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Daily News - 29 September 1998

NOTE: The DR1 daily news report will not appear tomorrow. News will be compiled and presented in the Thursday report. The editor of this section was reassigned to carry out a report of the tourism industry in Puerto Plata, as a first of a planned series on the different areas of the country and how they fared after the passing of Hurricnae Georges. Puerto Plata was not affected by the Hurricane.

Government announces RD$3,500 reconstruction fund
In a speech to the nation last night, President Leonel Fernandez announced a RD$3,500 million national reconstruction fund. The President said that the national priorities are the re-establishment of electricity and potable water services, maintaining appropriate food supply levels and solving the problems of the homeless. He announced that the government will assist 100,000 to rebuild their homes. He said the government will provide land in Santo Domingo, San Juan de la Maguana, La Romana and other affected cities for a massive plan of construction of housing for the victims of the hurricane. The Instituto Nacional de la Vivienda (INVI) is the government entity in charge of repairing and building the new dwellings. Through INESPRE, the government organization that normally distributes low cost food stuffs to impoverished Dominicans, the government is purchasing all crops from farmers for subsequent distribution. He said that at the same time the government is creating a special fund with a 12% annual interest available to farmers who want to plant emergency crops.
In monetary areas, he said that the Central Bank Governor and the Technical Secretary of the Presidency and the Minister of Finances have been authorized to lobby before the governments members of the Club of Paris and the Venezuela Investment Fund for the reprogramming of the payments of the foreign debt guaranteed by the state. He said the government seeks from international financing organizations to reprogram disbursements of loans already granted for US$100 million. And at the same time secure with the Interamerican Development Bank US$200 million and with the World Bank, emergency financing of US$50 to US$75 million. He said that if the re negotiation is obtained, the government would have savings of US$128 million or RD$1,900 that would be used in the reconstruction of the nation.
The government also announced a grace period of six months for businessmen with loans from FIDE and INFRATUR to make payments. These loans benefit the farming, agribusiness, industrial and tourism sectors, as well as small business. The companies will be able to use the approximately RD$200 million to repair or rebuild their businesses. He said that the Monetary Junta approved that the Banco de Reservas, the state commercial bank, provide RD$150 million in loans with favorable lending conditions to the farming sector.

Foreign aid
The government appointed committee in charge of receiving and distribution international aid is headed by the Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Juan Temístocles Montás. Other members of the committee are Eduardo Latorre, Minister of Foreign Relations and the Dominican coordinator of the European Union Lomé funds, Max Puig. Other members are Simón Lizardo, Administrative Secretary of the Presidency; Norge Botello, Port Authority director; Miguel Cocco, director of Customs; the inspector general of the Armed Forces, Major General Luis A. Luna, and the director of the Social Plan of the Presidency, Emigdio Sosa.
Technical Secretary of the Presidency Temístocles Montás gave details about international aid received so far.
United States: construction materials including 1,000 roles of reinforced plastic for roof covering, 80,000 lbs of food stuff and medicine, 82 expert disaster trained personnel and five trained dogs, equipment for searches and rescue, seven helicopters loaned. Eight portable water tanks with capacity for 11,000 liters each. Also 24 power saws, 20,000 lbs. of medicine, 2,000 clean up equipment, 100 bags for cadavers, 2,000 portable water bottles with capacity for five gallons each. Also some 150 volunteers from the Peace Corps have joined the rescue and reconstruction forces.
Puma helicopter, 11 tons of materials that include medicine, food, water purification equipment, sheets, trained personnel.
Medical brigade of 13 professionals, food and medicines and utensils for US$44,571.
72 tons of zinc roof covering.
DC 6 airplane with 30,000 lbs. of medicines and food for babies.
Humanitarian aid in the form of blankets, medicines and food stuffs for RD$8 million.

Privatization of electricity utility postponed
The director of the CDE announced that the privatization process of the state electricity utility will be postponed until the transmission lines and the national energy service is back at levels prior to the hurricane. Eng. Radhames Segura made the announcement. The restoration of the electricity service throughout the nation is a priority of the government at the present.

Death toll at 203
On Monday, the government toll of deaths caused the Hurricane Georges had reached 203, according to the official report of the Commision of Evaluation of Damages and Needs of the Government.

The Chicago Cubs and Sammy Sosa make it to playoffs
Dominicans throughout the nation celebrated yesterday when Sammy Sosa accomplished his goal -- to lead the Chicago Cubs to the Major League playoffs. The Cubs survived a San Francisco Giants' rally and defeated these 5-3 in their home Wrigley Field in the wild-card tiebreaker. They will face Atlanta in the series that begins Wednesday in Atlanta. This is their first playoffs since 1989 and they have a new chance at making it to the World Series for the first time since 1945. For information on yesterday's game, see http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/cubs/article/0,1051,ART-15683,00.html

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