Antigua Barbuda Labour Party launches its manifesto

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Reducing the fuel variation thus lowering the cost of electricity per kilowatt to all customers, reducing the cost of clearing goods at the port, renovating the dilapidated housing stock in St. John’s were some of the promises outlined in the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party’s 2018 manifesto.
The 62-page document titled, “Vision 2023 and beyond,” was launched at the Multipurpose Centre yesterday, with select candidates highlighting some of the most cogent points.
Promises include tightening the grip on crime, affordable housing, widening the ownership of the economy to give Antiguans and Barbudans a greater stake, empowering the youth and lowering the cost of land were highlighted by the ABLP, which has chosen to go into early general elections just three and a half years in office.
EP Chet Greene, party chairman and parliamentary representative for St. Paul’s, opened the discussion by stating that the party has set out, in its manifesto, practical and people-centered programmes, which once implemented, will go towards the further enhancement of the country’s economy.
“It details clearly, all we plan to do in the next five years and beyond and how we will set the springboard for that great leap in the future. We repeat our pledge, not to re-introduce Personal Income Tax, we pledge to a lowering of Corporate Income tax to a mere 21 percent,” he said.
PM Browne, who spoke more on the promises in the document, further outlined that there are a number of private businesses “that have not recovered from the disaster that ruled this country between 2004 and 2010”.
He said that the new ABLP government will be putting together a business recovery package, a bailout package for companies and sole traders, who would have experienced difficulties during that period of time.
“My government will undertake to assume a number of their bad loans, up to 75 percent of the value of the security. It will ensure the continuity of the business; it will ensure continuity of employment and at the same time it will assist the domestic banks to clear up their loan books,” PM Browne said.
Other promises announced by Browne was the set-up of an Entrepreneurial Development Fund – a programme designed to provide funding for entrepreneurs. This is to be operated primarily by the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority and managed by the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank.
“We have already submitted $1 million to start that programme and we have put the infrastructure in place to provide funding in the amount of $3 million annually to that fund,” Browne said.
He appealed to individuals in the productive sector to take advantage of those opportunities.
Samantha Marshall, ABLP candidate for the constituency of St. Mary’s South and social transformation minister, tackled matters of women in politics and child-related issues.
She said during the coming years the party will work arduously to encourage more women to enter politics.
Marshall also revealed that a new ABLP government will instruct the relevant ministries to collaboratively devise and implement a programme, including the monitoring of and strengthening of existing legislation to end child abuse.
“We will also work proactively to tackle discrimination, remove barriers and deliver dignity and empowerment to our differently abled people. The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party government has already ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disability. Our next steps will be to take the appropriate steps to ensure implementation,” Marshall said.
Molwyn Joseph, health minister and member of parliament for the St. Mary’s North constituency, spoke on the accomplishments in the healthcare sector and outlined new projects that will come on stream.
He said within the next 32-45 days a delegation from China will arrive in Antigua to continue an eye care programme which was launched several months ago.
“Our vision is designed to erase the disgraceful neglect of a healthcare sector under the United Progressive Party leadership and for Antigua and Barbuda to become a leading standard for health and nutrition in the Caribbean,” Joseph said.
The ABLP made several other promises including increasing the country’s tourism accommodation stock to over 1,500 rooms and providing hundreds of jobs, investment of $270 million in a joint venture between the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) telecoms and other telecoms companies and introduce legislation to operate and regulate blockchain technology as an integral part of Vision 2023 and Beyond.

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