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Daily News - Tuesday, 20 November 2007

More jobs coming
The Huwer firm is estimating that in the next seven years the DR will create 250,000 new jobs in the area of telecommunications-based services (call centers). The government commissioned report indicates that the DR has the necessary tools to continue attracting a growing number of US as well as European businesses. According to Eddy Martinez, president of the Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD), this will promote bilingualism in Dominican students and will force schools to implement improved education programs. Martinez said that the job boom would take place in two stages, the first of which would involve the creation of 100,000 jobs.
As reported in Hoy, Martinez says that the situation of the Dominican free zones could improve as Chinese firms pay better wages and invest in environmental controls, which will increase cost of Chinese exports.

Hanes stays in Santiago FTZ
The Dominican Free Trade Zone Association has announced that the company Hanesbrand Inc. would not be leaving Santiago's free trade zone (FTZ). Hanes, a leading underwear manufacturer, had announced earlier this year that it was ceasing operations in the DR. ADOZONA president Fernando Capellan said that Hanes' decision to stay was partly due to the support that sector has received from the government. Capellan explained that the Preservation and Creation of Jobs Fund is one of the main initiatives announced by President Leonel Fernandez to strengthen and promote sustainability in the sector. In a press release, Hanes has also announced that its factory in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico would be moved to Santiago as part of its global restructuring program.

Vega sees problems in buying Shell
Economist Bernardo Vega says that the government's purchase of Shell's shares in the Dominican Refinery (Refidomsa) could become a receptacle for public sector jobs given to political appointees and known as 'botellas'. The former governor of the Central Bank fears that the current payroll of 63 people could balloon to 630 or 6,300 if the government buys Shell's shares. Vega also says that a foreign company should be hired to run the Refinery so that it doesn't just house the members of political parties. Vega said that what is of most concern is the danger of making Venezuela the country's sole petroleum supplier. As reported in Hoy, Vega said that Shell would source fuel from the least costly supplier. He questioned whether Pedevesa, which he says has been politicized and is managed by a relative of President Hugo Chavez, will be able to meet the demand. The DR is a signatory of the Petrocaribe agreement, that enables governments to postpone payments of purchases for 25 years. He explained that Refidomsa under Shell would post tenders for purchases because of the 50,000 barrels Venezuela has committed to supply under Petrocaribe there were usually logistical problems or the fuel was sold at hirer prices than other suppliers would have it available. Vega also said this would increase the influence of Chavez in the country, which he considered a negative.

Energy sector deficit increasing
Engineer Bernardo Castellanos says that it is possible that the energy sector deficit could reach US$600 million, US$400 million above the 2007 energy subsidy, which had been established at US$400 million. Castellanos said that the government has never been able to meet its goals when it came to energy subsidies. Castellanos added that according the monthly reports on the efficiency of the energy sector, found at www.cdeee.gov.do, the power distributors are paying the generators at the same price as the non-regulated users.

Ministry defends aggregate extraction
The Ministry of Environment estimates that about four million cubic meters of construction material will be needed for building projects for victims of Tropical Storm Noel, which justifies removing sand and gravel from the country's rivers, even after a decree prohibited the extractions. The ministry said that removing the gravel could also be a solution for the flooding risk for some communities that are located near rivers. Victoria Garcia, deputy environment minister in charge of Water and Soils, said that it is possible that all of the four million cubic meters might not have to be extracted. She said that because of Noel many rivers have accumulated materials which could cause flooding. She added that each day the DR is becoming more vulnerable to flooding because of this over-accumulation of materials in rivers.

Everybody back to classes
The Ministry of Education is announcing that by next Monday all students and all schools in the DR will return to normal. Many schools are being used as shelters for people driven out of their homes by Tropical Storm Noel, and many students weren't able to attend classes as a result. In all, 50,000 students and 700 teachers were kept out of their schools because of Noel.

Government received much money
A report on public debt sent from the Ministry of Treasury to the Senate indicates that the government has received US$777.3 million in external funds, of which US$366.8 million have been directed towards investment opportunities and US$410.5 million towards the budget and a balance of payments. The report also indicates that at the close of the third quarter of 2007 the public sector debt was at US$8.343 billion, which is US$11 million less than in July of this year. This represents a 0.1% decrease in the debt and indicates that the amount represents 25.4% of GDP, base 1970, and 20.6% of GDP base 1991. The debt is made up of US$7 billion to the non- financing public sector and US$1 billion to the financing public sector.

Drinks, food and transport usurp income
A Central Bank reports highlights that 49.15% of income earned by Dominicans is spent on alcoholic beverages and tobacco, transport and food. The study looked at 10 different categories including education, health, housing, recreation and hotels. Thirty three percent of income is spent on food and alcohol, and transport took up 15.95% of Dominican incomes. Dominicans spend 5.41% of their income on education and only 4.08% on health. Dominicans also spend only 7.58% on housing and home accessories (the norm is 25%) and 7.88% of their income on shoes and clothes. According to the report, the family basket for the average Dominican is RD$6,240.84 while in the National District the average value was for RD$8,520.33.

