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Daily News - 19 January 1998

Peña Gómez calls for a new primary
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, who had self-proclaimed himself candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, said he would accept not to run if the three original contenders to the post would agree on celebrating a new primary. This is unlikely.
Peña Gómez was responding to Julio Maríñez, who in his comments accepting Peña Gómez's decision to run in the company of Johnny Ventura, merengue band orchestra and former congressman, said that Peña Gómez had done away with democracy within the party (Maríñez hopes for democracy in the PRD in the future). Maríñez reportedly won that primary with a slim margin of 300 votes.
Peña Gómez made his comments in a letter sent from New York to his party heads, Vicente Sánchez Baret, Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Hatuey Decamps.
The party has until 16 March to register its candidate for the election. The different factions within the PRD dispute the candidacy, thus Peña Gómez's decision to run himself in order to avoid a division of the party.

PRSC holds organized primaries
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano took advantage of the internal conflict within the PRD, and highlighted the organization and democratic way in which its primaries were held in the southern provinces. Press reports indicated a record turnout of voters in the primaries held in Elías Piña, San Juan de la Maguana and Peravia provinces. The PRSC will be holding its primaries all over the country. It is leaving for last the most important, which is to choose the candidates for mayor and senator in Santo Domingo, scheduled for February 8.

Government reduces cost of gasoline
The government announced a reduction in the prices of gasoline and gasoil. Unleaded gasoline will sell for RD$28.79, down from RD$30.79 and RD$26 in December 1996, when the Fernández government significantly increased prices to reflect higher international fuel costs. Leaded gasoline is down to RD$23.40 from RD$24.70 and RD$20 in December 1996. Gasoil dropped to RD$13.60, from RD$14.60 whereas it had sold for RD$13.70 in December 1996.
Beyond the additional income the fuel tax represents, the Fernández administration had delayed a decrease in the price of fuel fearing an increase in consumption which would force an increase in fuel imports required of the government. Press reports indicate that gasoline prices have dropped about 30% in the past three months, reflecting a decline in demand from Asian countries. In the December 1996 resolution that increased gasoline prices, the government promised to review these prices and lower them, depending on the international market.
The president of Shell had suggested that the government reduce the price of unleaded gasoline in order to motivate an increase in the consumption of this fuel, which is better for the environment. President Fernández dropped the price of unleaded RD$2.00 and the price of leaded RD$1.30, which could bring about an increase in consumption of unleaded gasoline.

Central Bank to inject more dollars into system
The Central Bank announced its decision to inject the commercial bank foreign exchange market with another US$20 million in order to maintain the stability of the peso. The Central Bank has been stopping the peso from fluctuating, citing the increase in the number of pesos needed to buy a dollar is a result of speculation. Street market prices have reached up to RD$14.65 versus the RD$14.02 official quote used by commercial banks. The Central Bank injected the exchange system with US$20 million last week.
Economist Eduardo García Michel estimated that the true ratio of the peso to the dollar is 17 to one.

Dominicans are big talkers
The Listín Diario says that Dominicans paid phone bills of over RD$18,000 million in 1997. The telecommunications sector had sales of RD$32,500 million in 1997, 29.5% more than in 1996.

Seat belts to become obligatory?
The Listín Diario reports that only 25% of the population uses seat belts when driving. The recent death of Jayson González, of the popular Los Ilegales music group, and that of baseball player José Oliva, again brought to the forefront the issue of whether the use of seat belts should become obligatory in the Dominican Republic. It is believed that Jayson and José Oliva would not have been seriously injured if they had been wearing seat belts when the accidents occurred.

U.S. women's volleyball team in Santo Domingo
The U.S. women's volleyball team arrives here today for a series of games against the Dominican volleyball team, considered 9th best in the world. The teams will play a friendship series at the volleyball pavillion of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. Team trainer Jorge Pérez Vento said that national teams from Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Japan have expressed an interest in playing the Dominican team.

Aguilas vs. Licey?
The Aguilas Cibaeñas stopped the winning streak of the Licey Tigers in Sunday's game at the Quisqueya Ball park, but fans had to watch a fist fight in the 9-0 victory of the Santiago team. The Licey had nine consecutive wins. The Licey will probably match the Aguilas in the playoffs set to start on 22 January. The Aguilas are three games away from the Escogido Lions.

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