Local February 27, 2012 | 1:20 pm

Fernandez says Dominicans are better off than eight years ago

Santo Domingo.- President Leonel Fernandez said Monday that Dominicans are better off than eight years ago, when he took office for the second time, and cited reports in publications such as The Economist and Time magazine lauding the country’s economic performance despite a gloomy global backdrop.

Speaking before Congress in the traditional State of the Nation speech to mark Independence Day, the chief executive said his Administration has made a little New York out of the Dominican capital, and cited the construction of major infrastructure in Santo Domingo and nationwide.

He said for 2004, the GDP was US$22.0 billion, compared with US$55.0 billion in 1911. “In nearly eight years we’ve more than doubled the country’s capacity to produce wealth.

Fernandez said during the last seven-and-a-half years in the country, thanks to the population, and its government, “we can be proud of having a growing and solid society.”

He said the country’s economy has diversified and cited figures from the major supermarket chains, whose sales jumped from RD$20.2 billion in 2004, to RD$40.0 billion in 2008.

Fernandez also cited figures to prove a successful fight against corruption and drug trafficking, noting that the U.S. satellite tracking of aircraft out of South America show a fall in radar blips. “We say with confidence that the traffic of cocaine has fallen, to the point that the New York Times reported that ‘cocaine no longer rains over Dominican territory.”

He cited ex president and founder of the ruling PLD party, Juan Bosch’s speech in that very Assembly in 1963: “While I’m governing this nation, democracy will not perish’, words which still reverberate in these hallowed halls.”

Fernandez did however acknowledge the country’s myriad deficiencies and needs. “There’re still undernourished persons. There’re still orphaned youngsters who lack opportunities and the aged who’re void of dignified attention."

He said because of the country’s ills work is needed in two agendas: one is the pre-modern and the other toward modernity. "All this I recognize and it’s about continuing to make stronger efforts so that all members of our society enjoy the economic transformation process, the modernization and the changes implemented which the Dominican Republic has been experiencing for the last few years."

In his last speech before the National Assembly, as his current term concludes August 16, the Head of State revealed that despite what in his view is a better country than eight years ago, the speech chief executive affirmed that there’s still room for much improvement.

He added that his cabinet has managed to maintain macroeconomic stability, and resorted to audiovisual equipment to bases his assertion. “And although society doesn’t eat numbers, the numbers reveal what society eats.”

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