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Daily News - 18 August 1999

DR not such a vulnerable country
According to a newly released report from the Advisory Board to the Joint Commonwealth Secretariat/World Bank Task Force on Small States the DR, the DR is neither a small state nor is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. The DR is less subject to the incidence and intensity of risk and threat and is more able to bounce back from their consequences than many other Caribbean countries, included in the category of prosperous small states, according to the paper. Threats are perceived to emanate from economic exposure, remoteness and insularity and proneness to natural disasters.
The paper presents a Composite Vulnerability Index compiled to be used as an operational tool in determining whether small states should be accorded differential treatment by the international development community. The index was designed to be an additional tool in assessing small states eligibility for special measures from multilateral organizations. Small states usually have high incomes, but the study shows they may be very susceptible to external shocks.
The DR is ranked within a listing of 111 large countries, or countries of a population of more than 1.5 million.
As per this paper, the DR occupies position No. 55 within 111 ranked countries on basis of its Output Volatility Index, based on the standard deviation of the annual rates per capita GDP growth at constant rates, taking into account the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) for 111 countries from 1980 to 1992. The DR is listed with a population of 7.5 million, and Output Volatility Index of 5.52 and real per capita GDP of US$3,690.
Likewise, the DR ranks 71st of 111 countries with Real Per Capita GDP and the lowest PPP per capita. The DR is ranked above 70 other countries.
Eighty two countries of 111 are considered more vulnerable than the DR to external shocks of a global economy, factors of remoteness and insularity and susceptibility to natural and environmental disasters. The DR is ranked 83rd on the Composite Vulnerability Index. The DR's actual Composite Vulnerability Index is of 4.858.

Government is hiring more public employees
El Siglo newspaper says the government is hiring more. There has been an increase of 8,241 on the government payroll from January to June 1999. This figure includes central government and municipal government employees. Government employee wages are costing tax payers RD$410 million more than for the similar period last year. Central government (PLD-controlled) payrolls increased 2%, while those of municipalities (primarily PRD-controlled) increased 15.7%.

Traffic up 9.2% at Dominican airports
Near four million passengers used the nation's international airports during the first seven months of 1999. Airport statistics show that traffic was up 9.2% in comparison to the same period last year. From January to July 1999, there were some 3,769,552 arrivals and departures of passengers. Of these 2,779,394 were tourists and 890,158 Dominicans. Las Americas (Santo Domingo) is the most used airport, followed by Gregorio Luperon (Puerto Plata) and Punta Cana. American Airlines was the leading carrier, followed by Continental and TWA. Stats show that 433,222 foreign travelers arrived from January to July, an increase of 7.1%.

Small hotel assaulted
Hotel La Gran Mansión, a small hotel located in the Gazcue area of Santo Domingo, was assaulted on Monday around 10:30 pm. The assailants stole a watch, and a chain from the owner but had to leave without the money they had expected to find, but didn't. The assailants were described as three young well-dressed men who arrived in a Mitsubishi Montero jeep. La Gran Mansion is located at Calle Danae corner Lea de Castro. Marrero lives on the premises. At the time of the assault, four French tourists were staying there. The Cuban-American hotel owner, Raymond Marrero, suffered a superficial gunshot wound. His dog, though, was shot by the assailants and died. Hoy newspaper reported that the assailants left when they could not find any cash on the premises. They took with them the car of the owner's son, but abandoned it nearby.

Italian judge orders father to return son
News reports indicate that the District Attorney's Office of Santo Domingo has sent the case of abducted four-year old Ricardo Baio Mejía to the Juzgado de Instrucción de la Sexta Circunscripción, a first level courtroom. Meanwhile, a judge of the Court of Minors of Milan, Italy, ordered that the father of the boy, architect Antonio Baio return the child or else they will act. Antonio Baio is a fugitive of Dominican justice. Young Baio's mother, Indhira Mejía placed a complaint with the District Attorney's office, after her son, who had been vacationing with his father in the DR, called her from Italy. The mother had custody over the boy, and the divorce sentence had granted vacation visitation rights to the father. Leonora Martínez Conde is coordinating the case, as part of her job at the Departmento de Familia y Menores de la Fiscalía. She explained that Italian judge Maria Cristina Rota has notified the Italian Police of the whereabouts of Mr. Baio at Via A. Diaz No. 2920004 Bernareggio in Milano so that he be persuaded to return the boy.
The boy was kidnapped aboard the ferry that travels to Puerto Rico, from where they traveled to Italy. The child had an impediment to depart the country placed at all migration ports. The woman inspector at the Port of Santo Domingo said that while she checked the computer for the father, she did not bother to check to see if the son had an impediment to leave.

