FEBRUARY 2009

First Dominican solar energy plant to cost US $200M

Dominican law for foreign investment incentives

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MIAMI. – The Dominican Government and the U.S. based company Sunovia Energy Technologies signed an agreement to install the first solar energy plant in the country, said yesterday the company’s executive director Carl Smith.

He said Dominican president Leonel Fernandez has shown tremendous passion to solve the country’s energy difficulties.

They’ve realized that a bilateral approach, including responsible production of renewable energy together with the practice of conserving energy, is a critical step to take for the country to reach long term energy independence.

The agreement, regulated under Dominican law for foreign investment incentives, stipulates an investment of around 200 million dollars and around 2,500 jobs.

Dominican Republic Export and Investment Center (CEI) director Eddy Martinez said the agreement is the result of the Caribbean nation’s intense effort” carried out for years to lower its dependency on oil, ” and to create new jobs and attract new investments to the island as well.

The contract with Sunovia Energy Technologies, based in Sarasota, Florida, is part of a wave of new investments in renewable energy in Dominican Republic, Martinez said.

Other U.S. companies take part in that wave, such as Masada Resource Group, STC Engineering and Burbano Recycling, which have built power and biofuel energy plants in Dominican Republic.

Martinez said his country, in addition to attracting investors in renewable energies, also seeks to expand investments in stem cell research, genetically altered foods and hybrid vehicles.

Dominican Today, 03.02.09

Banco Popular and the APAP announce lower interest rates

To follow the measure of the Monetary Board

BREAKING NEWS: The Banco Popular and the Popular Savings and Loan Association (APAP) announced separately their reduction in the interest rates on new loans, bringing the total to five banks that took the same decision over the past few days.

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The BPD explained in a communiqué that personal loans will go down from 36% to 32%, loans for small and medium businesses from 27% to 24% and vehicle loans from 25% to 23%.

The interest rates for mortgages will go down from 24% to 22%. They say that for current loans the decreases in go into force as the terms are renewed.
Meanwhile, the Popular S& L Association announced reductions from 23% to 20% on new mortgage loans; loans with mortgage guarantees will go down from 26% to 20%, and personal loans will go from 34% to 28%.

Through their press release the S& L reports that it will continue offering home mortgage loans at 18% for homes costing less than RD $3.0 million.
At the same time, they indicated that they would evaluate the relation of due dates on all of their loans and deposits to adjust the margins of the interest rates as the market permits more reductions in the passive rate in the system.

Both the APAP and the Banco Popular said that the measure was taken in accordance with the policies of the monetary authorities.

The Central Bank was the first to reduce interest rates as part of a policy that sought to make the economy more flexible. Later on, Scotiabank, Banco Leon the BHD and the Banco de Reservas followed suit.

Of the largest banking institutions, only the Banco del Progreso has not said if they have taken a similar decision. Yesterday, Diario Libre contacted the Department of Public Relations of the bank, but the manager answered that he still did not have that information.

Yesterday, the governor of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu, greeted the several banks that had followed the measure of the Monetary Board.

Diario Libre, 05.02.09

President Fernandez receives reports

National Summit

BREAKING NEWS : President Leonel Fernandez received the reports from the seven work groups at the National Summit.

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Fernandez is expected to incorporate some of the observations during his 27 February Independence Day speech to Congress.

Among approvals that met with a consensus and that could be accepted by the government are that the Ministry of Education, the National Police and the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) would receive more funds.

Social Security will receive funds from the National Lottery.

Also, it was agreed upon that no public employee should earn more than the President and that municipal authorities can receive 10% of funds managed by the government to be used in the areas of environment and development.

There was also a proposal by the immigration work group for legislation to be passed that would only allow « jus sanguinis » (right of blood) as a way to obtain citizenship.

Fernandez reiterated his confidence that the results of the National Summit will be implemented, in the name of national unity in response to the international financial crisis.

Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas said that some of the work group discussions would be revisited at a later date to get a consensus, while those that have already been agreed upon will go into deeper discussion.

Montas said that the PRD’s participation was not discussed, and added that the invitation for them to attend was still open.

DR1, 09.02.09

Flooding damage to Dominican farms RD $300M and counting

The Government will assist farmers

BREAKING NEWS : Although the authorities still evaluate the farm sector’s losses from the flooding in several zones, in the country’s Northwest and Northeast they surpass RD $300 million.

Agriculture minister Salvador Jiménez said the Government will assist farmers affected by the floods that damaged rice, banana, plantain, vegetables and fruit crops.

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After meeting with producers in the Northwest, Jiménez said there’ll be many facilities for farmers to recover form the flooding damage.

Some farm owners asked him to be part of the committee that manages the dams, because they are not taken into account when they are drained.

