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Daily News - Thursday, 04 December 2014

Low-cost financing for small industries coming in 2015
Proindustria (the Center for Development and Industrial Competitiveness) has announced it is finalizing the ruling for the guarantee fund for small industries (Pymis). This will open doors to low-cost financing for this sector and the first operations will be possible in the first half of 2015.

In an interview with Listin Diario, Proindustria director Alexandra Izquierdo spoke of the advantages for industries that apply for the benefits under Competitiveness and Industrial Innovation Law 392-07. She said that beneficiaries of the law had invested RD$12 billion in 2012 and created 8,500 jobs.


DR could buy back Petrocaribe debt with bonds
Although a curious silence surrounds this news, it turns out that there is still no definite agreement with Venezuela. Investment bank Goldman Sachs' purchase of the Dominican debt owed to Venezuela appears to be part of a triangle whose third vertex is the Dominican Republic.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Venezuelan officials have spoken to Dominican officials and to the Goldman Sachs Group, with a view to implementing a financial formula that will bring some relief to Venezuela's "fragile finances."

According to reports in the US media, which just identifies as the source "people familiar with the matter," Goldman Sachs will take over the debt that the Dominican Republic owes to Venezuela, at a great discount, in order to then sell it to the Dominican Republic, which would pay for it with the funds that it would obtain by issuing more sovereign bonds.

Nevertheless, in contrast with the report in El Nuevo Herald on Monday 1 December 2014, the source at the WSJ said that the parties "have not yet reached an agreement," so that it "was not imminent."

While these versions were circulating in US newspapers, the authorities in the Dominican Republic have remained silent. On Tuesday 2 December, after Diario Libre requested a statement from Minister of Hacienda Simon Lizardo, a request it reiterated on Wednesday 3 December, the only known reaction from the official is that "he has not been informed."

The Venezuelan Embassy in the Dominican Republic is also keeping quiet, as it did not answer Diario Libre's request for clarification either.

On Monday evening, El Nuevo Herald reported that the Nicolas Maduro government had sold the Dominican debt from Petrocaribe (some US$4.3 billion, as of October 2014) for which the investment bank would pay 41% of the total amount. On Wednesday 4 December, UK newspaper The Financial Times (FT) also reported on this issue, in a blog by John Paul Rathbone and Andres Schipani, where it is estimated that the coupon of US$1.7 million that Goldman Sachs would obtain will be at an interest rate of 11%.

The Financial Times analysts mentioned a report by the Bank of America, where it is calculated what the fall in oil prices means for Venezuela which has to find US$25 billion per year in fresh foreign financing in order to maintain its own imports.

On Friday, 28 November the price of Venezuelan oil fell 7%, reaching US$63.40 a barrel, which is far below the US$100 that the government of Nicolas Maduro considers the "fair price."

Oil exports represent 96% of Venezuela's income. The abrupt fall in the prices of crude oil has immersed the country in a "worsening economic crisis." Venezuela's fiscal deficit is around 17%, and it is expected that its economy will contract by 3% this year with an inflation rate going over 60%.





Bank supervision could have prevented Banco Peravia crisis
Herrera Industries Association president Victor Castro said yesterday, Wednesday 3 December 2014, that the crisis affecting depositors at the Banco Peravia could have been avoided if the monetary authorities had been more rigorous in their financial supervision from the start. Castro said it was inexplicable how the Monetary Board could have approved the sale of the bank to people who did not have previous bank management experience. "How is it possible that due diligence was not carried out on those foreigners to find out who they really were?" he asked. He questioned the influence exercised for extending the bank license without prior investigation.

The president and vice president of the bank, Gabriel Jimenez Aray and Jose Luis Santoro left the country last month just before the Superintendence of Banks announced its closure. Acento reports that in July 2013, the Dominican Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela received a letter warning of problems with the executives.



Santiago joins 100 Resilient Cities
The country's second largest city, Santiago de los Caballeros, has been chosen to be part of the 100 Resilient Cities named by the Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities is a network of cities learning from cities.

The movement is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

The first 32 resilient cities were named in 2013. Santiago is part of the second selection announced on 2 December 2014. Santiago was chosen from 330 applications from 94 countries.

In Latin America, Santiago joins:

Medellin and Cali (Colombia), Mexico City and Juarez (Mexico), Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Quito (Ecuador), Santa Fe (Argentina), Santiago de Chile (Chile), and San Juan (Puerto Rico).

The Rockefeller Foundation says that 100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks n earthquakes, fires, floods, etc. n but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day or cyclical basis. Examples of these stresses include high unemployment, an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system, endemic violence, or chronic food and water shortages. By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

Cities in the 100RC network tap into a US$100 million fund that provides resources for developing a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways:

Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government; A Chief Resilience Officer to lead the city's resilience strategy; Expert support for development of a robust resilience strategy; Access to solutions, service providers and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors that can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and membership of a global network of member cities that can learn from and help each other.


