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Daily News - 22 December 1999

Congress passes contract for airport privatization
The Chamber of Deputies passed the contract for the management of four international airports in Santo Domingo, including the two largest. The 20-year concession had been signed between the Dominican state and Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo XXI (Aerodom).
The contract establishes that Aerodom will be responsible for the administration, operation, maintenance, modernization, commercial exploitation, renewal and expansion of the airports. The consortium commits to invest US$203 million (US$96 million in Las Americas-Santo Domingo, US$47 million in Gregorio Luperon-Puerto Plata, US$55 million Arroyo Barril-Samaná and US$5 million in Maria Montez-Barahona) in a 24-month program to improve the infrastructure of all four airports to meet project traffic increases until the year 2015. A second round of improvements worth US$106 million (US$52 million, US$32 million, US$14 million, US$8 million, respectively) is foreseen to meet needs until the year 2030. It also promises to invest US$85 million during the contract period to promote and foster tourism in the DR.
Aerodom is a consortium made up by majority shareholder DR-based Operaciones Aeroportuarias del Caribe (OPASA), US-based Ogden Aviation Services, Canada-based Vancouver Airport Services (YVR), Italy-based Impreglio.
During the same session, the Chamber of Deputies moved favorably on the 2000 National Budget, which will total more than RD$50,000 million. The budget, which was modified in the Chamber of Deputies, now passes on to the Senate.

Earthquake in Cibao and south provinces
A 3.0 Richtner scale earthquake was felt in the Cibao and Southwestern region of the DR yesterday at 6:52 pm. It lasted seven seconds. The earthquake did not cause material or human losses. Seismologist Nelson Ramírez said the epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Cordillera Septentrional, in the north of the DR, and in the Southwest. The earthquake occurred along the two faults that run through the DR. Seismologists have forecast a major earthquake is imminent, as one is expected every 50 years, and would affect the Cibao and southwestern provinces that are located along the two faults.

More than US$12 million remodeling at Punta Cana Airport
El Siglo newspaper reports that RD$195 million (about US$12 million) have been invested in expansion and remodeling works at the Punta Cana International Airport along the East Coast. The airport was severely damaged by Hurricane Georges, but provided services a day after. The Punta Cana International Airport is privately-owned and operated by the Corporación Aeroportuaria del Este, a Grupo Punta Cana company. It began operations in 1984 handling 2,976 passengers. This year more than 650,000 passengers are expected to use the airport, up from 522,000 in 1998.

Dodgers training camp closed
The Los Angeles Dodgers were fined for violating US Major League Baseball rules and signing a minor. During the six-week investigation, the Dodgers admitted they had purposely falsified Adrian Beltré's birth date and signed the player as a 15-year old in 1994 when he was one year under the age limit. The club was ordered to pay Beltré the amount calculated, with interest, as compensation for the difference between the initial bonus and the amount he would have received a year later. Also, the Dodgers are prohibited for one year from scouting or signing any first-year players who reside in the DR, and are ordered to close their DR facility at Campo Las Palmas for one year. Commissioner Selig declined Beltré's request for free agency. He did so in part because the player failed to raise the issue in a timely manner and because of his apparent complicity in the violation.

2000 will be good year for DR economy
The president of the Association of Commercial Banks, José Manuel López Valdez, told the El Siglo newspaper that he forecasts that the present favorable macroeconomic conditions will be sustained in 2000. He forecasts that the exchange rate will maintain its present stability and interest rates will drop slightly next year. He believes that 2000 will be a good year for the economy, especially if macroeconomic and monetary equilibrium policies continue to be implemented by the monetary authorities. He says continued equilibrium in public finances and prudent monetary policies will result in a drop in inflation and stability in the exchange rate. He forecast slightly lower interest rates on deposits. He said it is not convenient that lending rates drop, because then deposits in pesos would not be competitive. He said that the unknown variable for next year that could most affect the DR is the price of fuel.
In the DR, deposits can be made in US dollars or in RD pesos. López Valdez said that banks are paying 3-4% on dollar savings accounts, and 6-7% on dollar certificates of deposits, and lending dollars at 11-12%.
Banks are paying up to 24% on deposits in pesos.

Adoptions in the DR
According to Teresa Rojas Fernández, most of the adoptions that occur in the DR are the result of the voluntary release of children by their living parents. Rojas is the director of the Organismo Rector de Proteccion de Niños, Niñas and Adolescentes, that supervises adoptions in the DR. She expressed her concern over the intermediaries that bring foreigners seeking children for adoption and indigent parents. In 1999, she said there have been 83 adoptions, of which 67 were by voluntary release. Only 17 orphans of both parents were adopted. Of the total, foreigners adopted 49. Rojas said that Spaniards have adopted the most Dominican children among foreigners, given the shared language which makes the adaptation process easier.

"Nueba Yol" to be showing on TV
The few that didn't get a chance to see "Nueba Yol", the DR's record-breaking film, can view it tonight and on Sunday at 9 pm on cable TV. Channel 42 (Cinecanal) of Telecable Nacional will be transmitting the film on 22 and 26 December. "Nueba Yol" tells the bittersweet story of a Dominican who migrates to New York City.

Christmas in the Colonial City
"Navidad 99" is the celebration of Christmas organized by the Ayuntamiento de Santo Domingo (city municipality), Secretaría de Turismo (ministry of tourism), Comisión de Monumentos (historic monuments commission), Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural (office of cultural heritage), and the Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial (board of the colonial city).
Activities start today, Wednesday, 1 December and continue all month long. Most of the events take place at the Parque Colón (Isabel la Católica corner Conde), the Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial-Palacio Borgellá (Isabel la Católica 103) or the Palacio Consistorial (Arz. Meriño corner Conde), Cathedral of Santo Domingo (Arz. Meriño corner Arz. Nouel), Capilla de los Remedios (Calle Las Damas corner Mercedes).
Today's schedule of events is:

Wednesday, 22 December

6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Concert by the Biblico Cristiano Choir. Directed by Eglass Francisco. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Anahay in Concert sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.

Winter baseball games and standing
Wednesday, 22 December 1999
Santo Domingo: Pollos vs. Licey
San Pedro de Macorís: Aguilas vs. Estrellas

Team standing as of Tuesday, 21 December 1999:
Aguilas Cibaeñas 26-16 (.619)
Leones del Escogido 25-17 (.595) -1 games
Tigres del Licey 20-22 (.476), -6 games
Estrellas Orientales 20-24 (.455) ­7 games
Pollos del Cibao 15-27 (.357) ­11 games

The League takes a break until Sunday, 26 December.

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