The provinces most affected by the floods were Santiago, Santiago Rodriguez, Dajabón, Montecristi, Puerto Plata, San Francisco, Espaillat, La Vega and Monseñor Noel.

Overflowed rivers, streams and creeks also flooded thousands of houses in urban as well as rural areas, forcing the evacuation of thousands.

In Santiago the body of Eugenio Garcia, 37, was recovered yesterday, whereas in nearby Altamira a mother and her 10 year old daughter drowned and also a farmer who tried to cross a swelled river.

It’s been more than nine days of downpours in the North, Northeastern and Northwest regions, whereas the National Meteorology Office expects the rains to continue for another 24 hours.

Dominican Today, 11.02.09

Dominican Government to rent houses for mudslide victims

1 % of the National Budget

BREAKING NEWS : President Leonel Fernandez announced that as a transitory measure the Government will rent houses to lodge more than 500 people who lost their homes to the mudslides in the section Carlos Diaz. Tamboril v006

The Head of State also said that 1% of the National Budget is allocated to confront cases of natural contingencies and catastrophes.

We are here knowing the evaluations preliminary that have made the authorities, are diverse problems, in relation to this refuge, some will return to its places origin, there are others will have to be relocated in other places, and meanwhile we are going to rent houses, we did since it in Santiago with the storm Olga and Noel, until in particular having the definitive answers to each problem, Fernandez said in a visit to the Tamboril community center.

Dominican Today, 13.02.09

Foreign Secretary meets EU deputies

He emphasizes the interest of a EAA Agreement with Europe

BREAKING NEWS : BRUSSELS.- The Foreign Secretary, Carlos Morales Troncoso, met the European deputies Helmuth Markov, President of the International Commerce Committee of the European Parliament, and Josep Borrel Fontelles president of the Development Committee of this organism, to whom he expressed the importance of the ratification of the Economic Association Agreement (EAA) for the Dominican Republic.

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For the EAA to come into force definitely, it requires the endorsement of the European Parliament and the posterior ratification of the 27 parliaments of the members of the European Union.

Morales Troncoso explained to the European deputies that with the increase of the farming exportations of the Dominican products towards the European Union, the creation of employments and the flexibilization of the origin norms for the products made in free zone, the EAA was as a development tool for the Dominican Republic.

During the meetings, Morales Troncoso talked about others subjects too, as the economical and financial crisis and its impact on the reduction of poverty and the realization of the Millenium Goals.

He accepted to create an event in Santo Domingo with the European deputies Borrell as the main orator.

Dominican Republic Live, 16.02.09

The SESPS go to Villa Altagracia

To start a day of environmental decontamination

BREAKING NEWS : The Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (SESPS) started today a vast operation of environmental decontamination at Villa Altagracia, municipality tha

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t, during the past months was affected by the piling up of rubbish.

During the morning, the staff of the Environment Decontamination and of epidemiology started to work in the locality ofthe San Cristobal province, in order to prevent diseases.

The main task of the professionals and technicians sent by the SESPS is to control the diseases vectors, as rats and mosquitos, in order to prevent the propagation of diseases as malaria, leptospirosis and dengue.

We are in Villa Altagracia in a preventive way, for a decontamination operation, in order to prevent the apparition of diseases caused by the environment contamination, said the chief of SESPS, Bautista Rojas Gómez.

Dominican Republic Live, 17.02.09

Work starts for Dominican Republic’s 1st wind energy park

To develop the national power system

BREAKING NEWS: MOTAFONGO, Baní. – President Leonel Fernandez yesterday headed the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of two wind energy parks that’l

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l generate around 100 megawatts at a cost of nearly 181 million Euros.

The company Spanish Inveravante, headed by Manuel Jove Capellan will build the parks with a capacity of 50 megawatts each, in the communities Matafongo Peravia province (south) and Granadillos, Montecristi province (northwest) respectively.

Inveravante Dominicana general manager Wilfredo González said the project aims to contribute to develop the national power system.

Project technical director Luis Garcia affirmed that his company has confidence in the country’s growth possibilities.

He said the beginning of the project has been possible thanks to the Government’s support. It’s about the interest of the Corporation in renewable energies in this territory, developed through the local company Inveravante Dominicana, which studies other initiatives in this matter in different parts of the country.

Dominican Today, 18.02.09

The electric fraud will be punishable as of today

To comply with the Law

BREAKING NEWS: As from this Friday enters into force the application of the provisions of Law 186-0, which punishes the electric fraud in Dominican Republic with sanctions from 3 to 4 days under arrest or fines from 3 to 5 minimal wages as well as with prison sentence with possibility to go up to 3 years.

