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Daily News - 22 July 1999

Explaining CDE billing
Radhames Segura, administrator of the state electricity corporation, explained the increase in electricity bills that has consumers bitterly complaining. The CDE had promised that privatization would not mean higher electricity bills. Segura explained that the actual rate has not gone up. He said that the monthly billings have increased because the CDE tariff is indexed in such a way that a higher rate is charged per kilowatt as consumption increases. This rate system was implemented in 1989 with social equity in mind. Higher income residents would pay more and thus subsidize lower income residents.
Segura explained that the present system will be maintained during the first years of the privatization of power in the DR which starts this month. This was agreed upon with the companies participating in the tender in order to guarantee the fast recovery of the investment the companies will be making.
He agreed that Dominicans pay a high price for electricity, but said that this will continue to be so because of the high important component of the production and distribution of power in the DR.
The rate structure index is as follows:
  • 0 to 50 kilowatts — RD$0.96/kilowatt
  • 51 kilowatts to 235 kilowatts — RD$1.31/kilowatt
  • 300+ kilowatts — RD$2.34/kilowatt
Segura says that most Dominican families consume less than 300 kilowatts per month.
But he said as families’ purchasing power increases they add more electrical appliances to the household and thus consumption increases. He also explained that Dominicans are enjoying more hours of electricity, as the supply has stabilized. This also results in greater electricity bills.
Segura said that the recent blackouts are due to technical difficulties at the Dominican Power plant in Los Minas and at the Smith Enron power plant in Puerto Plata. He forecast by next week the service will considerably improve as repairs are completed at the Los Minas plant.
He also said that several plants will go online this summer, mentioning Puerto Plata II ( 35 megawatts), Haina II (30 megawatts), San Pedro (25 megawatts), Meison (30 megawatts) and Pimentel (30 watts). An electricity barge (48 megawatts) is also expected.

PRD flirts with the PRSC
The Listín Diario reports the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano could sign alliances or agreements prior to the 2000 presidential election. The PRSC allied with the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) during the presidential election of 1996. In the 1998 congressional and municipal election, the PRSC allied with the PRD resulting in that party’s obtaining more congressmen and city mayors at the expense of the PLD.
Political analysts say that former President Balaguer’s support is crucial to the aspirations of the two leading presidential contenders — Hipólito Mejía (PRD) and Danilo Medina (PLD).

PRD wants PRSC man to head Chamber of Deputies
The PRD has announced it will support the election of a PRSC-chosen candidate to preside the Chamber of Deputies. The late PRD party leader, José Francisco Peña Gómez had favored electing a PRSC man, but the PRD eventually chose another candidate. As things turned out, the PLD and the PRSC voted for a PRD-dissident candidate, Hector Peguero Mendez. Peguero Mendez would like to be re-elected, but it appears he will not have the support of the PRSC nor of the PRD congressmen.
Tony Raful, president of the PRD, said that Hector Peguero Mendez represents the interests of the PLD government, and favored the election of a PRSC candidate.
Reportedly, when PRD presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía met with PRSC leader Joaquín Balaguer last month, he told the later that the PRD would vote for whomever Balaguer chose for president of the Chamber of Deputies. The PRD does not want Peguero Mendez to be re-elected.
A PRSC deputy has not presided over the Chamber of Deputies for the past nine years.

Senate to study airport privatization contract
The Senate announced that a special commission will study the Aerodom concession contract for the administration of two of the nation’s leading international airports. Jesus Vasquez Martínez, vice president of the Senate, said that public hearings will be held so that all interested parties can voice their opinion on the privatization contract. He stated that he favors the privatization of the airports.
The contract establishes that Aerodom will be responsible for the administration, operation, maintenance, modernization, commercial exploitation, renewal and expansion of Las Americas (Santo Domingo), Gregorio Luperón (Puerto Plata), Arroyo Barril (Samaná) and Maria Montez (Barahona). Aerodom is a consortium of Vancouver Airport Services, Impreglio, Ogden Corporation and Operadora de Aeropuertos del Caribe.
El Caribe newspaper has criticized that the contract establishes that the foreign partners of the company can be replaced at any moment by Aerodom, majority shareholder. The company has a capital of RD$100 million. Operadora de Aeropuertos del Caribe has 55% of the shares, followed by Ogden Central with 35%, Impreglio and Vancouver Airport Services have 5%.
The Caribe also criticizes that Aerodom did not legally exist until after it won the bid.

