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Daily News - Thursday, 11 December 2014

Medina appoints Jose Tomas Perez ambassador to US
President Danilo Medina has appointed Jose Tomas Perez as the new Dominican ambassador in Washington, D. C. The appointment, formalized in Decree 462-14, was announced yesterday, Wednesday10 December 2014. Jose Tomas Perez will replace journalist-diplomat Anibal de Castro who was appointed ambassador to Spain in the same decree. Perez is a top-ranking member of the ruling PLD who has served as the director of the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute and as the director of Industrial Development, along with other government posts. According to his biography on Wikipedia, he studied engineering (PUCMM), pscychology and economy (UASD), education (INTEC) in the Dominican Republic and marketing at Webster University in Missouri, United States.

Government says economy will close with nearly 7% GDP increase
Administrative Minister for the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta says that the Dominican gross domestic product (GDP) will end 2014 with a growth rate of nearly 7%. This could be the highest growth in the Americas. Peralta announced that the rate of growth could be even stronger in 2015 because of outstanding performance in the sectors of farming, tourism, remittances, manufacturing, and direct foreign investment.

Peralta made the announcement during a luncheon with the economic editors of Dominican newspapers at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Wednesday, 10 December 2014. During the event, Presidential Press Director Roberto Rodriguez Marchena said that while growth was consistent across all sectors, the mining sector led the way with a 24.1% growth rate, followed by construction at 10.7%, hotels, bars and restaurants at 8.2%. He also pointed out the impact this economic growth is having on reducing unemployment, stating that some 235,600 new formal jobs had been created between August 2012 and August 2014.


Under 3 weeks left for "marbete"
If you have a vehicle and you have not renewed your marbete or sticker representing the payment for the right to use Dominican roads, you now have 20 days in which to do so. Right now it can be done online, at any savings and loan office or at any of the offices of the DGII (Tax Office).

According to Listin Diario, stickers for 391,801 vehicles have been renewed. This is just 40% of the vehicles in the country.

The deadline for renewals expires at noon on 31 December 2014. Tomorrow, Friday 12 December 2014 is the last day that the marbetes can be purchased via the Internet.

DGII Motor Vehicles Department director Virginia Gomez told reporters that they have collected more than RD$527 million so far. She warned that the DGII would not grant any extension so that anyone who has not renewed their permit by noon on 31 December will have to pay a RD$600 late fee.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (AMET) said that once the renewal period is up, their agents would seize any vehicle found to be using the roads without the sticker. Payment can be made at more than 700 points throughout the country. Vehicles manufactured before 2009 will be charged RD$1,200, and newer vehicles will pay RD$2,200.

Most development goals will not be met by 2015
Fifty-seven of the National Development Strategy (END) 2030 objectives have been analyzed in a report by the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, and will not meet the goals programmed for 2015.

The second annual progress report on the implementation of the National Development Strategy, delivered to the Economic and Social Council, found that 17 indicators had met their goals for 2015 in 2013, and 23 have improved "and look promising" and have high probabilities of reaching what was programmed for next year.

This is to say that only 40 are expected to meet their goals.

On the other hand, the study establishes that 18 indicators have gone backwards, 32 have improved "moderately" with low possibilities of reaching the goal for 2015, and seven indicators are stalled.

In percentages, the number one focus, a social and democratic State, was the one which obtained the worst grades in the publication, where 45% of the indicators are stalled or going backwards, and only 36% show some improvement, which includes moderate improvements, meaning that in any case they will not meet the goal for 2015.

The central idea that shows the greatest improvement (68%) is the second focus, of a society with equal rights and opportunities. Regarding the third area which covers a sustainable, integrated and competitive economy, 48% of the indicators improved, and in the fourth area, a society of environmentally sustainable production and consumption, 50% of the indicators show some improvement, and for the other 50% they did not have up to date information for 2013.

The indicators in which the country has gone backwards include the rate of perception of corruption n with measurements by Transparency International n, the level of state subsidy to the electricity sector, the cash recovery rate in the electricity sector, and the percentage share of exports in world exports and manufacturing and farm products.

