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Daily News - Monday, 15 December 2014

DR government behind PetroCaribe debt talks
As reported in El Caribe, the purchase of PetroCaribe debt from Venezuela was an initiative taken by the Dominican government.

The model of the Uruguay and Venezuela debt transaction, which took place two years ago, will be used. As reported, the Venezuela-DR negotiations were interrupted after the story was leaked to the Miami-based Nuevo Herald publication. The story was then followed up by other leading media, including the Wall Street Journal.

As reported in El Caribe, the Dominican negotiating team for the deal is headed by Minister of Hacienda Simon Lizardo Mezquita, the same official who denied the transaction when asked about it by the Dominican press after the publication in the Miami newspaper.

As reported, because of the sovereign nature of the debt, Venezuelan government officials should make the first statements.

Under PetroCaribe, the DR has accumulated a debt of US$4,344,640,668 from 2005 to October 2014. The deal would enable the country to make major savings on the debt total.


Cogentrix to generate with natural gas
Roberto Herrera, general manager of the Compania de Electricidad de San Pedro de Macoris (Cespem) and the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) have reached an agreement for the conversion of the San Pedro power plant to natural gas without requiring an extension of the present contract with the Dominican government. As reported, international supplier Cheniere Energy has agreed to supply the natural gas needed for the seven years left on the present contract that expires in 2022. Previously, the company required a 20-year extension of the contract on the grounds that natural gas suppliers required the additional time in order to guarantee the supply of natural gas.

At present, Cogentrix has the capacity to generate 300 megawatts with fuel oil, but the cost of generation has been too high and the plant has remained shut most of the time since its construction in 1997. For the Dominican government it has been less costly to pay the US$4.5 million a month penalty than purchase power from the company. The power plant was installed in 1997 when the price of a barrel of oil was at US$28. At current prices, Cogentrix could generate at 12.5 US$ cents per kilowatt. As reported in El Dia, the power plant is now generating power from fuel oil given the lower oil prices.


Oil cuts a relief for state finances
Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta says the reduction in oil prices will translate into US$400 million less in the electricity subsidy projected in the 2015 National Budget that was approved by Congress.

He said that the reduction in oil prices has not been passed on to consumers through their electricity bills because the government still subsidizes a large number of people who receive the service but do not pay for it, or pay prices below what it costs the government to provide the service. While he did not mention this point, the subsidy also covers major inefficiencies in the power service including a bloated payroll and inefficiencies in contracting of suppliers and services.

As reported, in December alone, the government made RD$350 million in savings on the cost of oil for generation. Peralta said that the government allocates RD$1.2 billion to the Fund for the Stabilization of Electricity Rates (FETE) every month but in December only RD$850 million was needed to maintain the present rates.

Superintendence of Electricity Administrative Board member Diogenes Rodriguez Grullon said that 85% of customers of power distribution companies fall under the subsidized rate categories, with rates under 300 kilowatts hour.


Manuel Ruiz accuses government of using abortion to change Constitution
The liaison between the Catholic Church and the Medina administration, Manuel Ruiz has resigned from his post. He accused Medina government officials of using the observations made to the Penal Code on decriminalizing abortion as a way of forcing a reform of the 2010 Constitution to introduce the possibility of presidential re-election.

In his letter of resignation, he said government officials have manipulated the abortion issue to make it appear that the Catholic and Evangelical Christian churches are against women. "All this is someone else's fight, a standoff between Danilo Medina and Leonel Fernandez, trying to bring back their battle in their party's Central Committee and the Political Committee. What is really at play is the re-election," he writes.

The 2010 Constitution bans abortion of any kind in the Dominican Republic. Recently, President Danilo Medina observed the revision of the Penal Code that maintained the absolute ban on abortion. In order to approve the changes in the Penal Code, the Constitution rulings on abortion need to be modified first, which could open up the debate on other constitutional issues.


De la Cruz calls for end to fundamentalism in abortion talks
The newly appointed rector of the PUCMM, Father Ramon Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera has criticized what he called the "fundamentalism" of religious leaders in response to the presidential observations to the Penal Code debated in the National Congress. He said the legislators' response to the observations on the abortion rulings should instead be the result of a dialogue between science, faith and reason. He said that so far there has been "a great deal of fundamentalism" in the discussions, and that leads nowhere, neither in politics, economy or religion.

He said Pope Francis advocates the contrary. "Let us help the Pope and open ourselves as a renovated Church, that we be motive and motor to lead towards a new society."

Ramon Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera will begin his work at the PUCMM on 15 January 2015, replacing Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado who headed the institution for 44 years.

At the time of his appointment to head the largest private university in the country, De la Cruz was rector of the Universidad Nordestana in San Francisco de Macoris.

