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Daily News - 10 July 1998

New parking lots to be built
The government announced the two parking buildings with capacity for 500 cars will be built near Avenida 27 de Febrero between Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln avenues and near the National Police headquarters of Leopoldo Navarro street. The latter, where a large number of government offices are located, is one of the most busy areas of the city. After 8 am it is very difficult to find parking there. The parking buildings are part of the Sercitec project the government is implementing to improve the traffic situation of the city of Santo Domingo.

Making exporting easier
President Leonel Fernández created a new system, "ventanilla única" (one window) that will simplify exporting. Decree 248-998 establishes that the system will expedite the documentation process for exporting as well as deal with special customs regimes established to promote exports. The measure is expected to improve the competitiveness of national exports. A Technical Council has been entrusted with the implementation of the decree. The council is made up by members of the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Agriculture, Public Health, Finances, the Central Bank, and the Customs Department. Also the Nacional Council of Industrial Export Free Zones, the Dominican Center for the Promotion of Exports, the Dominican Association of Exporters, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the Dominican Republic, the Association of Industries of the Northern Region and the Dominican Agribusiness Council.

Amnesty for corrupt government officials
The Chamber of Deputies approved a bill for amnesty to all persons who confront accusations of corruption in office and have held office from September 1978 to the present time. The time period would encompass the governments of Antonio Guzmán, Salvador Jorge Blanco and the latest two periods of former President Joaquín Balaguer. According to a report in Hoy, some eight million pesos circulated among deputies and former officers of the Jorge Blanco and Balaguer administrations so that the benefits of the project be extended to the moment of the passing of the bill. Initially the benefits of the initiative extended to August 1996, the start of the present government, but the deputies decided to extend it to benefit officers of the present administration.

Senate rules to limit work term of judges
The Senate voted to eliminate the permanence of the judges. The initiative now passes to the Chamber of Deputies. The new bill establishes that judges after elected will only be in office for four years and sets at 75 years the maximum age for the obligatory retirement of the Supreme Court Judges. A four year grace period was approved for the new 16 judges, two of which are already 75 years old.

State university to reopen
The board of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo chose to restore classes as of Monday in Santo Domingo. Recently, students protested the decision of the board of the state university to begin expelling from the university students that do not meet minimum academic requirements. The university's finances have suffered from cases of students that have spent up to 15 years taking classes at the center. The university loses RD$2 million a day when it closes. The university closed on Wednesday after confrontations with the Police and students resulted in the killing of a student.

New critical issue within PRD
Leading members within the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano are divided over whether the members of the party that aspire to be the party's presidential candidate in the year 2000 elections should resign from their directorship positions within the party, or merely take a leave of absence. One of the affected if it is decided that party directors cannot aspire to the presidential candidacy would be Hatuey Decamps, the party's secretary general, who has announced he would like to run for president.

Precious little hotels in Colonial City
The largest French hotel chain, Accor is investing heavily in renovating and expanding former government-owned hotels. Orlando Basto explained the company is advancing on the renovations of the Hotel Comercial, the Hotel Francés and the Nicolás de Ovando, all in the Colonial City area.
The Hotel Francés, located at the intersection of the Calle Arzobispo Meriño and Mercedes should be ready to open in September. He said that in the patio of the hotel they will open a French restaurant. The restaurant could very well become one of the city's better restaurants, and certainly the best French restaurant.
Accor is also remodeling the Hotel Comercial with 87 rooms. The Hotel Comercial, off Calle El Conde, should be ready by December or January.
The Hostal Nicolás de Ovando will open with 110 rooms at year's end of 1999, to be expanded to 170 rooms by year 2000. "This will be the most lovely hotel in the DR and perhaps Latin America," said Basto.
Accor hotel chain has 3,000 hotels in 76 countries of the world. The group purchased the three hotels from the state. The Hotel Frances will operate under the Mercure brand name. It will be a Gran Hotel Mercure. The Hotel Comercial will be an Ibis hotel, and the Nicolas de Ovando will be a five hotel star operating under the brand name Sofitel.

8,944 new hotel rooms from 1997 to 1999
El Siglo newspaper reported that between 1997 and 1999, the Dominican hotel industry will add over 8,944 new hotel rooms, an investment estimated in at US$462.8 million dollars. The rooms are going up in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Samana, Las Terrenas, Punta Cana, Bayahibe, La Romana, Boca Chica and Playa Caribe, among others, according to data of the Ministry of Tourism. In 1998, some 5,354 rooms will be completed, and another 2,738 in 1999. Some 852 rooms entered in operation in 1997.

La Traviata at the National Theater
Preparations are advancing for the presentation of the Opera La Traviata at the National Theater. The opera will be directed by Carlos Piantini. The Giuseppe Verdi opera was chosen to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the theater. The National Theater opened in 1973 presenting La Traviata. The main roles of Violeta, Alfredo, Flora and Germont will be played by Amy Cofield, soprano; Paul Mcllvaine, tenor; Alexandra Zalska, soprano and De Pierson, baritone. The roles of Gaston de Lestorieres, Baron Douphal, Marques D'Orbigny, doctor Grenville, Giuseppe and Flora will be played by Fernando Geraldes, tenor; Alejandro Penzo, baritone, Oved Ureña, baritone; Diomedes Ogando, bass, Modesto Acosta and Gan Porcella. The music will be responsibility of the National Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Carlos Piantini and the choir by Jose Delmonte.

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