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DROMEL SPRINGER — A POLITICAL FIRST RESPONDER WHO CARES

A vote for Dr Romel Springer to represent the constituency of St. Andrew is a vote for a genuine first responder who cares.

The Barbados Labour Party candidate for the rural constituency spelt out his record of looking after residents over the years tonight as he addressed the party’s virtual mass meeting at which he was formally introduced to the country.

The “Orange Hill boy”, who spoke of his early years of struggle as a student of the Alexandra School, which he left with a single CXC certificate, and then his first job working with crews debushing the sides of the road, stressed that he entered politics because he “chose to care” for others.

He recalled how the words of veteran teacher Leslie Lett motivated him to return to school in the evening, to become a teacher and eventually to be able to motivate other struggling youth to see education as a path to a better future.

This background, he said, explains why he was absolutely appalled when the Democratic Labour Party imposed tuition fees on Barbadians attending the University of the West Indies. Dr Springer noted that when the Dems took that decision, he was a young lecturer at the university teaching a class of 52 students, and the roll immediately dropped to about a dozen, half of whom were foreign nationals.

“Now they would like you to forget, when you are still … struggling to repay the loans you had to take out to continue your education,” he said. “I am proud to be a part of a Government that sees the value of our young people.”

While his most rewarding job has been teaching, Dr Springer told his audience that included constituents watching his presentation at satellite sites at Hillaby, Belleplaine and Orange Hill, that he has welcomed the considerable time spent in recent years as a first responder to residents of the parish.

“Whatever the issue, they can tell you Rommel was always there,” he said, noting that when COVID first struck and many were afraid to reach out to others, he was there.

“I had to choose between fear and care. I chose to care, and the people of St. Andrew know that.”

When the island was covered with volcanic ash from St. Vincent, he was all over the community lending assistance, he added.

“When the freak storm mash up St. Andrew — Hillaby and White Hill — I showed up, and not with empty hands… I brought resources…

“Two weeks later we got hit by Elsa and it mash up Chalky Mount and Belleplaine, I was there,” Springer said.

Today, he added, most of those houses have been repaired or replaced.

“Nothing turns me back — not fear, not fatigue,” Springer stressed.

The future, he added, will include programmes aimed at developing the youth of the constituency, providing further assistance to spur small business development, and the revitalisation of sports in the various communities.

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KAY MCCONNEY — COMMITTED TO SERVICE

Residents of St Philip West have been promised representation with a commitment to service, by Barbados Labour Party candidate Kay McConney.

Speaking tonight on the party’s general elections platform, McConney told her face-to-face and online audience: “I am in this because my heart is in it, and I am fully committed to serving you.”

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology recalled that she had already served the country as a national athlete, as the person who set up the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, as consul general in Toronto, and as deputy representative to the United Nations and World Trade Organisation in Geneva, before being recalled to the island to take up her current ministerial portfolio.

Since returning, she added, she has been proud to be part of the process of transformation, and just as proud to call Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley her leader “because she inspires with her phenomenal vision and a presence that makes people pay attention … to Barbados”.

Pointing to some of the successes of her ministry, McConney noted:

—  Barbadians can now acquire a police certificate of character entirely online in just 24 hours, and not seven to eight weeks as existed prior;

—  All professional licences, as required by doctors, lawyers and other professionals to practise, can now be paid for online;

—  Family members or friends of inmates of Dodds Prison can now transfer funds to them electronically, and in just weeks since the scheme was initiated, more than 1,000 transactions have been recorded;

—  Lawyers are now able to use an e-filing platform when interacting with the Supreme Court; and

—  Business operators can now apply online to the Barbados Fire Service for inspection appointments and receive their certificates electronically when they pass the inspection.

McConney revealed too that Government’s plan to roll out a free Wi-Fi network across Bridgetown was already taking shape with access available in the Fairchild Street and Princess Alice bus terminals and around the Treasury Building.

Soon to be added will be Cheapside Market, Jubilee Gardens, the area of the General Post Office, around Parliament Building, Swan Street and Suttle Street among other areas. The free connectivity is also to be extended to cover residential districts in the City.

In St. Philip West, and in the general St Philip area, McConney added, her approach will be community-focused. She noted she had already worked with some youth to set up a Job Works programme that assists with creating a CV and cover letters for job applicants as well as giving directions with job searches.

