Daily News

Daily News - Friday, 27 March 2015 (Archived Daily News)

Pan-American Racquetball Championship
in Santo Domingo

(Image courtesy of internationalracquetball.com)

Santo Domingo government installs Guibia Resort again

City Mayor Roberto Salcedo has announced the opening to the general public of 12 plastic pools in Guibia Park facing the Malecon for use by city dwellers during the Easter holiday week. The city government will also be hauling 1,500 cubic meters of sand to give the park a beach-like appearance for city dwellers. The city government also announced that the stretch of the Malecon between Av. Maximo Gomez and the Club Universitario where the Guibia Park is located would be closed as of noon on Easter Wednesday, 1 April 2015. He said he expects the usual 500,000 city beachgoers to enjoy the park. Activities on offer will include beach volleyball, dominoes and chess tournaments and a performance by human statues.

Alcohol sales ban on Good Friday

The Ministry of Interior and Police has announced a ban on alcohol sales from midnight on Thursday, 2 April 2015 through midnight on Saturday, 4 April. The use of roadways for the installation of plastic swimming pools for recreation is also banned near places where alcoholic beverages are sold. The National Police has been ordered to monitor the fulfillment of the order. The measures were announced in order to enhance safety during the Easter Week holidays, the peak domestic vacation period.

PLD re-election talks set for 19 April

President Danilo Medina and former President Leonel Fernandez, who is the president of the ruling PLD party, met yesterday, Thursday, 26 March 2015 at the party headquarters from 8 to 9:40pm. 34 of its 35 members were present. Jose Tomas Perez, who was recently appointed ambassador to the United States, did not attend.

During a press conference at the end of the meeting, party general secretary Reinaldo Pared Perez said that two points had been discussed: the bills for the law of political parties and the electoral regime, as well as the party's internal process.

During the Political Committee meeting, it was decided that the issue of re-election and other matters linked to the PLD's participation in the 2016 election would be discussed in a next meeting on Sunday, 19 April 2015.

In addition to Pared Perez, legislators Cristina Lizardo, who is the president of the Senate, and Radhames Camacho, also spoke at the press conference.

Judge closes Felix Bautista corruption case

Today, Friday 27 March 2015, Supreme Court Judge Alejandro Moscoso Segarra decided against opening the case of the state against former director of the Presidency Office of Supervisory Public Works (OISOE), now the senator for San Juan de la Maguana, Felix Bautista. Bautista is a close aide of former President Leonel Fernandez. The Attorney General Office has also issued a warning on the senator's property.

The Judge issued his "no ha lugar" prior to the start of the Easter Week, the peak vacation week for Dominicans.

The Attorney General Office had presented 620 pages in a file in which it accused the PLD senator of creating a corporate network of 46 companies that moved more than RD$25 billion when he was in charge of the Oficina de Ingenieros Supervisores del Estado (OISOE) under the President Leonel Fernandez administrations.

The Attorney General Office had requested the opening of a trial considering that the proofs presented in the file involved Bautista in fraud against the state.



Monetary Board approves RD$10 billion for low cost housing

The Monetary Board has authorized the Central Bank to implement a mechanism whereby RD$10 billion of bank reserves will be made available for financing of low cost housing under Trust Law 189-11. The fund would enable low-interest loans to be granted at long terms. The funds would provide loans at 6% to builders, and homebuyers would have access to loans of up to RD$2.4 million at interest rates of a maximum 8% and 20-year terms.


IMF says economy grows, but warns of rising fiscal debt

The Dominican economy has improved, but government debt is increasing, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative in the Dominican Republic, Przemek Gajdeczka. Speaking at a press conference with Minister of Economy Temistocles Montas yesterday, Thursday 26 March 2015, he said that the economy was doing better than estimated after the March 2014 mission visit, with strong growth, low inflation and improvements in the external accounts. Gadjdeczka said, however, that the rising fiscal debt continues to cause concern. "We estimate it will be 50% of the GDP by next year," he stated. He urged the government improve its fiscal position. Montas said that the government had received recommendations for dealing with the challenges. The mission arrived for the annual review on 3 March.

