Dems’ third-term deal
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is promising to “aggressively transform” the economy by linking tourism with agriculture, cultural industries and renewable energy if it gets a third term in office.
There are also plans to use a National Digital Strategy in a major push towards making Barbados a digital economy.
But in its 52-page manifesto, officially launched last night at Oistins, Christ Church, the party said “wholesale” privatisation would not be part of its roadmap for the next five years. The DLP manifesto is predicated on sustainable economic diversification, maintaining key social services and protecting the vulnerable.
A third straight election victory for the DLP will also not include tax relief until “the economy is diversified and achieves robust growth”.
There are no promises of an across-the-board pay increase for civil servants. Instead, a pay-for-performance system will be introduced in the public sector, and existing salary scales will be adjusted “where possible”. The Dems also intend to maintain its policy not to pay tuition fees for Barbadians attending the University of West Indies (UWI), but will “continue to work with [UWI] to develop and build a funding model”.
In the document Stand Strong Barbados: Towards A Digital Economy, the party said “achieving strong inter-sectoral linkages will be the focus and centrepiece” of its economic strategy with a promised provision of a 15 per cent land tax rebate for tourism-related entities that increased their local inputs by 25 per cent. Tourism entities will also be able to claim corporation tax of up to 150 per cent on expenditures related to locally-made items.
The DLP’s increased focus on agriculture will involve using US$64 million from China to launch the Hope Agricultural Training Institute in St Lucy and the Agri-Business Science Park at Dukes with UWI, aimed at ensuring that by 2026 Barbadians will be growing at least half of what they eat.
The DLP said vendors would no longer need a licence, they would simply be required to register with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. It will support the establishment of a credit union-owned and operated commercial bank.
The party also said it would establish additional campuses of Samuel Jackman Institute of Technology in St Lucy and St Philip, and offer a tax deductible education savings account of up to $5 000 annually, and a tax deduction of up to $5 000 annually for the premium paid on eligible health insurance policies.
Further, police who now perform administrative functions will be reallocated to increase the police presence in communities by 200 officers. The powers of magistrates will be expanded so that they can try cases to a value of $1 million, the magistrate courts’ hours will be extended to include after hours coupled with an increase in the power of the magistrate to sentence.
The manifesto promised to decriminalise medical marijuana and “the possession of less than a minimum quantity of marijuana”. A drug court is also on the cards.
The DLP also plans to provide corporation tax credits for up to 150 per cent of the costs of operating an e-commerce of digital commerce platform; establish a Green Bus Fund to support the replacement of the state bus fleet with cleaner, green vehicles; and provide a 25 per cent rebate on land taxes to households with vehicles not powered by fossil fuels.
As part of the plans for a digital economy, the party also said it would “secure development financing for a youth-led project to digitize the entire records system of the public service within a specified time to bolster the efficiency of the public service, create employment for young people and improving the ease of doing business”.
The DLP also intends to mandate at least 50 per cent female membership on all state boards by 2026 and that at least 25 per cent of all private sector boards should be female by 2026 and compel all large companies to publish their gender pay gap.
The party said its manifesto plans were “reliant on skillful reallocation of resources, genuine private/public cooperation, international partnerships and volunteerism”. (SC)