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Old News

Business delegation identifies regional priorities
During Leonel Fernández’ visit to Puerto Plata last week, a delegation of prominent local  businessmen gave the president a document addressing  regional priorities. Among the projects identified were the complete rehabilitation of the port, the completion of the new highway to the airport and of the El Cupey highway, improvement of regional sewage treatment facilities, the widening of the Puerto Plata – Santiago highway, the preservation of the base of Mount Isabel de Torres. While 
the president agreed to launch studies for some of the projects, he pointed out the scarcity of funds and  time before the elections as reasons why commitments could not be made. The delegation, headed by Maireni Bournigal, included Osvaldo Brugal, José Natalio Redondo, Carlos Manuel Finke, Camilo Hurtado, Hugo Gónzalez, Isidro García and others.
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Pachungo succumbs to heart attack
A heart attack took the life of well-known Puerto Plata attorney Dr. Manuel María Muñiz Hernández, on Sunday, November 7th. Pachungo, as he was popularly known, was at his farm in Bajobonico in the company of friends when he succumbed after a period of ill health. The controversial attorney, renowned for his rousing courtroom oratories over a 31-year legal career, was buried the following day in the Puerto Plata cemetary. 
Customs scandal at POP airport
Seven employees of the Customs department at Puerto Plata International Airport have been suspended pending the investigation of the loss of import documents for a shipment of power inverters valued at RD$624,000. Two people have been detained, including an army sergeant, and several others, including a local entrepreneur are expected to be charged with tax evasion. It has been reported that political pressure is being applied to protect several of those under investigation, which may be why names are not being released.
Heart attack claims Sandy Daube
A heart attack claimed the life of Sandy Daube, in Costambar on Saturday, November 6th. As proprietor of Sandy Beaches Bar, Sandy was a well known and well loved member of the Costambar community. Friends and neighbors gathered to remember her on Saturday evening at her establishment, before her remains were sent to Pittsburgh where family members reside. 
President visits cable car, Iberostar
President Leonel Fernandez visited Puerto Plata yesterday to attend the re-opening ceremony of the cable car and the grand opening of the Iberostar resort. Puerto Plata’s cable car, which climbs the 2,800 ft Mount Isabel de Torres and is the only one in the country, was repaired at a cost of $1 million dollars after a fire destroyed its control panels several years ago. During the ceremony, mention was also made of the 64-million peso port dredging project done to enable the docking of cruise ships, three of which are scheduled to arrive in November. In a speech made by Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez, it was brought out that Puerto Plata attracts one of every three tourists to the Dominican Republic, contributing $700 million dollars to the country’s economy. This amount, he said, matches the sum total of the rest of the country’s exports minus the industrial free zone figure. Later that day, the President participated in the grand opening of Puerto Plata’s newest resort, Iberostar, located just west of Playa Dorada.
Fire chief murderer gets 20 years
Thirteen years after the brutal murder of Fire Chief José Tomás Gómez Abelardo, the Santiago Appellate Court has sentenced Juan Muñoz to 20 years in prison. Joaquín Quiroz, accused of being the intellectual author of the crime, was discharged. Both had been given 30-year sentences in the Puerto Plata courts five years ago. A third perpetrator, Fausto Catro Gómez, died from a gunshot wound during the surprise attack on the fire chief at his home on November 19, 1986. General Gómez Abelardo was an anti-Trujillo militant who was deported after the June 14th Revolution. He later returned to Puerto Plata and became an active altruist in the community and his commitment to the Fireman’s Corps was well supported by local government and the business sector. 
David Salem dies in England
British Vice Consul David Salem died last Sunday in England, where he had gone for cancer treatment. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, and two daughters, Bianca and Alexandra. David moved to Puerto Plata in the early 1980’s and operated a successful maritime agency. In recent years he was active in the community as British Vice Consul and a member of the Rotary Club.