The St Philip West candidate also revealed she had initiated a Youth In Entrepreneurship scheme and it is currently working to operationalise a pig farming proposals drawn up by youth in the area.

“I am a child who was blessed with an opportunity at a young age,” she said. “I get you, young people when you ask for a chance because as a youth someone gave me a chance.”

She added: “I know there are many people who are struggling. I get you. I’ve got you … because I’ve been there… I am all in and committed to going all out for you, the people of St. Philip West.”

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THE CHRIS GIBBS’ PROMISE

“I promise you that I will not fail you. I will give you the representation you deserve.”

With these words, Barbados Labour Party candidate for St. Michael West, Christopher Gibbs, tonight formally introduced himself to constituents as the party ramped up its campaign to retain the Government in the January 19 general elections.

After being introduced to the audience by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Gibbs, a first-time candidate who declared his interest in representing the constituency nearly four years ago, criticised outgoing Member of Parliament Bishop Joseph Atherley for abandoning those who had elected him.

Gibbs recalled that as a Christ Church resident before the last general elections, he would often drive along the south coast with his now-deceased father, Loron Gibbs, and lament the “fountains of sewage” that they would try unsuccessfully to dodge.

The young businessman recalled too, how he and his father often worried about their inability to obtain foreign exchange to sustain their business, terming it “a man-made disaster” that was created by then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Democratic Labour Party administration.

“You ask why I got involved in politics? That’s why I am here tonight,” Gibbs told his audience.

He promised the people of St. Michael West genuine and faithful service, noting that he could offer nothing less, having grown up in a household that was committed to helping others.

He spoke of the founder of the business he now leads, his grandfather, the late Sam Gibbs, who though he was born poor, never received a formal education and walked the streets of the City without shoes, still managed to create a lasting legacy.

Gibbs promised to use every opportunity to promote education among constituents, especially the youth, as a pathway out of poverty.

“I hope I can encourage them to build, to make something of themselves, regardless of the struggles they face today,” he told a national online audience as well as residents of St. Michael West who were watching the presentation on large screens at Richmond Gap and Passage Road.

The young political hopeful promised he would work to rebuild the trust so many in the constituency had lost as a result of the lack of representation by Atherley since the 2018 general elections, compounded by his decision this week to switch constituencies without consulting them.

“I am here to regain the trust he has eroded,” Gibbs declared, stressing that he is committed to maintaining the standards establish by the party’s former stalwarts such as Sir Grantley Adams, Tom Adams and Sir Harold St John.

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DAVIDSON ISHMAEL — COMMITTED TO SERVING

Barbados Labour Party candidate for St. Michael North, Davidson Ishmael, tonight introduced himself to constituents with a promise of committed service and a programme of community projects to uplift the constituency.

He was speaking as the party launched its campaign for the January 19 general election with satellite screens in communities across the constituency and live streaming on all the popular social media platforms.

Ishmael, who was introduced by the man he is hoping to succeed, attorney-at-law Ronald Toppin, who represented the constituency in the House of Assembly for 27 unbroken years, promised that his focus, if elected, would be heavily on youth development.

He recalled the days when there was a vibrant sports programme in the Eden Lodge community, led by the Eden Stars club, and promised an approach that would revive that and spread it across the constituency.

His plans include:

—  A community centre at Reservoir Road;

—  A constituency-wide entrepreneurial and skills development programme focused on youth;

—  A revitalisation of play parks across the constituency;

—  The establishment of new creative and recreational spaces in the various communities; and,

—  An expansion of natural gas services to homes in St. Michael North.

“I am ecstatic to be a part of a progressive political institution,” he said of the Barbados Labour Party, while praising the leadership of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

He noted that the success of the BLP had been significant in just three and a half years, despite the challenges posed by a freak storm, Hurricane Elsa, ash fall from the eruption of the St. Vincent volcano and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BLP Government, he said, was able to reverse the mismanagement of the previous Democratic Labour Party Government, eliminating sewage from the streets of the South Coast, the buildup of garbage around the country because of a lack of garbage trucks, and the absence of buses to meet the needs of the working class and school children.

“The BLP is a team you can trust,” Ishmael told constituents.

