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Daily News - 03 November 1999

November ACP Summit update
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre gave an update to the press on the African, Caribbean and Pacific Summit of Heads of State and Government that is scheduled for 25-26 November in Santo Domingo.
The ACP country heads of state will meet to discuss their joint position when negotiating post-Lome IV relations with the European Union. They will also discuss a joint position as developing nations before developed nations at the World Trade Organization first round of negotiations that opens in Seattle, Washington on 29 November 1999.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said this is the most important event ever held in the Dominican Republic. He called it the most important summit to take place in the Western Hemisphere and the greatest summit of the 20th century. Some 76 nations will be represented, including 71 members of the ACP group, and five observers. Most of these nations are expected to be represented by their heads of state.
Minister Latorre explained that this event is a landmark in Dominican foreign policy. The country has gone from being an isolated state to a partner of the European Union. Today the DR is about to strengthen its relations with Africa and Pacific countries, previously practically non-existent. Latorre explained that for the first time the DR is developing relations with African countries. Latorre said that better relations with Africa will help us to better define our identity.
Latorre mentioned how this meeting is important because Europe is the principal source of direct international cooperation. He says the DR has benefited from some US$400 million thanks to the Lome Convention programs.
More so, he highlighted that Europe is a great market for Dominican products, as it is the second largest market in the world.
President Leonel Fernández will preside the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations through August 16, 2000. The ACP group of nations has as custom to elect the head of state of the country that hosts its summit. After August, the next President of the DR will continue in the post.
Minister Latorre also said that the Círculo de Montevideo, that gathers heads of state and former heads of state as well as heads of important international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the Interamerican Development Bank will be meeting in Santo Domingo 12-13 November. It is expected that Michael Camdessus and Enrique Iglesias, presidents of the IMF and IDB respectively will come for this meeting.

21% of Dominicans live in extreme poverty
The most recent survey on family income and expenses revealed that at least 2,100,000 Dominicans had incomes of less than RD$894 per month, which means 25% of the Dominican population lives in a condition of extreme poverty. The Central Bank survey showed the lowest incomes were those of households head by single women (gender handicap), with minimum levels of education (education handicap), those with many children (demographic handicap), those where the family heads were unemployed, or those head by farmers. The study showed there is a direct relation between the educational level of the head of the family and the income of the family.
Susana Games, director of National Accounts and Statistics of the Central Bank, said that the study revealed poverty in the DR has declined from 31.7% in 1992 to 21.5% in 1998. Poverty levels in rural areas double those in urban areas. A household with an income of RD$3,775 per month is considered to be living at the level of extreme poverty.
The study showed there is a better distribution of wealth. Notwithstanding, the study showed that 10% of the Dominican population still controls RD$37.40 of each RD$100 of income. Today, 20% of the Dominican population receives 53% of the total income.
Women head 29% of Dominican households. And 62% of the households with more than six members make up 40% of the households with the lowest income.
The study covered 4,810 households, from October 1997 to September 1998. The Department of National Accounts and Economic Statistics of the Central Bank carried it out with the assistance of the World Labor Organization, the CEPAL, the Program for Development of the United Nations, local and foreign universities and the Economy and Development Foundation.

RD$49,000 million 2000 National Budget Bill
The Fernández administration will be submitting a Budget Bill for RD$49,000 million to the National Congress. Of the total 65.5% is allotted to current expenditures and 34.5% to capital investments. The budget is RD$5,000 million more than that of 1999. The 2000 budget takes into account a GDP growth rate of 6% and inflation of 6% for next year an estimates an average exchange rate of RD$16.40 to the US dollar.
The budget contemplates a 75% wage increase for military and police up to the sergeant rank, and a 25% wage increase for agronomists at the service of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The government allotted the budget as follows:
Ministry of Finances 19.8% (pays government employee wages), RD$9,841 million
Ministry of Education 15.2%, RD$7,554 million
Ministry of Public Health 15%, RD$7,455 million
Presidency of the Republic 11.9%, RD$5,914 million
Ministry of Public Works 8.1%, RD$4,026 million
Ministry of Agriculture 7.5%, RD$3,728 million
Ministry of Interior and Police 7%, RD$3,479 million
Ministry of Armed Forces 6.6%, RD$ 3,280 million

