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Daily News - 15 October 1999

Politicians make promises to exporters
Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía and Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) presidential candidate Danilo Medina were speakers at the annual dinner of the Dominican Association of Exporters last night. It was the first time the two met publicly after their being chosen presidential candidates. Of course, their photos in an embrace made front pages of local newspapers.
During the event, both presented their foreign trade platforms, and what they had in mind to strengthen Dominican exports.
Hipólito Mejía said that if he is elected he will pass dollars generated by exports to the free market, eliminating the present exchange penalty. He also said he would eliminate the exchange rate commission increase, improve maritime port infrastructure and instate an open skies for aviation. The measures would be directed at eliminating the commercial balance deficit that this year will reach US$3,000 million. He highlighted that in 1981, the country exported US$1,200 million (not including free zone exports), of which US$754 million were farm products, US$89 million industrial goods and US$333 million in mining exports. In 1998, exports were down to US$888 million in 1998, of which US$378 million were farm products, US$230 industrial and agroindustrial goods, and US$140 million mining exports.
He said that from January to June 1999, exports were US$416 million, down from the US$556 million total for the same period in 1998, for a decline of 26%.
On the other hand, Danilo Medina, who was Secretary of the Presidency for the first three years of the Fernández administration, favors supporting the Promotion of Exports Law, a fluctuating exchange rate, low cost interest for financing exports, and the "ventanilla única" implemented by the present government that reduces export red tape.

City Mayor confirms politicians are on payroll
Santo Domngo Mayor Johnny Ventura (PRD 1998-2002) told El Siglo newspaper that it is true that several Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) political leaders are on the city's payroll. El Siglo published a series of articles that highlighted the prominence of PRD members on the city government payroll. Ventura feels there is nothing out of place for the acting president of the party, Tony Raful, to have been named cultural director of the municipality, and for him to collect a salary for the appointment. Ventura explained that it is common for politicians to hold government posts. The Ventura city government has been criticized for spending more than 40% of the city government budget on salaries.

President postpones trip to Puerto Plata, skylift re-opening
The Governor of Puerto Plata Juan Pablo Plácido told the press that President Leonel Fernández has postponed his visit to Puerto Plata. The President was slated to travel to Puerto Plata yesterday to attend the inauguration of the Costa Dorada Iberostar hotel. The new 516 room hotel is located at Marapicá Beach, next door to the Playa Dorada beach complex. The hotel began operations on 23 July, but had not been formally inaugurated. This is the fourth Iberostar Spanish hotel chain resort to open in the DR. Other Iberostar hotels are located in the Punta Cana area in the East. Juan Llinas is the hotel's general manager.
During his visit to Puerto Plata, he was also scheduled to re-open the Puerto Plata skylift whose remodelling was completed in January but has been waiting the okay of the Ministry of Public Works to begin operation. On the President's busy agenda was also the inauguration of a 200-house complex in Luperón and of the dredging of the Port of Puerto Plata.

DR Population for 2000
The National Office of Statistics (ONE) reports that by year 2000 there will be 8.5 million people living in the DR. This is 200,000 more people than in 1999.
According to ONE, the National District (Santo Domingo and environs) will have a population of 2,599,000 people by year 2000.
Population statistics for year 2000 for the provinces are as follows:
Santiago 816,675
San Cristóbal, 519,906
La Vega 390,315
Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís) 318,151
Puerto Plata 320,799
San Juan de la Maguana 265,561
San Pedro de Macorís 260,629
Azua 243,157
Espaillat 228,173
Peravia (Baní) 223,273
La Romana 213,628
Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí) 194,283
Barahona 179,945
Monseñor Nouel (Bonao)174,923
Monte Plata 174,125
Maria Trinidad Sánchez 142,030
La Altagracia 128,628
Bahoruco 124,519
Salcedo 106,449
El Seibo 105,447
Monte Cristi 103,710
Hato Mayor 87,595
Samaná 82,135
Dajabón 78,045
Elías Piña 66,267
Santiago Rodríguez 65,853
Independencia 41,778
Mao, Valverde 19,979
Pedernales 19,698

Free zones diversify
Listín Diario newspaper reports on the diversification of the Dominican industrial free zones. After more than 30 years of dominance of textile assembly plants, now the growth pace of these has diminished, while the rate of installation of non-apparel plants is growing. From January to October 1999, the National Council of Export Free Zones authorized the installation of 57 new industries in free zone industries. Of these half are non-apparel manufacturers. They include a manufacturer of slot machines, graphic arts industries, office supplies and equipment industries, a plant for the assembly of rubber boats and another for the assembly of fiberglass boats. Several leather good manufacturers and suitcase assembly operations, as well as a company that will manufacture and assemble windows.
The Listín Diario says that the US Congress will discuss the incorporating of a textile parity facility on 18 October. But Fernando Ceballos, president of the La Romana free zone industries association, told the newspaper that congressmen will only have 10 days to discuss the bill as the legislature closes 29 October.
It is estimated the DR stands to lose 30% of its textile contracts if textile parity is not passed. The DR must use the more costly US fabric in its clothing exports, and suffers from quota restrictions which do not apply to Mexican exports. Thus, Dominican apparel exports can cost up to 25% more than Central American and Mexican exports. Central American garment manufacturers can purchase the lower cost Asian fabric.

Fixed petroleum tax
President Leonel Fernández announced yesterday at the Latin American Travel Press Conference that he has plans to send a bill that would incorporate a fixed tax on petroleum product sales in the DR to Congress next week. This way, the increase of the prices of petroleum products would stop having political and social implications, he said. The price then could fluctuate to reflect world market prices. He reiterated that the exchange rate commission increase is temporary, defending the measure as having been recommended by the Monetary Junta as the best option for meeting foreign debt payments. He recalled that during the Salvador Jorge Blanco presidency (PRD 1982-1986), that administration instated a 36% surcharge on the export exchange rate and a 20% charge on the imports exchange rate.
Business sectors have opposed the recent increase of the exchange rate commission from 1.75% to 5%. The commission rate affects the cost of imports for industrial use as well as retail.

