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Daily News - Thursday, 18 December 2014

Danilo: less talk, more action
Speaking at the 44th Summit meeting of the Central American System of Integration (SICA) in Belize yesterday, Wednesday 17 December 2014, President Danilo Medina called for more action. He said he was taking part to push for concrete and effective measures. "I am convinced that the SICA does not need more declarations, but more action. We need to use our political will to achieve a more efficient and more effective functioning of our institutionalism," stated President Medina.

"It is true that while we have made progress and experienced success, our peoples are asking us and they deserve much more," he said. He called for stronger efforts to be made to ensure that the agreements and commitments reached at the summits are implemented.


Ministry of Labor announces electronic reports filing
The Ministry of Labor has announced the launch of its new electronic labor filing system n Sistema de Registros Laborales (Sirla). The new system enables companies to file the DGT3 and DGT4 forms that report changes in staff, including new and outgoing staff, vacation days, wages, and other information that companies have to regularly file to the Ministry of Labor.



Minimum wage increase talks set for January 2015
Labor and business representatives have been summoned for discussions at the Ministry under the National Wages Committee (CNS) minimum wage increases for 2015. The first meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at the Ministry to review the rates established in Resolution 2/2013 on minimum wages for workers in the non-sectorized private sector, the sectors that have different tariffs for wages.


New duty free imports under DR-CAFTA for 2015
Minister of Interior and Commerce Jose del Castillo Savinon says that the last phase of imports from the United States and Central America undergoing tariff elimination will be implemented in 2015, but this will be minor. The fiscal sacrifice is estimated at RD$200 to RD$300 million. The tax reduction will be of a final 3.2% as set out in the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement. He expects the losses in tax revenue to be compensated by an increase in consumption of goods, which means increased sales tax revenue. Del Castillo says that 88% of goods imported from the US and Central America are already at the zero tax level. Nevertheless, he pointed out that 2016 sees the start of a major phase-out of taxes on farm products, such as rice and garlic that will end in 2020 and 2025.


Energy and Mines + INTEC university partnership
The Ministry of Energy and Mines and the INTEC University have signed an agreement to conduct joint research to promote energy and mining projects.

Minister of Energy and Mines Pelegrin Castillo and the rector of INTEC Rolando Guzman signed the agreement to promote inter-institutional cooperation, open new flows of communication, and strengthen research and education programs.

The agreement includes close cooperation between the university professors with the professionals and technical staff at the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The agreement seeks to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of the people who live in areas where energy and mines projects are or can be developed, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.



Deputies to send abortion legislation direct to executive
Amidst differences of opinion and questions, the Chamber of Deputies announced it will send the legislative proposal on abortion that was approved on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 in response to the Presidential veto of the text on abortion in the revised Penal Code to the Executive Branch today, Thursday 18 December 2014. The deputies argued that since the chamber had accepted the presidential observations, the Code could be sent directly back to the Presidency without the usual requirement of Senate approval.

Nevertheless, some are arguing that the bill needs Senate approval, saying that what the deputies approved was completely different from the President's observations of the Penal Code revision.


Defense and Foreign Ministers to tour border
The Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Maximo William Munoz Delgado, announced yesterday, Wednesday 17 December 2014 that he would be touring the border with Foreign Relations Minister Andres Navarro to contact local authorities on Saturday, 20 December 2014.

He described it as a routine visit that is made two or three times a year, and that it has nothing to do with the latest political turmoil currently affecting Haiti, where the Prime Minister has resigned.

General Munoz said that in response to the protests in the neighboring country another 1,200 troops had been assigned to patrol the border under the Specialized Corps of Border Security.

A feel-good story of self-improvement
Cristobal Portorreal, a 73-year-old civil engineer, was the first winner in the drawings for projects held by the Ministry of Education in the National District yesterday, Wednesday 17 December 2014, for the construction of a childcare center valued at RD$32,825,944.46. Applause was immediately heard after Notary Cristina Rosario read out his name from the ticket that was drawn by student Pedro Alejandro Prensa. The noise came from the right side of the main hall of the Public Works Club, where the drawings were being held. Then a short man appeared, thin with a scraggly gray beard, wearing white sneakers, a little black bag hanging on one side and a blue baseball cap on his head and folder in hand, he climbed up to the registration table to prove his identity. Minutes later Portorreal was still speechless.

"I am so excited that I can hardly talk, and so excited about this surprise that luck has given me," he said with tears in his eyes. The story of this father of six who lives in Bayona, Santo Domingo West, is an example of self-improvement. He graduated as an engineer from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) at the age of 61 after a great deal of sacrifice and willpower. "I began to study late, because I am the son of poor rural parents who couldn't even send me to school. I started attending school when I reached the capital, when I was already a young man," he explained. He worked in construction and masonry for much of his life, so that he knew the practice, but lacked the theory. And he had never built a project for the state, but he did build family houses and projects in the private sector as a master builder. He went looking for the opportunity of his life and he registered in as many drawings of projects that were opened by the state, until his lucky day finally arrived.



Christmas meals for over 387,000
The director of the Comedores Economicos, the government-run mess halls, Ramon Rodriguez announced yesterday, Wednesday 17 December 2014 that they are preparing Christmas dinner for 387,500 Dominicans throughout the country's 31 provinces and the National District at a cost of RD$140 million. Rodriguez said that they would start serving the meals this Saturday 20 December and continue until Tuesday 23 December. He stressed that the meals require logistics that are being worked out by the provincial governments and the community leaders of each province and municipality.

He announced that some 155 stations have been organized to serve 2,500 people each in the southern region on Saturday, 20 December. Rodriguez said that on Sunday 21 December the meals would reach the poorest people in the eastern region. On Monday 22 December, the Cibao region will be served and on Tuesday, 23 December the poorest families from the province of Santo Domingo and the National District will receive the dinner.