New Tex Mex bar downtown
One of Puerto Plata’s best known restaurateurs has opened yet another eatery, called Aguacate, located within the gardens of Acuarela Garden Café. Rafael Vásquez, who several years ago restored his family’s colonial home and quickly made of Acuarela the most refined restaurant in town, has converted an airy, thatched roofed terrace into what amounts to a hybrid of Hemingway’s in Playa Dorada, which he opened, and Aguaceros on the Malecón, which he opened. Prior to his venture into in-town eateries, Rafael was Food and Beverage Manager at Hacienda Resorts, the Jaragua Hotel and other large resorts.
Phone calls threaten Senator Bournigal
Puerto Plata senator Ginette Bournigal denounced that she has received several  threatening phone calls, presumably due to her stand against the privatization of the county’s airports, which is that the contract can only be made valid with the approval of Congress. The senator said that an anonymous voice referred to her frequent travel to Santo Domingo, and the possibility of being hit by a tractor trailer. Prior to this, she and her husband, who has also been senator of Puerto Plata, received several  proposals that would have had her put aside her opposition. POSTED 20 OCT 99
Depósito Ferretero re-opens
One of Puerto Plata’s largest hardware stores will re-open on Monday, October 25th, four months after a fire destroyed the store’s interior. 
Restaurant celebrates 15th anniversary
An eatery remembered by many as an old favorite celebrated its 15th anniversary last Thursday. Restaurant Pizzeria Internacional  swarmed with people for the buffet that proprietor Enzo Glorioso put on for the occasion. Many of those present were the old-timers and pioneers of the tourism trade who remember when Enzo and his then partner Manolo first opened on Separacion Street as a welcome addition to Puerto Plata when there were so few places in town. Internacional, which is now located on the traffic circle by the José Briceño Stadium, continues to serve Sicilian style pizza cooked in a wood burning stove and an appetizing selection of pastas and international cuisine. 
It’s a girl!
Congratulations to David Hall and his wife Sandra for the birth of a healthy, 8 ¼-pound girl, Gloria, last Friday at Centro Médico Cibao in Santiago. David Hall is the proprietor of the renowned On the Waterfront Restaurant in Sosua. 
Smith Enron and CDE come to terms
The Dominican Electricity Corp and private generator Smith Enron have settled on several contractual clauses that put the two at odds over interpretation. CDE administrator Radhames Segura expressed that it was “great news” to be modifying the contract that had the two entities embroiled in international arbitration for more than two years and that the problem clauses have been fully clarified. One aspect of the negotiations has brought the debt dispute from $60 million dollars down to $26 million, he said. Smith Enron has been operating its185 megawatt generating plant adjacent to Puerto Plata harbor for five years. 
No blackouts on Playa Dorada
Despite the current plague of power shortages, Playa Dorada’s private power company Puerto Plata Electricidad, generates enough electricity to ensure full time power to all hotels, says Carlos Montas, executive director of the Playa Dorada Hotel Owners Association. PPE is a joint venture between Playa Dorada property owners. The Playa Dorada is comprised of 14 resorts housing a total of 4,400 rooms. The complex provides jobs for some 6,000 people, he said. 
New Anglican deacon
builds English congregation
Last Saturday, Melinda Archer of Dallas, Texas, became the first American to be ordained as a deacon at the first Melinda Archer's becomes the first American Anglican deacon ordained in Puerto Plataordination to ever take place in Puerto Plata’s Cristo Rey Episcopal Church. Melinda came to Puerto Plata last January in order to build an English speaking congregation. She expects to be ordained as a priest in the spring. Her ordination service was presided by the Episcopal bishop and many priests and deacons came from around the country to attend the event. Anglican Communion services are held in English each Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The church is located one corner in from the Malecon behind the former Barco’s Restaurant. Tel: 586-2878, 586-6575.
Signature assigns new regional resort manager
Aaron Willie has been assigned resort manager for the Barbara and Matthew Polanco and Chantal Dallaire welcome Willie Aaron to Puerto PlataDominican Republic by Canadian travel wholesaler Signature Vacations. Aaron has been in related positions and different Latin American destinations for many years. He will be stationed in Puerto Plata.
