Local October 5, 2016 | 11:05 am

Dominican Republic coal plants: Graft imperils pension fund

Santo Domingo.- TheNational Committee to Combat Climate Change, CNLCC, on Wednesday warned that pensionsof over 30,000 workers are in peril if shares of the coal-fired power plants atPunta Catalina are bought with the Social Security pension fund.

It called presidentDanilo Medina’s announced sale of a US$1.0 billion stake in the plants, "amaneuver to justify and legitimize the use of pension funds in that project."

"The governmentintends to replace Dominican workers pension fund with international funding of1.2 billion dollars which was originally allocated to Punta Catalina but whichfor various reasons will no longer enter in the country," the watchdoggroup said in an emailed statement.

The CNLCC said theloan from Brazil’s state-owned BNDES bank couldn’t be disbursed in the heels ofa widespread Brazilian federal investigation into graft and influence peddling thattargets Odebrecht, lead contractor in the plant’s construction.

"It has alsobeen impossible to disburse the credit negotiated with a pool of European banksconditioned to the one from BNDES and for the plant’s failure to meettechnological and environmental requirements, which these banks must complywith in their respective countries to fund coal plants," the CNLCC said.

It said the US$1.2 billionrepresent 30,662 pensions for life for that same number of workers calculatedfrom each pensioned workers receive an average monthly pension of RD$9,855,equaling the current quotable minimum wage during 14 years is the average timebetween retirement age and life expectancy. "Last May this amount of moneyrepresents 13.90% of the total pension fund, which reveals the enormousdimension of the siphoning of these assets and its negative impact on Social Security’s survival."

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