Two years of Government

Arriving Two years into the government of President Luis Abinader, it is pertinent to make an evaluation of how he has managed the country, especially since in the first two years is when a president shows his priorities and the direction of his administration.

These days, you’d expect the government to say the economy is doing well, and try to make the case that the country is having its best years. However, many Dominicans seeing their reality realize that, quite to the contrary, what they are experiencing is a growing deterioration in their living conditions. And it is not just about perception, the truth is that the data from the government itself confirms the calamity of the Dominican family.

From August 2020 to datethe family shopping basket has increased by 6,186 pesos in just 2 years, with an inflation of 17% according to official figures from the Central Bank. This is the second largest price increase in such a short time since the country emerged from the economic crisis of 2003-2004.

The effect is even more notable on a day-to-day basis because it affects mass consumption products such as chicken, pork, beef, oil, cassava and avocado, among others, which accumulate increases of over 30%.

As if that were not enough, the government entities themselves, instead of relieving the burden on households, have further increased families’ monthly expenses, raising the cost of the services they offer. To give just 3 examples, the electricity bill, garbage collection and license renewal have become more than 30% more expensive.

Of course, the government will say that inflation is the product of the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, and although it is undeniable that the international environment has been complexwhen reviewing data from other Latin American countries, it is seen that the Dominican Republic in these two years has been the fourth country where prices have increased the most, only behind Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil.

Therefore, it is fair to say that almost all Latin American governments have known how to do something to better manage the situation and avoid suffering of their population.

And what is worse, Dominican families are facing the strong increase in prices, while their wages continue to lag. According to data from the Central Bank, when comparing labor income in January-March 2022 with the same period in 2019, it is observed that wages have barely increased 276 pesos, approximately 1.3%.

Namely, the increase in the basket goes for 6,186 pesos but salaries have only increased 276 pesos compared to the pre-pandemic level. It is true, the government announced the increase in the minimum wage, but it was applied with the reclassification of companies, and as noted, the effect on the workers’ pockets has been minimal.

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To this we must add the even more complicated situation of the large number of unemployed. The figures tell us that still in January-March 2022 not all the jobs lost in the pandemic have been recovered.

The number of employed in the formal sector in 2022 is 114,616 employees below the 2019 average, and even incorporating informal jobs this year has 23,155 fewer employees than before the start of the pandemic.

So, why does the government say that all jobs have already been recovered? The answer is that they use data from the Social Security Treasury, which incorporates the effects of the amnesty by law 13-20 that eliminated late payments and surcharges, and they use this data despite the fact that the statistical bulletins warn that these data cannot be be used to monitor the labor market.

And the deterioration is not only economic. In these two years the homicide rate increased by 22%, again, according to official figures, while in almost all Latin American countries the homicide rate decreased. The same happens in health, with an increase in infant mortality of 64%, reaching the highest infant mortality rate in recent years.

What justifies these poor results? The pandemic and the war, it’s hard to believe. Is it, then, the lack of resources? Well, the truth is that the government has not lacked resources to deal with the situation. In 2022 they are managing a budget 4,110 million dollars higher than in 2019, partly thanks to the increase in debt of 12,653 million dollars.

The result is that if in July 2020 each Dominican owed an average of 3,747 dollars, as of June 2022 that figure has risen to 4,877 dollars. That is to say, in these two years the government has added 1,130 dollars of debt to each Dominican, without the Dominican family seeing improvements in blackouts, efficiency of 9-1-1, access to high-cost medicines, improvements in transportation or investments in works in your community.

In short, despite the announcements full of optimism, the reality is different and official data from the government itself shows that the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was right when he said: “Through pride, we deceive ourselves. But deep down, under the surface of consciousness, a soft, muffled voice tells us: something is not right.

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