President Medina enacts 2015 budget|
The Executive Branch signed into law the National Budget (Law 527-14) for next year on 12 November 2014, as revealed on the Presidential Legal Advisor's website yesterday, Wednesday 19 November 2014. This amounts to RD$529,316,065,590. Current expenditure for RD$480,395,842,876 was approved, while the capital expenditure approved is RD$78,920,222,714. Article 3 of Law 527-14 indicates: A financial deficit of RD$73,802,633,460 is approved for the Central Government budget corresponding to fiscal exercise 2015.
The annual budget will come into effect on 1 January 2015.
Restrictions lifted on drinking hours|
Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul has announced the temporary removal of restrictions on the hours when alcoholic beverages can be sold starting from 10 December until 8 January 2015. Fadul said that the disposition was agreed at meetings held at the Ministry of Interior and Police so that bar owners, discotheques and restaurants in the country as well as the bands and musical groups can enjoy the Christmas holidays to the fullest. He explained that Decree 308-06 prohibits the sale of alcohol as of midnight from Sunday night until Thursday and after 2am on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.
Fadul made it clear that the Ministry of Interior and Police will increase monitoring of these businesses in order to prevent actions that affect citizen safety and public order. He also warned that neither people with firearms nor minors would be permitted to enter these establishments.
Legislator says Political Parties Bill ready for January 2015|
During a panel discussion organized by Diario Libre and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) yesterday, Wednesday, 19 November 2014, Henry Meran, the chairman of the Bicameral Congressional Commission that is studying the Political Parties Bill said that the commission will present the concluding report before the end of the present legislative session in January 2015. Pointing out that "10% of 100 items are missing," deputy Henry Meran said that the commission is now working on a second stage of talks to discuss "some details". Servio Tulio Castanos Guzman of the Institutionalism and Justice Foundation (Finjus), who also spoke at the event, stressed the need for strengthening transparency in the political organizations' internal democratic processes.
Roberto Rosario, the president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), which oversees political activities in the country and organizes the elections, called on the political leaders to concentrate on the fundamental points of the project. He warned that article 216 of the Constitution obliges parties to be transparent and to implement internal democracy. "If it does not guarantee this, the law can be declared unconstitutional."
Amnesty International says Penal Code violates women's rights|
In a press release issued yesterday, Wednesday, 19 November 2014, Amnesty International warns that if President Danilo Medina passes the changes to the Penal Code approved in Congress yesterday he will be violating the rights of women and girls. The code maintains stiff penalties for abortion.
The prominent international human rights organization states that in June 2013 the Chamber of Deputies approved a reform proposal to the Penal Code that introduced an exception to the ban on abortion of any kind. "This allowed for the possibility of removing penalties for an abortion when the woman's life was in danger due to the pregnancy," it said.
Nevertheless, they said that after pressure from the Catholic Church this Senate eliminated this provision and yesterday the Chamber of Deputies approved the Senate version. The approved version penalizes anyone who induces an abortion and anyone who cooperates with the interruption of a pregnancy with two to three years in prison. Medical personnel as well as pharmacists who assist with abortions are also liable for prison terms of between 4 and 10 years, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.
Consumer Protection Agency suggests price freezes|
The Dominican Consumer Protection Agency (Pro Consumidor) argued for price freezes on some articles of mass consumption yesterday, Wednesday, 19 November 2014. Pro Consumidor director Altagracia Paulino said that she recently sent a letter to President Danilo Medina asking him to convene a workgroup with all the parties involved in order to produce a flow of ideas and obtain price freezes similar to measures that were levied in Argentina during inflationary processes. She said that she could not do this by herself because there are no price controls and this has to be done by state agencies together with Pro Consumidor.
Teachers accept 12% salary increase|
Esmeraldino Fernandez of the Dominican Teachers' Association (ADP) has announced that the union that represents public school teachers has accepted a Ministry of Education proposal for a 12% wage increase at the start of next year, as reported in Diario Libre.
Nevertheless, the plenary fully empowered the National Executive Committee to continue negotiations for a salary demand beyond 12%, at a meeting that will take place with the educational authorities on Tuesday 25 November.
It was announced that the Ministry will contribute to the financial recovery of the public school teachers' health provider ARS-SEMMA, will make extraordinary contributions to improve the health services provided to retired teachers, and will include public school teachers in allocations of government housing projects.
The motions were approved with the vote of 130 members of a quorum of 156 present of the total plenary membership of 178.
USAID program to help improve elementary reading skills|
The United States Agency for International Development will be managing a US$20 million grant fund for increasing reading skills of students in the Dominican Republic. Dominican-based non-governmental organizations, not-for-profit, or for-profit entities (Including NGOs, business associations, universities and other academic institutions) are eligible to apply for the Lighting Excitement for Excellency in Reading (LEER) program. The five-year program seeks to support sustainable best practices in education in the Dominican Republic. It is aimed at improving the reading skills of approximately 200,000 primary school students in targeted poor neighborhoods through improved instruction and use of traditional and supplemental reading activities.