CEI-RD promotes its one stop shop

CEI-RD is encouraging investors to make the most of the single window or one-stop shop (Ventanilla Unica de la Inversion in Spanish) for handling government procedures and formalities. The mechanism seeks to facilitate and speed up the processes of investments and exports by authorizing single submissions of documentation.


83,000 children with special needs

First Lady Candida Montilla has announced the launch of a Council for Children with Special Needs for coordinating national initiatives.

During the announcement at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Thursday 26 March 2015, Montilla said that research by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) had found that there are around 83,000 children under the age of 19 with special needs in the Dominican Republic. She said that a study of the country's five most populous provinces showed that 57% of services for this segment are provided by non-governmental or religious organizations and less than 27% by the government. 97% of services for people with special needs are located in cities. Since its launch, the First Lady's Office has been working to create more free government services for people with special needs.

"The creation of the Comprehensive Care Center for People with Special Needs (CAID) is an example of the government's will to work together with the members of society and international organizations who struggle every day to convert exclusion into inclusion," said the First Lady.

The new Table will be funded by Unicef and will work in partnership with the First Lady's Office, the National Council for People with Special Needs, the National Council for Children and Adolescents and the Ministry of Education.


Haiti and DR talks resume at Foreign Ministry today

The Foreign Relations Ministers of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Andres Navarro and Pierre Duly Brutus, are meeting today, Friday, 27 March 2015 to discuss topics on the bilateral agenda. It includes strengthening diplomatic links, security, migration, farming, transport, justice and investment. The meeting, which starts at 11am at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, will be attended by large Dominican and Haitian delegations.

Haiti recently ordered a ban on the import of Dominican fresh produce after the US levied this prohibition following the detection of Medfly at the Punta Cana International Airport. During the meeting, Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez will be meeting with Haitian agriculture minister M. Fresner-Dorcin. Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Williams Munoz Delgado and his Haitian counterpart M. Lener Renauld are also scheduled to meet. This is a follow-up to the meeting between the two foreign ministers that took place in Jimani on 13 March 2015.

Officials from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United States Agency for Development (USAID) and the European Union are attending the meeting as observers.

DR has liberal immigration policies

Immigration policies in the Dominican Republic are more liberal than in 28 European Union countries, according to Barcelona University international law professor Sixto Sanchez Lorenzo, speaking on Channel 11's Telematutino 11 show yesterday, Thursday 26 March 2015.

During a discussion on the migratory status of foreigners living in the DR, Sanchez Lorenzo commented that if the sentence imposed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on 28 August 2014 that ordered the country to reform its Constitution to grant birth rights to nationality to all, 23 European nations would not be in compliance. He said that 23 of these countries do not recognize the right to nationality to people born in their territory. He said that in the case of Spain people born in its territory only acquire the nationality if their parents are also Spanish.

Professor Sanchez was referring to the ruling of the disagreement of the Inter-American Human Rights Court with the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 and Arts. 6, 8 and 11 of Law 169-14 on the National Foreigner Legalization Plan.


UN to help fund forest protection in DR

On Thursday, 26 March 2015, the Ministry of Environment reported that the Dominican Republic has been chosen to take part in the United Nations REDD program. This is a partnership-based initiative for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries.

The program was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).


Medical association wants review of residency test

The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) wants a review of the medical residencies test that was failed by 82.5% of students who took the test in order to be authorized to continue in the residency programs in public hospitals. Only 17.5% of medical students who took the test passed.

CMD president Pedro Sing asked for the review to determine why only 17.5% of medical graduates passed the test applied by the National Council of Medical Residences. The students who failed can be tested again.

The medical association requested a third party review of the way the test was written up, its structure, how it was corrected, the level and scientific base of the test.


