Dominican Republic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Dominican Republic’s economy hard. In 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 6.7%, compared to a year earlier. Poverty remains a pressing issue. The poverty rate is high, although lower than in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region (30.9%), reaching 21.8% in 2020 based on the latest international comparable estimations, 1.5 percentage points higher than a year earlier. Extreme poverty was around 4.6%, 0.3 percentage points higher than in 2019, although lower than in LAC (10.0%). Between March 2020 and May 2021, schools were fully closed for 33 weeks, compared to the averages of 26 weeks in LAC and 15 weeks in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The negative impacts of closures on children and families have been partially offset by access to effective online learning. Dominican Republic reports one of the highest online learning coverages in LAC (46.7% of schools), close to the OECD (54.1%). Dominican Republic entered the pandemic with a relatively low level of public expenditures on health care (6.1% of GDP), lower than in LAC (6.8%), even if it has increased by 0.5 percentage points in the last decade. People’s perceptions of the quality of health care are relatively modest. In 2020, 52.2% of people declared being satisfied with health services, slightly higher than in LAC (48.2%) but lower than in the OECD (70.7%). One of the most remarkable improvements in recent years is connected to people’s perception of corruption. In 2020, 57.7% of people thought that the government was corrupt, more than 20 percentage points less than a decade earlier at that time one of the highest figures in LAC (72.4%).

Dominican Republic implemented policies to deal with the crisis, to alleviate both salary losses and food insecurity. Concerning the protection of households, Dominican Republic used and expanded an existing social assistance scheme (Tarjeta de Solidaridad) to deliver cash transfers to the most vulnerable population. Additionally, Dominican Republic expanded and improved the quality of education and health care and pursued decent and adequate housing for the vulnerable population. Regarding firms, Dominican Republic took measures to strengthen the capacities of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, the most affected by the crisis, sustaining their revenues and market access.

Going forward, Dominican Republic introduced the national multi-year public sector plan. To help the recovery, the government aims to improve living conditions, especially among the most vulnerable population affected by the pandemic. The initiatives include guaranteeing gender equality, fostering the productive capacities of agriculture-related industries, boosting the supply of high value added manufactured goods and promoting tourism, all in the framework of digital transformation and sustainable development.

Dominican Republic’s international co-operation projects within and beyond the region are aligned with the priorities of the national agenda, including post-crisis recovery and sustainable development. Within LAC, Dominican Republic engaged in co-operation schemes with the Latin America Development Bank to reduce vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic and to minimise the risks of the CARIFORUM States (strengthening the capacities of the emergency operations center to deal with COVID-19). Additionally, the country received donations from LAC countries, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the Ibero-American General Secretariat, the Inter-American Development Bank, Costa Rica and Peru to respond to the health crisis. Beyond LAC, Dominican Republic takes part in international co-operation schemes with other countries. Concerning structural needs, the projects focus on strengthening the institutional capacity of the Climate and Resilience Observatory, facilitating mutual understanding between Dominican Republic and Haiti and the formation of integrated health service networks. Within the framework of the third phase (2020-21) of the EUROsociAL+ co-operation programme with the European Union, support has been granted to both the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development to design policies which aim to protect informal workers, with particular attention given to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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