The presidential observations on the Penal Code are on the agenda for tomorrow's Chamber of Deputies session, Tuesday, 16 December 2014.

The Penal Code debate revolves around supporters of exceptions to the ban on abortion on the grounds that abortion is a health issue and not a religious one. The Penal Code reinforced the restrictive ban in the 2010 Constitution. Politicians in the DR had always bent to the religious opponents of abortion until President Danilo Medina vetoed the measure, urging legislators to decriminalize abortions in cases where the woman's life is at risk or in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation.


Roberto Salcedo says he may run for mayor again
In an interview with El Dia newspaper, National District Mayor Roberto Salcedo said that he might seek a fourth term, but this would depend on the decision of the PLD party leadership. He said that polls say he has a 70% acceptance after three terms.

As a bait to increase his popularity he is proposing the construction of bike routes in the city of Santo Domingo. He said that a study has already established where the routes could be established and a plan where companies would sponsor kilometers of the plan. "Bicycle routes are nothing more than the incorporation of the bicycle as a medium of transport." He said this would contribute to the city government's pro health policies that began with the construction of gym machines in public parks. He said this would reduce the negative impact of fuels on the environment.

He mentioned that they would initially use the commonly used bicycle routes such as those around the Botanical Garden, routes leading to the INTEC University and the Mirador del Sur route, as well as some routes linking the Santo Domingo Metro stations. The service would operate with a registration and tickets that would have minimum costs for users. Users will be able to ride their own bikes or bikes provided by the city program. The routes will have security cameras and medical assistance and the first could be installed by April 2015.

Salcedo defended his Bright Christmas Lights Park at the Parque Ibero-Americano, the Guibia artificial beach at Easter, the promotion of carnival. He said a city government is more than collecting garbage, transport and organization of the territory or public spaces.

He criticized the fact that the budget of next year is only RD$4 billion for a million people.

He said that challenges ahead include the organization of transport. "We cannot continue to improvise, there should not be six or more entities in charge of organizing transport," he said, saying that the government needed to redefine who is in charge of transport. He called for the decentralization of transport.

For next year, he announced the recovery of the Avenida Duarte con Paris intersection to end the chaos of the vendors who have been allowed to take over. Salcedo said he has secured economic support from the Medina government to resolve the situation.



Haiti political situation worsens, DR is affected
Weekend reports on the resignation of the Prime Minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe add to the political and social unrest in Haiti, which is bad news for the Dominican Republic. Improvements in Haiti translate into a reduction of immigration of the destitute and jobless to the Dominican Republic.

As matters worsen in Haiti, the government-to-government talks are also affected.

Haiti has delayed in organizing congressional elections and soon President Michel Martelly will be ruling by decree.

The political crisis in Haiti also affects Haitian government support for the regularization of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. In many cases, the regularization needs Haiti to issue legal papers for the process to be completed. One of the major problems with the regularization process has been that most people born in Haiti do not have legal documents, which complicates matters when they emigrate.

An editorial in El Dia urges the Dominican government to take preventive action to reduce the negative impact of the situation in Haiti.



Dominicans using banking services to increase
A new modality whereby banks turn small local shops into banking agents offering a selection of services is expecting to translate into an increase from 30 to 46% of Dominicans using banking services.

A recent analysis by the department of economic studies of the Association of Commercial Banks in the Dominican Republic (ABA) forecasts the increase will happen by the end of 2017. It establishes that in four years the people using banking services for the first time will benefit from RD$8.9 billion in credit. The new banking agents are expected to increase the number of Dominicans using banking services by 4% a year, which will mean that approximately 1.3 million people will starting using the financial services in the next four years.

The analysis reports that people with access to credit for the first time will be around 470,000. They will use the services of around 1,010 new banking agents in 2014. By 2017, banks expect to have authorized the operation of 4,100 affiliated agents.


Grupo CCN announces more shops for 2015
Grupo CCN president Jose Miguel Gonzalez Cuadra has announced the opening of new stores in La Vega, Moca, Puerto Plata and Greater Santo Domingo in 2015. The chain operates Supermercados Nacional, the Jumbo megastore, Casa for household goods, hardware store, the Cuesta bookstore, the Jugueton toy store, Jumbo Express, Bebe Mundo for babies and La Bodega liquor store.

In an interview with Diario Libre, Gonzalez Cuadra expressed optimism about the Dominican economy, and said that as soon as the oil prices are stabilized there will be price cuts. Nevertheless, he said people are skeptical about the duration of the present oil price drop. At the same time, he said 2015 would be one of the most dynamic years in the history of the commercial chain that dates back to 1935.

