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Daily News - Thursday, 04 October 2007

They did it, so we could, too
The PLD party has taken upon itself defending the US$130 million in promissory notes scandal affecting the Fernandez administration. In dispute is a claim that the President unilaterally authorized the director of the Office of Supervisors of Public Works (OISOE) to sign for the taking on of the commercial bank credit, bypassing the regular procedure of submitting the commercial bank loan to congressional review. The PLD party is majority in the Congress.
Knowledge that the country had taken on the US$130 million loan only surfaced after the existence of the promissory was denounced by the PRD opposition party.
Defending the government taking on the debt, the PLD argued that prior to taking on the debt the government consulted with PRD political party lawyer Virgilio Bello Rosa who indicated that Art. 55 of the Constitution allows the President to sign for the financing.
To justifying the operation, the PLD spokesmen are emphasizing their predecessors did the same. Yesterday, in a press conference, the PLD came up with details on a similar transaction during the Mejia administration. The PLD threw the ball to the PRD court demanding that the PRD explain in 48 hours what that government did with US$155 million obtained through special powers of attorney for letters of credit issued by then President Mejia to today PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado, when he was minister of Public Works during the Mejia government. The PLD says that Vargas Maldonado received authorization to open five letters of credit to the governmental Banco de Reservas for US$60 million, US$40million, US$30 million and US$25 million each in 2001. The money would be payable the next year. The power of attorney was signed to favor a previously unheard of company, Jordania Worldwide Trading & Consulting (WTC)
News commentators have demanded the government give explanations as to the use of the US$130 million, as this loan was not contemplated in the 2007 National Budget.

Hold on cigar tax increase
Agriculture Minister Salvador Jimenez celebrated the veto that US President George Bush made yesterday to the bill that would have made Dominican cigars sold in the US much more expensive. Jimenez said the tax would have meant losses in sales of an estimated 30%, or about US$100 million, and 10,000 jobs, as reported in El Caribe.
Jorge Mercado of the Cibao Tobacco Growers said that this will reenergize the tobacco industry in the DR.
The veto stops the increase in the federal excise tax on cigars from the current US$0.05 to a US$3.00 per cigar cap. Both the House and Senate had approved the bill, but the House did not have enough votes to override the veto. Nevertheless, the threat to sales of Dominican cigars in the US is not over. According to cigar sources, until new legislation is negotiated between the US Congress and President to reauthorize the health care program, the tax could resurface.
Democrats say they won't let the bill die and will look to override the President's decision meaning they will need 2/3rds vote majority to do so.
You can read more in the New York Times.

Petrol changes
Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa announced the renegotiating of the PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela. Bengoa said the government will be financing 50,000 barrels per shipment, up from 30,000 barrels. The modification comes after petrol prices have increased.
Vicente Bengoa, Hacienda Minister, is in Venezuela negotiating the increases and was not able to give a timetable for when a new contract would be signed. Bengoa explained that in case world prices of petroleum increase to US$100 per barrel, Venezuela will finance 50% of the petroleum for the country, meaning that the DR would have to only make cash payments for US$50 per barrel.
According to Diario Libre the DR, in 2008, will begin to pay the petroleum that it has been receiving since 2006. The PetroCaribe agreement was signed in 2006 and allows Caribbean nations to receive Venezuela petroleum at preferential prices. The agreement also gives countries a two-year grace period to begin paying the capital and the interest on that petroleum. The countries have 25 years to pay the bills.

Seven metal exporters authorized
The Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) announced that seven of 19 metal exporters have been licensed to continue exporting metal scraps, as reported in Hoy. The authorized companies are Alejandro Valdez Marmolejos, Exportadora de Vegetales Dominicanos, Reciclaje Unimer, Pisos y Techados, Torginol, Aluminio Nacionales and La Contreras.
The decision comes in a government effort to reduce the export of stolen metals. The theft of electrical and telephone cabling has increased due to attractive export prices for copper wiring.

JCE okays Candelier
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) yesterday authorized the Partido Accion Popular (PAP) to run in the May 2008 presidential election. The party has nominated retired Major General Pedro de Jesus Candelier for President. Candelier made a reputation for himself as a strongman when appointed to the Forestry Department during a former President Balaguer administration. He is also a former deputy director of the Metropolitan Transport Authority and has been chief of the National Police. Father Rogelio, a leading Catholic Church priest, has accused Candelier of illicit wealth and the death of more than 600 when he was chief of the Police. Candelier presents himself as an alternate to traditional political parties.
The JCE also recognized the Alternative Democratic Movement (MODA) and designated 36 new electoral boards.
Recognition by the JCE will allow for the parties to receive funding from the electoral organization.
The second part of the recognition process will determine if the two new parties' colors, symbols and slogans are similar to any of the other existing parties slogans.
Candelier explained that he was waiting for recognition so he could officially present his credentials for the 2008 presidential elections.

