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Daily News - 05 October 1998

Government submits new bills to Congress
The Fernández government has sent to Congress five major bills. These are: the reform of the social security system; transparency in public finances, including the creation of a Department of Government Accounting); make transparent and accountable the public procurement of goods and services; a Market Order Code, which appears to be the DR's first stab at a competition policy (law combining antitrust, measures against restrictive business practices and unfair competition); a law to regulate the local stock market.
The Presidency's Technical Secretary, Temístocles Montás, announced the government plans to send up proposals for tariff reform; export promotion; prevention of risks at work (worker safety).

Uniting to clean up the capital
The Santo Domingo Municipality, the Ministry of Public Health and the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP) joined forces to carry out a weekend three-day effort to put out as many people and vehicles as possible in service of cleaning up the streets of Santo Domingo of all the fallen trees, debris and scattered trash. Also joining the effort were the Association of Industries, the Armed Forces (who are already engaged in such work in some parts of the DN), the Santo Domingo Firefighters Corps, Metropolitan Transport Authority, the Boy Scouts of Santo Domingo. CONEP organized a pool of 50 trucks for the effort, and hopes that along with participation from varied individual companies, to have a force of 150 trucks active in the collection effort each day.
As part of the operation, more than 1,500 persons participated in the clean up of the Mirador del Sur park alone. The park is over eight kilometers long and half a kilometer wide, and suffered from the fallen branches of its thousands of trees.
One company, Helados Bon helped finance the restoration of the trees of the Colonial City, contracting a large crane that lifted monumental trees near Mercedes and Carmen churches over several days of work.
The Mayor of Santo Domingo, Johnny Ventura expects the city to be able to put behind it the headaches left by Georges in a month and a half time. He praised the way city residents and companies have integrated in the clean up operations.
He called the attention that garbage not be burned and that residents be confident that brigades will pass to pick up the debris.

Advances made on restoring telephone service
Codetel announced that telephone service in the East and Northeast has been restored. The largest Dominican telephone company said that areas of Cambita in San Cristóbal and La Victoria, National District are again connected. Service was also restored by Saturday in all hotels along the Punta Cana-Bavaro area as well as in Higüey, Nisibón and San Rafael del Yuna. In the Northeast, Samaná, Cabrera, Nagua, El Factor, Sánchez and Las Terrenas again enjoy telephone service. The most difficult repairs are still taking place in Monte Plata, Vicente Noble, Tamayo, Galván and in the provinces of Barahona and Baoruco, that while not hard hit by the hurricane itself, suffered subsequent downing of telephone lines due to the breaking of bridges by flooding rivers.

Power turning back on in San Pedro
The CDE has begun to restore power in the southeastern city of San Pedro de Macorís, which along with La Romana suffered the most damages to property in the DR. Two of the city's main electricity circuits were connected. The CDE says that this means that service will soon be restored in La Romana, Higuey, El Seibo and Hato Mayor that also were hard hit.
Electrical service in the DR has been much restored at a faster pace than in Puerto Rico, that was also affected by the hurricane and where there are more financial resources. The CDE prepared for the disaster one week prior to the hurricane's hit, which enabled recovery plans to be placed into effect immediately.
The DR also suffered less than Puerto Rico from the power outages because a very large number of businesses and residences in this country have alternate power sources.

Repairing public schools
The Minister of Public Health said that the hurricane destroyed 217 schools, and 727 suffered damages, including 347 that lost their roofs. The Ministry is hard at work to restore these roofs by mid October. There are 6,700 public schools in the DR. Minister Ligia Amada Melo estimated the losses at RD$391 million. Most affected are located in Monte Plata, Higuey, La Romana and San Pedro de Macoris.

Irregularities affect new overpass
The Minister of Public Works says that irregularities and problems with the design and construction of the Paris Expressway in the city of Santo Domingo are delaying the completion of the expressway by that department. The overpass was designed and built by the Municipality of Santo Domingo under the government of Dr. Rafael Suberví, which ended in August 1998. The Minister said that one of the most serious problems is that the width of the overpass barely permits two lanes of traffic.

Native trees prove resistant to hurricanes
The director of Parks, Omar Ramírez said that this time around the city should be replanted with native species of trees that are more resistant to tropical storms than the imported varieties that were planted in recent years. He said that after the passing of Hurricane David in 1979 the government planted imported species because these grew faster, but these were the species that most suffered from the winds of Hurricane Georges in 1998.
He said that as part of the National Reforestation Plan, Green Quisqueya, and working with institutions such as the Department of Forestry, the National Botanical Gardens, the National Department of Parks is preparing a proposal that will be delivered to the Municipality of Santo Domingo for the planting of native and endemic trees in the city. He said that the government is also including as part of the proposal the permanent implementing of programs for branch pruning prior to the hurricane season of each year in order to avoid major damages and less debris after the passing of a tropical storm. The DR had not been affected by a major hurricane in 20 years, yet the country is in a high risk area. He said that in the Avenida Bolivar, where the branches had been pruned shortly prior to the hurricane, the state electricity utility was able to quickly restore electricity service.
He said that the most resistant trees are the mahogany and palm trees as well as trees known as corozo, guanito, mara, Juan I, gri gri, hicacos, pendas, guanitos. Laurels and locust trees (acacias) should not be replanted.

There are 8.2 people in the DR
According to a recent The World Population 1998 report prepared by the Population Fund of the United Nations, the population of the DR is 8.2 million. It is estimated, that the DR will have 11.2 million people by year 2025. The 1993 census registered a population of 7.2 million inhabitants. 65% of the Dominican population resided in urban centers in year 1995. The trend is for urban population to increase. The reproduction rate from 1995-2000 is estimated at 2.8.

New York mayor promises to help reconstruction
The Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani visited the DR over last weekend. During his stay he visited the Hospital Carl T. Georg, public hospital of San Pedro de Macoris, one of the most affected by the hurricane. The hospital suffered severe damages to its third floor where the pediatrics area is located. The City of New York has said it will help repair the hospital. The hospital serves up to 12,000 average of patients a day of which pediatrics cares for 5,000 patients. The Mayor of New York visited President Leonel Fernández on Sunday in Santo Domingo. Giuliani motivated his presence by explaining that he is the mayor of the second largest Dominican city in the world, New York City, and thus he felt obliged to help. Only Santo Domingo has more Dominicans living in it than New York City. He said that President Fernández requested the New York government assist in health matters and by sending heavy equipment to continue the clean up efforts.

President Leonel Fernández will not attend Iberoamerican Summit
President Leonel Fernández is sending Vice President Jaime David Fernández to represent him at the VIII Summit Iberoamerican that will take place in Oporto, Portugal 17-18 October. While the summits gather the presidents of Portugal, Spain and Latin American Spanish-speaking countries, President Fernández declined attending in order to continue to lead national reconstruction efforts. The President also postponed his trip to France, Italy and the Vatican to where he was to travel after his stay in Portugal.

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