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Daily News - 12 November 1998

PRD rejects PLD solution to JCE crisis
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano rejected the solution to the Junta Central Electoral crisis proposed by the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana. The PLD proposed that the number of judges of the body in charge of organizing the presidential, municipal and congressional elections be increased to nine, up from five. Last August, the PRD-majority Senate elected new judges of the JCE. The other two major political parties, the PLD and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) have opposed the composition of the new board, alleging that it includes several militant PRD persons. President Leonel Fernández proposed yesterday that solutions to the JCE problem need to be found in either the board being made up of totally impartial people (which would mean the resignation of the present JCE judges), or in increasing the number of judges so that there is adequate representation by the leading political parties.

Deborah Gregory gets new spinal cord bone marrow
Deborah Gregory, the lovely Dominican junior high school student, who suffered from leukemia and garnered the attention and hearts of Dominicans that donated the near million she needed for the transplant in Cleveland, Ohio, was operated yesterday. Her father, Francisco Gregory says that her condition is stable. She was operated at Cleveland Clinic. Her father says it will yet take three weeks to see how her body accepts the transplant. Gregory has yet to remain another six weeks in the United States for treatment.
Three years ago, Dr. Norman de Castro diagnosed her illness, which was later confirmed in the Hospital Hermanos Ameijeiras of Cuba. She has been two years abroad, undergoing medical treatment.

Travel up in first half
Travel to the DR was up 14.56% during the first eight months of the year, according to stats reported by the Hotel & Restaurant Association (Asonahores). Asonahores reports that the fastest growing markets are those of South America (+25%), France (+77%), US (+17%), Canada (+18%), Germany (+15%), Spain (11%) and Italy (+6%). Travel from Britain is down (-0.24%).
Asonahores reports that Japanese tourists are gradually discovering the DR. Travel from Japan was up 18% in 1998, going from 1,731 in 1997 to 2,043 in the first eight months of 1998.
This year's statistics, though will reflect the sharp decline during the last two weeks of September, October and November, due to cancellations following Hurricane Georges.

Ministry of Tourism update on tourism in the DR
(Press release from the Ministry of Tourism -- November 10, 1998)
The Dominican Republic tourism industry reported Tuesday that 75,000 visitors to the island were recorded during the first 15 days of October, the first two weeks following Hurricane Georges.
"This is a welcome sign that our number-one industry is fast returning to normal,'' said Felix Jimenez, Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism.
The influx of visitors increased the country's overall hotel room occupancy rate to 59 percent during the first eight days of October. Hotels in Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete, areas in the country's North Coast unaffected by Hurricane Georges, reported occupancy rates of 75 percent during the final days of September and the first two weeks of October.
"Thousands of tourists from Europe, North America and Latin America have come to our country since the hurricane to share the treasures the Dominican Republic has to offer,'' said Rafael Blanco, president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (ASONAHORES).
"Tourism activity is back to normal in most areas of the country, and all affected hotels are on schedule to reopen their rooms by December, the start of our high season for tourism."
In Punta Cana, Bayahibe, La Romana, Juan Dolio, Boca Chica and Bavaro, the tourist zones most affected by Hurricane Georges, 13 hotels -- approximately 5,800 rooms -- sustained damage that interrupted normal operations.
Hotels that reopened on schedule include Hotel Don Juan in Boca Chica (Oct. 15),
Club Dominicus in Bayahibe (Oct. 31) and Natura Park in Punta Cana (Nov. 1).
All hotels in the following areas plan to reopen in or before
December, the start of the country's high tourist season:
Punta Cana
-- Allegro Resort Bavaro, Nov. 15
-- Punta Cana Beach Resort, Nov. 15
-- Club Mediterranee, Nov. 20
-- Casa del Mar, Dec. 1
La Romana
-- Casa de Campo, Dec. 20
Juan Dolio
-- Coral Costa Caribe, Dec. 1
-- Marena, Dec. 1
-- Talanquera, Dec. 1
-- Occidental Playa Real, Dec. 1
-- Melia Juan Dolio, Dec. 1
-- Caribbean Village Decameron, Dec. 20

Heavy rains cause increased damages
A four year old boy died from flooding waters in central Santiago, after a tropical wave passed over the country. Mayoli Rodríguez Ceballos . Damages were a sequel to the Hurricane Georges rains and reflect the fact that hundreds of indigent Dominicans have built their homes in high risk areas which are flooded when heavy rains fall. The rains affected crops, destroyed some bridges already weakened by Hurricane Georges, and left some small towns incommunicado in Santiago, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao), Monte Cristi, El Seibo and San Juan de la Maguana provinces.

Private power supplier disconnects from CDE
Radhamés Segura confirmed newspaper reports that Dominican Power Partners has disconnected their Los Minas V and Los Minas power plants, which has resulted in an increase in power outages in the city of Santo Domingo. He confirmed the company disconnected because the state electricity utility, CDE, owes RD$200 million. CDE purchases power for US$8 to US$9 million a month from the company.

Moody's rates Government of the Dominican Republic
(Press release provided by Moody's Investors Service)
NEW YORK, Nov 9 - Moody's Investors Service has assigned a B1 issuer rating to the government of the Dominican Republic for domestic currency debt issues.
The rating reflects limited flexibility in the fiscal area, in spite of conservative policies which has preserved moderate central government deficits in the order 1% to 2% of GDP.
Sizable transfers to financially-troubled state-owned enterprises, and the presence of persistent domestic arrears to public works contractors and suppliers represent two elements that restrict budget maneuverability.
Efforts to improve tax administration and to enforce tax collection have resulted in an increase of 2% of GDP in the tax burden during 1997-1998.
Limited improvement in the budget position has resulted from higher tax revenues, given increased current expenditures derived from higher public sector wages, and continued transfers that account for a significant share of total government spending.
The fiscal outlook is likely to be influenced by political factors. The opposition holds a majority of the seats in congress, a condition that could delay tax reforms and an ongoing process to restructure government-owned companies.
Moody's issuer ratings are opinions of the ability of entities to honor senior unsecured obligations. Specific debt issues of the issuer may be rated differently, and are considered unrated unless individually rated by Moody's.

Government sides with private taxi company in Puerto Plata conflict
Taxi driver unions blocked the entrance to the Playa Dorada hotels complex for an hour in protest to measures adopted by the Ministry of Tourism. The unions were directed by Ramón Pérez Figueroa.
The Ministry of Tourism favors that Tecni-Taxi, a taxi service guests can summon by telephone, be allowed to offer their services to guests from any of Playa Dorada's 14 resorts. The taxi unions charge more for similar services than Tecni-Taxi cars, but say they have exclusivity in the area. The government is supporting the taxi company. Playa Dorada hoteliers also favor being able to offer an additional transportation option to their guests.

Licey Tigers lead Dominican Baseball League
Ron Belliard of the Licey Tigers hit a home run with full bases to lead his team to the first place of the Dominican professional winter baseball season. The series continues tonight at 8 pm in the Cibao stadium of Santiago, when the Escogido Lions face the home team, Aguilas Cibaeñas. The standing of the league is as follows: Licey (10-5)
Aguilas (9-5)
Escogido (7-7)
Gigantes (3-12).

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