Plaza de la Salud now linked to global medical alliance|
Nueterra Global Alliance (NGA) has announced that Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud (HGPS) is now part of its global health network, which mainly consists of specialty healthcare facilities and tertiary service providers, all working to facilitate domestic and international medical exchange. The hospital network seeks to help Dominicans traveling abroad for services in the United States and US travelers seeking care abroad.
Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud is the largest hospital in the Dominican Republic. While it is government funded, it is privately run.
Accident rates in the country show a lack of policy|
It is no secret that the accident rates in the Dominican Republic are among the highest in Latin America and in the world. El Caribe points out that the leading cause of traffic accidents in the country is negligence. The laws are simply not respected and as a result most deaths could easily be prevented.
According to Ground Transport Office (OTTT in Spanish) technical director Maria Paz Conde, most accidents occur due to driver error. "Excess speed, driving under the effects of alcohol and drugs, using cell phones and not respecting traffic rules", are the main causes, in her words.
Paz Conde said that no tools are available in the legislation to get the Dominican Republic out of 2nd place in the world for the number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants. She mentioned deficiencies in Law 241-67 and other driving-related laws. She gave the examples that the law only requires drivers to use safety belts, and helmets are only mandatory for the person driving the motorcycle. In 2010 nearly 60% of traffic fatalities involved motorcycle passengers and drivers. Despite the fact that the law punishes driving under the influence (DUI) and the use of cell phones, according to the OTTT technical director driving and using cell phones is one of the main causes of accidents. So far this year there have been over 1800 traffic fatalities.
Bankruptcy Bill to Congress|
The Senate has finally received the Bankruptcy Bill that is seen as crucial for improving competitiveness in the Dominican Republic. The bill in Spanish is the Ley de Restructuracion Mercantil y Liquidacion Judicial. It was presented to the Senate by the Executive Branch. A delegation made up of the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas, the executive director of the National Business Council Rafael Paz, Pedro Perez representing the Council of Chambers of Commerce and several other business leaders visited the Senate with the government officers to deliver the bill. It will be studied by the Industry and Commerce commission, which is chaired by senator Charlie Mariotti.
Trade with Cuba at US$126 million|
The new ambassador for Cuba Carlos Raul de la Nuez says that trade between the Dominican Republic and Cuba is now worth US$126 million a year. The new ambassador says the level of trade is satisfactory, but could be better. He expressed hopes that a bilateral agreement can soon be negotiated to increase trade, as reported in Diario Libre.
The DR mainly sells food, fertilizers and livestock to Cuba. It imports medicines and input for manufacturing steel rods.
6.6 million debit and credit cards in DR|
There are 6,639,529 financial cardholders in the Dominican Republic. The First Survey of the Dominican Republic's Economic and Financial Culture 2014, recently released by the Central Bank found that as of September 2014 there were 3,526,327 debit cards and 2,197,982 credit cards in use. This is up 27.2% and 46.8% respectively compared to September 2009 or five years ago.
The report points out that this is in addition to the 915,220 welfare cards the government had issued as of September 2014.
The Central Bank says the most dynamic sector is household use, with an average annual increase of 29% over the past 10 years, compared to 23% increase for corporate use of the financial instruments.
Nevertheless, the feature in Hoy newspaper today, Thursday 20 November 2014, mentions that the World Bank Global Findex index (year 2011 statistics) shows that informal borrowing continues to be the main source of financing for Dominicans.
96.1% of the people polled had average of RD$19,409 a month, and 59.7% of the households received less than RD$18,000 a month.
28.1% of those polled were unaware of debit or credit card facilities.
The poll was carried out from 4-10 August 2014 and 2,313 households were surveyed.
Ambev and CND complete merger|
In a paid announcement in the newspapers yesterday, Wednesday, 19 November 2014, the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (Dominican National Brewery) and the Compania Cervecera Ambev Dominicana announced the completion of their corporate merger. On 21 October 2014, the general assemblies of the two companies approved the merger, which will take effect starting on 1 December, according to the press release.
Ambev Dominicana now absorbs the assets, debts and obligations and the commercial name of the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, with this being the name of the new beer company in the country. In April 2014, Ambev announced the acquisition of 51% of the shares of the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (CND) for a total of US$1.237 billion.
Jose A Leon, chairman of the Board of Directors of E Leon Jimenes S.A., the company that owned 83.5% of the shares of the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, reported that with the transaction they were seeking to establish a strategic alliance that aims to transform the company into the leading Caribbean beverage company. Ambev Dominicana is a subsidiary of Brazil's Compania de Bebidas de las Americas (Ambev). In September 2014, the company announced the expansion of their operations in the country with an additional investment of US$100 million during the coming year. The new Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana controls the beer market in the country.
Las Terrenas cools down after electricity row explodes|
Calm returned to Las Terrenas yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, 19 November 2014. The town was shaken by violent protests that resulted in two deaths and dozens of arrests in a conflict between two businessmen for the control of the local electric utility.
