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Daily News - 18 November 1998

US First Lady Hillary Clinton's schedule
U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will arrive around 11 pm tomorrow night for a 36-hour visit to the Dominican Republic. She will spend the night in Santo Domingo at the residence of the United States Embassy. The following morning she will visit the Center for Family Integration (CIF) and then meet at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra with non governmental organizations (NGOs) and civic groups, with an emphasis on those concerned with women's issues, such as the UN-affiliated International Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), which is based in Santo Domingo. She will then go to the National Palace to meet with President Fernández, after which she will deliver President Clinton's message to the Dominican people from the Ambassador's Room at the government house and then meet with local and international press. Subsequently she will travel to San Pedro de Macorís to visit the Dr. Carl T. George Hospital, and then on to La Romana to visit the Hogar Casa del Niño, to which she has contributed.
From La Romana she will go to Punta Cana for a private visit, leaving Saturday from the airport there.
Accompanying the First Lady on this trip are Deputy Secretary State for Latin American Affairs John Hamilton, Agency for International Development (AID) Administrator Mark Schneider, and Representative Charles Rangel (Democrat-New York).
The last visit of a First Lady of the US to the DR occurred in 1934 when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited.
The Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution declaring Mrs. Clinton "a distinguished guest." She will be received at the Las Americas International Airport by Mrs. Lissy Campos de Fernández, wife of the Vice President of the Republic, and by Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Latorre.

No electric rate rise because of privatization, says CREP President
The president of the Commission for Reform of Public Enterprise (CREP), Antonio Isa Conde, told the 1998 Energy Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (Enerlac '98) that CREP will work to ensure that the upcoming privatization of the state-owned Dominican Electric Corporation (CDE) will not change tariffs for final consumers over the next four years.
Enerlac '98 is co-sponsored by the 26-nation Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) and the Technical Secretariat of the Dominican Presidency, and is being held this week at the auditorium of the Central Bank. Isa Conde, whose CREP is overseeing the privatization of CDE and other state firms, told an Enerlac seminar yesterday that in the Dominican Republic the privatization of CDE will not raise rates for final consumers; he opined that it is more likely to stabilize prices while significantly improving service quality and reliability.

Government cannot rescind contracts with electricity generators
The Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Temístocles Montás told reporters at Enerlac '98 that the government cannot rescind the "onerous" contracts signed by the previous government with foreign generators Smith-Enron and Dominican Power. The Fernández government has complained that the contracts, signed during the administration of President Joaquín Balaguer, are unbalanced and oblige the government to pay unrealistic tariffs to the two companies no matter what actual generation costs may be. Both contracts do not expire until the year 2011. The government has tried to win a major renegotiation of the terms of the Smith-Enron case through international arbitration, but Montás says all indications are that Smith-Enron will be favored by the judgment, forcing the DR to honor the contract until its expiry. Nonetheless, the government still hopes to negotiate with both firms a contract "update" to "reflect current realities."

Senate moves forward on Energy Bill
The Senate Energy Matters Committee yesterday put the finishing touches on its report and recommendations to the plenary on the draft General Electricity Law. The Committee's report will be sent to plenary today. The current draft law was sent to Congress after President Leonel Fernández rejected an earlier version passed by Congress. The bill would ease the privatization of CDE and create an Electricity Superintendency to regulate the production, transmission, distribution and commercialization of electric power in the Dominican Republic. It will be the responsibility of the Superintendency to set rates. Also created by the bill would be a National Energy Commission, chaired by the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency. The NEC would not only generally oversee the functioning of the Electricity Superintendency, but also (1) propose, adopt and oversee enforcement of regulations and norms on all energy matters; (2) handle all studies and policy development involving electricity, coal, gas, petroleum and its derivatives, and hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, solar and nonconventional power sources. The Senate Committee is expected to report favorably on the bill, while suggesting some modifications.

