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Daily News - 27 May 1998

Days of sunshine and rain
Sunshine has been alternating with rain showers all throughout the Dominican Republic since Sunday. The rains are seen as a blessing. They bring the promise of more potable water supply. Water sources in the rivers and the hydroelectric dams of the country are filling up. The Corporación del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Santo Domingo (CAASD), the potable water department of the capital city, says that the rains have brought an additional 50 million gallons of day, increasing daily output to 345.29 million gallons. More so, El Caribe newspaper reported that the principal source of water for the city, the Valdesia-Santo Domingo aqueduct is now producing 129.43 million gallons, 37% of the total availability.

DR is net exporter of capitals
Hoy newspaper gave front page coverage to the concern of Technical Secretary of the Presidency Temistocles Montás that the Dominican Republic has become a net exporter of capitals. The Dominican Republic is disbursing more for interest rate payments and amortizations than the flow of capital it is receiving for new loans. This is so primarily because the nation is paying out debt dating back to the 70s and 80s.
Montás made the statement at a meeting at the National Palace with John Pancer, representive of the World Bank, and Stephen McGauhey, representative of the InterAmerican Development Bank. The meeting was held with the representatives and most cabinet ministers and directors of autonomous and decentralized government organizations. The status of present and future loans was analyzed at the meeting. The portfolio of loans under executiion with the IDB is US$578 million, of which only US$303.7 million has been disbursed, or 44.6%. Montas pointed out that of the World Bank loans portfolio of US$179.5 million only US$9 million had been disbursed from 30 April.
In the past four years, the DR has disbursed more than US$1,000 million in interest and principal payments, much more than what has been received.
The government is discussing financing for US$321 million with the IDB, and US$221 million with the World Bank.

Bill to reduce corruption in government construction works
President Leonel Fernández appointed a mixed commission of government and business organizations to prepare a bill that would set the rules for regulating the hiring of consulting and supervising services for government construction works. Construction works are seen as one of the major sources of corruption and waste of government resources.
As per Decree 200-98, the commission members are Minsiter of Public Works Diandino Peña; the director of the Coordinating and Supervising Office of Government Works, Rafael Serulle; the director of the Instituto Nacional de la Vivienda, Joaquín Gerónimo; Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe; the director of the Office of Engineers of Government Works, Felix Bautista.
Also the director of the Corruption Prevention Department, Pedro Castellanos; and the president of the College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors.
Other members are Roque Napoleón Muñoz, Leonel Rodriguez Ureña, Leandro Guzmán, Mercedes Sabater de Macarrulla, Marcos Rodríguez Sánchez, Francisco Fernández Calventi, Frida Aybar de Sanabia and architect Cristian Maluf Khoury.

University, Technology and Business Summit
A University, Technology and Business Summit will be held in Santo Domingo Thursday 28 May through Saturday 30 May. The conference is sponsored by several Dominican government institutions including the Dominican Republic Investment Promotion Office, the Dominican Insitute of Industrial Technology, the Commision for Reform and Modernization of the State, the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. There will be sessions on the environment, potable water treatment, renewable energy sources, construction materials, information technology, agriculture, biotechnology and food processing.

And here they go
Partido Revolucionario Dominicano presidential hopefuls Rafael Suberví Bonilla (at present Mayor of Santo Domingo and congressman for Barahona as of August 1998) and Hipólito Mejia (a former minister of agriculture, today farm produce exporter) separately announced their aspirations to the PRD presidential candidate nomination for the year 2000 election. Earlier, in an interview with the Listín Diario yesterday, the party's secretary general, Hatuey de Camps did not discard he would vie for the presidential candidacy of the party.
Hipólito Mejía said if he is elected presidential candidate he would invite Santo Domingo senator Milagros Ortíz Bosch to be his vice presidential candidate. Mejía called out to PRD party members that will be taking over city governments from PRSC militants to treat these with respect to leave doors open for an alliance with that party for the presidential elections in year 2,000. As per the reformed Constitution, 50%+1 of the vote is needed to win the elections, thus alliances are important.
Milagros Ortiz Bosch has said that while it is not her personal desire to run for the presidency, she would if the people voted in her favor. She has emphasized that the party must define the rules for the electing of the presidential candidate prior to the launching of any candidacies.
The politicians spoke at a mass held in the Cathedral of Santiago in the memory of Dr. Jose Francisco Peña Gomez, leader of the PRD.