Earlier, Ishmael recalled how his passion for service to others was nurtured by his mother, a maid, and his father, a stevedore, in a humble home at 2G Nursery Lane, in Eden Lodge.

He described himself as a “down-to-earth, community-minded” person who remains committed to the principle of “service to others before self”.

Ishmael said he would remain focused on helping the young people of communities such as Cave Hill and Grazettes to always “believe that they can rise above their circumstances and do great things in this world”.

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About

OUR PLEDGES

  • Our Pledge to our Public Servants
  • Our Pledge to our Children
  • Our Pledge to our Young People
  • Our Pledge to our People with Disabilities
  • Our Pledge to our Senior Citizens
  • Our Pledge to our Diaspora

OUR PLEDGE TO OUR DIASPORA

Information and communications technologies have effectively blurred the lines between those Barbadians who live on our island and those who live abroad. Our Overseas Barbadians are now better informed and more up to date on developments in Barbados than ever before. In the Barbados Labour Party, we make no distinction between the two. Wherever you live you are, first and foremost, for us, Barbadians who love their country and want to see it prosper.

We have long recognized your tremendous contribution as a Diaspora to the development of Barbados, through your remittances, your investments and donations, your unpaid labour as Ambassadors for your country, your liberal sharing of skills, knowledge and experience in your fields of excellence and your abiding concern for our welfare.

Two decades ago, a BLP Government
created a Special Facility to incentivise
Barbadians who wanted to return home
to resettle or to contribute. The project
has evolved over the years, but we are
conscious that much more can be done
to engage you directly in social and
economic development opportunities
in Barbados, whether or not you chose
formally to relocate. It is our covenant to
you that we will engage you directly on
ways this can best be achieved in the true
sense of partnership and common cause.

Fundamental to achieving developed status
as a nation state will be a new emphasis on international diplomacy, enhanced trade policy
and a new investment strategy. We will seek to
ensure that the right mix of skills are strategically
located. We must return our international credit
ratings to investment grade and our human
development ranking to the premier spot it
previously occupied. Doing so gives us greater
power to determine our own position in the
world. Barbados must be at the table in all of the
major centres of international influence. If we are
not, it will place our citizens and our country at
increasing disadvantage.
A critical pillar in our economic growth and
development will be our ability to take full
advantage of the opportunities available for
export and transfers of technologies, and to
vigorously protect our existing exports from
unfair competition however that may manifest
itself.
We will craft new opportunities for our
domestic industry to take advantage of existing
international trade agreements. We cannot grow
by seemingly offering the ordinary to the world.
We must develop Barbadian designations and
intellectual property so that products and services
from Barbados can be better differentiated in the
international marketplace as special, helping
to turn them into powerful global brands. Our
agencies focused on business and trade will have
this as a strategic mandate.
The world economy is changing. New geopolitical
alliances with emerging new powers, which are
drastically different from our historical alliances
and traditional world powers, are being formed.
We must capitalize on these and seek to relocate
Barbados in this redefined world order. We must
forge international agreements with partners
from the new world economic powers in order to
attract additional and more varied capital to our
shores and create new avenues for the export of
goods, services and capital.

To implement these strategies, we must seek
to consolidate the process begun by the last
BLP Administration by widening our diplomatic
reach well beyond the traditional power
centres on either side of the North Atlantic.
This will require the deployment of dynamic,
highly-skilled, professional diplomatic and
trade representatives, capable of securing the
best outcomes for Barbados in bilateral and
international negotiations, and also of forging
strategic alliances with like-minded countries on
interests of shared priority concern.
As a small island developing state, we are
particularly vulnerable to both external
economic shocks and environmental threats such
as climate change, unbalanced exploitation of
the oceans and the degradation of the natural
world. We must seek out new and non-traditional
partnerships, externally as well as internally, to
help support efforts to reverse or mitigate the
effects of these developments. We must also
pursue such policies, programmes and personal
behaviours as will reduce the incidence of these
events and mitigate their impact on our society,
our economy and our environment.

We have in the past sided with the oppressed and disadvantaged people in the world, irrespective of race, creed or colour as a natural expression of our humanity. The high regard in which we are held in the international community derives largely from the fact that Barbados has consistently pursued a foreign policy based on principle, not expediency; a policy that has always been grounded in respect for human rights, democratic governance and social justice, and which has afforded us the freedom to organize against and speak truth to power in international fora whenever and wherever human rights, fairness, peace or international law are threatened. It is the strength of our conduct on the international stage which constitutes the best test of whether or not we can legitimately aspire to developed nation status.

