Which promises has Labour kept after 3 years?

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Get rid of Personal Income Tax – So said, so done in June of 2016. The removal of PIT came as a relief to many who had voted for it in the 2014 general elections but as a carpenter from Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s constituency told our newsroom this week Friday, “There were many people who felt nothing from the removal of PIT”. Meanwhile a small shop owner in Dredge Bay scoffed at the assertion that PIT had in fact been removed. He said, “You know that’s a joke because now you just go to Inland Revenue and pay UBT”.
Dredge St John’s Harbour – This was another manifesto promise on which the ABLP administration has made good but not to the extent to which they stated. At the end of 2016 Browne said the administration “is committed to spending a further US $50 million within the next year” on dredging the Harbour for Oasis Class Ships. The largest vessel to arrive thus far has beenthe Anthem of the Seas– a Quantum class vessel.
Repair schools – The government has trumpeted this as evidence of its commitment to education and it was promised in the ABLP manifesto. However, the decision to repurpose the facility originally built to be the home of the Five Islands Secondary School and use it for the University of Antigua remains controversial due to the overcrowding that exists in the school system. The government intends to build a new secondary school at Thomlinson’s Estate.
Make A&B green – With the installation of several megawatts of renewable energy and the adoption of environmental protection legislation the government can boast that it is keeping to its promise of a Green Antigua Policy by 2020. The plan is for 20 per cent of energy to be generated from renewable mix of wind, solar, waste-to-energy and biomass and an ultimate 20 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint of Antigua & Barbuda.
Create jobs and lower unemployment – The level of employment created continues to be disputed between the administration and the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP). In July last year, a Labour Force Survey put the unemployment rate at 14.1 per cent – 4 per cent higher than was estimated in the 2011 census. In September of last year, a United Nations (UN) report found the unemployment rate among youth was at 50 per cent. Nevertheless, the ABLP claims it has put hundreds back to work. This year’s budget estimates reveal an 11 per cent increase in the number of non-established workers and at the November 2016 independence celebration Browne promised “5000 more jobs” in two years.
Build 500 homes in 500 days – often cited as the most dubious promise of the 2014 election because achieving it simply defied probability. This is a promise not kept. However, work to construct subsidised state funded homes continues with the government planning to give out the keys to the first 48 completed homes at a ceremony next week Monday at Dredge Bay.
Make Barbuda a port of entry – This hasn’t happened and it has been on the cards for years. When OBSERVER media visited Barbuda in March residents said that a port of entry should have been established years ago and the failure to do so transcends administrations. As goods have to enter the country in Antigua and be resold and ferried to the sister isle, Barbudans say the cost of living is higher.
‘Full upgrade of Barbuda’s lone hospital’ –  If anyone claims that this has been done Barbudans would beg to differ. A store owner on the sister isle told OBSERVER media in March that the hospital was in dire need of such an upgrade and that Barbudans incur bitter costs having to travel to and from Antigua for primary and secondary healthcare.
“Immediate” repairs to these buildings – The Justice Complex in Barbuda, the Multipurpose Cultural Centre, the Police Headquarters (American Road), the National Archives, the National Library and the unfinished building at the Antigua State College (ASC) – this promise was not kept.
Land for Youth – No such programme exists. The ABLP manifesto said that the administration would reintroduce a “Land for Youth Programme” which the document claimed “saw hundreds of youthful citizens acquiring a piece of the rock for housing and investment” prior to 2004. The document also promised “National Home for Youth Initiative” which does not exist.
Create a poverty alleviation fund – If this fund exists its accounts have not been tabled in Parliament and it did not form part of the most recent budget. We can assume this was a promise not kept.
Term limits for the Prime Minister – This was an obscure promise made in the ABLP manifesto which would certainly require constitutional reform. In that vein, it is interesting to note that the ABLP was against placing multiple questions on a referendum ballot when it planned to have a referendum on acceding to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The administration only conceded to have more than one question on the ballot when the opposition persistently called for this but the opposition has since failed to come up with questions and the possibility of having a referendum is now bleak.

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