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Daily News - 03 March 1998

Price controls rejected
While the government has defended its new price control policy, the private sector has rejected it. Presidential Secretary Danilo Medina defended the new government policy to place price ceilings on the cost of chicken, milk, rice and cement. He threatened to intensify popular sales programs of Inespre if the products are sold for more. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce fixed the following prices: rice, RD$5.50 lb.; chicken, RD$12.00 lb.; a liter of fresh milk, RD$15/ RD$14 for UHT milk; and RD$68.60 for a 100 lb. bag of gray cement. Inespre sales programs have been criticized as unfair competition with the colmados.
The measure to bring back price controls was criticized as obsolete by company spokesmen and store owners. The Consejo Nacional de la Empresa Privada (CONEP), the Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana (JAD), the Asociación de Empresas Industriales de Herrera (AEIH) and the Asociación de Industrias de la República Dominicana (AIRD), as well as the Federación de Comerciantes Detallistas de la República Dominicana (FECODERD), said they oppose the measure because it will only create scarcities and is in contradiction with world trends of free trade, opening and globalization of markets. Celso Marranzini, presidente del CONEP, said the measure surprises the private sector which understood that price controls were part of the past. He said that price controls have never benefitted consumers, on the contrary, they result in scarcities and black market price increases. Ignacio Méndez, president of AEIH, said that "the dead has risen," lamenting the new measure.

New Minister of Public Works to push projects ahead
The newly appointed Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said the completion of the 27 de Febrero Expressway is a priority of his administration. Former Minister of Public Works Jimmy Durán complained bitterly that he was subject to "economic asphyxia" during the year and a half he was at the head of the Ministry of Public Works that impeded him from advancing on major works such as the 27 de Febrero Expressway and the Duarte Highway. Durán's replacement was administrative secretary of the Presidency, the position from where the allotments sent to the ministries are authorized. News commentators indicated that Diandino Peña at the Ministry of Public Works is an indication the government will initiate mega public works. Engineer Peña, a private builder, was one of the financiers of the Leonel Fernández political campaign for president.

Major parties reject joining forces
The leading political parties of the nation, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) have chosen to go alone to the municipal and congressional elections on 16 May 1998. Only alliances with minority parties were announced at the deadline of the Junta Central Electoral. The PLD announced an alliance with the Fuerza Nacional Progresista. The PRD allied with the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo grouping of minority parties. Only the Partido Revolucionario Independiente (PRI) did not sign with the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo alliance. The PRSC formalized alliances with the Partido Liberal La Estructura and the Partido Demócrata Popular.

Let's talk it out
President Leonel Fernandez is traveling throughout the nation, attending the National Dialogue talks held in the provinces. The talks permit citizens to come forth and speak their mind, to be heard and to make proposals for the agenda of the nation into the 21st century. President Fernández says that the cost of the four month National Dialogue is less than the cost of a single day of a nationwide strike.

Supreme Court judge in charge of corruption case
The Supreme Court has appointed Supreme Court Judge Edgar Hernández to hear the case against congressman Adriano Sánchez Roa. Sánchez Roa is accused of irregularities and corruption in office to the tune of RD$80 million. He is running again for deputy in Congress. Accusations against Sánchez Roa were first made when Victor Grimaldi was the appointed controller during the final months of the Balaguer administration.

Earthquake alert
The president of the Fundación Dominicana de Seismología e Ingeniería Sísmica, engineer Rafael Corominas Pepín, alerted the nation that everyone should be ready for an earthquake any day. Engineer Corominas said that historically earthquakes have occurred at a time span of a minimum of 17 years and a maximum of 73 years. He said that the last earthquake occurred on 4 August 1946, 52 years ago.

Trade event to celebrate AmCham's 75th anniversary
The American Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 75th anniversary by hosting Expo '98 International at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel from 25-29 March. The exhibition includes workshops with speakers from the World Trade Center Association, and experts on foreign investment and franchising.

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