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Daily News - 12 August 1999

White House special envoy visits Santiago
Kenneth H. MacKay, special envoy of the White House, arrived yesterday for an official visit. He was received at the Santiago airport by Linda Watt, charge d'affairs of the US Embassy in the DR. During his stay he visited several apparel manufacturing plants in Santiago. He discussed textile parity bill, at present under study in the US Congress, and progresses made in the DR to curtail software piracy. The Dominican judiciary has aggressively pursued software piracy and raids on local companies have resulted in mass purchases of original software by Dominican and foreign companies operating in the DR
During the visit to Santiago free zones, local apparel manufacturers highlighted how important the passing of the textile parity bill is to their apparel assembly operations. The bill would also ensure the survival of the southern US textile manufacturers, that sell to Dominican assembly industries. But the DR is losing business to Asia, Central America and primarily Mexico that is not affected by either taxes or quota limitations under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Central American textile industries can import the lower cost materials from Asia, reducing their production costs, and thus becoming an attractive option for apparel orders.

Haiti-DR talks scheduled for October
The Bilateral Dominican-Haitian Commission will meet in the DR in the first half of October to discuss pending matters. After the last meeting, Haiti was admitted as a member of the Caricom and the Dominican government has prepared a bill for the reform of the Migration Law. A preparatory meeting will be held at the end of September.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre reiterated the government position that the improvement of the economy of Haiti is in the best interest of the DR. Latorre stressed that if things get better inside of Haiti there will be less migration to the DR and Haitians will be able to buy more Dominican goods.
The DR government, as a result of the first commission talks, reached an agreement with Haiti so that all Haitians crossing the border travel with identification papers. One of the biggest problems under discussion is how to treat the thousands of Haitians that live in the DR with no identification papers. The offspring of these confront serious problems because they also lack identification papers. To register a child, the parents need to have their own official identification.
The identification papers requirement is not easily enforced, though. The border with Haiti is more than 300 kilometers of unsupervised stretch. And with the poverty levels at such high levels in Haiti, on the list of priorities for those seeking to merely survive, is not applying for identification papers in Haiti.
Some 2,000 to 3,000 undocumented Haitians are deported every month, but this is but a small percentage of the thousands that cross the border every month seeking to make a living.
The Fernández government has been very vocal about the DR's responsibility in seeking international help for Haiti. Simply stated, if the DR does not help Haiti develop, Haiti's poverty will flow into the DR. Life expectancy in Haiti is estimated at 54 years, compared to 68 years in the DR. Per capita income in Haiti is US$250 per year, compared to near US$2,000 for the DR. 50% of all Haitians are illiterate, compared to 17% in the DR. And only 45% of the children of school age in Haiti have ever been to school, compared to 90% of Dominicans.

Vehicle circulation permits to be issued as of 23 August
Finally, the government has announced that the license plate stickers have arrived. The order of 800,000 stickers made to the American Bank Note Company suffered several delays. The renewal process had been slated for April of this year, and now has been announced for 23 August to 23 October for all motor vehicles. This time around, the stickers may be paid for with credit cards.
Some of the sticker categories are as follows:
Cars and jeeps, dating 1990 or older, RD$250.
Cars and jeeps, dating 1991-1994, RD$500.
Cars and jeeps, dating 1995 or newer, RD$1,000.
Tourism buses, cargo vehicles, heavy machinery, dating 1994 or older, RD$150.
Tourism buses, cargo vehicles, heavy machinery, dating 1995 or newer, RD$1,000.

World Bank officer praises DR economy
Orzalia Kalantzopoulos, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the World Bank, said that the DR is the Caribbean country that is best managing its economy. She met at the National Palace with President Leonel Fernandez yesterday prior to signing a US$12.3 million loan that will help set up the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL). In a story in the Listín Diario, Kalantzopoulos said that Caribbean nations face several challenges at the start of the millennium. The greatest of these are maneuvering to be able to take advantage of the new opportunities brought forward by the global economy; and the need to diversify the risks and be able to best deal with climatic changes and be less dependent on one or two export products that are subject to market fluctuations. She explained that small countries experience a scarcity of skilled labor and management personnel that affects the development of government and private business.

Private clinics fight for increase in insurance retributions
The Asociación Nacional de Clínicas y Hospitales Privados, (Andeclip), which groups private clinics in the DR, has joined forces with the Asociación Médica Dominicana and is threatening to not accept insured patients. Andeclips wants the Asociación de Igualas Médicas, which groups companies providing medical insurance plans, to sit down to talks. Andeclip wants medical insurance plans to increase moneys paid for their services. Andeclip and the AMD are threatening to strike next week, maintaining services only to full price paying patients. The Council of Businesses (CONEP) has sided with the Asociación de Igualas Médicas saying that neither the clinics nor the physicians have to accept insured patients. Several physicians with large practices do not receive patients on insurance plans.

