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Daily News - Wednesday, 06 June 2007

DR1 to break for Thursday holiday
DR1 Daily News will not be updated tomorrow, Thursday, 7 June on the occasion of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church holiday. Normally, this would have been a bustling domestic tourism long weekend, but it is unlikely that droves of Dominicans will be hitting the beaches because most schools are holding their end of year exams. Students have been summoned to tests on Friday, with more to follow on Monday and Tuesday. Regardless, Thursday's news will be compiled and presented in the Friday news digest.

Economy heating up
The Economy, Planning and Development (SEPD) Minister Temistocles Montas gave the first indication that the Dominican economy was heading towards an inflationary cycle when he told an audience of business and civic leaders that the "economy was overheating" due to the rapid growth experienced during the first quarter. Montas, speaking at the Hotel Gran Almirante in Santiago de los Caballeros, said that "there is a danger that if the pace of growth is maintained, the year could end with a deficit in the current accounts that could put economic stability in danger, and be mirrored by increasing inflation". The SEPD minister revealed for the first time that the IMF team that recently visited the country was also worried about this possibility. Montas was emphatic in stating that the government did not have a cash flow problem, but that the concern stems from "the overheating of the economy". The Santiago Development Association (APEDI) sponsored the minister's talk on the "Present and Future of the Dominican Economy". According to Montas, an increase in imports during the first quarter, far above what was expected, is what has caused the economic malaise.

Tax break = RD$1.9 billion
The recently announced tax break could amount to RD$1.95 billion by the end of 2008. According to the head of the Department of Taxes, Juan Hernandez, in 2007 tax payers will get a RD$250 million relief package, and for 2008, the estimate is estimated to reach RD$1.7 billion. These reductions come from the lowering of income taxes contained in the Fiscal Flexibility Law currently in Congress. The tax rate would fall from 29% to 25% and the ad-valorem tax would be reduced by 80% on cigarettes and by 50% on beer and alcoholic drinks.
The National Young Entrepreneurs Association (ANJE) had insisted the January 2007 tax reform that increased taxes was not necessary because the cross checks in the new Department of Taxes invoicing system would generate a windfall of revenues as has occurred. But ANJE is also pointing out that government spending in the first quarter of the year is up RD$4.7 billion (14.3%) compared to the same period the previous year.

Motorcycle registration to start?
Oh, come on! For the umpteenth time the Department of Taxes (DGII) has announced the dispatch of license plates for motorcycles. Now, the start up date is Next Monday, 11 June. The process will begin, as usual, in Santo Domingo. The cost will be RD$250 for the plates and RD$350 if there is a transfer of ownership involved. Anyone who doesn't have motorcycle registration papers must provide a valid "cedula" or tax code number (RNC). Once the process is completed, the head of the DGII said that the AMET traffic police would arrest and seize any motorcycle on the road without proper documentation.

New audit for Social Security
The National Council on Social Security (CNSS) revealed yesterday that it needs a new audit. The reasons given were the fact that certain "weaknesses" were discovered during the most recent audit, although there were no "irregularities" as such. Spokespersons for the CNSS did not say just what the "weaknesses" were. The new audit comes after Listin Diario newspaper revealed that RD$141 million in Social Security payments that had been invoiced were taken off the books with no paperwork to back up the operation. The Chamber of Accounts announced a new audit of the system recently, but the results have not been made public.

Puig's case turns comic
The accusations of corruption in the planned construction of resorts in the National Park of the East made by Environment Minister Max Puig are becoming part of a political comedy, according to some observers. Diario Libre carries a front-page article that says the comedy headliners are Puig and Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez. According to the widely read paper, the Senate leader said yesterday that he would not meet with the Environment Minister who had promised to reveal the names of the legislators involved in an attempt to get title to lands within a Protected Area. Pared Perez said "we are not going to accept his visit, since he (Puig) used the press to make his accusations, he should use the same media and be responsible enough to identify the legislators who are covered by the accusation." Minister Puig, who made a lengthy speech at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) yesterday, did not refer to the issue.

Tourism minister calls for support
Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez has challenged the tourism industry by saying that he would resign if the spokesmen of the industry did not come out in his support. Jimenez is being challenged with the publication of reports of conflicts of interest with his work at the ministry and his private affairs as one of the country's leading realtors. Luis Lopez, president of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association came forth expressing his support, and the Playa Dorada Hotel & Condominium Association published an advertisement with their support.

Many still isolated
With 18 bridges and six water crossings destroyed by the recent rains, at least one hundred communities are either cut off or nearly cut off from the rest of the country. This isolation prevents assistance from reaching the needy and keeps crops from getting to market. For example the road from Punal to Colorado is cut and this affects thirty nearby communities. The road between Villa Tapia and La Vega is out and eight bridges in Moca have effectively stalled communication between most communities in Espaillat province. As a result, President Fernandez is traveling to San Francisco de Macoris and La Vega today, to see the damage for himself. The President will also be visiting Guanabana in Moca, Espaillat province. Next Friday the Chief Executive will make his promised return trip to Dajabon to see how repairs to the town, which sustained severe damage in a tornado last month, are coming along.