Canada appoints first resident Ambassador to DR
Last week Canada’s new Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Bruno Picard, was received in Santo Domingo at a reception with Embassy personnel. After relocating the Consulate with upgraded facilities last year, his arrival marks the first time that Canada appoints a resident Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic has appointed Julio Ortega Tous as Dominican Ambassador to Canada. Bruno Picard is a career diplomat who has in the past been assigned to Guatemala, Egypt, Morocco and Belgium. More recently he has acted as Director of Communications for the Ministry of International Trade and as the Director of the Canadian Foreign Service Institute.  “This is an important event in the long history of bilateral relations between Canada and the Dominican Republic,” he said, indicating there will be  a positive impact on trade, politics and cooperation between the two countries.
Supreme Court Judges refused Playa Dorada entrance
With security measures at Playa Dorada stepped up for last week’s busy Restoration Day long weekend, security guards at the front gate of Playa Dorada barred two Dominican Supreme Court judges from entering the complex because they were not wearing the customary wrist bands provided to hotel guests.  The judges were apparently passing by and wanted to visit the Playa Dorada Beach. The incident made front page headlines in the nation’s daily papers and caused the Supreme Court to react by demanding an investigation of issues surrounding the alleged privatization of public shorelines. The guards were detained for questioning
Iberostar Costa Dorada opens next to Playa Dorada
A new luxury hotel complex opened its doors last week with a soft opening of 500 rooms. Located in the area known as Mara Pica, just west of Jack Tar Village, this resort will eventually comprise 2,500 rooms. The u-shaped structure is built around an expansive beach and central garden plaza with a giant pool. Marble floors, giant grass roofs and furniture designed with attractive Taino Indian themes provide a feeling of spaciousness and luxury throughout the complex. 
Police station upgraded as north coast command center
Plans have been approved to expand Puerto Plata’s police station and make it a command center for the north coast. The police will take over the premises of the governor’s office, which shares the same building on Luis Ginebra Avenue, and a radio system will be installed with coverage from Dajabón, on the Haitian border, to Gaspar Hernandez east of Cabarete. The governor’s office is expected to be moved to the new courthouse currently under construction in front of the baseball stadium. 
Cries in the night: nuns fear satanic worship
After several nights of observing people on foot and hearing unusual cries in the middle of the night, nuns living on Mt. Isabel de Torres at the Corazón de Jesús Monastery asked police to investigate whether the unusual nighttime activity taking place near their retreat may be Satanic rituals taking place in the woods on the side of the mountain. Police, responding to the concern that such rituals can involve human sacrifice, detained 12 youth all under age 25, in a steep, rugged clearing near the base of the second tower of the cable car. Police would not provide additional details.
Soldier kills priest in village church
One evening last week in the tiny village of Loma de Las Bestias, just a few kilometers from Puerto Plata, a private in the Dominican military entered the village church, pulled a gun and fired, killing the local priest and wounding two other people. Private Luis Dominguez Pichardo, who had been spurned a month earlier by a woman of the village, showed up in town in a drunken rage looking for Aracelis Hurtado, apparently intent on killing her as he had vowed to do after her she had rejected him. When he did not find her at home, Pichardo pledged to kill anyone carrying her family name. His personal manhunt led him to the local parish, where Nino Hurtado, 58, was conducting a service. Upon observing the state of rage of Pichardo, the priest asked him, “My son, what are you doing?” at which time Pichardo pulled his gun and fired. Hurtado, who had led the congregation for 20 years, was a cherished member of the community, which lives in shock over the tragedy and is demanding that the full weight of the law fall upon Dominguez Pichardo.
Squatters arrested in Cabarete
Several people were arrested last for occupying and cultivating on property surrounding the abandoned Tierra Del Sol project near Cabarete. The occupied land is supposedly titled to Tom Reinis, a Hungarian national who was deported from the Dominican Republic several years ago. The campesinos claim that Reinis does not actually have title to the property and that the day someone can produce a title they will leave immidiately.
City to collect garbage in Playa Dorada
Last week the Playa Dorada Owner’s Association awarded Mayor Ramón Ortiz with the resort complex’s $275,000 peso garbage collection contract. Up until now the chore was managed by The Central Bank, which was the main developer of the Playa Dorada complex. This contract comes as a result of the mayor’s demonstrated ability to manage the city’s garbage collection services, said the Association’s Director Carlos Montás.