Luz y Fuerza warns of Samana power interconnection problems

Alejandra Orsini, general manager of Luz y Fuerza, the leading power utility in Las Terrenas, said that the Electricity Superintendence (SIE) is creating false expectations among the local population. She said SIE has promised a new electricity rate as of May but has not established the costs of the new line, and the construction works have not yet been concluded. Orsini said that Luz y Fuerza has not been correctly informed about the design of the line or about the installation of the transformers that are needed for the interconnection.

In a report in Listin Diario, she states that the SIE has taken unilateral decisions about the interconnection of Las Terrenas with the national grid (SENI), which put the implementation of the process at risk. Orsini said that several aspects that are important for the efficiency of the connection have not been taken into consideration.


Border forest protection "almost nonexistent"

The Ministry of Environment has just 10 forest rangers in charge of 3,000 square kilometers in the southwestern border provinces of Bahoruco and Independencia. Five of these rangers are based in Duverge, another two are in La Descubierta, and another three are in Bahoruco. They make RD$5,000 a month, while rangers who were appointed more recently make RD$8,000.

Provincial environment director Julio Roman says that he has reports that thousands of bags of charcoal are exported to Haiti. He said that Haitian immigrants in the communities are deforesting in complicity with "bad Dominicans." The most affected communities are reported to be Boca de Chachon, Las Lajas, Tierra Nueva, Puerto Escondido and others in Bahoruco.

Former forestry resources official Delfin Trinidad Herasme told El Caribe that during the previous Ministry of Environment term under Jaime David Fernandez there were 40 park rangers and it was more difficult for the charcoal producers to go about their work. He said the work of the forest rangers is also affected by the lack of diesel supplies for driving around.

He said many media outlets denounce the problem but the Ministry of Environment is unable to tackle it due to lack of resources. He also acknowledged that there is complicity between military personnel and charcoal dealers in the area. He said that there are even allegations of park rangers being involved.

El Caribe reports that the charcoal arrives in the province of Independencia prior to being smuggled to Haiti.

In 2013, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimated that an investment of US$136 million over a five-year period would be needed in order to reverse the damage on the border.


Alianza Pais to campaign in the US

The Alianza Pais political party with Guillermo Moreno as its candidate for the Presidency has announced a series of campaign activities starting in New York on Sunday 29 March 2015 followed by meetings in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts. The expatriate vote is key to the presidential election in 2016.

As reported in El Nuevo Diario, a party delegation will be holding a meeting in New York at 2pm at 1545 Av. St. Nicholas and 187th Street. AP national board and electoral commission member Rolando Bautista has traveled to New York for the event.

The events in New Jersey will take place in Patterson, Passaic and North Bergen, while the Massachusetts meeting will be held in Lawrence.

According to the latest Gallup poll, Alianza Pais candidate Guillermo Moreno has 25% support, while the Greenberg poll had him at 15%, making him the strongest minority party candidate.




Corporate tower to complement Inter-Continental Hotel

In an announcement this week, Grupo Roble, which is building the Real Inter-Continental Hotel with a US$70 million investment on Santo Domingo's Av. Winston Churchill, said that a parallel tower would be built to host corporate offices with an US$35 million investment. The corporate offices building will be connected to the hotel.

Alberto Poma of Grupo Poma said the building would be ready by the end of 2016 and would have 13,286 square meters of rentable space distributed over 12 levels of offices, with 1,091 meters per floor.

Grupo Roble of El Salvador is the largest property developer in Central America and is a division of the Grupo Poma.

The company's first investment in the country was the Hotel Quality Real, located on the Las Americas Expressway near the Las Americas International Airport, which has been open since 2003.

Pan-American Racquetball Championship in Santo Domingo

With a formal ceremony at the Hotel Barcelo Santo Domingo (former Lina) in Santo Domingo, the 28th Pan-American Racquetball Championships open today, Friday 27 March 2015 at the Parque Mirador del Este courts in Santo Domingo. The event is the qualifier for the Toronto Pan Am Games. The Dominican Racquetball Federation president announced that 18 countries would be represented. The matches begin tomorrow, Saturday, 28 March and continue until Saturday, 4 April.

The DR has already won a slot for men racquetball players by winning a silver medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games.

There will be live streaming of the games.



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