Selling 700,000 boxes of Presidente Beer in NY
The Listín Diario carries a report on how Presidente Beer is gradually expanding its sales in the US. Presidente Beer is now available in New York, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico.
An estimated one million Dominicans live in the States, and Presidente beer is catching on with Latin American residents and Americans, as well.
The president of Presidente Beer, Rafael Menicucci was recently invited to be the international grand marshall of the Dominican Parade in NY, the most important activity organized by that expatriate community in the US.
Menicucci explained that the Dominican brewery is focusing on the US market. While it attempted its first exports to NY in 1984 (these had to be suspended due to problems with the distribution), and it wasn't until the successful penetration of Miami in 1992 that the export market really took off. New York sales were resumed in 1996, after the successful Miami experience. Today, he says the company is selling 700,000 boxes of 24 bottles a year.
Menicucci says that the company is investing US$100 million to expand its production capacity within the next two years. He says that export forecasts indicate they will have to double their present production capacity in five to 10 years time.
He says the company has rode the wave of Dominican tourism. The many visiting Americans, Canadians and Europeans that have enjoyed the brand, are now potential consumers abroad.
Regarding the rumor that Presidente Beer sold in the DR is not the same as that sold in the US, Menicucci says: "It's the same beer maybe it tastes different in the warm Caribbean sun than in the dry heat of the Big Apple."

Mayor Ventura accepts new president of city hall
After five hours of discussions, Mayor Juan de Dios (Johnny) Ventura accepted Rafael Diaz Filpo as president of the Sala Capitular del Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional. President of the city hall Fabio Ruiz convened the city hall's 88 aldermen to meet on Thursday, 19 August to elect the new board. The PRD is majority so whom they choose will be elected. Ventura said he did not object Diaz Filpo, rather the way he was chosen by the PRD hierarchy.

Power company contracts being revised
The CDE reported it is revising its contracts with several private generators. Many of these contracts have expired and need to be renewed. Several of the contracts call for privileged conditions and terms for the suppliers. For instance, the Smith & Enron (Puerto Plata) contract allowed the company to bill based on installed capacity and not power supplied (the plant could practically shut down and continue billing). The CDE has reached an agreement with this company that will enable it to only pay for energy served.
Other contracts up for negotiations are those signed with AES Dominican Power (Los Mina V and Los Mina 6), Estrella del Norte (Wartsila), Metaldom and CTP Puerto Plata.

Making better known labor provisions
The Minister of Labor Rafael Alburquerque presented the promotional campaign that his department will carry out to make norms contained in the Dominican Labor Code better known. The Interamerican Development Bank has sponsored the program that will focus on the work of minors, rights of pregnant women, social peace, intermediation of employment and industrial security. The program includes encounters with businessmen in the North, South and East of the country. The program will last 12 months and will cost RD$3 million.
In the DR, labor laws bend in favor of the employee. Businessmen need to have a keen grasp of the laws to prevent unexpected labor costs.

Taxi union wants contract to serve Costa Dorada
Members of the Association of Tourist Taxis of Costa Dorada blocked traffic at the Luperon highway at Km. 4 (this is the main highway along the North Coast) yesterday. The taxi union was protesting their exclusion from servicing the Costa Dorada tourist area, where the Spanish chain, Iberostar has just opened a resort. The Ministry of Tourism had authorized another taxi union, the Federación de Taxistas Turísticos de la Costa Norte to operate there. The protesters parked their cars in the middle of the highway that leads to the Puerto Plata International Airprot. Shortly after, the Police removed the cars and arrested the owners of these, but traffic along the North Coast was interrupted for about an hour.

Producing Major League ball players
El Siglo newspaper carries a feature today on how the DR is a factory of baseball players. Twenty-six baseball academies, most sponsored by the leading Major League baseball teams, are located in the DR. Academia Hiroshima Toyo Carp produces ball players for the Japanese baseball league.
Today, the Dominican Republic is the leading foreign producer of ball players, with 70 players in the US Major League. Puerto Rico follows with 42.
Bienvenido Rojas, sports editor of El Siglo, highlights how the baseball academies are now attracting Dominicans of all social classes that aspire to make the big bucks earned by ball players abroad.
The academies have evolved, and today are excellent for preparing outstanding athletes for life in the Major Leagues. Those that do not make it, did not waste their time. They receive a general education that includes English lessons.
Some of the big names that have graduated from Dominican ball academies are: Henry Rodríguez, Raúl Mondesí, Pedro Martínez, José Offerman, Deivi Cruz, Ruben Mateo, Miguel Tejada, José Aguillén, Manuel Aybar, Adrián Beltré, Juan Encarnación, Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero, Octavio Dotel, Pascual Matos.
Dominicans make up 20% of the Major League ball player payroll.

Arrendel wont compete in Seville
José Joaquín Puello, president of the Dominican Olympic Committee said that Juana Arrendel will not be traveling to the Seville World Track & Field Games, as had been said earlier. Arrendel needs to await the sentence of the International Track & Field Federation. She faces a suspension of one to two years from international competition for testing positive in the doping test in Winnipeg Pan Am Games. What happened has not yet been explained, and Arrendel maintains her innocence. She jumped 1.93 meters in the high jump, sufficient for a gold medal. Earlier she had jumped 1.91 meters in the Central American & Caribbean Games, winning the gold medal, and testing negative on the doping test. The 1.91 mark would also have been sufficient to win the gold in Winnipeg.

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