Santo Domingo (EFE).- The Dominican President, Luis Abinader, highlighted this Monday the growth of 4.9% of the local economy in 2022, at times of high uncertainty and global complexity, according to what he said in his accountability speech on the occasion of National Independence Day.
This growth, due in large part to the good performance of tourism, “consolidates our economy as one of the most dynamic in Latin America,” Abinader said before the National Congress (bicameral) in his third accountability message.
“Today the Dominican Republic is a universal example of handling the pandemic and economic recovery before the world,” said the president in his speech, which the opposition described as populist and re-electionist, in a pre-election year.
Abinader, in power since August 2020 and who the Constitution allows to run for consecutive re-election, has not publicly announced whether he will run for the 2024 elections, but the local political class takes it for granted.
Record figures in tourism and investment
The Dominican Republic received more than 8 million tourists last year -7 million by air and 1.3 million by cruises- which represented 8.4 billion dollars in foreign currency for the country, record figures for the sector.
“While the world still has a gap of 37% compared to before the pandemic, our country grew in double digits,” he highlighted in the joint session in the Assembly, in whose surroundings his supporters and people demanding the return of a part of the savings in the pension fund administrators (AFP).
The head of state announced works to benefit the tourism sector, including several to boost tourism in Pedernales (southwest), including an international airport whose tender will be held in the first four months of this year.
He also highlighted that foreign direct investment increased by more than 27% compared to 2021, reaching an unprecedented figure of more than 3,950 million dollars, “which shows the great confidence of foreign investors in our economy even in an international economic situation adverse”.
He also referred to the need for a general wage increase “above the accumulated inflation since the last increase.”
The unions demand a salary increase of 35% to help offset the inflation levels of last year, which were 7.83%, according to official data.
Crisis in Haiti and foreign policy
The president also referred to the worsening of the crisis in Haiti whose solution, he considered, involves a “shared responsibility” between that Caribbean country and the international community, which he accused of lack of action.
For Abinader, “never has the situation in our neighboring country been so dramatic. Haiti is today a country devastated by crises, with a collapsed State and an international community that does not act”.
He insisted that “there is not and will not be a Dominican solution to the problems of Haiti” and advocated before the legislators to overcome partisan differences and reach “a country pact” that gives a “unanimous response” to defend national sovereignty.
The president referred to the international commitments of the Dominican Republic, which will host the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Ibero-America in March.
Zero tolerance for violence against women
In another order, Abinader reaffirmed the commitment of his government “zero tolerance to violence” and in this sense pointed out that the annual average of femicides during the fifteen years prior to his administration was 96 and in the last three years it has lowered to 75.
He also reiterated his commitment to achieve the reduction of adolescent pregnancies and early unions in the Dominican Republic, with high rates in both aspects.
In addition, Abinader defended a series of reforms launched by his government, including that of the National Police, one of the most questioned institutions.
He admitted that violent incidents have decreased in the Dominican Republic, but homicides due to social conflicts have increased, as well as motorcycle and vehicle thefts, and he assured that the Government is working to reverse insecurity.