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Daily News - 22 October 1999

Taiwanese chancellor and businessmen to visit
Minister of Foreign Relations of Taiwan, Jason Hu is expected Monday, 25 October for a three-day visit to the DR. He is accompanied by a mission of about 30 people, including government officials and businessmen that will look into investing in the DR and follow-up to bilateral agreements signed during President Leonel Fernández visit to Taiwan in September. Minister Hu is coming with his wife Shao-ling Hu Shaw and their daughter.

Four new airplanes for the Air Force
The Dominican Air Force received yesterday the first four of eight T35B Pillan airplanes purchased in Chile. The Air Force is also expecting to receive 10 new French helicopters (Ecureuil) that will be used in the Operación Gorrión, which will reinforce vigilance along the coasts and frontier with Haiti to prevent contraband and drug trafficking. The Chilean air force pilots flew the airplanes here making fueling stops in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Aruba. The Listín Diario reports that one of the requirements the Chilean Air Force made when choosing the men was that they were happily married to ensure they would stay faithful to their wives and not succumb to the beauty of Dominican women.

Leading businessman's development formula
José León, president of the E. León Jimenes firm that manufactures Presidente Beer and Marlboro cigarettes in the DR, presented his formula for the nation's development yesterday at a luncheon hosted by the Fundación Institutionalidad y Justicia (FINJUS). He also offered his services and encouraged other businessmen to get involved in politics and contribute their life experiences to end the problems that have traditionally frustrated the aspirations and expectations of the Dominican people.
In his opinion the present economic miracle has been based on 1) the boom in free zone industries, 2) boom in telecommunications and the tourism industry; 3) solidarity of Dominican migrants with friends and relatives in the DR (an estimated US$1,500 million a year is sent back home).
He said that these sectors have not been enough to bring about true sustained development and generate welfare for all, and that there is still an unfair distribution of wealth. Today, he says, despite the DR being the fastest growing economy in the world (estimated 7% GDP growth for this year), 20% of Dominicans live in utmost poverty.
He warned that because textile parity with Mexico has not been achieved, local free zones industries are losing their competitive edge. Likewise he says that the growth of tourism has decelerated, as it is an industry that depends on increasing investments in infrastructure, public services, and conservation of the environment.
León proposes:
1) That ways be found to strengthen the nation's manufacturing sector in general, through programs that promote an increase in productivity that may make us more competitive. He highlighted the fragility of the national industry when only one company provides 10% of the national industrial business taxes (León presides over that company).
2) That more funding be allotted to tourism promotion. That funds be allotted to end the surging of slum areas around tourism enclaves. And that there be a continuous strengthening of national security programs.
3) Create investment programs to channel the remittances of Dominicans living abroad into productive projects. He said that the millions have traditionally been spent just on consumer goods.
In his opinion, in the long term, the DR cannot base its socioeconomic model on tourism, free zone industries and remittances from Dominicans living abroad, as these models are dependent on changes abroad that we cannot control.
León also mentioned the growing illegal migration pressures (Haitian indigent migration) that will not decrease and that need to be attended to by international organizations so as not to further affect the social services infrastructure of the country.
He urges that farming be developed so that it can contribute to reduce the number of rural community residents that are immigrating to the cities seeking employment, and creating large slum areas.
León advocates for an increase in the national budget dedicated to education. He said that dedicating 2.4% of the Gross Domestic Product to education is nowhere sufficient.
He called for a new economic model that provides for more jobs, an increase in national competitiveness, more tax-paying companies and individuals, and an increase in the investment in the education of the future generation of Dominicans that will have to find jobs in an economy of global markets.
He also advocated the transparent use of state resources with the implementation of systems that minimize the possibility of corruption and propitiate an every day more rational use of government funds.

DR issues identity cards to illegal Haitians
The Dominican government formally presented at the United Nations' most recent General Assembly meeting held in New York City its efforts to issue identity cards to Haitians residing illegally in the DR. Most Haitians that come to work in the DR do not have identity documents of any kind. The issuing of identity cards would transitorily legitimize their residence in the DR. The cards are being issued to help resolve the situation of the offspring of otherwise undocumented Haitians. These by Dominican law are admitted to Dominican schools but have problems in getting their graduation titles because the Ministry of Education requires that they have birth certificates. The Dominican government's traditional stance has been that these children should be issued birth certificates by the Haitian consulates in the DR. The Haitian consulates would like the DR to issue the children Dominican birth certificates. Several legal experts say the Dominican constitution excepts the children of persons "in transit" from being granted Dominican nationality. Others say that persons that have resided in the DR for upwards of 10 years can no longer be regarded as being in transit. On the other hand, Dominican legal experts point to the Haitian Constitution that recognizes as Haitians the sons and daughters born of a Haitian parent, through the third generation. Because of the increasing number of cases, the matter has now become headline news.
Meanwhile, the government continues to issue the cards to undocumented Haitians seeking a temporary solution. "It is the singular interest of the Dominican government to make transparent the legal status of the clandestine Haitian migrants by issuing cards so that those that do not have birth certificates, nor passport nor Haitian ID cards, may transitorily legitimize their stay in the country," says a report presented to a special committee of the United Nations.

DR would contribute to health center in Haiti
The director of the leading central regional hospital, the Hospital José María Cabral y Báez of Santiago, Dr. Daniel Espinal urged the international community cooperate to build a medical center near the Haitian frontier with the Dominican Republic. At present, because of the deficiencies in the Haitian system, hundreds of Haitian women are traveling to the DR to give birth in local public clinics. This is putting a major burden on social services, plus is creating a potential international conflict as international organizations debate whether the children born in these centers are Dominicans or Haitians.
Dr. Espinal says the Haitian women primarily are coming seeking better health conditions in which to give birth. Dr. Espinal says the numbers are increasing and he is seeking upwards of 70 births to illegal Haitians per month at his hospital. Many more Haitians give birth in public hospitals that are near the frontier, such as that at Jimaní and Dajabón.
Dr. Espinal forecasts an increase in Haitian births as the economic situation in Haiti worsens.
He feels that a proactive solution would be to lobby to get the international community to help build a hospital in the frontier that would assist the Haitian women. He said the Dominican Republic would contribute medical personnel as needed, and assist in other ways.