Let's choose the PRSC candidate now
The political secretary of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano asked that party leader, 91-year old Dr. Joaquín Balaguer decide now if he will be the party's candidate in the year 2000 presidential elections. Dr. Balaguer will be 93 years old for the 16 May 2000 election.
Federico Antún Batlle said that the party, today the third political force in the country, needs to choose its candidate early in order to concentrate all forces in that one person. "The candidate of 2000 has to be defined before February," he said. "If Joaquín Balaguer wants to be the candidate, he has to say so because we are not a party of one person. Balaguer represents the most important sector of Dominican nation, perhaps the majority sector, but he has to speak up."
Recently when asked if he would be the party's presidential candidate for the year 2000 election, Dr. Balaguer smiled enigmatically. Balaguer has traditionally left the decision of whether he will run for the final weeks of the campaign stretch. Antún feels this is not good enough anymore.
"To continue playing that 'maybe not', 'tomorrow I'll say', 'now is not a prudent moment to make that decision,' 'at the right time,' no, no, no. The party is not in condition for that," said the political secretary of the party. In his opinion, the PRSC cannot afford waiting another day without deciding who will be the party's presidential candidate.
He mentioned as possible contenders to the PRSC candidacy:
Dr. Balaguer himself, Donald Reid Cabral, Jacinto Peynado, Carlos Morales Troncoso, Amable Aristy Castro, Eduardo Estrella, César Arturo Abréu, José Hazim Frapier, Tony Rivera, Víctor Gómez Bergés, Ramón Pérez Martínez, Angel Lockward, Roberto Santana, Luis Toral, José Enrique Sued, Licellotte Marte de Barrios, Zoila Martínez de Medina, and Alexandra Izquierdo.

Where Dominican tourists come from
The executive vice president of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, Arturo Villanueva explained that tourists to the Dominican Republic during the first trimester of the year came principally from the following countries. Note that there are over 38,000 hotel rooms in the DR and the nation received over two million visitors in 1997. The principal source nations were:
 
United States 22.6%
Canada 16%
Germany 16.5%
England 7.1%
Italy 7%
France 5.5%
Argentina 5.4%
Spain 4.3%

DR is new pretty girl of U.S. travelers
The Dominican Republic is the new pretty girl of the American outbound travel industry. An American Society of Travel Agent/Fodor Travel Publications survey released today includes the Dominican Republic for the first time in the survey. The Dominican destinations are ranked third among Caribbean destinations, behind Mexico and Costa Rica. Punta Cana was especially signaled out.

U.S. travel industry survey forecasts great summer season
The U.S. travel industry is forecasting a record-setting summer. According to the American Society of Travel Agent/Fodor Travel Publications, consumer confidence in the economy is not showing signs of abating, and vacation travel is clearly a top priority for Americans.
Both domestic and international travel bookings through American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) members are higher than last year's record numbers, according to the results of the ASTA/Fodor's Annual Summer Hot Spots Survey released today. When asked to compare their overall bookings for the summer of 1998 with last year, 59.1% said that their bookings were up, and another 21.8% said that they were at the same levels as last year's record-setting pace. International bookings showed an even higher level of interest with nearly two-thirds of the surveyed ASTA travel agents (65.6%) indicating that those bookings were ahead of last year; another 21.2% said that they had kept pace with the summer of 1997. Orlando and London held on to their respective holds for the top domestic and international hot spots. Travel agents have noted that the opening of Disney's "Animal Kingdom" and added attractions at other Orlando-area parks have heightened interest even further in this perennial favorite.
When the surveyed ASTA agents were asked to name the top international city destinations
they have been booking for summer travel, their top ten answers
included:
United Kingdom
Paris, France
Rome, Italy
Cancún, Mexico
Frankfurt, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ireland
Madrid, Spain
Dublin,Ireland
Vancouver, Canada
Athens, Greece
Jamaica