TWA flights increased
José Jourdain, TWA station manager in the DR, announced that TWA will be offering three flights a day to San Juan, Puerto Rico from the DR. He said there will be promotional fares of US$69, which will depend on the season and seat availability. The flights will start 1 November. The San Juan flight connects for those traveling to Boston and Philadelphia. TWA will be using a MD80, with capacity for 122 passengers in economy and 22 in first class. The airline also operates a daily flight to New York from Santo Domingo and from Puerto Plata. Jourdain says that the airline has available a US$159 fare (plus taxes) on its Puerto Plata flight, that is the lowest in the market.

RD$900 million for new Juan Dolio tourism projects
The president of the Pro-Tourism Association of Juan Dolio-Guayacanes, a southeastern beach strip, Architect José Ramón Martínez González announced during the opening of the Latin American Travel Press Conference at the Meliá Juan Dolio Hotel yesterday that RD$900 million will be poured into the expansion of Barceló Capella, Coral Costa Caribe, Casa Marina Talanquera and Residence Albatros and into the construction of a second golf course in the area. Arch. Martínez highlighted how the area is benefiting from the construction of the expressway from Santo Domingo, as well as the Autovía del Este expressway and the Juan Dolio Boulevard. These are slated to be completed by early spring 2000. He also announced the reconstruction of the Juan Dolio-Guayacanes beach road, announcing it would be completed by December of this year. Juan Dolio has at present 3,635 rooms located in 23 hotels, for almost 9% of the total national hotel inventory.
The Latin American Travel Press Conference opened yesterday in Juan Dolio. The event will take place 14- 17 October. President Leonel Fernández attended the opening session at the Hotel Meliá Juan Dolio. The conference is looking into the new paradigms that travel writers will have to deal with given the new economic and technologic order as well as the challenges of the new milennium.

Sammy Sosa comes home
Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa (63 home runs this season) returns this afternoon. He is expected to arrive at 3:30 pm to Las Americas International Airport on a private flight from Chicago with his wife Sonia and four children. For the occasion, Tricom telecommunications company will hand him a new digital cellular phone. Sosa will then make his first call to President Leonel Fernández. President Leonel Fernández was in St. Louis earlier this month to watch Sammy Sosa,s last game. During the game he hit a multiple run home run.
Tricom is sponsoring a welcome party for Sammy Sosa in Santo Domingo at the Avenida del Puerto with La Banda Gorda Orchestra. He will be in the DR through March of next year.

Iberoamerican Theater Festival continues
The II Iberoamerican Theater Festival continues with multiple performances in the Plaza de la Cultura. The festival brings to Santo Domingo leading performers from Spain, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile, Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and New York City. The three halls of the National Theater and the nearby halls of the Museum of National History and Geography and Museum of Modern Art will be used to present over 112 activities, including 26 plays during the 15 day event.

A parallel Dominican Theater Festival has been set up at the Palacio of Bellas Artes for 9-20 October.
Schedules for the main performances for both are as follows:

"El Quijote," La Candelaria, Colombia
Friday, 15 October and Saturday, 16 October at 9 pm

"El Nombre del Mundo es Bosque," Teatro Tierra, Colombia.
Sunday, 17 October at 9 pm

"Algún Día Trabajaremos Juntas," EuroEscena, Spain
Monday, 18 October at 9 pm
Tuesday 19 October at 9 pm

"Heavy Nopal", Astrid Hadad y sus Tarzanes, Mexico
Wednesday, 20 October at 9 pm

"Amanda" Giovanny Cruz, Dominican Republic
Thursday, 21 October at 9 pm

"El Célebre Especialista en el Gran Hotel Europa," Río Caribe-Ecuador/Venezuela
Friday, 22 October at 9 pm

"Bolívar", Rajatablas, Venezuela
Saturday, 23 October and Sunday, 24 October at 10:30 am and 9 pm

National Theater, Sala Ravelo:
"Humbolt and Bomplant ppp", Actoral 80, Venezuela
Tuesday, 12 October and Wednesday, 13 October at 7 pm

"El Ombligo del Mundo," Teatro Quetzal, Costa Rica
Friday, 15 October at 7 pm

"Sombras y Sombrillas", Hilos Mágicos puppets group, Colombia
Sunday 17 October at 10:30 am

"El Quijote," Gayumba, Dominican Republic
Saturday, 16 October at 10:30 am and 7 pm

"Cómeme Cruda," La Sal Teatro, Spain
Sunday, 17 October and Monday, 18 October at 7 pm

"Infimo" Titiritran, Spain
Tuesday, 19 October, Wedneday 20 October at 10:30 am and 7 pm

"El Enano," La Tierra, Colombia
Thursday, 21 October and Friday 22 October at 7 pm

"Danzas Sagradas de la India," Soraya Franco, Dominican Republic
Sunday, 24 October at 7 pm

Dominican Theater Festival at Bellas Artes:

"Hágase la Mujer"
Friday, 15 October at 10 am, 7 and 9 pm

"Por Hora" (Elizabeth Ovalle)
Saturday, 16 October at 7 and 9 pm

"La Fila" (Carlos Castro)
Sunday, 17 October ­ 7 pm,
Monday, 18 October at 10 and 7 pm

"De Lorca" (Elvira Taveras)
Tuesday, 19 October at 7 pm
Wednesday, 20 October at 10 am and 7 pm

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