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Daily News - Wednesday, 10 December 2014

President Medina at IberoAmerican Summit
President Danilo Medina attended a breakfast hosted by King Felipe VI of Spain along with the heads of the member countries of the Central American Integration System (SICA) at the XXIV Ibero-American Summit yesterday, Tuesday 9 December 2014.

Several topics were discussed during the meeting with the King, the Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, and the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, including national security, rural development, tourism and institutional strengthening.

The Presidents of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, and Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina were also present at the breakfast. El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren was represented by his Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was not at the summit but was replaced by vice president Moises Omar Halleslevens.

The breakfast took place at 8:30am at the Holiday Inn in Veracruz, Mexico. Afterwards, the heads of state continued on to the convention center to continue with the discussion on innovation as part of the Ibero-American Summit.

During the Summit, the Presidency reported that President Medina met with the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Barcena. He also held discussions with his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, and several other heads of state.

He returned to the DR at 6:40pm on Tuesday, landing at the San Isidro Air Force base.



Central Bank: A good year so far
The Central Bank has issued its third quarterly report on the Dominican economy saying that in broad terms, 2014 has been a good year, despite the challenges the country is facing.

As of September, the economy had grown by 7%, which is 3.2% more than during the first nine months of last year, and 4.4% more than at the same time in 2012.

By the end of 2014, the Central Bank predicts the annual growth rate will slow down a little, to 6%, still much higher than the Latin American average growth forecast to be 1.1%.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has confirmed that the Dominican Republic and Panama are the economies that are expected to have the highest growth figures for the year, at 6%, followed by Bolivia (5.2%), Colombia (4.8%) and Nicaragua (4.5%). It is also thought that the trend will continue during 2015.

There are many reasons for the strong growth, including the recovery in the United States that has led to higher remittances being sent to the Dominican Republic, up by nearly 11% as at September, compared to a decline of 0.6% over the same period last year. Tourism has also increased by 8.2% as of September, as well as gold exports from Pueblo Viejo mine that have led the mining sector to grow by 24.1%.

President Danilo Medina promised to create 400,000 new jobs during his term of office and according to the Central Bank, in the last 12 months, 165,799 jobs have been created which has lowered unemployment to 6% from 7%.

In addition, the fall in the cost of petrol by over RD$50 a gallon since June has also assisted with growth.



RD$1.2 billion loan to pay Christmas wage in government
The PLD-majority Chamber of Deputies has fast-tracked a bill authorizing a RD$1.2 billion loan for city municipalities, autonomous and decentralized government entities that have incorrectly spent the Christmas wage that is included in their allocations from the National Budget. The loan will be used for them to pay the 13th salary to their employees. The bill was presented by deputy Rene Polanco of the PLD Santo Domingo Province. It now passes to the PLD-majority Senate for approval.

The bill authorizes the state commercial bank Banco de Reservas to lend the money for the Christmas wage. The loan will be discounted from the municipalities' 2015 budget in 11 installments.

Opposition legislators have spoken out against the common practice of taking out a loan from Banco de Reservas for this purpose every December. Legislator Jose Paliza (PRD-Puerto Plata) said that the municipalities finances were in chaos and they did not account for their use of the funds.

Legislator Graciela Fermin (PRD-Puerto Plata) said that Congress was not monitoring what the municipalities do with the funds they receive. She said the bill is unfair on the municipalities that do comply with Law 176-07 that orders the payment of the 13th wage.

CDEEE to pay half of arrears to generators
Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) executive vice president Ruben Jimenez Bichara says that the government will be paying half of the arrears owed to the power distributors before the end of the year. A payment of US$568 million of the US$1,115 million owed will be made, as reported in El Dia.

He said the bank transfer payments would start tomorrow, Thursday 11 December 2014. Jimenez Bichara said talks with the power generators had been underway for a month. He said that from 1 January 2014 to date, the CDEEE has paid US$1,568.7 million to the generators, without including the forthcoming US$568 million payment.

New Passport office in La Vega
The Department of Passports has opened a passport office in the city of La Vega on Calle Garcia Godoy, in the Government Offices building. The new office, under director Lourdes Alvarado, will serve the public in cities in the area, including Bonao, Jarabacoa, Constanza and La Vega.