Haiti's ambassador highlights increase in joint ventures
Haitian ambassador in the DR, Guy Lamothe spoke about the increase in trade between the DR and Haiti and the increase in Haitian-Dominican business joint ventures in the past three years. He said that what is most important is to promote cooperation between both nations. In his opinion, the isolation of both countries must become a thing of the past.
"We are going to have in the next century not Haitian or Dominican products, but products of the island that can compete with other trading blocs of the Caribbean or Latin America," he forecast. He says that there has been an increase in talk fostered by the chambers of commerce and business groups.
Jean Edouard Baker, president of the Haitian Presidential Commission for Economic Development and Georges Brunet, president of the Development Assistance Associates were in the DR this week to promote Dominican investments in Haiti.
They mentioned that already the communities of Juana Mendez and Cap Haitien consume 75% of Dominican produce.
He would like to see more Dominicans investing in Haitian free zones. At present in Haiti there are only two free zones, while there are 40 industrial parks in the DR.
If conditions could be created, installing free zones in Haiti could be good business for local free zone operators. At present, Dominican textile operators are held back after meeting textile quota limits, but this is not true for Haiti. Neither does Haiti have the obligation to import materials from the United States, and Haitian companies can manufacture apparel with lower cost Asian materials. Thus, local free zone consortiums have begun to explore the possibility of setting up parallel operations in Haiti.
Jean Edouard Baker, president of the Haitian Presidential Commission for Economic Development, spoke at a luncheon of the Herrera Industrial Association pointing out how Haiti seeks to stimulate confidence in foreign investors and is now reaching out to Dominican businessmen so there may be an increase in cooperation between both private sectors.

CDE and private company disagree over what's owed
The improvising in order to put the process through on time that went on regarding the privatization of the state electricity utility is now surfacing. Just two months into the contract, there are already millionaire differences between the state electricity utility and private companies. Hoy newspaper highlights the conflict between the CDE and the Unión Fenosa (Edesur and Edenorte), over what the private company has to pay the state electricity utility. The newspaper reports that the CDE expects to get paid RD$374 million for energy supplied in September, and Unión Fenosa's numbers show it should only pay RD$110 million. The news report also indicates there are differences over the exchange rate to apply. Unión Fenosa and AES Distribuidora took over the distribution of power to Dominican businesses and homes in August 1999.

PLD strategists meet with Balaguer
Temístocles Montás and Miguel Cocco, two leading political strategists of the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), met yesterday with former President Joaquín Balaguer, the guru of Dominican politics. Both the PLD and the PRD are courting Balaguer, seeking his support in order to try to win in the first round of the election (16 May 2000) or at least in the second round (30 June 2000). Balaguer's endorsement of today President Fernández was crucial for his winning the 1996 election.
The PLD men said they explained to Balaguer the reasons for the increase in the tax on petroleum products and the exchange rate commission.
Earlier this week, the press had headlined PRD presidential candidate, Hipólito Mejía's meeting with Balaguer.
93-year old Balaguer has not commented on either meeting.

Former UASD rector proposes overhaul of state university
The former rector of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), Roberto Santana proposes an overhaul of the state university structures in order to fulfill its academic commitments to its over 100,000 students.
Santana proposes:
1) That the nation's leading political parties dissolve their committees or their party sections in the state university. He says these branches of the political parties are the main cause for the educational upset at the UASD and the constant conflicts.
2) That the present structure be scratched. He said a new structure needs to be created that does not incorporate such anomalies as an advantageous retirement plan that starts at age 45 for professors. He criticized that the political influences have forced the university to employ illiterate professors, that has in turn brought about the graduating of "professionals" that cannot even read after being 15 years in the university, and have been responsible for the frustration of thousands of serious-minded students.
3) Commitment of the Dominican Civic Society to demand change in the UASD that is maintained with taxpayer money.
4) The requirement of the UASD to render a report on the use of funds to the National Congress.
5) That the National Educational Council (CONES) publish the results
6) That the National Educational Council (CONES) publish the results of the evaluation made to quality of studies at the UASD. CONES has carried out these studies to other local universities.
7) That the Dominican society commit to endorse the needed structural changes at the UASD.
A recent study showed that the Dominican government could grant students a scholarship at the leading private universities and still save money. The UASD's budget of more than RD$800 million a year, is more than what the government provides to the Municipality of Santo Domingo. The university had to close for three days this week after political activists took hold of the campus for riots.


Pedro Martinez and José Lima could play in DR
Pedro Martinez, of the Boston Red Sox, and José Lima of the Houston Astros could play in the DR next March. Major League Baseball may authorize an exhibition game between both teams at the Quisqueya Ball Park, said Dominican Winter Professional Baseball League president, Leonardo Matos Berrido. Last year the Mets and Expos played an exhibition game in Santo Domingo in March.

Three European firms interested in building Pan Am villa
A report in El Siglo newspaper says that three European firms are interested in building the eight apartment towers that will lodge the 5,000 athletes coming for the Pan Am games in 2003 and that later be sold to individuals. The companies would finance the buildings, relieving the Dominican government of the investment. The DR government is the owner of the land where the village would be built. The land was secured in a swap for government shares in the Sociedad Industrial Dominicana that was sold to Unilever corporation.

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