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Daily News - 30 December 1998

National Budget passed
The National Budget bill was converted into law yesterday by the Executive Branch. The 1999 budget is for RD$44,671.7 million. Of the total, 64.4% will be used for current expenses. The government does not contemplate an increase in salaries of public employees nor the military. The 1999 budget is RDR$5,921.8 million more than the budget of 1998.

Hotel occupancy declines
The Listín Diario newspaper reports that hotel occupancy is below expected levels so far this winter season. It is said that the increase in the number of hotel rooms, up from 38,000 in 1997 to almost 42,000 at year's end of 1998 has had a negative effect on the occupancy rates all throughout the country. The Listín Diario reports that in the first three weeks of the month of December, the start of the winter season, very few hotels have been able to post an occupancy of more than 75%. The winter season occupancy level is usually at a high of 90%. Press spokesman for the Hotel & Restaurant Association, Manuel Quiterio Cedeño said that many hotels are posting occupancies of 60 and 70%. He said that the low cannot be solely attributed to the negative press Hurricane Georges generated and that there is much the DR can do to improve the tourism product.

McGwire could play in DR in March
The Listín Diario reports that Mark McGwire could play ball in the Dominican Republic in March. According to a report, he would play during an exhibition game where the New York Mets would face the St. Louis Cardinals in a two-game series at the Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo's main ball park as part of Major League spring training. Others that would travel to Santo Domingo as part of the teams are Ricky Henderson, Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, Rey Ordóñez, Bobby Bonilla, Ray Langford and Ron Gant.

Northwest flies to Puerto Plata
Sara L. Steig, coordinator-international communications for Northwest Airlines says that the airline has restarted its winter schedule last week. Northwest is now offering nonstop service each Saturday between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Puerto Plata, on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. The flight is scheduled to operate until April 3. The timing and flight numbers are as follows:
NW1889 MSP-POP 9:20 am 3:34 pm Aircraft: A320 Breakfast
NW1890 POP-MSP 4:45 pm 7:53 pm Aircraft: A320 Dinner

DR banana exports could boom
The Dominican Republic is in a position to fill the empty slots left by banana exporters in Honduras and Nicaragua where banana crops were devastated by Hurricane Mitch. While in the DR, Hurricane Georges caused much damage to crops, one of the primary areas where bananas are grown, the Northwest, was unaffected by Hurricane Georges. The president of the Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana, Fernando Cabrera said that Dominican banana exports could surpass US$15 million in 1998. He said that the European market, the leading market for Dominican bananas, purchases 55,000 metric tons a year. He forecast an increase in this level of exports for 1999. Cabrera explains that investors in the production of bananas have invested more than RD$2,500 million (more than US$160 million) in irrigation systems, equipment, machinery and packers. The production of bananas employs over 55,000 persons.

New city transport rulings
AMET announced that OMSA buses will only have exclusive right of way to the 27 de Febrero Expressway lane marked with a rhombus from the Avenida Luperón to the Calle Leopoldo Navarro. After there, all lanes are open to all kinds of traffic. This stretch is part of the 27 de Febrero Expressway route that runs from Manoguayabo to Los Tres Ojos, on the eastern part of Santo Domingo. After there, the bus lanes are open to all cars transporting five or more passengers. These vehicles need to heed to OMSA buses. Parking is prohibited all along the 27 de Febrero Expressway and the picking up or dropping off of passengers is limited to marked areas. All vehicles may use the exclusive bus lane to turn to the right at intersections.

New stars on city boulevard
US baseball National League Most Valuable Player Sammy Sosa, Dominican crooner Lope Balaguer, US baseball Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, father of the merengue Luis Alberti and legendary humorist Paco Escribano were chosen by the Fundación Bulevar de las Estrellas to receive stars with their names along the Winston Churchill boulevard. This is the second year in which stars are honored. In the first years, stars were embedded to honor merengue music composer Juan Luis Guerra, all time merengue band director Johnny Ventura, actress Monina Solá, musician Eduardo Brito, actress María Montéz, folklorist Casandra Damirón, composer Julio Alberto Hernández, designer Oscar de la Renta, TV producer Freddy Beras Goico and Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.

Killing suspect says he's innocent
Ramón de Jesús Victoria Molina, accused by the Police of the death of 28 year old Lourdes Mayerling Crispín Rosario by a stray bullet while at TGI American Bar in Naco early morning of 12 December, says he is innocent and is coordinating with his lawyer to turn himself in to the District Attorney. He said that the Police needs to carry out an in-depth investigation to come up with the true responsible for the killing. He said that the Police had falsely misjudged him prior to a trial because of his background as a revolutionary during his student days. He said today he is dedicated to farming activities and can prove this.
He called El Siglo and Hoy newspapers to give his version of what had happened. He explained that he was unarmed, and that persons within the night spot fired the shots causing holes in the glass windows of the establishment. He said the antagonism occurred because of the selective admission policy of the establishment that caused the ill feelings. He said he was signaled out because he was the most vocal about the discrimination at the door and thus was remembered by the security person.
He said his own vehicle, the black Lexus, received a bullet hole in the glass where the driver sits, which could have killed him if he had been in the vehicle. He said he was unarmed and does not use arms. He demanded that the four or five persons that fired from within be investigated. He said that unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Moliné and Redondo sent back to Najayo
Juan Manuel Moliné Rodríguez and Mario José Redondo Llenas, the two upper middle class university students sentenced to 30 years for the assassination of 12 year old José Rafael Llenas were transferred back to the Najayo jail from the La Victoria penitentiary. The inmates had been sent to La Victoria after negative public opinion reaction to photos that showed Moliné attending a beauty contest held at the Najayo jail. La Victoria is known as hell on earth, while conditions are better at Najayo.

University of Cornell helps improve Dominican forests
The today director of the Department of Forests, Radhamés Lora Salcedo realized a lifetime dream, and this week received the visit of his alma mater University of Cornell forestry experts that visited on occasion of the formal start of operation of the Center for Bioclimatic and Genetic Studies of the Pinus Occidentalis. The Pinus Occidentalis is the pine tree that best has adapted to tropical forest conditions in the DR. The new center seeks to improve the species in order to continue planting these in Dominican forests. The project has the assistance of University of Cornell natural resources experts Timothy Fahey, James P. Lassoie, Ruth Sherman and Steve Keem, who came for the occasion and will assist in local efforts. The new installations are located 180 kilometers from Santo Domingo in the high up mountain river basin of Yaque del Norte river, where the Arraijan, Los Tablones, Los Guanos and Manuel Estrella rivers meet. Pinus Occidentalist wood has proven highly resistant to plagues. Professor Fahey says that the forests of the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic, where the center is located, are a treasure that has no comparison in the world.

Politicians favor teaching more to read and write
The heads of the three leading political parties, Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero and Milagros Ortiz Bosch for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, Alejandrina Germán for the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana and Mario Read Vittini of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano said they support the proposal made by three Catholic Church priests that the political parties participate in a massive learn to read and write campaign. Studies have shown that 21% of the Dominican population is illiterate. The priests proposed that the political parties dedicate a major part of their efforts all throughout the presidential elections campaign of year 2000 to teaching illiterate Dominicans to read and write.

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