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Daily News - 20 July 1998

Government reduces tax on airline tickets
President Leonel Fernández promulgated Law 203-98 that reduces to 10% the previously 20% tax on airline tickets. The bill is an incentive for Dominicans to purchase their tickets locally and not abroad.
Just last week, tickets sold locally had gone up in price 13% due to the devaluation of the peso. Now, the increase in price will only be 1.3%.
At the same time, Resolution 243-98 of the Civil Aviation Board was passed so that prices be adjusted to the current exchange rate. The current exchange rate is RD$15.35.

Government plan to improve traffic in Santo Domingo
The Ministry of Public Works has confirmed that it is giving priority to the solution of traffic bottlenecks in Santo Domingo. At present city residents are suffering through major construction that seems to be underway at all points of the city. The works are to prepare the city to handle double the traffic by year 2005. The Ministry estimates that today around 500,000 vehicles circulate in Santo Domingo.
The Ministry explained the main elements of the plan are as follows:
Construction of overpasses at 27 de Febrero with Máximo Gómez, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, in addition to the tunnels at present under construction at those intersections.
Construction of a boulevard with trees on top of the underpasses leading to the tunnels of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. The boulevard will be 18 meters wide by 600 meters long.
At Winston Churchill avenue, two overpasses in the north-south and east-west directions will be built so that traffic and flow constantly through the intersection.
Deputy Minister of Public Works Claudia Francheska de los Santos explained that the overpasses that will be built at the intersection of John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill will be three lanes, one constructed at a height of 10 meters, another five meters high and another at the ground level of the highway. One of the overpasses will start near the entrance of the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña ending near Av. Charles Sumner. Another will start at the Av. Charles Sumner and end near the Font Gamundi building on the John F. Kennedy.
The Ministry spokeswoman explained that the John F. Kennedy Avenue handles more traffic than the 27 de Febrero Avenue.
Also contemplated is the elimination of the rotunda of John F. Kennedy avenue with Máximo Gómez in addition to the tunnel, and overpasses at the intersections of JFK with Tiradentes, Ortega y Gasset and Abraham Lincoln. In addition, intelligent traffic lights will be installed, and the avenues will be expanded.
The government also plans to build overpasses that will connect Avenida Luperón to the 30 de Mayo and Independencia avenues on the southern side of the city to eliminate the bottlenecks there, especially at the intersection of Km. 12. This is in addition to the expansion of the Autopista 30 de Mayo (the western side of the Malecón) through Km. 12.
Plans call for the completion of the expansion of the Las Americas Highway to 10 lanes, and an overpass from Av. Venezuela to 25 de Febrero, as well as the construction of a bridge parallel to the old Duarte Bridge that will be rehabilitated.

40 days of work left
Engineer Mario Penson of Builder of Construcciones Civiles y Marítimas (Cocimar) said that only 40 days of work are left to complete the overpass over Avenida Duarte and Paris intersection. He explained the government owes RD$10 million of a global cost of the work of RD$78 million. The overpass is a kilometer long. The overpass was built by the Municipality of Santo Domingo, but the government reportedly agreed to assist in the financing of the project.

Free legal help for the poor
Impoverished Dominicans will receive free legal assistance in the future through a new government program to be implemented as of August. The program is coordinated by the Comisionado de Apoyo a la Reforma y Modernización de la Justicia. The program will benefit those accused of criminal offenses and who cannot afford a lawyer. The Dominican Constitution states that justice be administered free to all Dominicans. Family of those arrested for criminal offenses will request the legal aid from the new office, the Programa de la Defensa Pública. The program will first be implemented in Santo Domingo where the city office will be head by Iraima Caprices. The program is hiring 10 lawyers to defend adults, and two to attend minors. The office will be located at the Calle Dr. Delgado 59.

