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Daily News - Friday, 05 January 2007

Budget goes through Senate
With a vote of 22 to 7 the nation's 2007 budget plan was passed in the Senate yesterday, after two consecutive readings. The budget included an addendum the Executive Branch sent the Senate only a few hours earlier.
Increases in budgeted amounts approved by the Senate include: RD$300 million more for the Chamber of Deputies; RD$185 million more for the National Potable Water and Sewage Institute (INAPA); RD$175 million more for the Central Electoral Board (JCE) and RD$50 million more for the European National Authorizing Office (ONFED), RD$3 million more for the Supreme Court of Justice and RD$100 million for the Social Assistance Plan of the Presidency.
Listin Diario writes that it redistributes RD$1.14 billion to private and public institutions and increases the budgets of 25 entities for a total of RD$1,075,123,158 as well as an RD$62 million increase in the budgets of 10 subdivisions of private institutions. An additional RD$49 million will go to Public Health and another RD$100 million goes to the Presidency's Social Assistance Department. NGOs also suffered some setbacks in the budget. Only 479 NGOs were recognized in the budget and they will receive RD$684 million in 2007. According to Listin Diario, this is a reduction from 2,403 such entities that enjoyed state funding in previous years. The total budget for 2007 is RD$258 billion.
The original RD$234 million proposal of the Executive Branch divided funds as follows:
Public Debt 59.96 62.92
Treasury Obligations 28.56 23.43
Presidency 27.57 31.95
Public Health 24.94 23.61
Education 24.92 19.83
PublicWorks 22.00 6.84
Interior & Police 18.68 17.92
Finance 9.66 11.61
Armed Forces 8.98 8.66
Agriculture 6.37 6.04
Higher Education 3.83 2.78
Congress 3.69 3.66
Judicial Branch 3.19 3.22
Environment 2.97 2.84
Foreign Relations 2.61 2.30
Sports 1.90 1.89
Attorney General 1.99 1.51
Central Electoral Board 1.66 3.39
Industry & Commerce 1.42 1.14
Culture 984M 879M
Tourism 960M 960M
Labor 816M 1.33
Women 234M 242M
Youth 196M 186M
Chamber of Acounts 356M 356M
The bill now moves to the Chamber of Deputies.

Fernandez in Nicaragua
President Leonel Fernandez will fly to Managua next week to attend Daniel Ortega's investiture as president of Nicaragua. The ceremony is scheduled for 10 January and The Venezuelan, Bolivian, Mexican, Brazilian and Panamanian presidents have all confirmed their attendance.

Malecon beautification
Santo Domingo Mayor Roberto Salcedo has announced a beautification plan for Santo Domingo's Malecon seafront boulevard. The Malecon, which runs along the capital's George Washington Avenue, will be completely illuminated. Salcedo says that beach volleyball courts will also be built as well as a heliport. Salcedo says that all the preliminary details have been worked out with the EdeNorte and EdeSur electricity distribution companies. The volleyball courts will be built next to the go-cart racing track opposite the E. Leon Jimenes building, and the track itself will be remodeled to include a family-oriented recreational area.

Fighting HIV/AIDS
The director of the Presidential Council on AIDS (CopreSida) Humberto Salazar has informed the public that 500,000 tests for HIV/AIDS will be provided free of charge in 2007. Salazar said that it was an ambitious project and that 50,000 tests would be administered every month. Salazar also used the opportunity to deny claims that the government had neglected the fight against HIV/AIDS last year, saying that in fact the government is trying to maintain a structure that can help combat the disease.

JCE approves rules for primaries
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced the rules for political parties' meetings, conventions and primaries. These regulations determine spending limits for the primaries and control the political parties' pre-electoral campaigns. The rules allow the JCE to obtain information about the parties' spending on primaries and conventions and the budgets for the candidates, which should give a detailed summary of financial contributions received including the source of the donations, as well as a detailed summary of income and expenditure.

DR-CAFTA office
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce will set up an advisory office for DR-CAFTA tofor businesspeople and government so that new legislation and ventures comply with DR-CAFTA rules and regulations. Industry and Commerce Minister Francisco Javier Garcia specified that this office would be responsible for reviewing all bills prior to these being sent to Congress to make sure these are in harmony with DR-CAFTA to avoid fines for violations as stipulated in the treaty. Garcia mentioned the recent modifications to the fiscal reform which called for taxation of imported vehicles, but once it was determined that it was in conflict with DR-CAFTA it had to be modified before it was approved. Garcia says that this was the last obstacle to the country's entry into DR-CAFTA and that it is now just a matter of time before the free trade agreement with Central America and the US comes into effect.

