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Daily News - 05 March 1998

Price controls popular with consumers
Business associations, the press and even the Minister of Industry and Commerce himself are against them, but price controls are back. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, reportedly bending to political pressures, has resurrected the Department of Price Controls that on 4 March announced it sent to justice 26 shops for violating a recent government resolution that freezes the price of chicken, milk, rice and gray cement. After the price controls were implemented, the measure had an adverse effect on prices. Instead of going down, they went up. Nevertheless, a survey carried out by the Listín Diario showed that 71% of the 2,001 who responded to the telephone poll favor the measures adopted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Minister of Industry and Commerce Luis Manuel Bonetti had promised to eliminate the Price Control Department and replace it with a Consumer Protection Institute.

Airplane gas shortage to be resolved soon
The sales manager of Texaco said that the scarcity of aviation gas for small airplanes will be resolved as soon as a shipment from Puerto Rico arrives. The general manager of Esso Standard Oil said that import difficulties that affected Texaco left Esso alone on the market as supplier of the gas, which resulted in the scarcity.

Banks deny the RD$15/US$1 rate
The president of the Association of Commercial Banks, José Manuel López, said it is not true that banks are transferring money for RD$15 to the dollar. He said that banks are selling the U.S. dollar for RD$14.50- RD$14.55.

Chile and D.R. sign travel and investment agreements
Chile and the Dominican Republic signed an agreement to promote travel and investment. Minister of Foreign Relations José Miguel Insulza Salinas was in Santo Domingo this week as part of preparatory talks for the Summit of the Americas, which is scheduled to be held in April in Santiago de Chile. The agreement signed by both countries also calls for the promotion of technology transfers, development of forestry and energy projects, and support from the government export promotion agency of Chile, Prochile, to its Dominican counterpart, Cedopex, the Centro Dominicano de Promoción de Exportaciones. Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez of the Dominican Republic and the Chilean Ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Antonio Ortega Riquelme, signed an agreement to promote travel and touristic investments in both countries.

Year 2000 census
The National Office of Statistics (ONE) is preparing a nationwide population and housing census to be held in year 2000. Maritza Rossi, director of ONE, said that it would be the last national census to be carried out. She said that the year 2000 census would set mechanisms so that data is continuously updated. A national information network would be fed from private and public centers in Santo Domingo and the provinces.

Speedway to open with major race
The Autódromo Internacional de las Américas, described as the best car speedway in Central America and the Caribbean, will be inaugurated on 29 March. The final race of the Shell Panamerican GT Series will be held in the race track that is located 16 kilometers East of Santo Domingo, along Las Américas Highway. The race track has stand capacity for 1,800 persons. Some 50 competitors have registered to compete in the GT, MN, PM and RS categories. The Shell Panamerican GT Series races also take place in Puerto Rico at the Pista de Salinas and in Florida at the Moroso Speedway and Homestead Speedway.

Conditioning the expatriation of Dominicans
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said that the Dominican government would be willing to extradite Dominicans sought by the U.S. justice if the U.S. stops deporting Dominican criminals. "If one appeals to the universality of crime, then it cannot be alleged that Dominicans who have committed crimes in the United States should be sent to the Dominican Republic," said Latorre.
Minister Latorre said that the D.R. is willing to negotiate an extradition treaty with the U.S. if that nation stops the deportations of Dominicans sentenced for crimes committed in that nation. In 1997 he said the country received 1,925 deported Dominicans who had served part of entire sentences. This new U.S. policy is contributing to an increase in delinquency in the D.R., traditionally a nation with one of the lowest crime rates in the Americas. The United States has requested the extradition of 30 Dominicans accused of crimes in the United States.
Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe recently said he favors the extradition of Dr. Rafael González Pantaleón, a former Dominican diplomat, who is sought by the U.S. justice for fraud against Medicare. His extradition, given the opinion of the Minister Latorre, could be conditioned.

Financial crisis at major health center
Plaza de la Salud, the most modern medical center in the Dominican Republic, which is government-owned and run under the supervision of a private board, may have to close down several services because of delays in government funding to cover its expenses. The government provides RD$8 million a month in subsidy, and is behind two months. Engineer Heriberto Castro, president of the board that supervises the hospital, said if the money is not received, the hospital will have to suspend some of its services.

A turnabout at the Ministry of Public Works
The new Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña announced that all government works will be executed by private contractors. Under the previous Minister of Public Works Jimmy Durán, several major works were being executed by the Ministry itself. Engineer Peña designated the private contractors that will carry out the works, including the 27 de Febrero Expressway. The new minister ordered that the heavy duty equipment that the Ministry had purchased to carry out the works be sent to the provincial offices of the Ministry to be used for the maintenance of highways.

Final talks of the National Dialogue this weekend
President Leonel Fernández said during the National Dialogue meetings in La Romana that politics is no longer a priority of the Dominican people. He said that the Dominican people are more interested in the construction of important infrastructure works, the development of their communities, the conservation of the environment and the improvement of their standard of living.
During the National Dialogue meetings, some 3,223 proposals were submitted in talks held throughout the country so that the populace could voice opinions. Of these, some 1,278 proposals from Santo Domingo were approved; 675 were approved for the ten provinces of the Cibao; 555 for the South and Southwest; 260 for the Northeast; and 555 for the East. The discussions focused on farming, social policies, environment and natural resources, culture, infrastructure, energy, unions, community groups, political reforms, the economy and international policies.
The final plenary sessions of the National Dialogue will be held from Friday, 6 March through Sunday, 8 March at the Hotel Dominican Fiesta. More than 4,000 delegates from different organizations are invited to the final sessions. Special guests are former Chilean president, Patricio Alwyn, who is in charge of the social development projects in Latin America for the Interamerican Development Bank. The governments of Spain, the United States will also be represented at the closing of the important event.

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