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Daily News - Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Government's pockets getting deeper
Government revenue increased by RD$48 billion between January and November 2007 in comparison to the same period in 2006. This is 29.9% higher than in 2006 and 8.4% more than estimated. The government collected RD$211 billion not including donations, internal and external resources and RD$221 billion if these are included. A report by the Ministry of Hacienda indicates that of the RD$221 billion collected, RD$1.01 billion corresponds to donations. Donations increased by RD$547.6 million and revenue from external resources was RD$7.12 billion. External revenue was lower than in 2006 when RD$9.7 billion was registered. The amount accumulated through the PetroCaribe agreement was RD$3.7 billion, much lower than the RD$5.43 billion registered in 2006. Of the RD$211 billion collected, RD$129,968.1 million was collected by the Tax Department, about RD$29,893 million more than in 2006. This was particularly due to the increase in company taxation, up by RD$6.9 billion, and VAT (ITBIS). up by RD$6,010.2 million. Customs collections also increased by RD$7.6 billion with an increase in import taxes, up by RD$1,96 billion and RD$6.5 billion in VAT.
The National Treasury also reported an increase in their collections, up RD$11.2 billion to RD$33.3 billion.

Almeyda issues stiff warning
Interior and Police Minister Franklyn Almeyda Rancier has issued a warning to anyone thinking of importing or selling fireworks and said that anyone caught doing so would have to respond to the authorities. The minister's comments follow the government's Resolution 02-07 banning the sale of fireworks to individuals. Only registered companies that have been granted permission will be able to purchase explosives. Almeyda reminded the public about last year's resolution that ordered anyone who wanted to fireworks or sell them to obtain a permit from the Interior and Police Ministry. The Minister said that the resolution would be enforced because many children and people were at risk from injury by fireworks.

Barahona gets money
President Leonel Fernandez says that the government is spending RD$1.14 billion to help Barahona recover from torrential rains in October and said that a commission is studying the possible relocation of vulnerable communities in Jaquimeyes, Uvilla and El Jobo. The money is being spent on roads, highways, local pathways, bridges, housing aqueduct systems, energy systems, schools and farmland damaged during Tropical Storm Noel. Fernandez was speaking following the Government Cabinet meeting that was held in Barahona yesterday. Fernandez said that a month after Noel hit the provinces of Barahona, Bahoruco and Independencia, life is returning to normal. Fernandez said in Hoy that 420 of the homes affected by Noel have been rebuilt, with a budget of RD$9.2 million, and that beginning in January 460 new homes will be built at a cost of RD$225 million. Other projects in Barahona include the preparation of 17,000 acres of land by the Ministry of Agriculture and the distribution of 5,600 quintals of fertilizers. Also in Barahona, 148 eleven-man brigades are still working on recovery efforts with a budget of RD$28 million so far. Fernandez added that the Banco Agricola has offered RD$74 million in credit for farmers and that to date RD$40.7 million worth of the loans have been approved. The National Hydraulic Institute (INDHRI) is working on water systems with a budget of RD$110 million and Hoy writes that most of the water systems in the region are already working. The Ministry of Education will be spending RD$73 million to rebuild schools.

Exports on the rise
Between January and October 2007 the DR exported US$1.9 billion in products and 647 new exporting companies were incorporated. According to Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD) director Eddy Martinez, this represents a new export culture for the DR. Martinez, quoted in Listin Diario, said that the number of exporters in 2007, 1,700, is 500 more than in 2006 and that 496 new products have been added to the nation's export portfolio, for a total of 2,800. Martinez added that during the first 10 months of the year the country's exports increased by 45%, with an absolute increase of US$573.9 million. Martinez said that traditional export products like minerals increased by 75.6%, from US$528.3 million to RD$927.9 million. The export of non-traditional products also increased by 29.6%, going from US$577.8 million to US$749.3 million. Sugar and its derivatives displayed a decrease of 8.5%, going from US$116.9 million in 2006 to RD$107 million in 2007.

Luring purchases with easy credit
Brazilian ambassador in the DR Ronald Edgar Dunlop says that the Brazilian National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) has increased the total of money available for development of Brazilian-contracted public works in the Dominican Republic. Dunlop says that BNDES has increased its line of credit to the Dominican government after damage to infrastructure by Tropical Storm Noel. Dunlop said that last Thursday the Bank finished the paperwork for the disbursal of US$110 million for a water supply project in Samana. Dunlop explained that leading Brazilian engineering companies Andade Gutierrez and Odebrecht that are building the Samana aqueduct, and Pinalito and La Placeta dams, among other public works, have access to this credit for the constructions in the Dominican Republic.

Government and IMF at standstill
The Budget and Public Spending bill, which should have been submitted to Congress in October, is at a standstill because of disagreements between the government and the International Monetary Fund. Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa, quoted in Listin Diario, says that the IMF and the government's economic team are at an impasse, which has caused a delay in submitting the legislation to Congress. Listin reports that Bengoa has refused to comment on details, and that although a Budget and Spending Bill has already been developed by the country's economic team, it must be approved by IMF representatives. Bengoa added that there is still no fixed amount for the budget, but said the impasse with the IMF is mainly linked to the government's financial surplus.

