Local February 5, 2016 | 4:16 pm

Group digs up more dirt on Dominican Republic coal-fired plants

Santo Domingo.- The National Committee to Combat ClimateChange (CNLCC) on Friday said Dominican Republic State-owned electric utility’s(CDEEE) classification of documents on the coal-fired plants being built atPunta Catalina seeks to permanently hide the decisions by project officials frompublic scrutiny and from those who demand transparency.

“The CEO of the CDEEE, Ruben Jimenez Bichara classified as confidentialthe information on the Punta Catalina coal plants and the contract to plantmahogany trees near the plants on January 15, refusing to hand them over to theLawyers for Environmental Protection Institute (ISAPROMA) as stipulated in LawNo. 200-04 on Free Access to Public Information.

It said the administrative measure number 591signed by JimenezBichara, in its first resolution reads that “the information requested by theINSAPROMA in the application is classified as confidential, because ofoverriding public interest."

“In the aforementioned application by the administrative act,ISAPROMA requested from the CDEEE, the reforestation contract to manage andmitigate damage from the coal plants at Punta Catalina, signed between theCDEEE, the Environment Ministry and the Dominican Mahogany Consortium (CONCADOM),”the CNLCC said.

It also requested information on the total budget for theconstruction of the coal plants and disbursements of the funds for theconstruction thus far, the source of funding, and the name of the land’s owners.

In an emailed statement, the organization said the CDEEE’s declarationover Punta Catalina as a secretive nature is “extremely serious, because theclassification justifies its refusal to let the public know the details of the project,which is under serious suspicion of corruption.”

It adds that the administrative action confirms andreinforces the non-transparent and illegal conduct by the authorities with the recentlyrevealed the scandal of the secret agreement with the company Pinegy CommercialGroup, SRL, a company close to the “ring” around president Danilo Medina, tobuild the a coal plant at Punta Catalina.

“How does the government intend to continue the discussionson the National Electricity Sector Reform Pact when those responsible for the industry,shielded by stealth hide information and documents proving their permanent andblatant violation of the laws and the Constitution of the Republic.”

"Jimenez Bichara’s cynicism is such that it takesINSAPROMA’s purpose of taking the process through legal channels andinstitutions as a pretext to deny what by law he’s obligated to provide" theorganization said.

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