Business donates police cars
Three patrol cars and radios were donated to the local police force last week through a cooperative effort of hoteliers from Puerto Plata and Sosua. The three cars were presented at a reception held at Flamenco Beach Resort assisted by the chief of the National Police, Major General Pedro Jesús Candelier. During the event, Tourism sub-secretary César José De Los Santos announced that the Ministry of Tourism will be delivering several dozen motorcycles to Puerto Plata to be used by the Tourism Police in their patrols of tourist centers.
Free Zone shows $3 million peso profit for 1998
For the last fiscal year, the Puerto Plata Industrial Free Zone reported an income of close to $8.3 million pesos, up from last year’s $7.5 million. Income came from rental fees, $5.4 million; management services, $1.5 million; interest from term deposits, $600,000; cafeteria, $713, 000. After expenses, the complex showed a $3 million profit. The Industrial Free Zone, which opened in 1983, employs some 4,000 people mostly in clothes manufacturing. There are 27 factories in the complex, five of which are currently closed. 
Regional passport office to open by month's end
A regional passport office will soon be opened on the second floor of the Rentas Internas building in downtown Puerto Plata. Isi Beard has been appointed Administrator. The new office will provide all the services that have up until now been offered in Santiago, La Vega, Montecristi and Santo Domingo.
First quarter construction up 27 per cent
Construction is one of the principal economic indicators of a country. This sector grew 27 per cent in the first quarter of this year over last, with residential construction showing an even larger gain.  The Dominican Republic is the largest per capita consumer of cement in Latin America with 289 kgs per person, followed by Costa Rica’s 285 and Mexico’s 273. 
Smoke engulfs hardware store
A fire at the Deposito Ferretero hardware store in Puerto Plata caused over $10 million pesos in damage last week. The fire started in the warehouse of the two year old concrete structure and while fire damage was not extensive, the dense smoke from chemical products filled the entire building causing damages that resulted in a total write off. The principal owners of the store, engineers Maireni Bournigal and Manuel Durán, expressed their satisfaction with the moral support of the community and the speed at which water and other assistance arrived. They were particularly grateful to Hugo González Troche, Director of the voluntary Civil Defense Squad, for his efficiency in containing the event.
Law passed to establish a Municipal Court
A court to address infractions of municipal bylaws has passed through the Senate and is awaiting presidential approval. The bill notes that “Puerto Plata’s population boom requires a greater investment and more efficient controls over municipal services, for which it is necessary to establish a court to enforce municipal law on an exclusive basis, and of which the fines that are levied therein pass to the Municipal Treasury.”
POSTED 15 MAY 1999
Mayor takes pity on downtown motorists
City Hall has almost completed repairs to the gaping gutters encountered at almost every intersection in Puerto Plata’s historical zone. Over the last six weeks workers have made steady progress pouring cement to level out the gullies that made it almost impossible to avoid bottoming out at every corner. Avenida Colón, the most important north-south throughfare, was a particularly treacherous passage that has now been completely repaired. The current city administration continues to show itself more diligent than any in recent history. Upon taking over last August, their intentions to run the city well were demonstrated with a citywide garbage cleanup and with the refurbishment of Central Park.. And despite speculation that efforts would be short lived, garbage collection and street cleaning services continue to be carried out on a regular basis. Several months ago a bylaw was passed prohibiting the posting of advertising on electrical poles. In the last weeks, the city has been painting the base of the poles to a height of eight feet with forest green. High tension poles are being painted with a yellow and black spiral. Traffic lines are also being painted on the streets, and the mayor says that they will soon begin the street signs that have been missing since time immemorial. 
U.S. Ambassador urges fair play and education as keys to growth and competitiveness
In an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon speech given last week in Puerto Plata, United States Interim Ambassador Linda Watt stressed the importance of increased security for investors and more focus on education as key elements for the growth of the region.
Referring to the regional commercial guides published by the U.S. Embassy, she explained that in addition to statistics, analyses and other market indicators that are published, readers also want to know the local “rules of the game” including risks, obstacles and unforeseen costs related to investment. “Investors get impatient over diplomatic niceties: they want facts that are clear and direct,” she said. 
