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Daily News - Tuesday, 09 December 2014

President Medina speaks about education
At the Ibero-American Summit taking place yesterday and today 8-9 December 2014 in Veracruz, Mexico, President Danilo Medina spoke about his government's top priority of providing quality education. In his address to the summit, Medina focused on the National Pact for Education Reform that was signed in 2014.

He said that the education system was the most powerful way to build an equal society and give everyone better opportunities and that the Dominican Republic was going through a true education revolution. He spoke about the "Quisqueya Learns with You" literacy program and the 4% of GDP funding for education.

Medina listed the education system's three main goals as inclusion, quality and relevance. He went on to discuss the ambitious classroom construction program, provision of facilities for disabled students and the new extended school day.

He said that the country was now working on a new curriculum based on skills that will promote development and knowledge, but that the major challenge was to improve quality. For this reason, he said, the country was now looking to change its teacher training programs to ensure that teaching quality is improved.


Government to pay US$400 million to power companies
Ruben Jimenez Bichara, executive vice president of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) says that the government will make an advance payment of US$400 million on the US$1,013 million owed to the power generators before the end of the year. Power companies recently complained about the increasing arrears.


Mining investment is US$6.2 billion
The president of the Dominican Mining and Petroleum Chamber (Campire) Jose Bernardo Sena says that total investment in mining operations in the country is around US$6.2 billion. He said some 75,000 direct jobs have been created by the growing mining industry.


Las Terrenas to join the National Electricity Grid
The Superintendence of Electricity (SIE) has intervened in the Luz y Fuerza power company in Las Terrenas, Samana in the northeast of the country and says that it will carry out interconnection works that will improve service and lower costs of the service within four months. The interconnection will supply power to Las Terrenas produced at a lower cost by generators connected to EdeNorte, the state-owned power distributor. Luz y Fuerza serves around 10,500 customers, mainly in the Las Terrenas tourist area.

SIE Administrative Council member Diogenes Rodriguez Grullon and SIE superintendent Angel Cano told Listin Diario that there have been problems with the service provided by Luz and Fuerza, which is outside the national system and has 30 different tariffs it charges its clients with no logic behind the different rates.

The SIE added that it held a meeting in Las Terrenas on Saturday, 6 December 2014 with National Energy Commission (CNE) president Juan Rodriguez, Northern Electricity Distribution Company (EdeNorte) administrator Julio Cesar Correa, and local community leaders to work out how to guarantee service to the population.

The SIE will be sending specialists to establish the new tariffs, saying that in future there would only be four different levels. SIE, Edenorte, CNE and the Electricity Transmission Company (ETED) will work together to make the connection to the national grid at a cost of US$4 million.

The plan is to connect Las Terrenas to the Sanchez substation. There will be 17.2 kilometers of power lines from Sanchez, through La Guazara and Los Puentes up to Las Terrenas.

Luz y Fuerza has a concession contract with the government and is the owner of the distribution lines into Las Terrenas. While very expensive, electricity in Las Terrenas has been known to be reliable. The high cost is compensated when the customers do not have to install or run large backup generators as is the case with customers of government power companies, including EdeNorte.


IDB book calls for new economic transformation policies
The Inter-American Development Bank is recommending economic transformation in Latin America. During the launch of the new book "How to Rethink Productive Development: Policies and Solid Institutions for Economic Transformation," the IDB representative in the country, Flora Montealegre recommended a rigorous assessment of policies to stimulate savings, improve government spending quality and optimize available resources. She said that increased government spending is not necessary if there is more efficient quality spending. She said that the conceptual framework presented in the book could help countries adopt productive development policies to prosper and to avoid the errors of the past. Montealegre said that the Dominican Republic's economic development model, which is based mainly on attracting direct foreign investment through tax credits and free zones has generated above average regional growth but not nearly enough formal jobs to significantly reduce poverty and inequality.


Remand prisoners will be allowed to vote
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced that people being held in jail on remand will be able to vote in the May 2016 elections.

Yesterday morning, Monday 8 December 2014, Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito and JCE president Roberto Rosario signed an agreement to provide all the necessary equipment for gathering biometric information from inmates being held on remand in jail.

Rosario Marquez said that it would be a slow process in the jails across the country as around 12,000 people are currently in prison on remand.

Dominguez Brito said that they would work in the 17 prisons around the country to take fingerprints, facial data and birth certificates to make sure that the identities were correct and then they would hand over their new identity cards (cedulas).

At the same time, the agreement will allow the legal system to be cleaned up as many of the inmates on remand were using false names and forged identity cards.


Greenhouse vegetable exports top US$100 million
The Dominican Republic exported more than US$100 million worth of greenhouse vegetables in 2014, which confirms that agriculture is among the country's most dynamic sectors.

The Agriculture Ministry's Protected Environment Production Dept. (Deprobap) said that the country exported US$111.6 million worth of vegetables during that period or US$15 million more than the US$96.1 million in 2013.

