hyundai that was used in the failed attack on the Najayo Men's Jail. Assistant prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez said that the woman used a forged US passport with the name of Rosa Maria Martinez to rent the car. Her whereabouts are unknown. She is the daughter of Adalberto Antonio Almonte Taveras and the late Liliam Pena de la Cruz, as reported in Diario Libre.

Winter League baseball action
Yesterday evening, Wednesday 5 November 2014, Manny Ramirez and Dan Black hit homeruns and led the Aguilas Cibaenas to victory over the Leones Del Escogido (2-1). The victory ended a four-game losing streak for the Aguilas. The victory gave Liam Hendricks his second victory of the tournament. He pitched five innings and gave up five hits and struck out three. Matt Ramsey got his third save.

In San Francisco De Macoris, the Gigantes Del Cibao climbed into first place in the standings defeating the Toros Del Este by a score of 5 to 2 in the Julian Javier Stadium. It was the Gigantes' fifth victory on their home field against two defeats.

GIGANTES 9 - 5 .643 --
TOROS 9 - 6 .600 0.5
AGUILAS 7 - 6 .538 1.5
ESTRELLAS 7 - 6 .538 1.5
LICEY 5 - 9 .357 4.0
ESCOGIDO 5 - 10 .333 4.5

Pavel Nunez show postponed
Pavel Nunez will not be performing this evening, Thursday, 6 November at the show room of the Silver Sun Gallery as announced. The reason being given is technical difficulties at the theater.

DR Jazz Festival
This year's DR Jazz Festival is set for Thursday 6 - Sunday 9 November in Puerto Plata city, Sosua and Cabarete.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Ron Macorix and residential developments in Puerto Plata (Sea Horse Ranch, Millennium Hotel, Ultravioleta and Casa Linda), the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival brings jazz to local residents and tourists who gather under the stars. Last year, the festival enjoyed record-breaking attendance with a combined audience of over 10,000 people, say the organizers. FeduJazz, a non-profit organization, also conducts musical workshops for young people, making the most of the visiting musicians.

The festival is free, but VIP tickets are available for pre-sale and benefit the foundation that works with young people in Puerto Plata.

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

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