As a consequence, the guide also makes reference to the prevailing vulnerability of intellectual property in the Dominican Republic, the difficulties of resolving business disputes, the absence of international arbitrage and the lack of transparency in business transactions. 
I am sure these concerns are not news for you, said Watt, but you play an important role in their solution, and you must get involved if you want to be competitive in a global economy.
She also referred to President Leonel Fernandez’ vision for the 21st Century, of educating the population. “You cannot afford the luxury of a public education system that does not provide youth the tools they need to build the future of the nation.”
Touching on other themes, Ms. Watt expressed her pride in the United States’ involvement in various local concerns, including the development of the Puerto Plata Industrial Free Zone, the restoral of the Fe en el Porvenir historical community building located beside City Hall and the assistance provided by the U.S. Coast Guard during the tragic crash of a German charter jet three years ago.
During her visit, Ms. Watt also participated in an emergency drill that took place at the Smith-Enron generation facility, a program involving military authorities from several countries from the region to contain oil spills and to mitigate other potential disasters.
German jeweler opens downtown boutique
After a dozen years living and teaching jewelry design in Puerto Plata, Joaquin Hoffman opened last week Art in Gold, a showcase boutique for his eclectic designs inspired by the aboriginal Taino Indians that once inhabited the island. Setting the island’s most distinctive stones such as amber and larimar in gold and silver, Hoffman interprets the esthetics of Taino design with a contemporary touch.
“The past has left us with very little knowledge of Taino traditions,” he says, “and I often wonder what Taino jewelry would look like today if they were still living on this island. My challenge is to expose myself to the same influences and create a jewelry inspired by the sense of the exuberance they must have lived in the wild and unspoiled natural habitat that this island was for them.”
Art in Gold is located beside Scotiabank on San Felipe Street, two blocks down from Central Park.
Presidente beer deposit innaugurated
The Dominican Republic’s largest beer distillery opened its new, $32 million peso distribution center in Puerto Plata last week. The Presidente beer deposit, located at La Javilla in the western part of the city, will service 13 regional distribution routes and provide 70 new jobs.
New Internet Café
Sam’s Bar & Grill is now offering internet services for 50 pesos per hour. This popular American style bar and grill is located just a block and a half from Central Park on José del Carmen Ariza Street. 
POLITUR cracks down on Haitian beggar scam
Last week Tourism Police cracked down on Haitian beggars on the streets of Sosua, and delivered them, mostly women, to Immigration officials. Over the last two years it has become a common occurrence to see destitute Haitian women dressed in rags sitting on doorsteps and sidewalks, plying the pity of tourists with one arm holding a baby and the other outstretched, pleading for pesos. What sympathetic visitors do not realize is that this has become a flourishing organized business, in which the beggars are brought in from towns near the Haitian border and dropped off on the outskirts of Puerto Plata to work the tourist market.
Puerto Plata’s first flight landed in 1930
January 28, 1930 was the date of the very first flight into the city of Puerto Plata. The single engine biplane carried five passengers and provided daily at the price of eight pesos to Santiago and thirty-two pesos to Santo Domingo
Narcotics arrests in Puerto Plata
The National Department of Drug Control (DNCD) reports that narcotics seizures in Puerto Plata in 1998 totaled 80.9 g cocaine, 172.8 g marihuana, 11 g crack and 400 ml of heroin. Sixty arrests were made under Law 50-88 which legislates the possession and trafficking of narcotics.
Airport Customs chief reports on 1998
Juan Guillermo Almonte reports that in December of last year, his department collected 60 million pesos, compared to 50 million pesos the previous year. The total for 1998 was 600 million pesos. In 1999, we will be focussing on employee training, he said.
POSTED 03 JAN 1999
Our Municipal Wish List for 1999
1. That our new Mayor, Ramon Ortiz, has the staying power to keep keeping the city clean.
2. As on the Conde in Santo Domingo and on Calle del Sol in Santiago… a ban on giant illuminated signs downtown, some of which are bigger than the stores they announce, destroying the colonial ambiance.