The percentage of the rural population below the moderate poverty line has also become worse, as has the death rate linked to dengue, the malnutrition rate in children under the age of five and the gap between female and male unemployment rates. The net registration rate at higher education level also shows regressions for 2015.

The report stresses that the public policies adopted during 2013 were linked to the lines of action of the END between 42.3% and 47.6% depending on which area was studied.

Former President Fernandez calls for tax increases
Former President Leonel Fernandez says that the government needs more revenue as the fiscal pressure at 14% is not enough to meet its spending.

He said that the greatest challenge for the macroeconomic sustainability of the DR is to increase revenues. In an interview for Mercado Magazine, Fernandez said that 14% is below the average for Latin America.

Diario Libre reports that during the 12-year Fernandez administrations more than 10 tax increases took place.


The other necessary pact
El Dia's editorial today, Thursday 11 December 2014 urges the signing of the Fiscal Pact to reduce distortions in the taxation and government spending.

For starters, there are many laws that allocate percentages of the budget for 140% of the total of the budget. "This is an absurd situation that needs to be corrected," writes the editorialist.

The writer continues by pointing out that many tax exemptions need to be reviewed to determine their convenience or application to the country's overall development.

The editorialist also observes that at 14% the formal tax pressure is low, while noting that the pressure on the few that actually pay taxes is a much heavier burden.

The editorialist goes on to say that the Dominican Republic needs to decide if it will continue to give priority to taxing consumption or earnings or luxury. At the same time it has to make government spending of the funds assigned to national goals more transparent.

The column ends with the statement that one cannot talk about Fiscal Pact without working at the same time on the signing of the Electricity Pact, because the latter is a burden of more than US$1 billion in annual subsidies. "The cards need to be placed on the table for a comprehensive fiscal reform that contributes to our progress," concludes the editorialist.

Wasteful government spending
In her editorial in Diario Libre today, Thursday 11 December 2014, Ines Aizpun focuses on politicians getting rich, and Dominicans getting poorer.

"Spending on electoral campaigns for the 2016 election is unprecedented," she writes. She complains about ministers or government officials who have been showing off economic wealth that it totally unrelated to their positions but no one stops them.

She criticizes the National District city government for spending an "indecent" sum on a temporary attractions park in a city where cemeteries, markets, and other services are in substandard conditions. The victims of the park are the students of the National Music Conservatory and the neighbors.

She describes how the Ministry of Foreign Relations payroll is a blow to citizens. "You can study, work, make sacrifices, and you are being naive. All you have to do is be a relative of a high-up member of the PLD or seek Cleopatra's tomb to receive a salary of US$10,000 a month," she writes, complaining that no one says anything.

"The list is enormous and the feeling is one of being scammed by the corporation within the PLD that has a hold on taxpayers and there is no pretending, when one reads that Leonel Fernandez says there is a need to increase the tax load. One has to be very audacious to get away with that..." she writes.

"The rates of competitiveness, wealth distribution, the fight against poverty, against corruption and impunity are not improving. It is a system, that of the PLD, that enriches a few and holds back the majority," she concludes.


Luis Eduardo Aybar Hospital closes its doors
With locks on the doors to the emergency room, the waiting room of the outpatient offices, and most wards empty by noon yesterday, the Luis Eduardo Aybar Public Hospital in Santo Domingo East was closed yesterday, Wednesday 10 December 2014 in order to make way for its demolition and the construction of a new project. Thus ends 68 years of service with all of its ups and downs.

From the early hours of the morning, reporters observed the desolation resulting from the move: the hospitalized patients were taken out, some to their homes and others to other hospitals, according to their needs.

The fact was that they have to hand over the building by Monday, 15 December 2014 at the latest, in order for demolition to begin.

Jorge Santana, 45, was shaking from a chill resulting from a high fever. He was the only remaining patient in Ward 1H2, which he had shared with six other patients. His doctors were waiting for an improvement in order to give him a referral.

In two years, when the new hospital is inaugurated, this model of ward will not exist. President Danilo Medina prefers rooms that contain just two beds in order to guarantee the privacy of the patients and their families.

Patients expressed their distress when they went to their medical appointments and found the outpatient offices closed. They were in a state of shock for several minutes outside the door to the consultation offices for outpatient treatments until a security guard came by to tell them where their records would be handed over and referrals made to a hospital where they will be treated from now on.

