Daily News

Daily News - Thursday, 28 May 2015 (Archived Daily News)

Michael Merlino at Agora Mall
(Image courtesy of agora.com.do)

Constitutional reform rolls along

This morning, Thursday 28 May 2015 the Senate unanimously approved the bill to convene the National Revisory Assembly to enable a change to the 2010 Constitution. The Senate is made up of 31 PLD senators and one PRSC senator. All senators, including the ones who have supported former President Leonel Fernandez's bid for being the PLD presidential candidate in 2016, voted in favor of re-election.

The favorable vote from the Fernandez supporters in the Senate is an indication that an agreement should be forthcoming between Fernandez and Medina.

This move follows President Leonel Fernandez's speech on Monday, 25 May 2015 when he set conditions for his support and that of his followers to the re-election bid.

On the Gobierno de la Manana Z101.3FM radio talk show this morning, it was announced that a political agreement would be signed between Fernandez and President Danilo Medina at noon today, Thursday 28 May 2015 at the Presidential Palace. It was announced that the 35 members of the Political Committee would be present to put an end to the recent crisis within the ruling political party.

Nonetheless, at a press conference at the Presidency today, President Medina's spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena denied this claim.

Medina has favored the proposal to allow him to run for a second consecutive term, despite this being banned in the 2010 Constitution.

The Dominican Republic is the country with the largest number of constitutional reforms, most to accommodate the incumbent President. The Constitution had been changed in 2010 to fulfill former President Leonel Fernandez's desire to run for President again. Prior to that, former President Hipolito Mejia changed the Constitution so that he could run for re-election.

The latest Penn, Shoen & Berland poll revealed that while Medina would win against leading opposition candidate Luis Abinader 66% to 22%, Fernandez would lose to Abinader 32% to 34%. The bill now moves to the Chamber of Deputies.






Poll shows favorability drops for PLD, improves for PRM

The May 2015 Penn, Shoen & Berland poll shows that the ruling PLD's approval rating has declined from 60% in March 2015 to 53% in May. Also, the party's disapproval rating has increased from 25% to 31%. Meanwhile, the PRM's popularity has increased, from 19% in November to 28% in May. The PRD's approval rating dropped from 19% in 2014 to 13% in May.

The poll revealed that President Medina's approval rating has declined from 74% to 68% and his disapproval rating has increased from 17% to 19%.

Some 1,014 Dominicans eligible to vote in 2016 were polled from 12 to 16 May 2015. The margin of error is 3%.


Only 0.5% declares property tax

According to the Tax Agency (DGII), only 28,618 people of a population of around 10 million pay property tax (IPI). DGII director Guarocuya Felix said that in 2014, property tax generated RD$1.57 billion, or 0.5% of total tax collections. Company property declared in compliance with Law 557-05 totaled RD$3.45 billion or 1% of the total. The total number of properties reported for tax payments was 787,674, of which 22.04% were located in the National District, 21.12% in the Province of Santo Domingo and 16.34% in Santiago. The remaining 40.5% were located in other provinces, as reported in Listin Diario.


ECLAC calls for diversity, less vulnerability and dependence on foreign investment

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) believes that Latin American and Caribbean countries' policies should not be geared towards recovering the Foreign Direct Investment achieved in the last decade, but towards attracting the FDI that contributes to productive diversification, according to the Executive Secretary of the regional organization, Alicia Barcena. "This means coordinating FDI with industrial policies and national development strategies based on equality and environmental sustainability."

Barcena was speaking yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015 during the launch of the "Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean" ECLAC report.

The report reveals that the Dominican Republic captured 37% of foreign direct investment received in the Caribbean in 2014. The Dominican Republic is the biggest economy in the region. Of the total, 21% went to natural resources, 26% to manufacturing and 23% to tourism. In 2014, the DR received US$2.2 billion, up 11% from 2013. The Caribbean received US$6.03 billion in FDI in 2014.

