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Daily News - 13 February 1998

7 million tourists by year 2010?
Frank Rainieri, former president of the National Hotel Association, said that of the 11 million tourists that visited the Caribbean last year, two million came to the Dominican Republic, or 18% of the total. He said that according to World Tourism Organization forecasts, the number of tourists visiting the area could reach 30 million tourists by year 2010. He said that if the present trend is maintained, the D.R. could receive seven million visitors by then. Rainieri, who directs the Punta Cana Group, a hotel and airport consortium, said experts predict there will be 47,000 hotel rooms in the Dominican Republic by year 2005, up from the present 35,000. In 1996, the industry reaped 39% of the total of hard currency revenue.

Giant artisans' fair
The Ministry of Tourism has announced that a giant artisan fair will be held along the Avenida del Puerto, across from the Colonial City of Santo Domingo and the Port of Santo Domingo. Thousands of tourists arrive on cruise ships to the Port of Santo Domingo every week. The activity will concentrate hundreds of craftsmen from all around the country. The fair will be part of the activities organized for the Santo Domingo Carnival, set for the end of this month.

Nothing to be gained with devaluation
Economist Andres Dauhajre warned Dominican businessmen that if the country does not implement fiscal reform, nothing will be gained with the devaluation of the peso. He said that on the contrary, it will increase production costs and reduce competitiveness of Dominican business, including exporters. Overall, he said it would have a negative effect on economic growth. "The only way to increase competitiveness with an adjustment of the exchange rate is if the percentage of adjustment of the exchange rate is greater than the inflation rate," he explained. "To achieve this, fiscal adjustment is necessary. Only this will contain the growth of the aggregate demand, and thus, reduce the inflation pressures." The failure to do so in recent years has resulted in the situation whereby the minimum wage has increased from US$90 a month in 1991 to US$172 a month in 1998, without an increase in productivity of the work force. There is a five percent spread between the street market rate and the commercial bank/Central Bank rate for purchasing U.S. dollars.

Restrictions in dollar account handling
The Monetary Board has set new regulations for the operation of dollar accounts at Dominican commercial banks. The regulations establish that depositors of over US$500 in savings accounts cannot draw on their funds for 15 working days after the deposit is made. Furthermore, time deposits are subject to a 30 day freeze before the money can be drawn upon. Resolution 1 of 12-2-98 restricts U.S. dollar transfers and establishes that commercial banks will be able to use these funds to make loans to exporters to finance payments abroad that correspond to goods, services and capitals relating to their business.

GTE-Codetel very profitable
In an interview in the Hoy newspaper, the former president of Codetel, Ernest Burri said that the GTE division in the Dominican Republic reaped a 16% net profit last year, or RD$1,700 million. GTE has an investment in the Dominican Republic through Codetel of RD$11,000 million. Burri retired last year and now sits on the board of Codetel, the largest telephone company in the D.R. He recently chose to retire early from GTE and remain in the Dominican Republic. At present, he heads a consortium of banks that seeks to capitalize the Dominican electricity utility in order to definitely solve its problems.

D.R. to be admitted to Grupo de Río
The technical committee of the Grupo de Río approved the admission of the Dominican Republic and five Central American nations to that important Latin American forum for policy setting. The final decision needs to be ratified by the foreign relation ministers of the Grupo de Rio nations that will meet in March, and by the heads of state in the summer summit. The Dominican Republic has requested to be admitted with full rights, as the country does not belong to any of the regional trading blocks. The not belong to any regional blocks. The Grupo de Rio groups Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Financial exchanges to convene in Bavaro
The stock market exchanges of Central America will meet in Punta Cana at the Hotel Iberostar Bavaro 30 April to 1 May. The VII Seminario Internacional Bocen has as goal to discuss efforts to integrate Central American and Caribbean financial markets by 2000. Donald Cott Creus, executive director of the Santo Domingo Stock Exchange, is the organizer of the event in Santo Domingo. Participants are expected to come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Barbados.

Total exports up 20% in 1997
Cedopex, the Dominican Export Promotion Center, reported that Dominican exports of goods were up 20.5% in 1997. Industrial free zone exports grew 24%, increasing to US$2,322.2 million, US$445.1 million more than in 1996. Dominican exports were up by 13.34%. The nation exported US$946.9 million in 1997, US$111.5 million more than in 1996.

President of deputies reprimanded
The leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, reprimanded the president of the Chamber of Deputies, PRD deputy Hector Peguero Méndez, for confronting deputy Andrés Vanderhorst of the Partido Liberal La Estructura. The president of the chamber changed the locks on Vanderhorst's office at the chamber and fired Vanderhorst's personnel responding to Vanderhorst's affirmation that deputies accepted bribes from telecommunication companies to accelerate the passing of the telecommunications bill that will deregulate telephone service rates. Peña Gómez had earlier requested that confrontations be avoided as he said these affect Congress's already diminished reputation before public opinion.

U.S. seeks extradition of former ambassador
Press reports indicated that it is very likely that former Dominican ambassador before the United Nations, Rafael Pantaleón González, who is under arrest here at police headquarters, will be extradited to the United States. In addition to being a Dominican, Dr. Pantaleón is also a U.S. citizen. He flew to the D.R. after being sentenced by a U.S. federal court for 78 months in jail or payment of a US$3.5 million fine. He is accused primarily of participating in a fraudulent scheme against Medicare.

"Man of the Mancha" to open in Santo Domingo
Spanish ballad singer Paloma San Basilio will be Aldonza and leading Spanish actor José Sacristán will perform as Don Quixote in Santo Domingo this June as part of a Latin American tour of the production of the "Man of the Mancha." The musical opened in Madrid, 4 November, and became an immediate box office success. The story of Don Quixote is again on stage to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the birth its author, Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra.

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