3. A new law for parking on one side only of downtown streets
4. Enforcement of the law that prohibits parking within fifteen feet of a corner.
5. Enforcement of the law that says you can’t drive down an up street.
6. Prohibit at the Javilla that the double-parking taxi drivers on one side and the double-parking tire changers on the other, turn the entrance to Colon Avenue into a one-lane street.
7. That the police, more than worrying about motorcyclists with no helmets, worry about those with no taillights. Why should responsible drivers be forced to be responsible for running over these irresponsible motorcyclists!
New Judges named
The Supreme Court has appointed a new roster of judges to Puerto Plata province. They are Francisco Antonio Sanchez, Criminal Court; Juan Suardi Garcia, Civil Court; Miguelina Beard, Instruction Judge; Pedro Lopez, Justice of the Peace; Rosa Liriano Lantigua, Transit Court; Vilma Diaz, Land Tribunal.
Tourism donates Sosua garbage truck
Minister of tourism Felix Jimenez delivered a cheque for US$12,654.00 to Sosua Mayor Edmundo Brown for the purchase of a new municipal garbage truck. The mayor expressed his gratitude saying that they have been trying to keep the city clean using old trucks in precarious condition. Jimenez, who is part of the PLD party currently in power in the central government, underscored the efforts of PRD party mayors Ramon Ortiz in Puerto Plata and Edmundo Brown in Sosua to solve the problems of their municipalities. "The President and I recognize their efforts. Attacking the problems of these two important cities is what counts, it doesn’t matter who is doing it or what political party they are from," said Jimenez.
Brits say Flamenco is world's best vacation hotel
A survey of passengers of British tour operator Air Tours has resulted in declaring Flamenco Beach Resort in Playa Dorada The World’s Best Vacation Hotel. The distinction is based on the opinion of the millions of Air Tours passengers worldwide. The award was received November 16 at a ceremony held at London’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel by Juan Carlos Fernandez, Director of Sales for Occidental Hotels in the Dominican Republic. 
Keep up the work, says reader
As a former part time resident and Rep in POP it is a real pleasure to find your web site and to be able to keep up to date with some of the goings on down there.  As with so many other former residents, half of my heart is still down there.  I look forward to any news on the ongoing developments in the RD and particularly in Puerto Plata. Thanks, Pat 
Cigar exports projected at 400 million units
The cigar industry projects that during the 1998/1999 fiscal year, 400 million cigars will be exported and will generate an income of $200 million dollars. 200 million units were exported last year and 87 million were exported in 1996. The Tobacco Institute estimates that 250,000 tareas of land was cultivated this year by the 12,000 tobacco farmers located in the Cibao Valley. Dominican tobacco is also exported to Honduras, Nicaragua, The Canary Islands and other countries where it is used in the cigars made there. More than one million “quintals” of tobacco were harvested this year, compared to 585,000 in 1996. 
These figures were announced amid widespread concern that there is more inventory than demand, and that almost 100 of 129 factories operating in the province of Santiago have shut down. According to Alvaro Quezado, President of the Dominican Association of Tobacco Exporters these factories have failed because of the poor quality of their product, and that the demand for good quality cigars is not only stable, but booming.
Drug squad gets stoned 
During a raid last week in Lomas de Cabarete, drug squad police and the District Attorney were walked into a hail of stones thrown by residents in that barrio. The onslaught was quelled by a few gunshots into the air. Three people were arrested with 15 grams of marijuana and 363 seeds. 
Puerto Plata crime stats
The Puerto Plata Police Department reports traffic violations, fighting, theft and child support violations at the top of their crime stats list for the year to date. See Table
Mayor Ortiz breathes new life into city parks
One of the most noticeable changes in Puerto Plata after 100 days of city administration by the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano since taking office at City Hall on August 16, is the dramatic transformation of the city’s.  The previous municipal administration built several brand new parks in the city but left existing ones in a state of rotting benches and broken lights and trampled gardens. 
Today however, a well-organized effort has put the charm back into our parks and into other areas, where gardens are being groomed and trees are being planted. Wrought iron benches are replacing wooden ones while preserving the colonial style, broken tiling and lampposts are being replaced and planters are being erected around trees. 