An official commission, composed of high-ranking police and military officers, agreed on a 48-hour cooling-off period with the leaders of popular and community organizations, to give the Superintendence of Electricity time to resolve the conflict.
Relatives of the second victim of the protests marched through the streets with a casket containing the body of young Cesareo de Gracia, demanding justice for their son, who according to them was killed by police agents. The other victim was Benjamin Castillos, 26, who died when a tree the protestors were cutting down to block the roads fell on him as he drove by on his motorcycle.
In addition to the police and military officers and Electricity Superintendence officials, deputy minister of Tourism Fausto Fernandez attended the town meeting along with the ministry's public relations director, Napoleon de la Cruz. Commercial establishments that had kept their doors closed for several days began to operate again last night.
The municipality of Las Terrenas is one of the most popular destinations in the province of Samana, usually attracting hundreds of local and international tourists. The electricity row and subsequent riots have caused a major reduction in hotel occupancy.
Officials from the local electricity company, Luz y Fuerza of Las Terrenas are accusing a competitor, Progreso de El Limon of instigating the problems. As reported in El Dia, the officials said that when they removed the minority shareholder from their offices, they discovered evidence of a strategy to take over the company.
Estadio Cibao ballgames suspended this weekend|
Following the fire that swept through parts of Santiago's baseball stadium yesterday morning, Wednesday, 19 November 2014, the Ministry of Public Works, the Aguilas Cibaenas and the Dominican Baseball League have agreed to suspend the games scheduled for this weekend, 22-23 November at the Cibao Ball Park given the scale of the damage. The administrative offices and the area where the games are transmitted suffered the greatest damage, but the grandstand areas were also affected.
Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo headed a commission that will inspect the damages. The fire was apparently caused by a short circuit in one of the VIP boxes in the grandstand.
According to initial assessments, millions of pesos worth of damage was caused as the fire consumed all the transmission areas, part of the Aguilas Cibaenas offices, several VIP boxes and part of the grandstand.
Ballclub president Quilvio Fernandez expressed his appreciation for the support received so far from the Dominican government in terms of repairs to the famous stadium. According to the commission members, President Medina called them more than 15 times for updates on the situation at the stadium. On Saturday, 22 November the Aguilas were supposed to play the Estrellas Orientales and on Sunday 23 November they were due to play their great rivals the Tigres Del Licey.
Robbery at the National Cardiology Institute|
The Police is investigating an incident where a man posed as a doctor to steal RD$98,000 in cash from the National Cardiology Institute on Monday, 17 November 2014. The man held several staff members hostage in order to carry out the robbery. Police Spokesman, Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete says that 15 people are under investigation in the case, including the clinic's security personnel. The center is located in Los Rios in Santo Domingo. The robbery occurred at around 8:45am.
The individual was dressed as a doctor and used a wig when entering the administrative area where the money is kept and he held a gun to the assistant administrator's head. He took the center's weekend earnings. At the time, doctors, paramedics and other people who entered the management area were taken hostage until he left the center.
Maconi extradited for drugs, returns to enjoy wealth|
Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi) is back in the Dominican Republic after serving a reduced five-year sentence for striking a deal with US prosecutors for cocaine trafficking. He was tried in the United States. He was charged for his complicity with the powerful drug trafficking ring headed by Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo, who also received a reduced sentence for cooperating with the US judiciary. El Dia points out that Guevara returned from the US yesterday, Wednesday 19 November 2014 with 78 other deportees and has no problems pending with the Dominican judiciary. This means he can secure the return of assets confiscated when he was arrested for drug trafficking complicity. At the time, local charges were removed so he could be extradited to the United States to face charges there. El Dia reports that Maconi is now free to enjoy all the wealth accumulated for his previous work in the country that runs into millions.
Baseball Winter League news|
In last night's baseball action, Wednesday 19 November 2014, Amaury Ciriaco, the third baseman for the Estrellas Orientales, reached base four times with two walks, a double and a homerun, leading the Estrellas to a 9-4 victory over the Leones del Escogido in the Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. The victory put the Estrellas in first place, tied with the Toros Del Este.
In La Romana's Francisco Micheli Stadium, the Toros Del Este defeated the Aguilas Cibaenas in a pitching duel, 2-1. Cy Young Award winner and National League MVP, Clayton Kershaw, threw the ceremonial first pitch. The game was a 0-0 tie until the seventh inning when the Aguilas scored one run, but in the ninth inning the Toros came back scoring two unearned runs and winning the game.
In the Julian Javier Stadium in San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes Del Cibao defeated the Tigres del Licey, 6-3.
This evening's game, Thursday 20 November 2014 will be played at the Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris at 7:30pm - Toros Del Este (R. Valdes) vs. Estrellas Orientales (S. Pimentel)
Tomorrow, Friday 21 November 2014, the Aguilas will play Escogido, Licey will go to visit the Estrellas, and the Toros will play the Gigantes.
To follow the baseball games, see http://www.lidom.com
For more on upcoming events, see http://dr1.com/calendar
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