DR Police to meet with NY Police Commissioner
Police Chief Pedro de Jesús Candelier will be in NY for three days invited by New York City Police Commissioner, Howard Safir. During his visit he will sign a work agreement. The New York Police will assist the DR police in fighting organized crime, crime prevention and increasing levels of security. He will be traveling with Carlos Felix Gimbernard, of Consulting Group, a US company that is assisting the police in its attempt at becoming modern. In New York he will also meet with the head of internal affairs of the Police, General Charles Campisi and will visit the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Vigilance to be increased on the frontier
President Leonel Fernández ordered the Ministry of Armed Forces to step up efforts to stop the influx of illegal Haitians to the Dominican Republic. Minister of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Manuel de Jesús Florentino, the director of the Department of Migration, Danilo Díaz met with the chiefs of the Air Force, the Navy and the National Army to coordinate the new efforts to patrol the frontier. The decision comes as a government reaction to a request from the Organization of American States that the Dominican Republic stop mass deportations of illegal Haitians. Influential local sectors criticized the little efforts on behalf of the Dominican government to control the influx of illegal Haitians.
The border of the DR with Haiti, almost 300 kilometers long, is an open border, and it is almost impossible to impede Haitians that want to make the crossover to do so. There is a proposal to build an international highway, that would cross the DR North-South and would be fenced on both sides, in order to reduce the flux of Haitians. Japanese funding would be available to build the highway, which would cost US$400 million. The Japanese are interested in Haitian stability because they use DR-Haitian water routes. Ecologically-speaking this North-South connection would be much better than the proposed North-South route through San Juan de la Maguana. At the same time, free zone industries could be built in the area to provide employment to residents in the frontier zone, both Haitians and Dominicans. The North-South connection would also generate multiple business opportunities and thus job opportunities for the economically depressed frontier zone.

Minister of Foreign Relations on Haitian migration issue
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said, during a visit to El Siglo newspaper, that a national consensus should be reached when finding a solution to the Haitian migration problem, because it affects the entire Dominican society.
"The problem is one of structural character. When there is a great disparity between neighboring countries the inhabitants of the country with less opportunities tend to move to the country with more opportunities," he said. He commented that this occurs along the Mexican border with the US and the best technology in the world has not been able to stop this migration.
He said the Haitian problem is a complex one. For example, how can you declare a child when the parents have no legal identification papers of any kind?
Furthermore, he commented that if you have lived in the US for 40 years illegally, if at that time you are caught, you will be deported. He said that while no one sees anything wrong with the DR doing this, the international community feels the DR cannot do the same.
He explained this is a 30 or 40 year old problem, that is the result of the oversight of the various Dominican governments, that have let it become bigger and bigger.
He commented that the Fernández government has sought to improve relations with Haiti as part of its foreign policy objective of improving relations with all its regional neighbors - Haiti, Cuba, Caribbean and Central America. He said Haitian acting ambassador, Guy Lamothe has recognized that relations between both countries have never been better.
He explained that in the case of the Haitians, the DR has gone from confrontation and distrust, to times of dialogue and harmonizing, which, he said, is a step forward. He said relations began to improve since the time when President Rene Preval and then President Balaguer formed the Bilateral Haitian-Dominican Commission to discuss crucial issues. This commission has nine sub-commissions that meet once a year.
Nevertheless, he said that these are long drawn out negotiations. In the migration aspect, the DR has already accepted to issue IDs to undocumented Haitians so they can port some kind of identification. Most illegal Haitian aliens have no legal documentation of any kind, as it is not a practice for the indigent poor to secure legal documents in Haiti.

Airport contract goes to Chamber of Deputies
The Senate sent the contract for the leasing of four state-owned airports to the Chamber of Deputies. The Chamber of Deputies is expected to approve the contract that calls for the privatization of the management and operation of the Gregorio Luperón (Puerto Plata), Las Americas (Santo Domingo), Arroyo Barril (Samaná) and María Montez (Barahona) international airports.

Dominican jails turnout criminals
The coordinator of the Commission to Support the Reform and Modernization of Justice, Aura Celeste Fernández says that the jails of the DR are schools that turn out big time criminals and drug traffickers. She called for a drastic increase in the budget of the jails, so these can rehabilitate criminals and not create them. The RD$30 million allotted to jails per year needs to be drastically increased, she says. There are more than 15,000 inmates in the 32 jails.

Hipólito to highlight his government platform
Hipolito Mejia, the presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, and whom all independent surveys show has the strongest possibility of being the next President of the DR, has announced he will give details of his plan for government and his proposed solutions for key national problems tonight on TV. Several stations at 8 pm will transmit his talk.

Hatuey de Camps meets with Balaguer
Hatuey de Camps, president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, met with former President Joaquín Balaguer for two hours yesterday, say news reports. Decamps explained he discussed the national political situation, municipal budgets, garbage, and the preservation of the city's green areas with the former President. He also said he arranged a meeting between the former President and the Mayor of Santo Domingo, Johnny Ventura. He said they did not speak of a political alliance between the PRD and the PRSC because this would be premature.

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