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Daily News - Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Government convenes CNS
The government has convened the National Committee on Salaries (CNS) to discuss the latest wage proposals coming from the tripartite conversations carried out over the past week and a half. The meeting will take place at the Ministry of Labor. The committee has the authority to increase minimum wage standards, even without the consent of labor or management. The National Council of Union Solidarity (CNUS) announced that it will send representatives to the meeting and then visit the National Congress to tell the legislators just what is facing the working class. The management spokespersons told Diario Libre reporters that they would be holding a press conference today in order to explain their position and the reasoning behind their proposals. Mediator Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado greeted the intervention of the CNS as a sign that workers would get a salary increase. Talks so far for a wage increase are at a standstill because labor maintains its insistence in a 25% increase for all those who make up to RD$30,000 a month, and business sector has accepted a 15% increase but of minimum wages only.

Government buys ambulances
The government has purchased 45 new ambulances at US$113,000 each. President Leonel Fernandez announced the creation of a National Network of Emergency Medical Response operated by the Ministry of Public Health. The ambulances will be sent to the 32 different provinces, and Santo Domingo will get 14 of them. According to Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas, the ambulances will service a range within a 12-minute ride of a public health center. The personnel were trained in Spain.

Remittances save the bacon
The Treasury Minister Vicente Bengoa revealed that last year US$2.7 billion entered the Dominican economy, and this permitted the government to pay the petroleum invoices, avoiding a collapse in the economy. According to the minister, who met with the executives of the El Caribe, remittances have grown by 12% each year since 2000. According to his estimates, this year the country should receive about US$3 billion in remittances. Over the last ten years, more than US$20 billion has entered the Dominican Republic, sent home by overseas Dominicans. This is more than ten times the assistance received from the World Bank or the IMF. Bengoa pointed out that the US$2.75 billion was almost exactly the same as the billing for petroleum imports.

INAPA sends water to Bani
The town of Bani, to the southwest of Santo Domingo is receiving potable water via tanker trucks as a short-term solution to the problem of an inadequate aqueduct serving the town. Victor Diaz Rua, director of INAPA, the National Institute for Potable Water met with Listin Diario editor Miguel Franjul, the bishop of Bani, Freddy Breton and the head of the civic group, Bani Alliance, and promised that INAPA would end the scarcity of potable water for the provincial capital. New water pumps, wells and a new aqueduct all form part of the long-term solution.

Joy along the border
The decision of the Supreme Court that eliminated the changes to Law 28-01 was greeted with jubilation along the border where there is now hope for a renewed series of investments. Law 28-01 encourages investment in the seven border provinces with Haiti under a completely tax free protocol. Pedernales, Barahona, Independencia, Bahoruco, Elias Pina, Monte Cristi and Santiago Rodriguez are the poorest and least developed provinces, and attracting investments has been very difficult. Under the initial provisions of the incentive law, cement, soft drinks and assembly businesses set up shop in the provinces. However, pressure from industrialists in Santo Domingo forced through Law 236-05 which took away many of the tax privileges. Last week the Supreme Court declared the provisions of Law 236-05 to be in violation of the Constitution. According to El Caribe, investments along the frontier will increase, and more jobs will be created. The court's decision was not met with universal glee, as industrialist Celso Marranzini criticized the fact that the VAT tax was not kept on products proceeding from border industries. As reported in Hoy, Marranzini said that this was an unfair trade practice, and that the businesses along the border should receive other incentives, but not the VAT exemption.

Deputies take stances
Last night the PLD ruling party deputies that follow pre-presidential candidate Danilo Medina and those that are backing the re-election plans of President Leonel Fernandez got into a heated discussion, and 53 of the PLD deputies left the Chamber of Deputies in a protest. The basis for this protest was the fact that many of the followers of Danilo Medina had been fired from their government jobs and, as of last night, they had not been reinstated. The deputies said that they will not return to the Chamber until those people are returned to their jobs.

Hot potatoes
A record potato crop is currently being harvested in Constanza. This year's crop is expected to reach 30 million pounds (300,000qqs.) As a result, consumers will enjoy lower prices according to Ramon Hernandez and Maria Esperanza Alvarez, leaders of the farmers from Tireo and Constanza. Both officials were in agreement that the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture played an important part in the increase in production. This year's crop used selected seeds from the United States, Holland and Germany.

Looking for gold and silver
Unigold, a Canadian firm whose principle shareholder is Shairco, has announced a US$30 million investment in explorations for gold, silver, and zinc in the vicinity of Restauracion on the Haitian frontier. Shairco is a Saudi Arabian company owned by Alshair family, one of the largest fiberglass manufacturers in the Middle East, and currently the largest of the family owned businesses in Saudi Arabia. Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso made the announcement on behalf of the company. Unigold has been authorized to conduct geological explorations in the area since 2004 under Decree 536-04.

Less new car sales this year
New car dealers are expecting an important decrease in sales, given the pattern over the past two years. According to the Association of Vehicle Manufacturers Concessionaires (ACOFAVI), the 2006 sales figure of 27,500 new car sales is expected to fall to 24,000 in 2007. During the first two months of the year, sales are off by 11% compared to the same period from 2006. However, in December of 2006 record sales were reported. According to Enrique Fernandez, the executive director of ACOFAVI, the main cause for the cooling off of sales is that in December many people pushed forward their purchases out of fear of a price increase with the "fiscal correction." He discarded the possibility that people were waiting for the DR-CAFTA to reduce prices of new vehicles. According to Fernandez, less than 10% of the new cars coming into the DR are from the United States.