Legalization office opened
The Civil Registry at the Centro de los Heroes (Feria) is opening up a new legalization office that guarantees the legalization of documents in 15 minutes or less. The new office, to be located at the Republica del Libano Avenue in the Centro de los Heroes, will have 10 attendants, 9 for the public and 1 for messengers from the different registries. The inauguration of the office will be today at 10am. A seated waiting area with air-conditioning has been habilitated. Previously, those awaiting for the legalization procedure had to make long lines in the sun.

E-UASD goes online
The UASD is beginning a pilot plan that will allow students to receive basic education and law classes online. UASD rector Roberto Reyna that the plan will begin next semester. Around 60 teachers are being trained in using the virtual classroom and by the end of the month 100 more will be added to the training program. Students will still be required to be physically present for exams.

EPA's need work
Import Representatives from Liquors and Wines (RIVLAS) have voiced their opposition to the proposal by the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery that would exclude whiskeys and wines from liberalization under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that Caricom is negotiating with the European Union. Officials from RIVLAS say that excluding spirits would contradict the treatment that whiskeys and spirits receive with the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). RIVLAS cited article 5.1 and the Declaration XXXI of the Cotonou Agreement that states that the DR must give the same preferential treatment to the EU as it does to any developed nation, such as would be the case of the United States under the DR-CAFTA.
Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso left for Jamaica yesterday to participate in a special Cariforum Countries Heads of State and Government meeting with the hopes of pounding out the details of the EPA. Among the details that need working out are regional preference, similar treatment by the DR towards the EU as is done under the DR-CAFTA and the amount of products that will be excluded, among others.

Increasing export quality
The Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD), Industry and Commerce and National Department for Quality Control (SEIC) are introducing the Certification System for Exporting Companies Program," that will include the participation of 18 companies throughout the DR. The program looks to standardize and adopt export norms in line with international standards of exportation. This is part of an overall government plan to strengthen competitiveness in the exportation sector.

Sports update
Big Papi's big bat helped the Boston Red Sox take a 1-0 series lead over the Anaheim Angels in this year's AL Division Series. Ortiz hit a shot to left field and the Sox now lead the series 1-0. In other post-season action, the Rockies beat the Phillies 4-2 and the Cubs lost out to the Diamondbacks 3-1.
Dominican track star Felix Sanchez won a gold medal in Taegu, South Korea. The 400 meter hurdler ran the race in 49.05, one of his slowest times, though Sanchez is slowly regaining his 2004 form. Sanchez is still recovering from injuries and is making his come back in preparation for the Beijing Olympics where he hopes to recapture his 2004 gold medal glory.

Green alert for 12 provinces
The National Weather Office (ONAMET) forecasts continued rains for the next 24 hours and has increased green alerts for 12 provinces. Santo Doming, Santiago, Samana, Espaillat, Monte Plata, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Duarte, Dajabon, Independencia, San Cristobal and Monte Cristi are all under green alert.

Santo Domingo film festival
If you're in Santo Domingo between Thursday, 4 October and Saturday, 13 October, you will be able to enjoy some extraordinary films. Showings include international award-winning films. The Muestra Internacional de Cine de Santo Domingo will take place at the Palacio del Cine in Bella Vista Mall on Sarasota Avenue. Films start showing at 5pm, with three screenings scheduled for each evening. The festival opens with Chilean comedy, "El rey de los huevones."
We are listing the titles of the films that will be featured and a website link for the plot and other details:
"El rey de los huevones" (The King of Fools, 2006 comedy, Chile)
"Fuga" (Flight, Pablo Larrain, drama, Chile)
"El carnaval de Sodoma" (Carnival of Sodom, Arturo Ripstein, Mexico)
"Mas que a nada en el mundo" (More Than Anything in the World, Mexico)
"O ano em que meus pais sairam de ferias" (The Year my Parents went on Holiday, Drama, Cao Hamburger, Brazil, 2006.)
"Sonar no cuesta nada" (Dreaming doesn't cost a thing, Rodrigo Triana, Comedy, Colombia, 2006)
"La edad de la peseta" (Silly Age, Cuba, 2006, drama)
"La Trahison" (The Betrayal, Philippe Faucon, France, 2006, drama)
"Hay que ser duro! (Tough Enough, Knallhart, drama 2006, Germany)
"Persona non grata" (Poland, 2005)
"El amor y la ciudad" Romantic drama film (Love and the City, Teresa Constantini, 2006, Argentina)
"La vida abysmal" (Living on the Edge, 2007, Spain)
"Dia y noche" (Day and Night, Simon Staho, 2004, Denmark)
For the complete listing of the films, see program at http://www.muestradecine.com (horarios link)
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