Phasing in fuel price increases
Industry and Commerce Minister Francisco Javier Garcia has announced that the announced increase in the price of gasoline will be phased in over a four-week period so that consumers don't feel the burden of the increases immediately. The price increase is part of the government's new fiscal reform plan and will raise the price of premium and regular gasoline by RD$5 and diesel fuel by RD$3. The price hike also includes the application of a 13% and 16% ad valorem tax on imported fuels. This means that the total cost will go up by between RD$7.50 and RD$9 for regular and premium and RD$7 for diesel fuels. Garcia played down the new taxes by commenting that petroleum prices usually decline and that this trend could eventually offset the increase in prices.

The money for the metro
The Chamber of Deputies will be reviewing the latest proposed loans for the Santo Domingo Metro. The loans, which were ratified by the Senate last week are for EUR53,841,261. These funds will be used for the purchase of electro-mechanical equipment for line 1 of the Metro and were secured with the cooperation of the French Export Credit Agency.

Dario Contreras to be remodeled
Amidst complaints and scenes of patients waiting in hospital hallways, some in bed, sometimes not, it has been announced that the remodeling and amplification of the emergency room and intensive care units at the Dario Contreras hospital will be resumed. The Department of Health made the announcement through sub-director of Personnel Hector Otero and hospital head Hector Quezada. The money to continue the work comes from an RD$11 billion budget. Quezada says that the refurbished areas will feature all the latest technology and will accommodate 15 people comfortably. According to Quezada, Dario Contreras is the only trauma hospital in the Santo Domingo metropolitan area but it only has 250 hospital beds, the same number it had when it opened, in 1961. The hospital treats 45,000 people a year and Diario Libre reports that 62% of admissions are for motorcycle related injuries.

Spanish Attorney General visits DR
The Spanish Attorney general Candido Conde called in on President Leonel Fernandez yesterday and discussed plans to strengthen cooperation between the Dominican and Spanish justice systems. Conde also discussed his willingness to share information and expertise about the advances the Spanish have made in fighting corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime with Dominican prosecutors. Conde commented on the progress made by the Dominican legal system and is due to sign a cooperation agreement between the two countries in order to help fight international crime while in the DR.

New diplomats
Eight new ambassadors presented their credentials in December. These are: Patricia Fortier (Canada), Ian Alan Worthington (United Kingdom), Herman Portocarero (Belgium), Luis Emilio Sierra Grajales (Colombia), George B. Reyes (Philippines), Olexandr Gnyedykh (Ukraine), and Olufolajimi Modupe Akintola (Nigeria) and Maria Eugenia Nunez Madriz (Costa Rica).
The new United Kingdom ambassador, Ian Alan Worthington was born on 9 August 1958 and previously worked as head of the payment and cashier section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Finance Department. He has also served as Third Scientific Secretary at the UK Embassy in Moscow and Administrative Officer in Lusaka (Zambia), as well as Press Officer at the FCO's Public Information Department. He served as Second Commercial Secretary of the Embassy in Seoul and Deputy Chief of Mission in Vilnius (Lithuania), among other functions. He speaks German, French, Russian and a little Spanish. This is his first ambassadorial appointment.
This is also the first ambassadorial appointment for Canada's Patricia Fortier, after 23 years of government service. She was born on 26 January 1955. She studied at Queen's University where she received a MPA in 1979. She is a Weatherhead Fellow of Harvard University.The Weatherhead Center is the largest international research center within Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Prior to the post, Fortier worked as Minister-Counselor (Political) at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC; was senior advisor to an OAS high-level mission to Peru, and director of the Regional Security & Peacekeeping Division. She has a particular interest in environmental affairs, having worked as deputy executive director for the Earth Council in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Earth Council is an international non-governmental organization that promotes the implementation of the Earth Summit agreements. Before that she worked with the Canadian government Economic Relations with Developing Countries Division, the United Nations Division, and the Canadian International Development Agency. Abroad, she has also held diplomatic posts in India, Kenya and Zambia.
Herman Portocarero is a career diplomat and author, who was Belgian ambassador in Jamaica prior to his posting in the DR.
Luis Emilio Sierra Grajales (Colombia) is a lawyer and former Colombian senator (2002-2006).
George B. Reyes of the Philippines is a former ambassador to Cuba and Argentina.
Prior to his Dominican appointment, Olexandr Gnyedykh was the Ukrainian ambassador to Cuba.
Olufolajimi Modupe Akintola was Nigerian High Commission Chief in Jamaica, prior to his appointment as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Bush choice for ambassador
US President George Bush has chosen Paul Robert Fannin to replace Hans Hertell, who served as ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2001. The appointment is pending approval by the US Senate. Fannin, who has served as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, would be a political appointee like his predecessor Hans Hertell. Furthermore, Fannin was Presidential Elector for the US Electoral College for Arizona in 2000. The United States Electoral College is the official name of the group of Presidential Electors who are chosen every four years to cast the electoral vote and thereby elect the President and Vice President of the United States.
A lawyer and lobbyist, at the time of his appointment Fannin is a senior partner in the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Previously he worked in the same capacity at the law firm of Quarles & Brady.
A native of Phoenix, Fannin graduated with a BA degree in economics from Stanford University in 1957, served in the United States Air Force as a commissioned officer for three years and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1963. Fannin was president of the Junior Bar Section of the State Bar of Arizona and has participated as a speaker and moderator in continuing legal education programs relating to government relations for years. He was Chairman of the 1976 Phoenix Open Golf Tournament, Big Chief of the Phoenix Thunderbirds (Special Events Committee of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce), member of the City of Phoenix Environmental Commission, member of the Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials (appointed by the Supreme Court of Arizona), and has served on a variety of other governmental advisory committees.
In addition, he has served as director of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, director of the Arizona State University Law College Association, member of the Board of the Barrow Neurological Institute Foundation, and chairman and member of the Governor's Film and Television Advisory Board. He serves on a number of political candidates' committees.
His wife, Lisa, is a neuro-anesthesiologist who practices at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. There are three Fannin children: Paul Jr., Sheryl, and Joe.
See http://www.steptoe.com/professionals-102.html