He pointed out that 16 companies, mostly micro, small and medium-sized businesses, took part in the tender for acquiring the supplies that are being used to prepare the meals.

The Comedores Economics will continue their usual programs for serving free cooked meals to thousands of poor people every day.


Cuba and US to start diplomatic relations
The United States and Cuba announced key steps to the reestablishment of their diplomatic relations yesterday Wednesday 17 December 2014. While the end to the trade embargo depends on the US Congress, Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Raul Castro of Cuba announced the historic turnaround in their relationship in parallel addresses from Washington and Havana.

Obama said the time had come to put an end to an "obsolete" policy towards Cuba that "has failed over decades." Meanwhile, from his office in Havana, Castro proclaimed "the reestablishment of diplomatic relations" and "mutual measures in order to improve the bilateral climate."

Since Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who left power in 2006, announced that the revolution would be taking a socialist path in 1961, friction between the United States and the only communist country in the Americas were constant, sometimes bordering on open conflict. This milestone in Cuban-American relations was accompanied by the release of US citizen Alan Gross and an unnamed US spy by Cuba, as well as the release of three Cuban spies by the US.



Baseball authorities weigh Cuba-US arrangement
Baseball scouts agree that the arrangement between the United States and Cuba will divert attention of Major League Baseball (MLB) to the largest country in the Antilles. This announcement could be a great first step for the United States Congress to approve the removal of the embargo that weighs upon Cuba since October 1960. If this finally occurs it will affect the Dominican Republic in many aspects and baseball is no exception. The Big-League scouts such as any Toledo, Patrick Guerrero and Jose Serra together with Winston Llenas, an old talent scout for the Cleveland Indians, said that the measure would come as a strong blow to the baseball industry and the Dominican Republic. Toledo said: "I worry a little bit, because if this happens, Cuba will be the pretty girl for the Major Leagues."

Patrick Guerrero says that an eventual opening will clearly permit the Major League franchises to focus exclusively on ballplayers from the Caribbean island. Chilote Llenas was of the opinion that opening Cuba would be "interesting" given what he describes as a greater variety in their talent pool. Nevertheless he noted the DR has lot of talent and has made a name for itself and is well placed in Major League Baseball.


High-tech thieves arrested; they took RD $10 million
Three alleged members of a gang suspected of committing telecommunications fraud using the "bypass" technique have been arrested by the authorities, according to the Special Prosecutor for High Tech Crimes and Activities.

The three men were arrested after warrants were served simultaneously in the provinces of Santo Domingo, Santiago, San Francisco de Macoris, San Pedro de Macoris and the National District. The authorities found parabolas, antennas and routers that allow the reception of international traffic. In addition they found computers, UPS and equipment along with laptops and signal repeaters, hard drives and several Sim cards for different telephone companies.

The gang used telephone services at no cost, affecting the Claro, Orange and Viva telecommunications companies.

During the search members of the Department of investigations of High Tech crimes (DICAT) from the National Police in Santiago took part. Two of the men were arrested during the search of the house on Francia Avenue in Gazcue, Santo Domingo where they operated a business called Seguro PC. Authorities said that the gang caused the major telecommunication companies losses of over RD$10 million.



Baseball Winter League results
Last night, Wednesday 17 December 2014 in one of what might be the last games in Santo Domingo's venerable Estadio Quisqueya the Tigres del Licey suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Estrellas Orientales, 10-0. The defeat consolidates the first place standing of the Estrellas and the fifth place standing of the Tigres, four games behind the Toros with just four games left to play.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx combined with four relievers for the Toros Del Este to whitewash (3-0) the Gigantes Del Cibao and guarantee, at the very least a playoff game for the semi final series.

In Santiago, the Aguilas Cibaenas supported by a double by Jonathan Villar which produced two runs and where the beginning of an 8-0 victory over the hapless Leones del Escogido who are now excluded from any possibility of making it to the local postseason.

ESTRELLAS 30 - 16 .652 --
AGUILAS 27 - 19 .587 3.0
GIGANTES 27 - 19 .587 3.0
TOROS 22 - 24 .478 8.0
LICEY 18 - 28 .391 12.0
ESCOGIDO 14 - 32 .304 16.0

Tonight's games, Thursday 18 December 2014:

Estrellas vs. Aguilas in Santiago at 7:30 pm
Toros vs. Licey in Santo Domingo at 7:30 pm
Escogido vs. Gigantes in San Francisco de Macoris at 7:30 pm

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

Fifth World Ceramic Tiles Triennial at the MAM
Thimo Pimentel, organizer and founder of the Fifth World Triennial of Tile Ceramics (2014 elit-tile) has announced that the event at the Museum of Modern Art will continue through February. The exhibition coordinated by the Igneri/Art & Archaeology Foundation features 227 ceramics works from 122 countries in five continents. It is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Av. Pedro Henriquez Urena, Plaza de la Cultura Juan Pablo Duarte, Santo Domingo. Tel 809 685-2154

Milly Quezada Unplugged at Hard Rock Cafe
Milly Quezada Unplugged show will take place at the Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo on 23 December 2014 at 10pm. Milly's "Llego Juanita" is one of the most popular holiday songs ever. It tells the story of Dominicans returning home for the holidays and the happiness this brings to relatives and friends. Enjoy her merengue beats but also pop, samba, rock, bossa, reggae and more. The show at the Blue Mall is produced by Pedro Nunez del Risco with guest performances by Pamel Mancebo, Covi Quintana and a surprise urban music singer.

New Year Party at the Hotel Embajador
Urban musicians Vakero and Mozart La Para plus popular DJs are booked for the 31 December 2014 party at the Hotel Embajador in Santo Domingo.

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

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