WB advocates stability
The World Bank is urging the Dominican government to make macro-economic stability a priority. World Bank Latin America and the Caribbean managing director Juan Jose Daboub asked the government to maintain relations with international organizations that helped the DR recover from a near economic collapse in 2003. Daboud, quoted in Listin Diario, added that employment is the best tool for fighting poverty. Asked whether the DR should renew its stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, Daboub said that this was a sovereign decision, but he encouraged the DR to maintain an open dialogue with the international organizations that have helped the economy recover. Daboub pointed out that inflation is a tax that affects the purchasing power of the entire population as well as the production capacity of companies.

Sun Land and the Judicial Branch
The President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Jorge Subero Isa, says that the charges of unconstitutionality against the Sun Land contracts have not been forgotten. The Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion on constitutional violations regarding contracts signed by the state for US$130 million and US$200 million with Sun Land, a Florida-based financial intermediary. The government recently revoked the contracts. Subero said that no decision would be taken while he awaits comments from the country's Attorney General. The Supreme Court announcement coincides with a full-page advertisement published by the Judicial Branch and the Supreme Court in today's Diario Libre and Hoy newspapers, lobbying for their requested allocation in the 2008 National Budget.

Drinking water concerns
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in a "worse case scenario" the DR could experience a reduction of 60% in its water supply in 100 years, which could severely affect the country's development if preventive measures aren't taken. The information is part of a climate analysis of global and local climate trends, which measures the possible effects of global warming on the DR. The DR's warming levels are not at the level of developed countries like the US. Former governor of the Central Bank Guillermo Caram is quoted in Hoy as saying that policies should be implemented in order to protect natural resources, biodiversity and water supplies, and for people to respect environmental laws.

Vegetable and chicken prices on the rise
Hoy is reporting an increase in vegetable prices as a result of food shortages in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Noel. Some vegetable prices have increased by 20% to 25% at a number of supermarkets, like Nacional, Ole and Amigos. A pound of peppers that previously cost RD$36.95 is now priced at RD$49.5 and eggplant and tomatoes that were sold for RD$29.95 per pound are now at RD$44.95 per pound. Onions have also seen a hike. A pound of onions that cost RD$24.99 is now being sold for RD$32.99. The same goes for broccoli and cauliflower were sold for RD$24.99 and now cost RD$31.99.
Hoy writes that although chicken production costs have almost doubled, prices have only increased by 11% in recent months. International soy and corn prices have skyrocketed by 70%, as well as the cost of shipping, and this has led to a sharp increase in the cost of producing chickens.

Most expected better government
Results of the most recent Gallup-Hoy newspaper poll show that most Dominicans are disappointed with President Leonel Fernandez's government. Some 4.3% rated the government as very good, 35.7% as good, for a 40% satisfaction rating. But 18.7% said he had carried out a mediocre government, and 28.9% rated the government as bad, for a 47.6% disapproval rating.
Results of the same poll showed that 48% feel that the DR economy is worse off today than it was when Fernandez took office. A further 39% believe there has been an improvement, and 12% say things are the same.
President Leonel Fernandez leads in the poll, with a majority of those polled believing he will win in a first round vote.
A total of 1,200 Dominicans eligible to vote were polled from 28 Nov-2 December.

More drugs found
The National Drug Control Department has seized a shipment of 55 kilos of drugs and arrested a Colombian national and two Dominican military officers, Sergeant Major Lepido Antonio Diaz and Sergeant Edgard Rodriguez Vicente, for their involvement in the crime. Half of the haul was found in the trunk of a Honda Acura while Vargas was driving in the Arroyo Hondo area of Santo Domingo. The rest of the drugs were discovered in a Dodge Ram pick-up truck in the parking lot of an unidentified hardware store located on John F. Kennedy Avenue. Officials indicated that Colombian Ricardo Mario Torres Diaz, the third individual arrested, was the head of the drug trafficking network.

Subtropical Storm Olga
Subtropical Storm Olga was passing south of Santo Domingo around noon today, on its way westwards to Jamaica. It is expected to bring heavy rains and waves to all Dominican coasts. The rare December phenomenon comes almost two weeks after the Atlantic Hurricane Season ended on November 30th. As it makes its way inland, it is bringing intense rains. Contrary to its October predecessor, Tropical Storm Noel, Olga is moving quicker, and thus expected to bring less rainfall. Major areas near rivers are still saturated by the heavy rainfall from Noel. The Meteorological Office (ONAMET) provided the media with early notification about the storm and the emergency services have started evacuating people who live in vulnerable areas.
For monitoring this storm, see the latest posts in this thread on Olga at www.dr1.com/forums/weather-beyond/...

The best time for baseball
December is the best month for watching baseball, reports Dionisio Soldevila for Hoy newspaper. It is the time of year when the Major League Baseball players don their Dominican team uniforms and show their stuff on the field. For instance, the Aguilas Cibaenas are announcing the debut of Rafael Furcal, Melky Cabrera. The Tigres del Licey say that Jose Guillen of the Kansas Royals, Jose Bautista of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Damaso Marte might play with the team this month. The Estrellas Orientales already boast pitcher Daniel Cabrera and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees among their ranks. The Leones del Escogido are announcing Odalis Perez, Octavio Dotel, Francisco Cordero and Willy Mo Pena. The Gigantes say that Pedro Feliz could play for the team.

Baseball updates
No games played last night
Current Standings
Team Win Lost Percent Games Behind
Gigantes 24 14 .632 --
Licey 24 15 .615 0.5
Aguilas 20 19 .513 4.5
Estrellas 17 22 .436 7.5
Escogido 16 23 .410 8.5
Azucareros 16 24 .400 9.0
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