Landing in Guatemala
Diario Libre reports that two Dominican registered planes en route from Cancun, Mexico landed without permission in the northern Guatemalan province of Peten. The illegal landings were recorded at 1pm (07:00 GMT) and just the pilots were on board. No reason for the landings has been released.

Illegal Haitians detained
Immigration officials are reporting the arrest of 280 Haitians who tried to cross over to the Dominican Republic at the northwestern border town of Manzanillo. This brings the total number of illegal immigrants detained to 1,700 in the last few days. Of the 280 intercepted, 175 were men.

Jewelry thieves go to jail
Three of the people involved in the theft of US$759,000 worth of jewelry and cash from George's jewelry store in Santo Domingo's Piantini district on 9 December last year have been sent to the Victoria prison on a temporary basis. The trio, named as Julio Cesar Diaz Caridad, Juan Manuel Diaz Carrasco and Cesar Michel Diaz are charged with facilitating the theft of the merchandise and money. The prosecution claims that by buying the stolen goods, the three men were complicit in the crime. The prosecution says that Diaz Carrasco put up a sum of RD$1.2 million to buy the stolen jewelry, while Diaz aided in the purchase of the merchandise.

Dogs for DNCD
American Airlines and the Dominican Airports Authority (Aerodom) have donated 10 K-9 drug-detection dogs to the Department of Drug Control (DNCD). The dogs will join the K-9 division at Las Americas International Airport (AILA). These dogs are trained and will be used specifically for drug finding operations.

Juan Luis and Oscar in People
Dominican singer/songwriter Juan Luis Guerra has been voted one of People Magazine's (Spanish Version) 100 most influential Latinos. Guerra, who burst on to the international music scene in 1992 with his Bachata Rosa album, says that he is very happy with the recognition. Also occupying a place on the list is world-famous Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta.

Baseball roundup
In last night's match up, Licey managed to get a much-needed win as they beat the seemingly unstoppable Gigantes (6-2) 3-2. Although still in third place, with a record of 4-4, Licey is now two games short of the lead. In the second match up the Aguilas kept things rolling smoothly and capitalized on a prime opportunity as they beat the lowly Azucareros (0-8) 4-1. The Aguilas (6-2) now move into a tie for first place in the post-season standings and can move into sole possession, providing they can squeeze out a win in this evening's head-to-head meeting with the Gigantes.
Tonight's games:
* Estadio Quisqueya 7:30
Azucareros vs. Licey
* Estadio Julian Javier 7:30
Aguilas vs. Gigantes.
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