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Because of the electric fraud in 2008, the Government had to spend at least 740 million U $ dollars to cover the deficit of the electricity companies (EDES), according to official sources.

To be compliant with the Law, the power companies announced operations to detect people illegally connected to the service.

Among their plans there are visits in the private houses, companies and businesses.

The electricity company (EdeSur) informed that it would begin its operations today and that it will work in all the streets and avenues of the Distrito Nacional and in the provinces of the Southern area.

The objective is to regularize, according to the General Law on Electricity, all the consumers who do not have contracts with the company explained EdeSur in an official statement sent to the digital newspaper Almomento.net.

On its side, the electricity company (EdeEste), through its spokesperson Marcos Cadet, said that it would announce this Friday some information on its plan to sue the electric fraud.

Dominican Republic Live, 20.02.09

CONEP says that the Dominican economy is living one of its most significant moments

To define a strategy to decrease the impact of the crisis

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BREAKING NEWS: The president of the National Council of Private Companies (CONEP), Lisandro Macarulla, considered that the economy of the Dominican Republic was living one of its most significant moments, which would obviously have consequences.

He indicated that the CONEP proposed to define a strategy to decrease the negative impact which will have the crisis in the country and to withdraw benefit from it in order to correct the structural distortions and the insufficiencies of the development of Dominican Republic.

He added that these structural problems were present since many years, that they revolved negatively in the productive sectors and that they had a fundamental link with the electric sector. He expressed that the Dominican Republic had also problems in the sector of education, of transport, convertibility of the currency and the fiscal charges, which affected the costs.

In another order, Macarulla said that CONEP prepared a work on the electric subject for which it hired an international consultant of first order, before creating a commission to participate to the Summit.

He explained that the study of CONEP revealed that in three years, the country could turn over the deficit of electrical power and cash flow of the sector to its advantage, with the participation of the private sector, of the Dominican state and with the application of the current Electric Law.

He indicated that to spend almost 1 billion dollar in subsidy during one year for the electric sector used many resources which could be used in other sectors.

Dominican Republic Live, 23.02.09

Dominican President to take part in talks on crisis

In Cuba

BREAKING NEWS: President Leonel Fernandez will fly to Havana, Cuba, on Monday where together with several Latin America presidents and eight Nobel prizes will debate the global financial crisis.

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Foreign Relations minister Carlos Morales, who provided the information, said Cuba Raul Castro invited the Dominican chief executive, and that they’ll meet privately during the event to deal with bilateral topics.

There’s a meeting on the topic of globalization to which several heads of State have been invited who’ve confirmed their presence and eight Nobel prizes are going to take part, one of which is going to speak on the global financial crisis, the official said, after a ceremony in which five new ambassadors presented credentials in the National Palace.

Dominican Today, 25.02.09

Fernandez faces destiny with today’s speech

To explain the « how » and the « when » of each of the measures

BREAKING NEWS: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.- President Leonel Fernandez, who today fulfills the tradition of addressing the National Assembly, will have two obligatory themes to address: The commitments by the government with the « Summit of National Unity » and the constitutional reform.

The nation’s leader promised to cite the proposals with which his government would commit themselves, from a package that implies, at least, spending RD $18 billion.

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However the pressures from those that participated in the summit discussion go far beyond that, and demand that Fernandez explain the « how » and the « when » of each of the measures.

Political scientist Francisco Cueto said, He (Fernandez) should outline the follow up mechanisms and the indicators that will be used to measure their fulfillment.

The government coordinator of the summit exercise in dialogue, Temistocles Montas, announced yesterday how it is very probable that the Chief Executive will confirm, by decree, the commission he created to guarantee that the proposals are followed up, and that is composed of the seven coordinators of the work groups and the organizing commission.

It is possible that some of the decisions do not get immediate application. Montas explained that Fernandez is looking overseas for the resources with which to comply with the demand for 2.8% if the GDP for education.

Talks are on-going with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for US $200 in financing.

To give a stamp of credibility to the second phase of the Summit, it is imperative that the government complies with the laws it has drawn up, decrees that it has published, promises that it has made and declarations that is has emitted, declared the Social Christian Reformist Party through its president Federico Antun Batlle.

Cueto, the country director for the Latin American Social Science Faculty (Flacso), said that the uncertainty of the crisis and the ties of public officials to corruption and crime, above all the military and the police, are a warning to Fernandez to present a plan to cure the security organizations. Moreover, he said, the fact that his policies have not been effective against crime call for a more creative plan of action.

Regarding the Constitutional Reform, Cueto hopes that Fernandez published the law that convenes the assembly that was approved by the Congress. He believes, in addition, that he (Fernandez) should coat the process with legitimacy by opening the process and integrating the people into the discussions.

Diario Libre, 27.02.09

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