Director of Passports Iris Guaba said that the office is part of work to provide better services to citizens. She added that the Department of Passports has not only worked to improve the structure, but also the processes to international security levels, with the verification of all the documents through an agreement with the Central Electoral Board (JCE).

The Department of Passports has three offices in Greater Santo Domingo (the main office in Centro de los Heroes, one in Santo Domingo East and one in Villa Mella). Others are located in La Vega, Santiago, San Francisco de Macoris, San Pedro de Macoris, Puerto Plata, Azua, Monte Cristi, Nagua and Barahona. Passports can also be obtained at most Dominican consulates abroad.

Luis Eduardo Aybar Hospital to close
The director of the Metropolitan Health Service Dr. Felix Hernandez has announced that the Luis Eduardo Aybar public hospital in Santo Domingo will close from today, Wednesday 10 December 2014 in order to start the demolition of the old building and rebuild it at a cost of RD$6.9 billion.

The hospital, which was originally built in 1946, provides around 1,000 consultations a day.

In-patients who cannot be sent home will be transferred to other hospitals along with the staff, in a process that is expected to be complete by Monday, 15 December 2014. The construction personnel are scheduled to begin work on 20 December 2014.

Mobile units will be set up for consultations, but emergency cases will be taken in ambulances to other hospitals.

Burn cases will go to the Ney Arias Lora hospital, and children to Hugo Mendoza Children's Hospital in Villa Mella.

Internal medicine cases will be taken to Padre Billini, Salvador B. Gautier and Francisco Moscoso Puello hospitals. Prenatal services will be covered by the Moscoso Puello Hospital, and maternity cases will go to Los Mina, La Altagracia and Reynaldo Almanzar public hospitals.

Surgical cases will be taken to Vinicio Calventi Hospital in Los Alcarrizos, and diabetes, dialysis and rheumatology will go to Moscoso Puello.


Moreno calls for top judge to resign
Former National District Prosecutor turned politician Guillermo Moreno has called for the resignation of the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Mariano German for his close links to the PLD and its president, Leonel Fernandez. He said that this relationship prevented him from heading the high court of justice in an independent and impartial manner as required by the Constitution. Moreno, the Alianza Paiz political party leader says that only the resignation of German will open doors for creating a judicial branch under criteria of absolute independence with the capacity to operate professionally, while adhering to ethics and democratic values.

He criticized the judiciary under German for repeatedly favoring the impunity of people accused of corruption during the Fernandez governments. He said the evidence is in that all complaints and cases submitted against the former President, senator Felix Bautista and former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua in all jurisdictions have been filed away.

He said that society could not remain indifferent to the caricature of the Judicial Branch that was designed by the former President after the Constitutional changes of 2010. "Citizens could not continue to be humiliated by the judicial comedy starring Mariano German, Frank Soto and Alejandro Moscoso along with many others in several jurisdictions," said the politician.

He said impunity has converted corruption into a structural phenomenon and a pandemic that is affecting the entire social body of the nation. He said that administrative corruption is about 25% of the National Budget, which is around RD$100 billion a year. He said that the volume of theft of public money impoverishes everyone, especially the poor as it affects the funds available for quality education, decent jobs, health and social security. Guillermo Moreno was speaking on the occasion of UN international anti-corruption day, yesterday, Tuesday 9 December 2014.


Amet impose fines for no lights
Agents from the Metropolitan Transport Authority (Amet) have imposed fines on 3,433 drivers who were driving at night in vehicles without lights between 25 November and 7 December.

The total includes drivers of 1,554 cars and 1,879 motorcycles without lights, who according to Amet were putting themselves at risk and endangering other road users.

Amet is asking all drivers to check that both lights work on their vehicles, both in front and at the rear.


ANJE presses for end to transport monopoly
The National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) is reiterating its call to the government to eliminate the long-standing monopoly on cargo and passenger transport, which violates the Constitution. In a press release, ANJE president Biviana Riveiro says that the subsidies the transporters are receiving do not translate into efficiency or lower costs for the service.

"We need to be clear as to what the objective of the subsidies is, because in no way has it contributed to a competitive and reasonably priced service. When oil prices increase, the cost of the transport service immediately increases, but when the oil prices drop, there is no change in the cost of the service," complained the business leader, as reported in Listin Diario.


Miners protest blocking of labor union
Workers from Barrick Pueblo Viejo mine held a protest at the Barrick headquarters in Santo Domingo yesterday, Tuesday 9 December 2014 asking for a salary increase, better working conditions and the right to join a trade union.

