Dominican Republic - Domestic policy

Mejía has stated that all social and political change cannot come from the government alone; there has to be cooperation between the state, industrialists, unions, international agencies and non-governmental institutions. He has stressed the need to spur farm production, to invest in education and infrastructure, including the improvement of health, energy, and potable water services. In late 2000, his administration was successful in enacting new legislation that will infuse revenues into the national budget to help the government cope with global increases in the cost of oil and the costs associated with the country's foreign debt.

By spring 2002, he began to back away from the controversial constitutional reforms that would permit him to run for reelection. In public statements, he claimed to be planning a run for president again, but not until 2008, thereby avoiding the constitutional prohibition on reelection by staying out of the 2004 contest. However, the sponsors of the constitutional reform are close allies of his, causing his critics to doubt the sincerity of his claim that he had no interest in the 2004 contest.

Many families in the Dominican Republic have relatives living in the United States, and therefore, a large percentage of the population has actually had occasion to do business with the Dominican Republic's consulate in New York. (In November 2001, Mejía designated three official days of mourning for a 12 November 2001 plane crash in New York that killed 175 Dominicans.) Soon after he took office in 2000, Mejía fulfilled a campaign promise to reduce fees at the Dominican Republic's consulate there for services such as returning a body to the Dominican Republic for burial. The reduction of such fees had become an important issue to voters in the election that brought Mejía to power.

In November 2001, Mejía's administration launched a program largely funded by the United States to eliminate child labor. The Dominican Republic was one of four countries to undertake such a program, the others being El Salvador, Nepal and Tanzania.

Even though the tourism industries of Caribbean nations suffered in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Dominican Republic realized a 3% growth in 2001. Some of this growth was attributed to tax reforms and lowered interest rates. The inflation rate had dropped to just over 4% by the end of 2001, and was projected to remain below 6% in 2002.

Mejía has said the government has a high interest in promoting trade and tourism, taking into account the country's geographic position. He has stressed that such projects spur the growth of economically depressed areas by creating new jobs. He has been in favor of modernizing ports—one of his proposals was to authorize the construction and operation of a private commercial port in Azua province.

Regarding trade, as of May 2002 the Dominican Republic's exports to Germany increased by more than 230%, and import from Germany increased by nearly 90% since the same time in 2001. German tourism to the Dominican Republic increased by more than 35% in 2001–02. The European Union (EU) has become a strong market for the organic cocoa grown in the Dominican Republic. Mejía has also been active in building the largest bamboo nursery in the Caribbean, and has coordinated technical cooperation programs for the industry with Taiwan.

Although the economy of the Dominican Republic was outperforming those of its neighbors in the Caribbean, only 24% of Dominicans felt confident that the positive economic climate would continue, according to a poll published in summer 2002. Experts attributed the pessimism to worldwide political and economic insecurity.

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