Ocoa gets money
San Jose de Ocoa, one of the areas worst hit by Tropical Storm Noel, will be receiving RD$1.55 billion in relief funds. President Leonel Fernandez has announced that the funds would be used for rebuilding roads, houses, aqueducts, irrigation systems and the farming sector. Diario Libre reports that 100 homes have already been rebuilt in Ocoa and that the floors in 500 other will be changed, at a cost of RD$4.2 million. During yesterday's press conference held in the south western provincial capital, Fernandez said that in the first stage 436 homes will be built at a cost of RD$174 million to relocate the same number of families and the repair of homes at a cost of RD$16 million. President Fernandez announced that the main road that connects Ocoa with Peravia province will cost US$25 million to rebuild and doesn't include the RD$381.8 million investment in other road reconstruction works. Fernandez arrived in Ocoa via helicopter and said that the Public Works Ministry is working to restore normality to the region. The President says that 98% of the communities in the province are now accessible. The President says that the Drinking Water Institute (INAPA) is working hard to repair aqueducts that are still out of service.

JCE gives green light to ads
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has abandoned its Electoral Campaign and Propaganda resolution regarding the 2008 presidential campaign because a consensus could not be reached between the political parties, the civil society and the press. The JCE agreed to review the resolution that prohibits television advertising until the electoral proclamation. JCE communications director Felix Reyna made the announcement. The campaign rules had been approved by the JCE judges on 12 September 2007 but were met with objections from the three main political parties, some press outlets and civil society movement Participacion Ciudadana, among others. The political parties argued that the JCE resolution went too far, infringing on their rights as enshrined in the Constitution, which they said can only be changed by Congress. Other elements of the JCE's failed resolution included prohibiting the inauguration of public works projects 30 days before the next elections. Also, public events by government institutions were not to be used to promote political candidates. Press outlets could not offer discounted rates to candidates and during electoral campaigns these rates could not exceed the average costs during the previous six months. The resolution would have also prohibited polls to be announced on the radio 10 days before voting.
Political parties, which are funded in large part by taxpayer money following legislation passed by Congress, are today the country's leading advertiser category.

Leptospirosis numbers climb
The number of reported leptospirosis cases is rising at alarming levels. The authorities report there have been 27 deaths after Tropical Storm Noel. A total of 58 people have died from the disease, with 1,183 possible cases and 135 confirmed cases reported, according to Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez, as reported in Hoy. The health authorities have ordered adults and children to be given doses of doxicillin and amoxicillin as a preventive measure against the disease. Although there has been an increase in the number of deaths after Tropical Storm Noel, 31 deaths had already been reported before the storm for the rest of the year. In comparison, 846 cases were registered in 2006 in total, of which 80 were confirmed. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of animals such as dogs and rats in particular. Officials believe that the flooding as a result of TS Noel enabled the disease to spread, as victims have come from areas where flooding occurred.

Evacuations and rains continue
Heavy rains have led to the evacuation of 44 more people, leaving parts of Barahona and Monte Plata provinces cut off from the other communities. Because of the risk of more rains due to a storm front over Haiti, the Emergency Operations Center (COE) has maintained a red alert for San Cristobal, Monsenor Noel, Ocoa, Azua, Peravia, Duarte, Barahona, La Vega, Sanchez Ramirez and La Altagracia with yellow alerts for all remaining provinces.

CR worried about prostitutes
Costa Rican officials will be heading to the DR in order to reach an accord aimed at reducing the number of Dominican prostitutes working in their country. Diario Libre writes that Dominican prostitutes have overtaken Colombian prostitutes as the majority in this illicit business sector. Diario Libre reports that last weekend, during raids carried out in the Costa Rican towns of Jaco and Quepo, 24 Dominican women were arrested for prostitution, including a former police officer and a former teacher. The teacher said that she had entered prostitution because of her low pay. Costa Rican Migration Chief Francisco Castaing explained that 98% of the prostitutes who have been arrested during raids are Dominican. Castaing is planning on visiting the DR on 27 November in order to discuss the issue with the Dominican authorities.
Dominicans do not need a visa to travel to Costa Rica.

Joan keeps swinging
Dominican boxer and the pride of Guachupita Joan Guzman kept up his swinging ways on Saturday night as he successfully defended his junior lightweight title against challenger Humberto Soto. Guzman now has record of 18-0 with 17 knockouts. Guzman has a few options for his next fight where the possibility exists of a match with Filipino Manny Pacquino or a unification bout against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez. No word yet from Guzman's camp on the fighter's next move.

Rodriguez wins MVP!
Alex Rodriguez, once again the richest man in baseball history, will be returning to the New York Yankees with his third AL MVP trophy. Rodriguez won his third MVP award after a tremendous season at the plate. The perennial all-star batted .314, with 54 homeruns, 156 RBI, 143 runs scored, 376 total bases and a .645 slugging percentage. Rodriguez's numbers, though enough to satisfy any ballplayer or baseball fan, weren't enough in New York as the slugger's bat took an early vacation during the playoffs. Rodriguez's post-season slump and the Yankees' early exits from the first round of the playoffs caused manager Joe Torre to leave NY and for A-Rod to opt out of his deal with the Yankees. Rodriguez however, knowing NY was the only place he could get top market value for his services, agreed to remain in NY with a 10-year US$275 million contract that could be worth upwards of US$300 million with incentives.

Baseball update
In last night's action, Escogido ate up on the Azucareros 5-2 behind strong pitching from Jorge de Paula and clutch hitting from Raul Casanova. In other games, the Aguilas beat the Estrellas 8-1 behind five shut out innings from Robinson Tejada. Finally, the game between Licey and the Gigantes was canceled in San Francisco due to rain. The Gigantes were winning 5-0 when the game was called and will be resumed on a later date.
Current Standings
Team Win Lost Percent Games Behind
Licey 14 9 .608 --
Gigantes 13 10 .565 1.0
Aguilas 13 11 .541 1.5
Estrellas 11 13 .458 3.5
Azucareros 11 14 .440 4.0
Escogido 10 15 .400 5.0
 
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