Ministry of Women created
The Senate passed the bill that creates the Ministry for Women. The organization will be responsible for establishing norms, and coordinating policies, plans and programs to benefit women in the DR. President Leonel Fernandez has yet to sign the bill into law.

RD$70 million remodeling for Las Americas Airport
The government will invest RD$70 million to improve the Las Americas International Airport. The remodeling will be in time for the November summit of heads of state and government from 72 African, Caribbean and Pacific member nations of the Lomé Agreement.
This is aside from the moneys that are expected to be invested once the privatization project begins.
The Governor of the Airport, Aristides Fernández Zucco said improvements are being made in the green areas, public areas, runway and ramps. New air-conditioning units are being installed.
Fernández Zucco said that travelers should pay baggage handlers no more than US$1 per suitcase.

Catholic candidate vs. "communist", all is fair in politics
A short on page 2 of Hoy newspaper comments that the PRD may seek to capitalize on the excellent relations of their presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía with the Roman Catholic establishment. Mejía himself recently commented on his contender, Danilo Medina of the PLD, having been a "Communist" in his youth. Notwithstanding, the PLD seems to also have close relations with the influential Catholic Church. President Leonel Fernández just yesterday inaugurated a modern air-conditioned church, the Inmaculada Concepción, complete with medical dispensary, library, and mahogany woodwork and stained glass windows.

More than 7,000 sentenced Dominicans returned to DR
US authorities have sent home more than 7,000 Dominicans who had received jail sentences for drug-related charges in the past 10 years. According to a report in El Siglo newspaper, the Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas, the local drug authority, has registries for 6,419 Dominicans that have been deported for drug charges to the DR. An estimated 8,000 more Dominicans have been deported by the US for other charges, such as robbery, assault, violations, illegal possession of weapons. In 1997 and 1998 alone, 3,000 Dominicans were sent back to the DR. One of the problems confronting Dominican authorities is that these persons are set free in the DR, despite not completing their sentences in the US, since they have no case against them here. In the first half of this year, some 1,089 Dominicans have been deported to the DR.
President Leonel Fernández recently linked the new crime wage to drug-related activities.

Pensions for outstanding sports people
Dominican sports immortals and winners of medals in major international competitions will be eligible to lifelong pensions. Their widows and minor children will inherit the pensions. Congress passed the bill providing for the pensions, and President Fernández is expected to convert it into law any day now. The bill was voted to alleviate the plight of many that despite bringing glory to the country in sports today languish in poverty.

Mexican and DR leading rock stars in concert
The best of Mexican and Dominican rock will be on stage in Santo Domingo and Santiago concerts this summer. Mexico’s Hector Quijada and Rosa Amade (La Lupita) are scheduled to perform Friday, 23 July at Palacio de los Deportes of Santiago at 8 pm. Aljadaqui and Tribu del Sol, two of the leading Dominican rock groups will also be performing. "Concert Rock Rock, Rock 99" is being promoted as the most electrifying rock concert on rocks ever presented in the country.
The same performers will go on stage in Santo Domingo the next day, with the same concert scheduled for Saturday, 24 July at the Palacio de los Deportes of Santo Domingo.
On Friday, 30 July at the Teatro Agua y Luz of the Centro de los Heroes in Santo Domingo, the leading Mexican rock group Victimas del Dr. Cerebro is scheduled to perform. Toque Profundo and JLS will be their Dominican counterpart.
On Saturday, 31 July, Leo Susana’s JLS heavy rock grop will entertain all at the amphitheater of the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago. Vampiros, a Moca rock group, and La Ruta, from New York City, will also participate.

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