It said the additional production results from the 933.6 million square meters of new nurseries mostly in the south and Greater Santo Domingo (601,836), the northwest (274,942), and the east, mainly La Romana (56,800).

The total amount of vegetables produced in these protected environments in 2014 was 140.3 million pounds, or 17.8 million more than the previous period, when 122.5 million pounds of greenhouse vegetables were produced.


Haitian immigration to Puerto Rico on the rise
According to the latest statistics from the United States Coastguard, Customs Office and Border Protection (CBP), over the last two years, a new wave of Haitian immigrants has overtaken the number of Dominicans who have travelled to Puerto Rico illegally.

The changes in immigration patterns as reflected in the number of Haitians captured by the United States government in 2012, two years after the earthquake, shows an increase of 434% in 2013. In the years from 2003 to 2011 the number of Haitians captured ranged from two to 43 and in 2012 it reached 111, 2013 there were 594 and by October this year, 732.

Since the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the United States Security Department has granted Haitians a special status of being "temporarily protected citizens", which means they cannot be deported once they arrive on US soil. If, however, they are intercepted on the high seas, then they are repatriated to Haiti. This special status will last up to 22 June 2016.

In the last year around 600 Haitians arrived in Puerto Rico. Most have work in construction or painting houses and live in the area of Santurce. The rest emigrate to the United States mainland or Canada.


Delays with online purchases
Internet purchases via Miami-based courier companies have been delayed over the last month as the Customs Department is checking all the packages and insisting on receipts for each one. Thousands of customers are complaining that their purchases have been stuck in Miami for several weeks and the couriers are saying that the reason is that Customs are asking for receipts for each and every package. Across social media many clients have complained of the delays.

Customs director general, Fernando Fernandez, said that they had to take measures to prevent fraud as, according to the couriers, 80% of purchases were only worth between US$10 and US$12. He went on to say that the courier companies did not want Customs to check that their figures were correct and that there were two companies who had been fined RD$22 million for not declaring the correct amounts.


Problems with valuation of livestock
The Specialist Prosecutor for Money Laundering, German Daniel Miranda Villalona says there have been difficulties in assessing livestock confiscated from accused drug dealer Winston Rizik Rodriguez, and that seven of the around 500 cows have tuberculosis and cannot be sold or used to produce milk. He said this has delayed the assessment process. Miranda said there were also problems valuing the fighting cocks as each can cost between US$5,000 and US$10,000 and some are worth even more than a building.

He said that the problems with valuation have made it difficult to sell them, and they are still trying to get an accurate value based on market prices.

He went on to say that on Sunday, 7 December 2014, they confiscated two more homes in Santo Domingo identified as belonging to Rizik Rodriguez and that they are looking for others in order to confiscate them.


Missing journalist
The Association of Art Journalists (Acroarte) is reporting the disappearance of one of its founder members, journalist Alcibiades de la Rosa (Alci). He has not been seen since Sunday afternoon, 7 December 2014, when he left the institution, where the third meeting to evaluate the winners of the Soberano awards for 2015 was being held.

Acroarte has asked for help in locating Alci de la Rosa and has asked anyone with information to call al 809-689-7272, 809-685-2478 or 809-752-0001.


Dominicans returning in their thousands for Christmas
Since Monday, 8 December 2014, thousands of Dominicans living overseas have started to return to the country to spend Christmas with their families and friends. Some have said they are concerned at the lack of security in the country.

The government is allowing them to bring up to US$3,000 worth of gifts for their families tax-free and many returning Dominicans have expressed their appreciation for the concession.

It has been noted that the return of Dominicans for Christmas, from the United States, Spain, France, Germany, Venezuela and other countries has started earlier than usual this year, and airport authorities say they are expecting around 300,000 to arrive during the Christmas period.


National Choir Christmas at Epiphany Cathedral
Catch the Christmas spirit listening to traditional Christmas songs by the voices of the National Choir. The choir will be performing its Christmas program this Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 6:30pm at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Epiphany. The Cathedral is on Av. Independencia 253 in Santo Domingo. The concert is free.

Merengue and son at Terrazas del Meson
Cesar Namnum and Grupo Maniel are playing at Las Terrazas del Meson in Santo Domingo this evening. Enjoy easy flowing merengue, son and other Latin beats at Las Terrazas del Meson on Tuesday, 9 December 2014. 8:30pm. Tel 809 930-1840

Hector Acosta at Afrika Club
If you are into merengue... El Torito (Hector Acosta) is at Afrika Club on Calle Paseo de los Locutores in Santo Domingo this Thursday, 11 December 2014 at 10pm. Tel 809 683-4474

National Arts and Crafts Fair
The Ministry of Culture is sponsoring the 13th Annual National Arts and Crafts Fair open from 9am until the early evening at the Fortaleza de Santo Domingo, better known as the Fortaleza Ozama. The event starts this Thursday, 11 December and continues through Sunday, 14 December.

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

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