Rains to continue
Authorities are maintaining the alerts for low-laying areas subject to flooding as the Weather Department warns of a stationary front over the Mona Channel that will bring more rains to an already soaked nation. The recent rains have produced thousands of displaced persons and a reported five deaths. Luperon Tourist Highway between Santiago and Puerto Plata was cut by landslides, halting all transit. In other areas of the Cibao Valley some 20 communities have been isolated by flood waters. Porfirio Brito, the regional director of Public Works, reported landslides along the Luperon Highway in the vicinity of Tubagua. Civil engineer Orlando Franco told El Caribe reporters that a comprehensive soil study that has been ordered might show the need to re-route the highway itself due to the continuing slides. Even the highway between Navarrete and Puerto Plata was affected by the runoff due to drainage problems.
The rains also caused the deterioration of the beach expansion in the Puerto Plata area. The National Emergency Commission reported that the flooding rivers carried away thousands of tons of sand from the newly remodeled beaches of Long Beach, Costatlantica and Playa Dorada.

Cardinal looking good
Archbishop of Santo Domingo,Nicolas de Jesus Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez told reporters that he was feeling fine after his triple by-pass operation at the Plaza de la Salud CEDIMAT medical facility in Santo Domingo. He said that he would begin his pastoral duties slowly in April. In a photo in Hoy, the Cardinal is seen speaking with the surgeon that performed the operation, Dr. Freddy Madera.

PUCMM students to train in Disney
The Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) signed an agreement with Disney Corporation so that students from the PUCMM Hotel Management School can carry out internships in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The PUCMM is working with the Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), of the State University of New York system in this program. The students will receive wages and instruction in the areas of hotel management and food and beverage during their six to seven months training period. Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado signed for the PUCMM, Carl Haynes for TC3 and Kristi Breen, the college recruiting manager of the Walt Disney World College Program, for Disney.

Charitin gets her Soberano
Charitin Goico, "Hispanic America's Blond", finally received the highest award from the Association of Show Business Writers (ACROARTE), the Soberano. The award, part of the Casandra Awards that every year honor the best in show business, was presented by Rafael Menicucci, the president of the Presidente-beer producing company, sponsors of the event. The blonder than blond entertainer told reporters that she had waited a long time for the award, and dedicated it to the Lord, her family and her husband. This year Paulina Rubio received a statuette from Juan Luis Guerra.
The winners were:
Classics, Theater & the Movies:
Best Theater Actor of the Year: Waddys Jaquez (Cero)
Best Theater Actress of the Year: Carlota Carretero (Cero)
Best Theater Director: Waddys Jaquez (Cero)
Best Drama Production: Cero (Waddys Jaquez)
Best Children's Play: Blanca Nieve y los siete enanitos (Alina Abreu)
Best Movie Actor: Roberto Angel Salcedo (Un macho de mujer)
Best Movie Actress: Lumy Lizardo (El Sistema)
Best Movie Director: Humberto Espinal (El Sistema)
Dance, Music and Shows:
Best Classical Dancer: Lisbell Piedra
Best Classical/Modern Choreographer: Isadora Bruno
Best Classical/Modern Performance: La bella y la bestia (Amaury Sanchez)
Best Popular Show Choreographer: Chiqui Haddad
Best Classical Vocal: Marianela Sanchez
Most Outstanding Dominican Artist Abroad: Anais
Best Popular Group Abroad: Aventura
Best Merengue Orchestra: Hector Acosta
Best Salsa Musician: Michell
Best Pop Rock: Panky y Los Manolos
Best Contemporary Religious Music: Padre Chelo: Renacer en el Espiritu
Best Orchestration and Musical Arranger: Ramon Orlando
Best Songwriter: Anthony Romeo Santos
Best Music CD: Sigo siendo yo, merengue song by Hector Acosta
Merengue of the Year: Como me curo, Alejandro Martinez, vocals Hector Acosta
Bachata of the Year: Princesa, lyrics by Rafael Cespedes, vocals Frank Reyes
Concert of the Year: Aventura on time, Aventura
Best Show: Luisito Marti is a show, Luisito Marti
Best Vocals: Pavel Nunez
Best Bachata Performer: Anthony Santos
Best Grassroots Music Group: El Prodigio
Television & Radio:
Best Investigative Journalism or Special Program: Nuria (Nuria Piera, Color Vision)
Best Daily Variety TV program: Con Freddy y punto (Freddy Beras, Color Vision)
Best Weekly Variety TV Program: 9x9 Roberto (Roberto Angel Salcedo, Color Vision)
Best Weekly Revue: Hola ente (Antena Latina)
Best Children's TV program: Parque intrepido (Alan Brito, Antena Latina)
Best Youth TV Program: Iandra Full (Teleantillas)
Best TV Host: Jochy Santos (Divertido con Jochy, Telesistema)
Best Comedy Program: Lumy, camara, accion (Telecentro, Canal 13)
Best Comedian: Fernando Rodriguez, Color Vision
Best Radio Broadcaster: Jesus Nova (CDN)
Best Presenter: Milagros German (Chevere Nights, Telesistema)
Best TV Special: Tatico siempre (Chaljub Mejia and Huchi Lora)
Best Music Video: Doce de la noche (Minino, directed by Alberto Zayas)
Best Dominican Film Production: Un macho de mujer (Alfonso Rodriguez)
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