APAP caters to deaf-mute market segment
The Asociacion Popular de Ahorros y Prestamos (APAP) is the first bank to offer special services to people with hearing and speech difficulties. The bank is working in partnership with the Asociacion Nacional de Sordos (Ansordo) and APEC University to train APAP bank staff in sign language. The new service is called APAP Todos (APAP All).

Southwest farmers to get support from IDB fund
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), an affiliate of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has reached an agreement with the Sur Futuro Foundation to implement a "green microfinance project". The MIF fund is for US$490,000 of which the MIF will contribute 68% in a technical cooperation donation. The IDB representative in the country, Flora Montealegre Painter and Fundacion Sur Futuro president Melba Segura signed the agreement.

The project will provide financing and technical assistance to small-scale farmers in the southwest of the country to reduce losses and increase crop yields.


Avocado growers optimistic 2015 will be even better
In 2013, the Dominican Republic exported 20,000 tons of avocados. The country is now the world's third largest avocado exporter after Mexico and Chile.

A recent RD$32 million government loan to the San Cristobal Avocado Growers Cooperative has made producers in the southwest even more optimistic. As reported, in Cambita Garabito, almost 50% of the population is involved in avocado related enterprises in some way or another.


Haitian immigrants work in cities not farms
Economist Luis Vargas has presented the findings of research that indicate that 65.12% of Haitian immigrants live in cities, not rural areas. Speaking at the Annual Business and Economy Congress organized by INTEC University yesterday, Wednesday 3 December 2014, he shared information on documentation and wages of Haitian immigrants and Dominican-Haitians in the country.

His findings contradict the belief that most Haitians live in rural areas, and work in farms and construction. He said that most Haitian workers are in commerce (23.4%), farming (19%) and other services (18.66%).

He said that 45.9% of Haitian immigrants have permanent jobs while another 41% have temporary jobs, usually the results of informal contracts.

He said that most of the Haitian population has documents from Haiti (87.5%) but most have not regularized their legal status in the country.

He said his research showed that 486,553 have birth certificates, 276,010 have identity cards and 232,643 have Haitian passports. Another 38,975 have Dominican cedulas and another 17,710 have Dominican passports.


Felix Bautista corruption case postponed
Judge Alejandro Moscoso Segarra has postponed the hearing of the case presented by Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito against senator Felix Bautista (PLD San Juan de la Maguana) until Friday, 5 December 2014 at 3pm. The defendants argued they had not had time to review the evidence against Felix Bautista presented by the Attorney General.

Felix Bautista is the political secretary of the ruling PLD party.

Civil society represented in the case by the Ciudadanos Contra la Corrupcion (C3) movement earlier in the hearing was excluded on a technicality regarding the complaint. The decision was on grounds that they presented a "querella-denuncia" instead of a "querella" as ordered by the Penal Code.

C3 lawyer Remberto Pichardo said they were not surprised. "It was to be expected because it is a whim of the senator that civil society should not participate because he has had problems with civil society in the courts and has gone crying to all those judicial staff to ensure that C3 does not take part in the hearing."

They said they expected Moscoso to reject the possibility of opening up the hearing into the corruption and asset laundering case presented by the Attorney General against the high-ranking official in the Leonel Fernandez governments. Bautista managed billions as head of the Supervisory Works Office of the Presidency (OISOE).

Moscoso Segarra was recently accused of bias as he is on the list of members of the influential PLD Central Committee. He told the press he had resigned from the committee in 2009 when he was appointed prosecutor. Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito is also a member of the PLD Central Committee.

Supreme Court president Mariano German is also listed as a member of the PLD Central Committee.






Nation mourns loss of Poppy Bermudez
This morning all the nation's newspapers lead with the news of the passing of one of its greatest citizens, Jose Armando Bermudez (Poppy), after a long illness yesterday, Wednesday 3 December 2014. He would have celebrated his 86th birthday next week. Funeral services will be held at the Politecnico Femenino today, Thursday 4 December 2014 and he will be laid to rest at 4pm this afternoon at the 30 de Marzo Cemetery in Santiago.

The eminent rum industry businessman was also one of the pioneers of color television in the Dominican Republic. He founded Color Vision (Channel 9) at the premises of the Hotel Matum in Santiago. The station later moved to Santo Domingo.

Bermudez was also the founder of several business and banking associations as well as savings and loan associations. As a founder of the Development Association in Santiago, he promoted the Superior Agricultural Institute (ISA), now the ISA University, as well as the Cibao Savings and Loan Association. He also served as an advisor to many Dominican business leaders.

He is survived by his wife Elba Madera de Bermudez, his widow, his children, Elba Josefina Bermudez de Bobadilla, Jose Armando Bermudez Madera, Julia Aurora Bermudez de Reid, Ana Estela Bermudez de Lama and Domingo Octavio Bermudez Madera, as well as 12 grandchildren.

