1. DR and US Co. go solar

1. DR and US Co. go solar
The Dominican government and Sunovia Energy Technologies from the United States have signed an agreement to install the first solar energy plant in the country, according to a company press release.
In a press release, Carl Smith, the executive director of Sunovia Energy Technologies said that Dominican President Leonel Fernandez has shown a “tremendous passion for resolving the country’s energy difficulties.”
The executive said that the Dominican government has “realized that having a bilateral focus, including responsible renewable energy production combined with a energy conservation program are critical steps that have to be taken in order to get the country on the road to acquiring energy independence.”
The agreement sets an investment of some US$200 million and is said will provide employment for 2,500 workers.
Eddy Martinez, executive director of the Dominican Republic Center for Exports and Investments (CEI-RD) stressed that the agreement is the result of “intense work” that the nation has done over the past few years in its efforts to reduce its dependence on oil.
“And, at the same time, to create new jobs and attract new investments to the island”, he said.
The contract with Sunovia Energy Technologies, which is based in Sarasota, Florida, is part of a wave of new investments in renewable energy in the Dominican Republic, according to the official.
This wave includes other companies from the United States like the Masada Resource Group, STC Engineering and Burbano Recycling have established energy generation and bio-fuel facilities in the country, according to the Dominican official.
Martinez stressed that as well as wanting to attract investors in renewable energy the country also wants to expand investments in sectors relating to stem cells, genetically modified foodstuffs and the creation of hybrid fuel vehicles.

4. Leonel revokes tax increase
The director of Department of Taxes (DGII), Juan Hernandez, has suspended, for the time being anyway, the raise in assessment values on real estate and in its table of reference for calculating the Tax on Property (IPI). He said he did so in response to a request from President Fernandez. The Dominican leader asked the official to wait until the end of debates at the National Unity Summit.
Despite knowing that the values attached to real estate classified as luxurious or as unused urban lots or buildings have not been revised since 2005, Fernandez said that “we need to wait until the process of the working group dealing with the economy and competitiveness is finished.”
Business sectors have said the appraisal is untimely, because many real estate property prices are inflated by the effects of the real estate bubble that has not left the DR unscathed. These sectors say the government should wait and see what effects the global financial and real estate crisis will have on property prices here.These sectors say the government should wait to see what effects the global financial and real estate crisis have on prices of property here.
The DGII director confirmed the request from the President, saying that it was in line with the spirit of the Unity Summit that is seeking a consensus on all major issues.
According to DR1 News yesterday, the tax director ordered a revision of the assessments on urban properties that serve as the base for the IPI, and even though the measure did not imply an increase in taxes, it did modify the baseline for the payment of the 1% tax on assets due to the fact that this works on the difference between the RD$5.0 million established as exonerated and the new value established by the property assessors.

5. Construction materials prices decline
Reinforced bars for construction have dropped from RD$3,000 a quintal two months ago to RD$1,550, reflecting a major decline in demand. Listin Diario reports that nevertheless the bag of cement is holding to around RD$255, despite major declines in imported inputs. Cement producers say that the price of the fuel they use to run their operation has not declined. Prices on cement blocks have also declined. Hardware store owner Jose Jimenez said that Dominicans should make the most of the decline that he believes is only temporary.