The DR was followed by Trinidad & Tobago, which was the recipient of US$1.39 billion in 2014, down 30% from 2013, Jamaica, which registered US$699 million, up 7%, and the Bahamas, with US$374 million, 9% less than in 2013.

The report warns that the relative high level of FDI creates vulnerability conditions for countries in the region. It points out that the percentage of Foreign Direct Investment as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is relatively high in the Caribbean compared with other regions of the world. On average, these flows represent 4% of the Caribbean's GDP, and more than 10% in some of its economies, while in the rest of Latin America that percentage is fewer than 3%.

The document stresses that this dependence, combined with the concentration in terms of the receiving sectors (tourism and increasingly natural resources) and the countries of origin (mainly Canada and the United States), means that Caribbean countries are highly vulnerable to variations in FDI flows.

According to the study, the FDI levels are due to policies enacted to improve the overall business climate to the use of financial measures to stimulate FDI inflows, such as exemptions on income tax and customs duties. Nevertheless, upon analyzing the available evidence regarding the impact of these incentives, the organization recommends that Caribbean countries revise the usefulness of these tools, taking into account the high fiscal costs that these measures imply for their economies and the competition generated between countries in their bid to attract projects.

In this sense, ECLAC encourages countries to advance towards a coordinated policy of FDI promotion, based on the concept that attracting bigger flows is less important than their impact on productive diversification and their convergence with long-term national development plans centered on equality of rights and environmental sustainability.

The report also warns that the repatriation of profits derived from Foreign Direct Investment is equivalent to more than three-quarters of the FDI inflows into the Caribbean, especially in countries such as Barbados, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.

Overall, FDI flows towards Latin America and the Caribbean declined 16% in 2014 to total US$158.8 billion dollars, according to ECLAC. The result reverses the growth trend seen during the last decade - with the exception of declines in 2006 and 2009osince a further reduction is forecast for this year.



DR and Haiti talks continue in Santo Domingo

Foreign Relations Minister Andres Navarro met with his Haitian counterpart Lener Renauld at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015 as part of the process of consolidation of the bi-national dialogue. The ministers agreed to promote trade, investment and energy generation projects on the border and especially in the Artibonite River area. The Ministers also reviewed the National Foreigner Legalization Plan that offered fast-track legalization to foreigners and especially benefitted Haitians, who make up the largest immigrant group in the Dominican Republic. The ministers agreed to a follow-up meeting in Port-au-Prince.


Dominican exports to Europe are on an upswing

The executive director of the Center of Exports and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-DR), Jean Alain Rodriguez, says that 3,780 Dominican product lines are exported to Europe. He was speaking during a training workshop for 50 exporters from the northern part of the country yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015. He stressed that the European Union has established itself as the country's third largest trading partner, with imports from the DR reaching US$688.7 million in 2014, according to El Caribe. European Union ambassador Agnieska Osieka also took part in the workshop at the PUCMM in Santiago and spoke of the requisites to export to European Union countries.

Apps help to prepare for Standardized National Tests

Dominican students can now study for the Standardized National Tests for 8th and 12th grades (Pruebas Nacionales) online. The Ministry of Education has launched a mobile and tablet application for the review of mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and Spanish topics covered by the tests. Claudia Rita Abreu, coordinator for the apps at the Ministry of Education, said they were available on Google play for Android and AppStore for iphone. For more information, see http://www.educando.edu.do/clinica-de-pruebas-nacionales/


Medical College calls 48-hour strike

The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) has called a doctors' strike at all public hospitals in response to the poor conditions in the hospitals in the country's northwestern provinces, starting today Thursday 28 May 2015, as reported in Diario Libre. CMD president Pedro Sing made the announcement after the association's board of directors met in Mao, Valverde. Sing mentioned the lack of specialists, deterioration in surgery, obstetrics, orthopedics, hospitalization and consultation areas in hospitals where remodeling never seems to end. He was referring to the following hospitals: Luis E. Bogaert in Mao, General Santiago Rodriguez in Santiago Rodriguez, Ramon Matias Mella in Dajabon, and Padre Fantino in Montecristi.