The uncertainty also came over several administrative employees who claimed that the authorities had not told them where they would be transferred.

The hospital administration has prepared a location at the old doctors' offices of the National District City Council on Barahona and 27 Febrero avenues for human resources and administration to inform employees about their work situation.

Tourism wants to animate colonial ruins
As part of the process of transformation underway in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, the Ministry of Tourism plans refurbish the monuments currently in ruins in order to add them to the historical center's tourism prospectus. During the celebration of the International Seminar of Contemporary Architecture in Historical Centers, held at the Ibero-American University (UNIBE) yesterday, Wednesday 10 December 2014, a group of internationally prominent architects spoke of the need to make the most of the historical potential of the colonial rulings. As reported in El Caribe, Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, former 15-year long dean of architecture of the University of Harvard, said it is wrong to think that the historical monuments should be conserved as ruins without any type of use. He said that this is why cities have not been able to maximize the potential that the monuments could offer. He said, "to bring life to the historical assets will result in cultural, tourist and economic activity in the surrounding areas."

Tourism grew by 14% in October
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia says that tourism continues to achieve record numbers, after registering a 14% growth rate in October with the arrival of 39,726 additional visitors. The Minister of Tourism also reported that the accumulated growth during the period between January and October is 9.7%, much higher than the level registered by the World Tourism Organization for the Caribbean region, which averaged 5.9%.

The minister announced that from January to October, the country received 4,214,764 non-resident visitors through the airports, which represents an increase of an additional 374,003 compared to the same period in 2013. Of this total, 3,690,978 travelers were listed as foreigners.

Luz y Fuerza disagrees with EdeNorte connection
As reported in El Dia, Luz y Fuerza, the power distribution company serving Las Terrenas, is opposed to the plan to connect their power grid to the government-owned EdeNorte. Alejandra Orisini of Luz y Fuerza told El Dia that EdeNorte serves Samana and Sanchez, which experience blackouts 52% of the time. Earlier this week, the Power Superintendence and EdeNorte announced plans to make a US$4 million investment to connect the power sources of EdeNorte that generate electricity at a lower cost than Generadora Electrica de Samana that serves Luz y Fuerza. Orsini said there are other alternatives to lowering the cost of power in Samana. She said the decision by the Superintendence and EdeNorte was illegal because the General Power Law bans one power distribution company from selling to another. Luz y Fuerza has the concession to supply power to Las Terrenas.

Chief Justice rejects observations
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of justice Mariano German said yesterday, Wednesday 10 December 2014 that he rejects the observations made by President Danilo Medina to the Penal Code. "My own position is that the code should be enacted as approved," he said. Dominican Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez reiterated his opposition to the observations made by the Executive Branch saying that in commemoration of the International Day of Human Rights, the first human right is "that of being born."

Chamber of Deputies will deal with Penal Code today
The campaign by the Catholic and Evangelical Christian churches for the National Congress to reject the observations made by President Danilo Medina to the Penal Code regarding abortion could be the trigger that led Chamber of Deputies president Abel Martinez to convene the legislators for a session today, Thursday 11 December 2014. During this urgent meeting, set for 11 am, the deputies will review the observations, and either reject or accept the Executive Branch recommendations to permit abortions in exceptional cases.

The spokesman for the PLD block of deputies, Ruben Maldonado, told Diario Libre reporters that in this session they will deal with "important proposals," and that the Penal Code could be one of them.

"We will meet tomorrow (the PLD block) and we will take the decisions that have to be taken. What I can tell you is that Ruben Maldonado supports the decision of the President of the Republic," he said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Permanent Commission of Justice, Demostenes Martinez, did not say if the vetoed Penal Code is on the agenda.

The PRSC is against any changes. "We are going to reject them (the observations). We feel that these observations were poorly made with regard to the fact that they did not comply with the Constitution in their writing, and in case that they want to discuss and come out in favor or and rejection, we feel that they have to be rejected," stated deputy Ramon Rogelio Genao.

Many in government have still not filed declaration of assets
The Chamber of Accounts has sent the Attorney General a list of names of the government officials who have failed to submit their sworn declaration of assets in compliance with Law 311n14.