Record travel forecast for summer
"The ASTA/Fodor's Summer Hot Spots Survey results demonstrate that Americans are taking advantage of the good economy to go out and literally see the world," said ASTA President and CEO Mike Spinelli. "In fact, through April of this year, travel agency sales reported through the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) were seven percent higher than last year."
Spinelli said that this year's total sales were at $24.831 billion vs. $23.262 billion at this time a year ago. "It's going to be an incredible summer travel season with Americans traveling in record numbers, both domestically and abroad," said Bonnie Ammer, president and publisher of Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc.
Finally, the ASTA/Fodor's Summer Hot Spots Survey found that when the ASTA travel agents were asked, "How long is the average leisure trip booked through your agency?," the overwhelming number of bookings are for trips of under one week (72.8% said one to seven days); however, the average number of days amounted to 7.75 days. Of those who said they booked trips of over one week in duration, 26.1% said 8-14 days; .8% said 15-21 days; and a mere .4% said more than 21 days.
"If you haven't already booked your summer vacation, we advise you to do so at once because seating capacity on airplanes and room availability in hotels and on cruise ships is tighter than ever," Spinelli said.
The ASTA/Fodor's Annual Summer Hot Spots Survey was
conducted among 524 of the ASTA Research Family, a representative sample of ASTA's travel agency membership, from March 30-April 20, 1998.
As the travelers' advocate, the American Society of Travel Agents is the world's largest travel trade association with over 27,000 members in more than 170 countries.

WorldPort to buy Dominican phone operator
All American Cables and Radio Inc., which has a public telephone operation concession, is in the process of being sold to WorldPort Communications Inc. for a combination of cash and stock.
WorldPort Chief Financial Officer Phillip Magiera said the company is also clearing the acquisition of EnerTel NV of the Netherlands, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
American Cables owns part of a network of undersea fiber optic cables that connect the Dominican Republic to the U.S., Spain, Italy, Colombia, Venezuela and various Caribbean islands. The company maintains an interconnection agreement with Codetel, the largest Dominican telephone company, which provides for the origination and termination of traffic throughout the country.
The Dominican Republic is one of the highest-volume international long distance routes for the U.S., accounting for over 550 million minutes per year, WorldPort said.

Cuban coaches arrive
The president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello and the Deputy Minister of Sports Jay Payano were at the Las Americas International Airport yesterday to receive a group of 19 Cuban coaches. The coaches are coming to help complete the training of Dominican athletes that will be participating in the Central American and Caribbean Games to be held this summer in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Hoy newspaper reported that the sports executives feel the DR could win 80 medals in those games, in 17 of the 25 sports in which Dominican athletes will compete. The first coaches will help train Dominicans in track and field, cycling, gymnastics, shooting and skeet, tennis, soccer, water polo and diving. It is the first time the Ministry of Sports hires such a large group of foreign trainers.
The COD says the DR has a good chance at winning medals in track and field, basketball, baseball, bowling, boxing, judo, karate, weight lifting, wrestling, softball, tae kwon do, tennis, table tennis, precision shooting, skeet, volleyball, beach volleyball, and racquetball. Dominican athletes will also participate in sailing, triathlon, cycling, equestrian events, gymnastics, swimming and soccer.

Leones and Cincinnati Reds to work together
The Leones del Escogido signed a work agreement with the Cincinnati Reds effective the winter baseball season that opens in October 1998. Escogido team president, Daniel Aquino Méndez told the press the agreement will benefit both the Escogido as well as the Major League team. The new Escogido team manager is Mario Soto, a former pitcher of the Cincinnati Reds. As per the agreement, the Escogido has the first option on players from the Cincinnati team.

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