Mayor Ramon Ortiz, in addition to receiving accolades from city residents and government authorities, has also received help and support. The Oficina de Ornato y Embellecimiento de la Presidencia organized a clean up of the park by the port and a karate school that uses the park has committed to cutting the grass. There is also talk that Smith Enron is planning to provide light for the park. Mayor Ortiz has also received the help of the Ministry of Tourism in the clean up and planting at the traffic circle in front of Jose Briceno Stadium. - Edward Lantigua, El Faro
Emergency vehicles for airport
The national Airport Commission last week added a new firetruck and a rescue vehicle to the airport's fleet of emergency vehicles. A new tractor for landscaping was also received. 
Puerto Plata contributes 40% of nation's tax revenues
Subsequent to last week's announcement by the country's top taxman that Puerto Plata delivers 40 per cent of the country's tax revenues, Senator Ginette Bournigal and other leading politicians have made a formal request in the Senate demanding consideration of the province's pressing needs. The comment was made in a speech at the Dominican Canadian Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week. 
Canadian Embassy donates to local schools
This week, the Canadian Embassy delivered three checks totaling more than $135,000 pesos to expand and otherwise improve schools in Puerto Plata and Sosua. Sandra Asilis de Rodriguez, President of the Mesa Panamericana woman's club in Puerto Plata, received funds and will supervise the finishing of a small school in the rural village of Maggiolo. Robert Hildreth, owner of Compra Venta Antonio, received funds in order to furnish a classroom with desks at the Costambar Mission School. Evaristo Martinez of the ADESOL organization that has provided more than 5000 campesino houses with solar electricity received funds to build an extra classroom at the Escuela Bella Vista. More than $600,000 from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives had been allocated this year to north coast community development projects. But the pressing needs of the hundreds of thousands left homeless by Hurricane Georges made it necessary to delay most of these projects for a year. The Canadian Embassy was involved in arranging relief for hurricane victims through a cooperative effort with Dominican Consul Marina Cartagena in Montreal and Air Transat, which donated 2000 pounds per week of cargo space for two months. The Embassy has also provided funds and the distribution of relief assignment through the network of community organizations that in the past have performed well as Canada Fund beneficiaries. 
Broaden contributor base, not chase cheaters, says top taxman
The tax department is more interested in widening its base of contributors than getting more out of those who are already contributing , said the Dominican Republic's chief tax collector at the Dominican-Canadian Chamber of Commerce luncheon held today at Puerto Plata Beach Resort. He also held forward their policy of good will over force, saying that people who come forward voluntarily to regulate their tax status will ease into the system with less difficulties than those who end up getting audited. 
Auditing brings you face to face with the application of laws and penalties that are inevitably much more costly and inconvenient than making a voluntary contribution, he said. 
The invited guest was Juan Hernandez, Director of the Direccion General de Impuestos Internos (DGII), a relatively new umbrella organization set up by the government to modernize the country's entire tax collection system,  from license plates to income tax. 
Hernandez explained that DGII is working simultaneously to modernize internal systems and controls while reaching out to the public and making it easier for the taxpayer to contribute. One component of this effort is the decentralization of many services into local offices around the country. The DGII maintains a web site at http://www.dgii.gov.do During a question and answer period, Fernandez fielded several questions pertaining to unfair competition from those within their sector who still don't pay tax. He invited people to report these situations in confidence. Nobody wants to pay tax if the guy next door isn't doing it, he said,  which is why the DGII has to focus on building their base of contributors, ideally through voluntary participation.
He also revealed that Puerto Plata contributed almost 40 percent of the country's tax revenues of the past two years. 
New sewage systems for tourist centers
The general coordinator of the Tourist Sector Environmental Project announced that the government is negotiating an advance of US$10 million of the World Bank loan of US$120 million to begin two sewage system pilot projects, one for Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete and the other for Juan Dolio and Boca Chica. Construction of the north coast system will begin in January, according to the Ministry of Tourism, which will oversee the installations. 
ICAO gives DR airports high marks
The regional representative of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Raymond Ibarra, qualified the Dominican airport system as excellent, saying that the country’s airports maintain one of the most reliable security systems in the region. He also spoke highly of the efficiency of the statistical reporting systems, saying they always comply with ICAO standards.