In her letter to Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, Chamber of Accounts president Licelotte Marte de Barrios writes that these appointed officials and in some cases those who have resigned their posts are liable for sanctions.

A document was sent with the names of the officials who did comply with the legal dispositions of filing their sworn declarations.

"In preparing the list, we have taken into account the information presented by the Executive Branch, as well as the information that we have been able to obtain, before the respective agencies, including the Office for the Evaluation and Auditing of the Assets of Public Officials," says the letter dated 9 December 2014. The letter also states that if any officials' names have been omitted, they will be sent in the shortest time possible.

On Tuesday, December 2014 the Chamber of Accounts was urged through a citation by a bailiff, to send the Justice Department the names of the officials who have not complied with Law 311-14 on Sworn Declarations of Assets within a 15-day period. The measure was adopted by the Justice and Transparency Foundation, which argued that the Chamber of Accounts had acted with negligence in the case. Unofficial reports say that 48 officials have deposited their sworn declaration of assets, 12 are in process, and some 50 are yet to presented. According to the president of the Chamber of Accounts, some 110 officials should obey the new Law 311-14, which establishes that they have to declare their assets within the 30 days following their appointment, ratification, as well as in the case of their firing.

More troops sent to border
Defense Minister Lieutenant General Maximo Munoz Delgado told reporters yesterday, Wednesday 10 December 2014 that the border with Haiti is being reinforced with 1,800 new troops in preparation for the Christmas season. He said that troop numbers were being increased in anticipation of a possible increase in the flow of immigrants making the illegal crossing during the holiday season.

"The border is protected; we have increased the number of troops at this time of the year when we all know that many Haitians are going to cross over during these Christmas festivities with their families."

Munoz Delgado said that as part of the "Peaceful Christmas" operation that began last week, the Ministry of Defense sent some 2,800 of their own troops to patrol the streets, in combination with members of the National Police. He defended the presence of the soldiers on the streets of the capital city. He recalled that the work that the troops carry out is done at the request of the police, who are the coordinators of the operation.

Baseball results in the standings
The Tigres del Licey put an end to nine straight victories by the Gigantes del Cibao with a 2-0 shutout victory in the Estadio Quisqueya yesterday evening, Wednesday 10 December 2014. The Tigres ended a 17-inning scoreless streak with a single by Arismendy Alcantara, followed by a hit from Carlos Triunfel that produced another run. The victory ends a three-game skid by the Tigres and places them three games away from the fourth position in the standings.

In Santiago, Willie Garcia drove in three runs and Lorenzo Barcelo dominated the bats of the Toros del Este over six innings helping the Aguilas Cibaenas to a 6-2 victory over the team from La Romana. This was victory number 25 for the Aguilas and their magic number is now just two: any combination of Agiuilas wins or Toros or Estrellas losses places the Aguilas in the Round Robin semi-final section of the tournament.

In an exciting game in San Pedro de Macoris, the Estrellas Orientales defeated the hapless Leones del Escogido, 1-0 when Audy Ciriaco produced a run scoring hit in the bottom half of the fifth inning. The Estrellas also have a magic number of just two.

AGUILAS 25 - 16 .610 --
ESTRELLAS 25 - 16 .610 --
GIGANTES 24 - 17 .585 1.0
TOROS 20 - 21 .488 5.0
LICEY 17 - 24 .415 8.0
ESCOGIDO 12 - 29 .293 13.0

This evening's games, Thursday 11 December 2014:

* Estadio Cibao, Santiago, 7:30 pm. - Gigantes vs. Aguilas
* Francisco Micheli Stadium, La Romana, 7:30 pm. - Estrellas vs. Toros

See more about the games at http://www.lidom.com

Ringo Starr coming to Punta Cana
Former Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band have the Dominican Republic as one of the stops for their Latin American Tour in 2015. The All Starr Band members are Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Bissonette and Warren Ham. They are booked for a performance at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday, 21 February 2015 in Punta Cana. They will also be performing in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Chile and Mexico this year, in addition to cities in the US.

Starr has said: "We have so much fun playing together, we don't want it to end!" Ringo also loved touring in Latin America and said, "the audiences were just great and so loving, we can't wait to go back".


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

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