Local January 13, 2011 | 3:34 pm

On fare hike threats, Dominican Republic’s “owners” again get major perks

SANTO DOMINGO. – President Leonel Fernandez concluded the meeting with transport business and union leaders at 2:15 p.m. in the National Palace, where they were promised housing and tax exempt buses, among other benefits.

The agreement with the transport business leaders, known as “the country’s owners” for the fear they instill on the Government, also includes a bill to amend the Hydrocarbons Law.

In a press conference, Metropolitan Bus Services (OMSA) director Ignacio Ditrén said the proposed legislation would identify sources of funds to benefit the drivers and promote the conversion to natural gas.

He said the bill will be submitted to Congress next week.

Antonio Marte, the head of the bus owners grouped in CONATRA and spokesman for the drivers said they were satisfied with the agreement and pledged not to increase fares as long as the Government keeps its promise.

He said they gave the Government 60 days to draft the bill, submit it to Congress and get it signed into law, while Fernandez promised to provide the propane gas subsidy known as Bonogás to the drivers who aren’t receiving it.

The bus owners had threatened to raise fares as much as RD$15, after complaining of high fuel prices and the lack of respect of previous agreements, among other grievances.

The business leaders, who get considerable benefits, in addition to fair fuel prices, demand tax breaks on tires and revisions of the Petrocaribe oil agreement with Venezuela and the Hydrocarbons Law.

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