Government begins new round of ITBIs negotiations
The government wants to reduce import taxes from 35% to 20%. But it wants to increase the Value Added Transfer Tax from 8 to 12% to compensate for the drop in income. In a second phase, the government has proposed a second increase to 14%. The government also wants to increase the Selective Consumption Tax, a tax on items described as luxury goods (alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, jewelry) from 20% to 40%. The government says it will lose RD$5,400 million a year in import revenues if tariffs are reduced. PRSC and PRD senators have accepted to increase the ITBIS to 10%. Talks continue between government technicians and senators. Congress reopens next week.

Air traffic is up 9.23%
The Hotel & Restaurant Association reports that its stats show there has been a 9.23% increase in air travel during the first six months of the year. While in 1998, 1,328,318 visitors (foreigners and non-resident Dominicans) arrived using Dominican airports, for the same first six month period of the year, some 1,450,867 arrived in 1999.
Asonahores data shows a break down of 990,655 foreigners arriving in 1998, compared to 1,086,861 arriving in 1999, for a 9.61% increase in foreign arrivals. Non resident Dominican arrivals were 337,663 for the first six months of 1998, compared to 365,006 in 1999 for an 8% increase.
The average stay is now estimated at 8.7 days, and expenditures per day are at US$101.
Asonahores has forecast an increase in travel for the winter months, with large numbers of travelers coming from the US and France.

TV producer assaulted at his office
Angel Puello, husband and producer of Isabel Aracena (Isha) shows, was assaulted and beat up by four bandits yesterday evening. He had to be hospitalized. Isha said that her husband was almost killed. One of the assailants wanted to kill him because he could identify them, another said that he would be "too heavy of a corpse." Since Isha is a big public figure, she's the star of a leading children's show, the Police would employ all its resources to uncover his murderers.
Isha said that theft was the most likely motive of the assault. While they looked all over in the office to find the million, they left office equipment untouched.
Days earlier, Puello's company, Promovisión had produced a major spectacle at the Olympic Stadium. Promovisión brought in leading soap opera star, Tais Araujo for a firemen benefit. The assailants believed he had RD$1 million stashed in his office that is located in a second floor apartment in Urbanización Real.
As he frequently did, Puello visited the apartment to pick up some papers at 8:30 pm, and then encountered the bandits as he walked down the stairs. They threatened to "cut off his penis and fry it in the kitchen" of the apartment if he didn't hand over the million they thought were in the apartment. Puello was able to hand over RD$150,000 he had in the office, after enduring a severe beating. He has no broken limbs, but did suffer serious contusions. He said they tried to strangle him with his shirt.

Higuey to host National Fine Gait Horses Meet
Horse lovers staying in Punta Cana resorts, should take time off this weekend to attend an important equestrian competition. Higuey is half an hour's travel time by car from most Punta Cana hotels. The Dominican Fine Gait Association (Adopaso) is organizing the VI National Circuit of Fine Gait Horses (paso fino) there. Those who win, will represent the DR in the world fine gait championships scheduled for Tampa, Florida. The local equestrian event will be held Saturday, 14 August and Sunday, 15 August at the Los Limones ranch in Higuey. It is sponsored by Brugal Rum. Milton Ginebra, president of Adopaso, said that 200 horses and competitors from all around the country will be participating.

Presidente Beer Summer Games
Presidente Beer is sponsoring what is being called its Summer Games. Sumo fights (with contenders inside inflated balloon sumo costumes), races, roulette, beach volleyball and other games scheduled. There will also be live music with some of the top rock groups, including Al Jadaqui and Toque Profundo, as well as the participation of leading DJs.
The locations were the games will be held are as follows:
22 August: Cabarete, Puerto Plata
5 September: Boca Chica, Santo Domingo

"Aida" at the National Theater
Giuseppe Verdi's opera, "Aida" will go on stage at the National Theater, 25, 27 and 29 August. It is a presentation of the Opera de las Americas group. The performers include Evangelina Colon and Teresa Pérez de Frangie, mezzo soprano Marianne Cornetti, Ondina Matos, Antonio Barasorda and Francisco Casanova, Noel Ramírez, Janusz Monarcha, Frank Lendor, Carlos Alfredo Fatule and Juan Tomás Reyes. The National Choir, National Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Concierto Dominicano are also performing. The National Symphony will be directed by Jan Jozef Wnek. The New Orleans Opera Association is in charge of the stage design, and Malabar Limited, are providing the costumes. This opera is a production by Teresa Pérez de Frangie, Eduardo Villanueva and Luis Carlos López.

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