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Daily News - 27 July 1998

President Fernández favors holding plebiscites
President Leonel Fernández favors the modifying of the Constitution to include the possibility of celebrating referendums, where the nation would have participation in major decisions of importance to the country, not leaving these up to the political parties. President Leonel Fernández met last week with the persons responsible for the economic policy of the nation, the planners and the senators and deputies at the Coral Hamaca hotel of Boca Chica. During meeting, the legislative agenda of the government party for the congressional sessions that open 16 August was discussed. Among these are the bills that reform the social security system, the free trade agreement with Central America and the bill to reform the tariffs. Also mentioned are a bill that creates the legal framework for the Dominican stock exchange, a new foreign trade bill, a bill that would create the Contaduría Pública and the issuing of bonds by the Central Bank to pay the domestic debt.

Modernizing the Police
The chief of the Police Major General José Aníbal Sanz Jiminián said that the modernizing of the National Police is moving ahead. The traffic department is being computerized so that accident reports can be issued in ten minutes. Today, an accident report can take three to four hours to be filed. A ten floor tower will be built on site of the Police headquarters, adjacent to a modern parking building with capacity for 1,800 vehicles.

Move ahead with the Rosario contract
President Leonel Fernández gave instructions for the accelerating of the bidding process for the La Rosario sulfide ore deposits. The director of Mining, Octavio Lopez said that the President recognizes that there are opportunities that should not be let pass. Recently, Alejandro Losada, of M.I.M., a major Australian company participating in the bid, said that the company was closing its Santo Domingo offices given the delay in the definition of the bid. López explained that there have been delays such as that the bidding companies are not in agreement with becoming financially responsible for environmental problems caused by the delay in the Rosario in contracting the company that would carry out the exploitation. There are three principal contenders for the contract, one from Canada, one from the United States and another from Australia. The Rosario is yet to contract the company that will develop the project to extract gold and silver from sulfide ore. Proven sulfide ore reserves are estimated at more than 100 million tons, which are estimated to generate US$2 billion during the well over 30 years life span of the mine.

Government pacts with Smith Enron
The government reached an agreement with the Smith-Enron electricity generating consortium for a payment plan. The electricity utility had threatened to disconnect from the national electricity grid for arrears in government payments. The government agreed to pay US$1.6 million as of 10 August to reduce a debt of US$5.4 million owned to the company. The agreement was reached at a meeting with Smith-Enron executives, President Fernández, Temístocles Montás, Technical Secretary of the Presidency and a former Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad manager, and Radhamés Segura, present general manager of the CDE.

President meets with PRD on congressional issues
President Leonel Fernández scheduled a meeting for today with the key members of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the leading opposition party. The Listín reported that the meeting was called because the PRD leadership was interested in learning the position of the government and its party regarding the election of the president of the Chamber of Deputies. A dissident former PRD member, the president of the Chamber of Deputies Hector Peguero Méndez has said he seeks to repeat as president of the Chamber with the support of the government party and the PRSC. The PRD also said that during the meeting it will present its legislative agenda for the sessions that begin 16 August.
Important bills pending for approval are the Financial and Monetary Code and the electricity bill, both that have been torpedoed by businesses interested in maintaining the status quo. The bills would open up these markets to competition.

Catholic Church calls for governmental measures
The Conference of the Dominican Roman Catholic Church, in a document signed by the nation's 14 leading bishops, criticized the lack of discipline and order prevailing in the country, requested that the government make transparent government plans and priorities and make these known by appointing a government spokesperson, called for the government to define its position in regards to re-election (which is prohibited by the Constitution) and called out for greater investment of government moneys in favor of the poor. Commenting on the document, President Leonel Fernández highlighted that for the first time, the message of the Catholic Church did not refer to governmental corruption. Other issues mentioned by the Church were the environment, the future of agriculture, the lack of any concrete results regarding the conclusions of the National Dialogue.

United could fly to the DR this year
A report in the Listín Diario newspaper indicates that by the end of the year, United Airlines could be flying to the Dominican Republic. The announcement was made by Henry Williams Azar, whose Caribe, S.A. is the airline's representative in the Dominican Republic. From July 1997, the airline has maintained a sales office in the country through Caribe, S.A. Azar explained that United's Chicago planning department and the airline's regional office in Miami are considering initiating a United flight to Santo Domingo from San Juan, Miami and New York. The airline would use a Boeing 757, with capacity for 188, and a Boeing 767 with capacity for 206 for the flights. The flight to the DR responds to requests made by Dominican travel agencies. United has alliances with Air Canada, Thai Airlines, Varig, SAS, Lufthansa, Ansett and Air New Zealand, that would offer better connections for travel throughout the world. United would also better serve the Midwest of the United States (Illinois, Michigan). At present U.S. travel to the DR is affected by the high cost of airline service, given the reduced number of major carriers flying to this destination.

Good day for Dominican baseball players
Dominican mega baseball stars Pedro Martínez and Sammy Sosa had a good weekend. Pedro Martínez, the Cy Young-winner and best-paid Major League baseball player, defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, 6-3, in a game at the Fenway Park in Boston. Martínez increased his wins to 14 with 3 losses. Martínez is well positioned to repeat as a winner of the Cy Young for this year. He is averaging 2.59 as of 26 July.
Sammy Sosa also had a good day connecting his 38th home run and batting in two runs in the match in which the Chicago Cubs defeated the New York Mets 3-2.

DR loses in world baseball games
The Dominican Republic lost to Japan , 4-3, in the World Baseball Championships taking place in Italy. Cuba and Australia continue undefeated in these world games.

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