Peña would not have accepted the honor if it meant conflict
The widow of Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, Peggy Cabral, said yesterday that the former leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), an ex-Santo Domingo mayor and presidential candidate, would never have accepted the honor of putting his name to the national airport if it meant causing national discord. "The greatness of Dr. Peña Gómez was based in his spirit of acting in concert, which placed national interests above those of personal interests," she declared to a press conference called to announce the support of the organization she heads, The Dominican Federation of Social Democratic Women (Fedomusde), for PRD's decision on Monday to withdraw from political dialogue with the government. The PRD withdrew from political dialogues sponsored by the Catholic Church to protest President Leonel Fernández's Friday decision to veto a bill to rename the Las Americas International Airport.
Cabral insisted that Peña deserved such an honor, and noted that his name is well known internationally, particularly his work in defense of democracy. But he never would have accepted the honor if it meant dividing the country.

Budget to be studied by bicameral commission
The president of the Chamber of Deputies Hector Rafael Peguero Méndez send the National Budget yesterday for study by senators and deputies. At the time he did so he expressed his disappointment with the reduction in the Chamber of Deputies budget that was allotted by the Presidency. The Chamber of Deputies budget was reduced from a requested RD$430 to RD$370.8 million. The Chamber of Deputies is notorious for defending their own personal interests, and for their low work productivity.
The members of the Commission for the Chamber of Deputies are: Ramón Bolívar Melo, Reynaldo Pared Pérez, Emilio Mercedes, Tomás Castro Silverio, José Joaquín Bidó Medina, Rafael Taveras, Tirso Mejía Ricart, Alfredo Pacheco, José Francisco Peña Guaba, Pelegrín Castillo and Rafael Vásquez, Cristina Lizardo, Betsayda Santana de Báez.
The Senate representatives are: Ramón Alburquerque, Fernando Alvarez Bogaert, Milagros Ortiz Bosch, Darío Gómez Martínez, José Rafael Abinader, Enrique López, José González Espinosa, José Hazim Frappier and Gerardo Apolinar Aquino.
Work sessions of the Chamber of Deputies have been suspended, nevertheless, because of differences among the deputies regarding the passing of the new ruling of that organization.

World Bank will finance health reform
A representative of the World Bank's division for Latin America and the Caribbean, Patricio Márquez said yesterday that the Bank will underwrite health sector reform in the Dominican Republic and help improve the effectiveness, efficiency, equity and quality of hospital services in the provinces. US$42 million will be invested in improving the physical plant, updating equipment, computerizing information management, training personnel and otherwise improving health provisions in provincial hospitals.
The provinces of Pedernales and Salcedo are already receiving help, and by January most other provinces should also benefit.

Customs announces holiday special treatment
Dominicans living abroad returning to the DR during these holidays will be treated even more generously than in years past, says the Aduanas.
Beginning on Dec. 1st and lasting until January 7th, Dominicans will be able to bring tax-free gifts worth up to US$1,000 in value. These can include up to three appliances, one of each type. Visiting Dominicans can also bring tax-free up to 50 kilos of foodstuffs as gifts, as long as these comply with sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, which primary affect fresh fruit and meat products. To qualify for the tax-free treatment, the person in question must not have come into the DR within six months of their entry during the holidays.

CREP pre qualifies six firms to bid for flour mill
The Commission for Public Enterprise Reform (CREP) announced yesterday the names of six firms who will be allowed to participate in the privatization process for Molinos Dominicanos and Molinos del Norte. These are Seaboard, Malla y Cia.; Conagra, Pan American Grain, Continental Grain and ADM Milling (part of Archer Daniels Midland).

Sniping between two public transport entities
The Director of the Metropolitan Bus Office (OMSA), Ignacio Ditrén,
yesterday called on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (AMET) to accelerate its work setting up new bus routes so that OMSA can stop losing money. Ditrén noted that OMSA financed the importation of 319 new buses from Brazil, but only 243 are currently in service. The 76 idle units are costing OMSA significant revenue losses, which he estimates at RD$54.5 million. Current routes are already "saturated," he claimed, so the only way to get the buses working is for AMET to hurry up and open six new planned routes.