Don Jose Armando Bermudez received numerous awards and diplomas in recognition of his valuable contributions to art, education, the church and social welfare projects, and on one occasion he was declared A Distinguished Son of the City by the local municipality.

Police launch Christmas Operation
Yesterday, Wednesday 3 December 2014, National Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo headed a ceremony launching the "Peaceful Christmas 2014" operation in which 28,338 police and military agents will patrol the streets nationwide in order to prevent criminal activity. According to El Caribe, Castro Castillo stated that during the operation they would increase vigilance on the security corridors of the international airports in order to guarantee the safety of travelers and tourists who visit the country during the month of December. He also said that they are carrying out operations to monitor traffic situations on the country's main streets and highways where Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) agents will be working together with officials from the Ministry of Public Works. Castro Castillo said that 18,560 agents are from the Police, and 9,778 are members of the Alcoholic Beverages Control and Highway Assistance programs run by the Ministry of the Interior and Police, the Armed the Forces and the Specialized Corps of Tourist Safety and other institutions.

Young woman who posed giving beer to baby released from jail
A Santiago appeals court ordered the release of 18-year old Estephany Estevez yesterday, Wednesday, 3 December 2014. The young mother provoked outrage last month after she posted photos of herself on Facebook, apparently initiating her baby into beer drinking. Judge Martha Martinez originally sent her to three months preventive custody.

The Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals also ordered the young woman to make regular appearances at the Psychological Assistance and Conduct office at the Justice Department's Gender Unit in Santiago.



Winter League baseball results
Yesterday evening, Wednesday 3 December 2014, the Estrellas Orientales produced a six-run rally in the fifth inning to defeat the Tigres del Licey with a score of 9-3, putting an end to a four-game losing streak. The fans in the Estadio Tetelo Vargas enjoyed watching the return of Junior Lake who had a triple and a double to help push the Estrellas to their victory. The win keeps the Estrellas in first place in the standings tied with the Aguilas Cibaenas.

In San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes del Cibao defeated the Toros del Este with a score of 7-3. The victory by the Gigantes consolidated their standing in third place of this first section of the Dominican Winter League Baseball Tournament. This was the fourth straight victory for the Gigantes who just last week were at 15 and 15 and are now, 19-16, a game and a half above the Toros.

In the venerable Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo the Aguilas Cibaenas staged a four-run rally in the eighth inning that decided the game in their favor, 6-5, over the Leones del Escogido. The victory took the Aguilas into a first-place tie with the Estrellas at 22 wins and 14 losses. "Big" Dan Black and Zoilo Almonte hit homeruns and Black also had an important two-run double in the eighth inning. One of the leading hitters in this year's tournament, Rafael Ynoa, produced a double and a single, and Almonte had two other hits to accompany his homerun. Two games ago Escogido ended a 35-inning scoreless streak by winning their first game in weeks. Last night they staged a five-run rally in the sixth inning to take the lead, but their hopes were dashed by the Aguilas in the eighth inning.

To follow the games, see http://www.lidom.com

AGUILAS 22 - 14 .611 --
ESTRELLAS 22 - 14 .611 --
GIGANTES 19 - 16 .543 2.5
TOROS 18 - 18 .500 4.0
LICEY 15 - 21 .417 7.0
ESCOGIDO 11 - 24 .314 10.5

DREAM invitation to Sunday brunch
The north coast community in the Dominican Republic has issued an invitation to One Community, one cause: The DREAM Family Brunch this Sunday, 7 December 2014. The event is a fund-raiser that brings all families together for an inclusive, affordable and meaningful afternoon. Dream Project provides over 4,500 young people and 8,000 community members in Puerto Plata with quality educational opportunities. Velero Beach Resort is hosting the event from 11am to 3pm on Sunday, 7 December. There will be special musical performances by local musicians and students from the DREAM Music Program. There also will be a silent auction with amazing deals, endless activities for kids and an educational scavenger hunt to end the afternoon.

Dream won the Premio Brugal for Education and has been featured on HBO Latin America.

Dream prides itself on donations going straight to programs and the DREAM Board covering operational costs, making it a model for other non-profits.

To purchase tickets and read more about the event, see http://dominicandream.org/2014/09/09/dreamfamilybrunch.html

Tickets can also be purchased at the DREAM office in Cabarete at Plaza Novus Mare above the Orange Shop.

Victor Victor shows
Enjoy good food and memorable bachata and bolero music by singer-songwriter Victor Victor. He is booked to appear at El Gallego Restaurant on Cesar Nicolas Penson Avenue opposite the Pedro Henriquez Urena National Library (Plaza de la Cultura) in Santo Domingo this evening, Thursday, 4 December at 8:30pm. Admission is free. Another show takes place this Saturday, 6 December at the Casa de Teatro auditorium on Arzobispo Merino street in the Colonial City at 9pm, RD$1,000 admission.

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

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