A look at the DR economy
President Leonel Fernández headed a seminar to analyze the behavior of the Dominican economy during the first two years of his administration. Also attending were:
Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal
A delegation from the Interamerican Development Bank including Enrique Iglesias, president; Ricardo Haussman, principal economist; Miguel Martínez, regional manager; Carlos Solchaga,
Moises Pineda, Juan Gomes and Alberto Carasquillo.
A delegation from the U.S. Agency for International Development including Arnold Harberger, Efrian Laureano.
A delegation from the World Bank including Edgardo Favarro and John Panzer.
And Dominican economists: Andres Dahuajre, Jaime Escuder, , Carlos Despradel, Eduardo García Michel, Manuel Cocco and Isidoro Santana.
For the economic team of the government:
Minister of Finance Daniel Toribio; Minister of Industry and Commerce Luis Manuel Bonetti; Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina; Technical Secretary of the Presidency Temístocles Montás, and Administrative Secretary of the Presidency Simón Lizardo.
Also the Governor of the Central Bank Hector Valdez Albizu; administrator of the Banco de Reservas, Roberto Saladín; director of Information, Analysis and Strategy of the Presidency Carlos Dore Cabral; Minister of Interior and Police Norge Botello; director of Corde Eduardo Selman; Melanio Paredes, Francisco Javier García, Alejandrina Germán, among others.
During the event, Enrique Iglesias, president of the IDB, praised the outstanding economic growth of the DR, which reported the highest growth rate in Latin America in 1997. But he said the challenge is now not only to maintain economic growth but to better distribute among more Dominicans the wealth, seeking to achieve social justice. He insisted that the DR should sign a grand social pact through democratic dialogue identifying the central points of a national action plan that would include initiatives that would permit the growth to be maintained so that the country be in condition to resolve its important social issues.
Ricardo Hausmann, principal economist of the IDB, said that these are the best of times for the DR, times when the nation can push for social policies that generate new jobs and an improvement of the general standard of living.

IDB lends money to better control government spending
The Interamerican Development Bank will lend the Dominican government US$11.5 million to implement the first phase of a financial management system that seeks to make more transparent and efficient the handling of public funds. The new system will gradually release the Central Bank from managing public credit so it can concentrate on maintaining the stability of the local currency. The agreement was signed by Enrique Iglesias, president of the IDB, and Minister of Finances Daniel Toribio for the Dominican government. President Leonel Fernández was present during the signing.

RD$1,000 million to subsidize government sugar production
The State Sugar Council (CEA) is requesting RD$1,000 million in subsidies to produce the 1998-99 harvest. The moneys would have to be included in next year's budget. El Siglo reported that technicians forecast that the CEA would not even reach 170,000 short tons of sugar, and that the entity is seeking to make future sales for US$30 to US$35 million to resolve its most pressing financial problems. Experts have said it would cost taxpayers less if the state gave away the sugar conglomerate than if it continues to subsidize it. The state is immersed in a privatization program, but analysts have said that one of the major setbacks in the program is that the government only offers to sell 50% of the properties, thus making it less attractive for bona fide investors who may end up with not having control over the operations.

Government public hospitals program
Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzmán Marcelino announced that the Fernández administration will build three new hospitals calling for an investment of US$35 million. Of the three the largest is the 120-bed hospital in the industrial area of Herrera. The other two are one in Guerra, on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, with 20 beds, and another in Neyba, in the Southwest with 60 beds.
The Minister said that the government is investing more than RD$900 million pesos in the construction, remodeling, equipping of national, regional and provincial hospitals. The investments have primarily focused on the remodeling of the Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia Maternity Hospital (RD$258 million); the Francisco Moscoso Puello (RD$28 million); the Maternidad San Lorenzo de los Mina (RD$41 million), and Darío Contreras (RD$26 million). Rodolfo Cruz Lora (RD$50 million), Padre Billini (RD$50 million)., Luis Eduardo Aybar (R$90 million) Hospital Regional de San Pedro de Macorís (RD$200 million), Jaime Mota, Barahona (RD$20 million).

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