Gonzalez said it would be an investment of US$50 to US$60 million and around 700-900 new jobs would be created. He said the stores would showcase the "Dominican Heart" social-inclusion initiative in which Dominican artisanal producers are given special exposure in the store.

See the discussion on the Puerto Plata site in the DR1 forums:



Haitian twins abandoned at Santiago hospital
A Haitian mother has abandoned her two twin sons at the Arturo Grullon Public Hospital in Santiago. The hospital director says that it is not unusual for mothers to cross over from Haiti and leave their children at the public hospital, trusting they will have a better life.

Hospital director Rosa Morel said that the children, who were born in Haiti, were brought to the emergency center with health problems. The twins were hospitalized when the mother brought them to the hospital, but she has not returned.

Dr. Morel said that if the mother does not return, the Children's Court would choose a home where they will be sent.

She said that measures would be taken to reduce the number of Haitian mothers who abandon their children.


15-year old murdered in cabana
A 15-year old girl has been shot dead in a Villa Espana motel cabana located on the Las Americas highway. The death occurred shortly after the girl arrived at the motel with a man. She was identified as Jessica Elaine Sabab Perez. She lived on Calle Las Mercedes in Ensanche Isabelita, not far from the motel.

The Police announced the arrest of three suspects, Francisco Pavel Tavarez Portorreal, Geudys Gadiel Trinidad and Holaine Carrasco Alvarez as part of their investigations. An unnamed police agent is also being sought for questioning.

As reported in Diario Libre, the main suspect Tavarez Portorreal is believed to have murdered the girl after she refused to have sex with him. He had gone to the cabana together with another couple that booked another cabana. As reported, when Jessica would not have sex with him, he asked his friend (a policeman) for his gun and shot the young girl.



Basketball Without Borders coming to Santo Domingo
The NBA Basketball Without Borders program will take place in Santo Domingo in 2015, announced Dominican Basketball Federation president Rafael Uribe. The date of the camp has yet to be confirmed.

They will work with NBA, WNBA, and international players and coaches.

The camps began in 2001 and are run by the NBA and basketball governing body the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA). They have been held in 19 countries on five continents. This is the first time the camp will be held in the Dominican Republic. So far, 33 campers have gone on to be drafted by NBA teams.

The best talents in basketball under the age of 18 are brought together to receive training with NBA players and coaches. Players from other countries in the region can also participate in the event.

Rafael Uribe of the Dominican Basketball Federation said the camp could be held at the Carol Morgan School courts, the Club Los Prados or the Volleyball Pavilion, among other options. Dominican Al Horford has participated in four camps (Italy, Singapore, South Africa and Mexico) and Francisco Garcia in one (Singapore 2010). Dominican Angel Delgado, who is playing his first season in the NCAA at Seton Hall, was the most Valuable Player in the camp that took place in Argentina.

Real Madrid to develop Dominican football players
Dominicans of all income levels will soon be able to receive professional training from some of the best football coaches in the world. La Escuela de Tecnificacion de Futbol, a Real Madrid football training school, will begin operations in January 2015 with football training for children between the ages of 7 and 17.

Grupo CCN announced its partnership with the Fundacion Real Madrid whereby Supermercados Nacional would help fund coaching.

CCN president Jose Miguel Gonzalez Cuadra announced that the partnership's purpose was to back the future stars of football from the Dominican Republic. He said it is part of the company's commitment to initiatives that bring better quality of life to Dominicans.

"For us it is important as a business group to back an entity that in addition to training in sports, provides academic support and education in values," he said, adding that the integrated education plans would contribute to keeping young people on a good path.

Another leading Dominican business group, Rica, says it will also be sponsoring the new football training center.

Carmelo Zubiaur Sanz, president of the Fundacion Armid and member of the Real Madrid Football Club said that the school would operate according to the philosophy of the Real Madrid Club de Futbol and apply the most modern methods and techniques for integrated training of young athletes.

The Real Madrid football club is deemed to be the world's richest football club in terms of revenue, according to Wikipedia.




Merengue at Jet Set
Los Hermanos Rosario, Eddy Herrera and Don Miguelo are booked for a night of merengue at the Jet Set Disco on Av. Independencia in Santo Domingo, this evening, Monday 15 December 2014.

Peter Novelli at Lulu Tasting Bar
Lulu Tasting Bar presents Peter Novelli in "Just These Blues" this evening, Monday, 15 December 2014 at 9pm. Calle Billini corner Arzobispo Merino in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. Tel 809 687-8360 Ext. 301

Edgar Molina at Las Terrazas del Meson
Las Terrazas del Meson in Santo Domingo presents jazz played by Edgar Molina's Atronik Room tomorrow evening, Tuesday, 16 December at 8:30pm.

Av. Mirador Sur, Tel. 809 930-1840

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

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