DR emigrants send money
A recent study in Spain reveals that 88% of Dominicans immigrants send money back home. While the Dominicans lead the list of people who send money, they are also among those who send the lowest amount of money. The study was carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)'s Multilateral Investment Fund, and financed by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy. The study, as reported in Hoy newspaper, revealed that 77% of Dominican emigrants send less that EUR200 each month. The study explains that emigrants send money home to help support their families. On the other hand, Argentineans, who make up the group of Latin Americans with the highest income levels, only showed 52% of their emigrants sending remittances back home. The average remittance for all Latin Americans was EUR270, and the average Dominican remittance was below that level. Dominicans are the second lowest wage earners in Spain, preceded only by the Bolivians. Nearly half of the Dominicans (48%) earn incomes of less than EUR10,000 per annum and 45% earn more. In total, Latin Americans sent EUR3.730 billion back home. Dominicans are increasingly taking jobs as domestic help (maids, nannies and chauffeurs), construction (carpenters, painters, etc) and in the services industries (cooks, waiters, hotel staff).

Nuts
No, dear reader, this is not the famous statement made by General McAuliffe of the101st Airborne trapped in Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. It is the real thing. Macadamia nuts, in fact. Plan Sierra, the nation's best managed and most imaginative forestry program sponsored a seminar to promote the production of macadamia nuts as an central part of saving the country's forests and improving the lives of the campesinos who live in the region. The seminar was coordinated by the Agro-Business Board (JAD) and the Dominican Macadamia Cluster. All aspects of the crop were discussed, even ideas for international marketing. The lead speaker, Salvador Demallistre, said that the crop "will be the salvation of the forests and of the Dominican campesinos" due to macadamia's excellent economic and ecological potential. The Dominican Macadamia Cluster is proposing a massive harvest of macadamia in areas such as San Jose de las Matas, Jarabacoa, Polo, Barahona, Constanza, Loma Quita Espuela in San Francisco de Macoris and other places. As well as the JAD, several international groups are working to promote the nut harvest. Representatives from Pedernales, Barahona, Bonao, Jimani and Padre de las Casas attended the seminar, during which plans were announced for the creation of three tree nurseries. Two other key speakers at the seminar were Jesus Moreno, the CEO of Bon Industries, who guaranteed the purchase of all macadamia grown under the proper conditions, and Manuel Arsenio Urena, the pioneer who introduced macadamia production to the Dominican Republic in 1981.

800 never show up
According to Jose Manuel Hernandez, the District Attorney for Santo Domingo, at least 800 people accused of crimes and under judicial restrictions never show up for their trial dates. As a result, the DA has put their names and faces on a website and declared them to be fugitives from justice. According to the DA, this situation is the result of the accused making light of the restraints placed upon them by the courts, and therefore 800 cases are pending a solution. According to Hernandez, the new Penal Code requires that a person be physically present for trial. Speaking very plainly to reporters from Diario Libre, the jurist said that he had created a special department to tackle these issues "given the Police Department's deficiencies in acting in these cases." The District Attorney spoke to reporters as he signed an agreement with the director of the Presidential Office for Technology in order to publish the fugitives' names and faces in the government website.

The general's thieves are dead
At about 5:30am yesterday morning, retired General Francisco Reynoso de la Cruz was getting ready for his daily constitutional when he was attacked by two thieves who had been "working" the neighborhood of Los Corales in eastern Santo Domingo. The general drew his weapon but was wounded in the struggle. However, a police patrol was in the neighborhood and intercepted the muggers near the V Centennial Race Course, just a few meters from the robbery site. Shots were fired and the two thieves, identified (according to Listin Diario) as Carlos Valerio and "Tony" were fatally wounded and died on the way to the hospital. According to local witnesses, the pair had robbed two other houses before coming upon the general. They had stolen a sword from a house on Rodolfo Machon St., which was found in the general's house. A few minutes later they broke through the iron bars of a house belonging to Alfredo Mancebo where they stole a radio and an inverter as well as a bunch of clothes later found abandoned in a nearby vacant lot. Then they went to the general's house. According to Diario Libre the general is recovering from his wound at the Ramon de Lara Military Hospital. According to the paper, their sources in the police department said that the cops had recovered the general's sidearm as well as another 9mm pistol and a .38 cal. Revolver.

DR vs Canada in volleyball
The DR needs to defeat Canada in the Second Men's Pan American Cup taking place at the Volleyball Pavilion of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center to pass to the semi-finals. While the Dominicans now will face Canada in the quarterfinals phase, Mexico will meet Panama. Teams from Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Trinidad & host Dominican Republic are competing in the event that ends on 8 June. The tournament is a qualifier for the 2008 America's Cup in Brazil. See www.norceca.org/endex.htm for game updates and http://www.dr1.com/calendar for more on upcoming events in the DR.
 
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