Aristy Castro insists that he has top Dominican Municipal League sown-up
The ex-president of the National Senate and executive of the Social Christian Reformista Party (PRSC), Senator Amable Aristy Castro, insisted yesterday that he already has all the votes he needs to gain the secretary-general's seat of the Dominican Municipal League (LMD) when elections are held for the spot on January 26. The post is a touchy one in the political clash, as the PRD, which won most of the municipalities, wants a PRD man to be chosen secretary general. The PRSC is counting on the votes of the PLD delegates and those of dissident PRD delegates. The PRSC needs the municipal position to maintain its political influence in government, as the Legislative Branch is in the hands of the PRD and the Executive Branch in those of the PLD.

The Inter-American Network of Legislative Leaders
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Washington-based group Inter-American Dialogue will launch their joint project, the Inter-American Network of Legislative Leaders this Saturday in Boca Chica. The OAS-IAD project is designed to promote dialogue, exchange of ideas and experience, and cooperation among key legislators in the Western Hemisphere. The two-day event will be held at the Hotel Coral Hamaca Beach. It starts with an official welcome from President Leonel Fernández at 9:00 AM.
Participants from the Dominican Republic will include Senator (and presidential PRD pre-candidate) Milagros Ortiz Bosch and Deputy Reynaldo Pared Pérez (PLD). Ortiz Bosch was part of the organizing committee for the Network and will be one of the opening speakers on Saturday. The event will discuss, among other things, the legislative role in setting foreign policy, legislative initiatives to combat drug trafficking and money laundering, and the negotiations for a hemisphere-wide Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

An exceptional public servant, Julio Sauri passes away
Julio Sauri, who was administrator of state electricity utility for 11 years, passed away yesterday. He dedicated his life to the CDE, and is renown as one of the builders of the utility's vast distribution network. Sauri's life was also notable because he was the anti-thesis of a public servant. The present administrator of the CDE, Eng. Radhamés Segura, speaking at his burial, pointed out that despite the long time the deceased engineer was in a position where he made decisions for millions of dollars, he died in poverty. Fellow workers at the CDE, helped with his funeral costs. The CDE board granted him the honor of "trabajador meritísimo," the highest recognition.

Federico Astwood, Mr. Jazz in the DR, passes away
TV anchorman Federico Astwood, also renown for his organization of jazz festivals and promotion of the jazz music movement in the DR, died yesterday at 53 of an unexpected heart attack. He was found dead in his Gazcue home late in the afternoon by his brother, José Astwood. He suffered from no known disease. He worked as broadcaster on Radio Mil, and was part of the staff of the Matutino 103 morning news program. He also had a program on jazz on the state television station. Previously, he was a TV news anchor.

Dominican documentary "La Herencia del Tirano" opens December in New York
René Fortunato's acclaimed documentary about the aftermath of the Trujillo assassination, "La Herencia del Tirano," will begin showing in New York City Friday, December 4th. The film follows Dominican events from June 2, 1961, the day of Trujillo's funeral, until February 27. 1963, when Juan Bosch was sworn in as President. Much of the film is composed of primary materials - original pictures, films, newsreels, and quotes from official documents. The documentary will open at the United Place Theater on Broadway. The premier will feature an opening performance by singer Luis Díaz, and its proceeds will be given to the Dominican Association of Education Professionals with a view to helping them procure a headquarters.

Aguilas secure first place with win over Licey
The Cibao Eagles (Aguilas) beat the Licey Tigers last night 4-3 in Cibao Stadium, securing first place for the Aguilas in the Winter Baseball Tournament. Licey is currently in second place. Meanwhile the Escogido Lions shut out the Northeast Giants 6-0 at Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo.

Speed boat competitions in Boca Chica
Do not miss the speed boat competitions that will take place this Sunday, 22 November at the Andrés, Boca Chica beach. Seventeen boats will compete in three categories - Pro-50 Tuner, 1,750 cc Mod vp and 3,050 cc mod vp. Competitions will be from 12 noon to 4:30 pm. Awards will be given at the Santo Domingo Yacht Clubs. The competition can be viewed from most points of Boca Chica beach.

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