According to Jacobo David Colon, General Secretary of the Union for Workers at Barrick, they decided to hold a protest as they have been trying to negotiate for recognition of their rights as established by the Labor Code since 2010 but they have been ignored.

The peaceful protest took place on Lopez de Vega Avenue and union leader Pepe Abreu said that this multinational company could negotiate with workers from other parts of the world but refused to negotiate with Dominican workers.

Barrick did not send a representative to meet with the protesters and both Abreu and Colon warned that if they continued to refuse to speak to the workers, the protests would intensify next year.


Santiago nightspot shut down
The Public Prosecution Service has closed the Dubai discotheque in Santiago following an incident on Sunday, 7 December 2014 in which four people were injured. It happened following the attendance of bachata Singer, Anthony Santos and urban music singer Antonio Peter de la Rosa (Omega).

The shooting involved two major league baseball players and at least one of them has been named by the Public Prosecution service.

Several people linked to the shootout have been interviewed, but the Santiago prosecutor has denied that an arrest warrant has been issued for Omega, although the police are saying they are looking to take him to jail.


Illegal weapons destroyed
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has supervised the destruction of another 2,800 illegal firearms of several types and calibers, which had been confiscated from people who have been arrested for a range of offences.

This now takes the number of weapons destroyed since July 2014 up to around 5,000.

Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, the Head of the Special Prosecution Unit for Arms Control and Trafficking, Jose Alberto Jimenez, National Police chief Manuel Castro Castillo, Army chief Jose Matos De La Cruz, and the deputy Minister from the Arms Control Department at the Ministry of Interior and Police, General Ricardo Rosa Chupani also attended the event.

Dominguez Brito said this served as a message that he wanted a country without arms as most murders involved the use of firearms, and he warned that the Public Prosecution Service would request three months in jail on remand for anyone found in possession of an illegal weapon.

The weapons destroyed included M16 rifles, 12 bore pump-action shotguns, 45 caliber and 9 mm pistols, as well as rifles and shotguns.


Bank executives lose their assets
National District Prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso says that she will be seeking international cooperation in the investigation into the Banco Peravia executives, who have now had their bank accounts frozen and their assets in the country confiscated, including an airplane.

She said that they are also investigating several armed forces members who were apparently providing protection to the executives as well as threatening clients who went to the bank to demand the return of their savings.

She said that she is making progress but has still not had a meeting with the Superintendence of Banks.


Verdicts soon in Colombian brothers case
A San Cristobal Judge says that a verdict is imminent in the case of Colombian brothers Husber Oswaldo Buitrago Ruiz and Angel Maria Buitrago Vacca, as well as another four people, linked to the case of a drug-making and distribution laboratory that was discovered in the province.

The other four people involved are John Jairo Roldan Estrada, Angel Fernando Vargas Gomez, Dersilida Ambalina Patrone Ortiz, and El Negro, Burro also known as Santiago Castro Sanchez.

John Jairo, Angel Gomez and the Buitrago brothers had a farm in Cabeza de Toro, in San Cristobal, where the drug laboratory was discovered. The brothers were arrested in December 2012 during the dismantling of a suspected international drug ring.


Arts and crafts fair by people with special needs
Foundation Sirius is inviting the public to an arts and craft fair "Christmas with Sirius" featuring works by the disabled students who attend their workshops. The event opens this evening, Wednesday, 10 December 2014 from 6 to 9pm. Calle Maximo Cabral No. 8, Gazcue, Santo Domingo.

[email protected] Photography
Works by photographers Mary Rosa Jimenez, Clara Martinez Thedy, America Olivo, Angel Ricardo Rivera and Lowell Whipple will be on show at the Espacio7 Art Gallery at the Marina Casa de Campo in La Romana. Friday, 12 December 2014. Jardin No. 20, La Marina Casa de Campo. Open from 6 to 9pm. Tel 809 862-6133.

La Fille Mal Gardee Ballet at Palacio de Bellas Artes
Ballet Studio presents "La Fille Mal Gardee" with its ballet students at Palacio de Bellas Artes, Santo Domingo, Friday, 19 December at 7:30pm, and Saturday, 20 December at 7pm and Sunday, 21 December at 5pm. Directed by Doris Infante.

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

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