Emergency services and treatment of critical patients will continue during the strike.

Sing said: "We have exhausted all the resources, such as the delivery in writing of the needs, meetings with the authorities, vigils, marches, demands through the media, for three months without so far having even minimum solutions".

In response, the Director General of National Health Services, Ramon Alvarado, reported that the remodeling has suffered delays because the hospitals continue to offer services during the construction works, affecting progress.

Police Chief calls for supervision of Internet access

The chief of Police Manuel Castro Castillo has issued an impassioned call to parents to monitor their children's use of social networks, as reported in Diario Libre.

Speaking about the problem yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015, Castro Castillo mentioned a case in La Romana where 20-year old Luis Rafael Morel Mejia led a group that created fake social network accounts, mainly on Facebook, "posing as young girls, in order to attract minors and even adults."

According to the police, before agreeing to a date, the accused asked for photographs and videos of the minors undressed, and added that when they met in person, they were threatened and forced to have sex, and had to give him money under the threat of publishing the content of their emails on the networks.

Castro Castillo said that these days it is almost impossible for children to be educated without computers or smart phones, "but we urge parents to supervise them in order to prevent this type of thing from happening."

Ramon Almanzar dies of heart attack

Politician Ramon Almanzar died suddenly in his office yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015.

The three-time presidential candidate for the Nueva Alternativa (MPT) minority party, who was 62 years old, is reported to have suffered a heart attack. He was born in Moca and was married to Maria Cantisano with whom he had three children. An agronomist by profession, he worked at the Ministry of Agriculture for 17 years before going into politics full time. He is being laid to rest at the Jardin Memorial cemetery today, Thursday 28 May 2015.

Dominican is winner of Best Chef Award in Spain

The jury on the National Gastronomy Awards for 2014 in Spain has chosen Dominican immigrant Maria Marte of Restaurante El Club Allard in Madrid as Chef of the Year 2014.

The awards, which are organized by the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy, will be presented on 8 June 2015 at the NH Euro building during an event headed by Spanish Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria. http://www.realacademiadegastronomia.com/noticias_dentro.php?id=105

Good news, maybe: NOAA forecasts a less active hurricane season

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in five days' time and will be less active than normal, with the formation of between six and 11 tropical storms, of which between three and six will turn into hurricanes, according to the forecast by US government agencies released yesterday, Wednesday 27 May 2015.

During a press conference, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its forecasts for the cyclone season in the Atlantic basin, which begins on 1 June and will last for six months, affecting the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Scientist Kathryn Sullivan, the NOAA administrator, nevertheless warned: "As we have seen in previous years, seasons with the least cyclone activity can produce catastrophic impact on our communities". She was referring to the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Scientists attribute the reduced hurricane activity forecast for this year to the presence of the "El Nino" phenomenon in the Pacific that inhibits the formation of cyclones in the Atlantic basin, which in turn affects the winds and the atmospheric pressure patterns.

Dominicans who climbed Mt. Everest to tell their story

The Dominicans who climbed Mount Everest will be speaking at the Funglode auditorium this Saturday, 30 May 2015 at 2pm. The three men (Karim Mella, Ivan Gomez and Federico Jovine) later participated in the film La Montana, directed by Tabare Blanchard. The talk is sponsored by the Masters candidates at the UNAPEC Corporate Communication School. Calle Capitan Eugenio de Marchena 26, Santo Domingo.


Michael Merlino at Agora Mall

Michel Merlino, the 12-year old Dominican boy who sang a duet with Andrea Bocelli at Altos de Chavon is booked for his final performance at 7pm tonight, 28 May 2015 at Agora Mall in celebration of Dominican Mothers Day in May. Merlino is the son of Italian Silvestre Merlino, who was a pop and romantic music singer in Italy and the United States. Merlino has studied with Amaury Sanchez.


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

To read more news, see the DR1 News Archives at: http://dr1.com/premium/news/2015/index.shtml