Local February 8, 2013 | 9:04 am

Business leaders slam ports contract of company linked to FBI probe

Santo Domingo.- Dominican Republic Industries Association (AIRD) president Ligia Bonetti on Thursday said the country’s security cannot lay in private hands, because it’s the Government’s prerogative.

She said the country’s businesses are opposed to the contract with the company ICSSI, calling it unconstitutional on grounds of monopoly privileges.

Bonetti said the installation of X-ray systems to inspect containers in Dominican ports doesn’t confer any special or distinctive value on the goods.

"Customs should be in government hands. This contract undermines competitiveness and adds no value to our products, because they’ll not take that into account in other ports," Bonetti said, interviewed on the Cuentas Claras program on 95.7 FM.

Company defends contract

Meanwhile the company ICSSI, Border Support Services, said since August 2012 accepted the Presidential Committee’s conclusions to renegotiate the original contract, accepting the Dominican Port Authority’s proposal, which cut fees by around 50%, as stipulated in the contract issued by the state in 2002.

In a statement to the print media, ICSSI adds that the implementation of the contract, "at rates suggested by the Government, to charge US$45 for full containers and US$20 for empty ones, far from making costs more expensive, will reduce them substantially."

FBI probe

Bonetti’s statements come in the heels of an FBI probe into Dominican eye doctor and ICSSI stakeholder Salomon Melgen, a contributor of New Jersey senator Robert Menéndez.

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