What have been BVRD's main achievements in the past year?
This past year's developments were significant, considering the maturity of some projects promoted by BVRD in comparison with the exponential growth of the local securities market in recent years. BVRD focused efforts on continuing with its strategic pillars, which are important to ensure a better development of operations, systems, technology infrastructure, and adequate risks and contingencies management of its internal processes, as well as initiatives aimed to promote the securities market in the DR and abroad. In 2016, we celebrated the second anniversary of the implementation of the SIOPEL technological platform as a trading system. Meanwhile, RDVAL, the first price provider for financial instruments in the DR, was born as an additional service by BVRD and today is an independent company; principal participants in the market came together to form an institutional committee to conduct an integrated study of the industry and identify best market practices to develop our market; and we signed a new agreement with local university PUCMM to develop educational programs to expand, promote, and train in securities market affairs.
What is your view on developing a capital market regulatory framework, and how will this affect the local equity market?
The current legal framework dates back from 2000. Since then, as a financial market we have grown, new products had been released, there are new players, and accordingly there are new needs for the market. This is precisely the main reason why the regulator and participants are working on a new legal framework to adapt the market to new times and opportunities. A new law has been discussed since 2012 and we hope it will receive congressional approval in 2017. This will definitely help the equity market develop as well.
What factors make the Dominican Republic a safe and stable place to invest in?
The Dominican Republic has been recognized as one of Latin America's fastest-growing countries in terms of economic growth over the past decade, averaging real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014 and a GDP that is expected to be above 7% in 2016. This is the result of a mutual effort by the government and the private sector to transform our business model with more competitive and developing industries such as construction, banking, tourism, and others growing at a rapid to steady pace, boosting our economy in these past years. Annual inflation, measured from June 2015 to June 2016, stood at 1.91%, remaining below the lower limit of the objective established in the Central Bank Monetary Policy of 4%. The Dominican Republic has also become the regional attraction center for FDI, for a total of USD17.6 billion in the last nine years, reaching unprecedented annual flows since 2004. These factors along with local banks and the rapid growth of the securities markets industry, with extremely capable participants and enforcement laws in place, have improved our credit ratings and our capacity to handle efficiently more resources. It is definitely a great time to invest in the Dominican Republic and professional foreign investors have capitalized on this opportunity. Statistics are great indicators of a country's transformation, and we are no exception to that rule.
What is your vision for the capital markets and the development of BVRD in the long term?
BVRD should become a catalyst for the Dominican securities market in order to move to the next stage of its development. The future of the securities exchange looks promising for many reasons: the launch of new investment instruments, greater participation of the general public and new companies, the inclusion of new marketplaces and functionalities of the platform, and a regulatory framework in the process of approval that will allow the exchange to participate in other markets. All these will allow BVRD to provide greater additional value to participants and the market as a whole.