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Daily News - 21 May 1999

Monetary Junta recommends closing Rosario Mine
The Monetary Junta recommended the partial closing of the production operations of the Rosario Mine in northeastern Cotuí, citing serious financial and technical reasons. The Monetary Junta ordered the implementation of an environmental rescue plan. Rosario Mine, one of the largest gold reserves in the world, is under the administration/ownership of the Central Bank, which in turn is overseen by the Monetary Junta. The Monetary Junta feels that Rosario should find an operational partner through a tender. At the start of his government, President Leonel Fernández called in Salomon to help organize the tender. Several world renowned mining companies spent millions to gather information to prepare their bid. While it started well, midway the process was interrupted, for reasons yet undisclosed, causing potential bidders to eventually abandon the DR despite having invested millions. It costs the government more to keep Rosario closed or operating than it would have to go through with the tender and chose a company that could make the approximately US$800 million in investments to develop the project to extract gold and silver from sulfide ore. Proven sulfide ore reserves are estimated at more than 1,000 million tons. Three years ago, gold prices were very attractive, very different from the situation today, when prices have hit a 20 year low.
Given the lack of environmental controls, the mining operation today produces millionaire contamination to the mountain region where it is located.
The Monetary Junta responded to pressure in the El Siglo newspaper that featured several reports on the contamination of the mine operation.

More hotel rooms built in DR than anywhere else in region
National Hotel & Restaurant statistics show that there are 6,326 hotel rooms under construction in the Dominican Republic, of which about 4,000 will be in operation by year's end. This would bring the total hotel inventory of the DR, the largest in the Caribbean, to over 46,000. The fast-paced growth of the Dominican tourism industry has been pinpointed as one of the reasons behind the reduced profitability of the industry, and the low room rates that are being negotiated by international tour operators, that benefit from this being a buyer's market. The increase in hotel rooms responds to government policies of encouraging these, as a way to generate more employment.
71.2% of the new rooms (4,504 rooms) are located in the Altagracia province, in the Macao-Bavaro-Punta Cana beach strip. In Puerto Plata, along the North Coast, 834 rooms are under construction, or 13% of the total.
By year's end, the East Coast's Macao-Bavaro-Punta Cana beach area will have displaced Puerto Plata for the destination with most hotel rooms.
European investors are behind most of the construction of the hotel rooms. Several hotel chains that operated in Puerto Plata have moved to the East Coast, and others that began operating in the East, are building in the North Coast. For example, LTI (Germany) that started with an operation with Dominican partners in Sol de Plata, Sosua, is building LTI Punta Cana with 447 rooms and LTI Bavaro with 780 rooms.
Iberostar, a Spanish hotel chain, that operates two hotels in the East Coast, is building a 526-room Iberostar property in Costa Dorada, next door to Playa Dorada.
Riu, a Spanish hotel chain that began with operations in the East Coast, has also expanded to Puerto Plata, with two hotels in the Playa Maimón area, west of Puerto Plata. Occidental Hotels, which initiated in Santo Domingo, then moved to Puerto Plata, will also open a large hotel in Bavaro.

Construction boom going on
The Listín Dario newspaper reports that the construction sector grew 27.6% in the first quarter of the year. It is estimated there is a deficit of 500,000 housing units. The newspaper cites a Central Bank report that indicates that credit for housing starts from loans and savings associations was up 25% last year.

Site of 2003 Pan Am villa to be announced soon
Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said that President Leonel Fernández will soon announce where the government will build the village to lodge delegations coming for the Pan American Sports Games to be held in Santo Domingo in 2003. The government has the commitment to purchase the grounds, while the next government will be responsible for the construction of the villa. It is expected these will be located on the Industrias Lavador installations that are diagonally across the street from the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center.
Minister Diandino Peña said that the government would be investing RD$300 million to repair sports facilities and organize the next National Games in La Romana province. The baseball stadium, nonetheless, will not be ready in time for the October baseball season start. Its repair has been announced for February 2000.
Minister Peña did say that the San Pedro de Macorís baseball stadium would be ready in time for the October Winter Baseball Season.

President says unemployment drops 2%
President Leonel Fernández says that unemployment has dropped from 15 to 13% as a result of 400,000 new jobs that have been created since 1996. He says the jobs are a result of the economic stability and the high growth rate the country has maintained for the past three years. A 7.5%-8% growth of GDP is forecast for this year, the highest in Latin America.

US$250,000 needed to accept incinerator donation
An association of Dominican professionals have secured the donation of the 1,000 bed Washington Hospital Center incinerator, but US$250,000 must be found to bring, install and train the personnel to operate the incinerator. News reports say that the hospital has given the group eight weeks to find the money. A new incinerator would cost US$1.5 million dollars. The incinerator can manage radioactive and contaminated wastes, burning up to 18 tons of garbage a day.

Certificate of good conduct to be issued by judicial offices
The National Police will no longer issue the "papel de buena conducta" or certificate of good conduct. Mariano German Mejia, attorney general, said that personnel of the judicial districts (fiscales) would be responsible for issuing the document as soon as logistics are worked out.

PRD national convention date confirmed
The Executive Committee of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano said that its XVIII National Convention to choose the presidential candidate of that organization for the 2000 presidential elections will be held as scheduled on 20 June. Enmanuel Esquea, president of the party, made the announcement, following denouncements made by presidential candidate hopefuls Hatuey Decamps and Rafael Suberví.

What's new? Balaguer will run if the party so decides
Former President Joaquín Balaguer, the nonagenarian who is expected to decide the 2000 elections, said he would run for President on the party's ticket, if the party so decides. He said that a national assembly has yet to be called to decide the issue. Polls indicate that Balaguer is the party's strongest candidate. "The Party is whom knows what it is going to do. May I say that I am not in that disposition; that I am lending all my cooperation to the party now that I am in the last days of my life, cooperating with all the efforts to restructure and rescue the ranks of our party, especially to incorporate the young people," he said, responding to press inquiries as to whether he would be the PRSC presidential candidate. Since the party was founded in 1964, Balaguer has been its candidate on eight occasions. The only time he didn't run for the party was in 1996, because he was Constitutionally impeded to do so. During those elections he did not give his support to the party's candidate, former Vice President Jacinto Peynado, and in turn told his followers to vote for President Leonel Fernández. His support gave today President Leonel Fernández of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana the victory
Regarding whom he would support in the 2000 elections if his party does not win in the first round, he said: "One has to wait to listen to the circumstances and when these speak, these will be the deciding factors."
Balaguer, the man who's identification card under profession could well read "President of the Dominican Republic," has announced he will begin a series of cycle of televised talks on politics, economy and other national interests next week on Channel 5. President Balaguer was President under the Dictator Trujillo regime, and then was elected in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990 and 1994.
Balaguer was interviewed during an act when he swore in Vitelio Mejía Ortiz as president of the Directorio Provincial del PRSC in the Peravia province.

Controversial plastic surgeon released on bail
Plastic surgeon Edgar Contreras and cardiologist Chanoc Mieses were released on bail. Judge Ramón Horacio González established a six million bail for the plastic surgeon that is accused of involuntary homicide by relatives of deceased Isabel Vargas and Puerto Rican Delmalyz Rios Rivera. Dominican legislation is not up to date on medical malpractice. If convicted, he faces a sentence of six days to two months in prison and a fine of up to RD$50 pesos. The worse that could happen to him is that the judge decides to ban the physician from practicing medicine.

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