We are confident that this new Barbados model which we are advocating and to which we are committing in this Covenant of Hope will capture the global imagination and once again establish our country and our people as global leaders.

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OUR PRIORITIES

Translating our broad transformative vision for a new Barbados into tangible achievements will require discipline and focus. We will concentrate our efforts on five priority themes, all essential and mutually reinforcing components of the overarching vision for our country. These themes all flow naturally and cohesively from our core Values and Principles:

  1. OUR VISION FOR A NEW NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS
  2. OUR VISION FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
  3. OUR VISION FOR A BETTER SOCIETY
  4. OUR VISION FOR A NEW ECONOMY
  5. OUR VISION FOR ENGAGING THE WORLD

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WHAT WE STAND FOR

The Barbados Labour Party remains faithful to the following core principles which are essential to achieving a truly just, equitable and developed society in which all citizens can continue to flourish and realise their full potential.

OUR PRINCIPLES

  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for strengthening the spiritual and cultural psyche of Barbadians in a way that enhances honesty and integrity, raises self-awareness, builds confidence and pride, fosters a sense of industry, and responsibility, community and nationalism.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for an acceptable quality of life for all, including a standard of living below which no citizen must be allowed to fall.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for good and transparent governance.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for improving the livelihoods of all of our people and widening economic enfranchisement.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for fair treatment and just reward for all, workers and investors alike.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for the empowerment of people through continued access to quality universal free education.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for universal access to quality health care and access to affordable land and housing.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for development in a sustainable manner that protects our natural and built environments.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for fostering civility, inclusiveness and respect for diversity amongst our citizens.
  1. The Barbados Labour Party stands for achieving and maintaining global excellence in all of our endeavours.

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Press Conference Post-Social Partnership Meeting

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KEY POINTS FROM MINI BUDGET

Below is a summary of the key fiscal measures announced by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley in her Mini Budget presentation delivered on June 11, 2018.

i. Effective July 1, 2018 the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) will be repealed. The Fair Trading Commission will be asked to monitor developments to ensure that retailers reduce their prices appropriately;

ii. Effective July 1, 2018 the road tax will be abolished and replaced with a Fuel Tax. The Fuel Tax will be levied at a rate of 40 cents per litre of petrol and diesel and 5 cents per litre on kerosene effective July 1, 2018;

iii. Effective July 1, 2018 the annual registration fee for commercial vehicles will be reduced by 50%. Also, with effect from July 1, 2018 there will be a fee of $400 charge on the transfer/sale of a private vehicle and $1,000 on the purchase of a new or second hand commercial vehicle;

iv. Effective July 1, 2018 in an effort to improve the progressive nature of our tax system to share the burden fairly, we will introduce a new higher rate band of 40% on that part of income greater than $75,000. The fiscal year costs will yield $41M while the remainder of this year will yield $31M;

v. Government is prepared to waive all interest and penalties payable on Income Tax, Land Tax, Corporation Tax, Value Added Tax owed to the Barbados Revenue Authority for the tax years 2000 to 2016 on condition that:
• applicants have made arrangements with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) between July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 to facilitate an agreed payment plan which will include a compliance clause; and
• failure to meet the conditions set out in the payment plan will result in all interest and penalties becoming payable to the Crown immediately.

vi. Effective October 1, 2018 government will introduce a Health Service Contribution at a rate of 2.5% with 1.5% of incomes being paid by employers and 1.0% by employees. This measure will raise $45M in a full year;

vii. Effective July 1, 2018 the highest percentage of corporation tax will increase from 25% to 30%. This will raise $57M in a full year;

viii. On-line transactions undertaken by Barbadian residents will be subject to Value Added Tax effective October 1, 2018.

ix. Effective October 1, 2018 an Airline Travel and Tourism Development tax paid by passengers flying outside of CARICOM of USD$70. Passengers flying within CARICOM will pay US $35. The revenue gain from this measure is $95M, with $75M going to BTMI and BTPI and the remaining $20 million to central Government;

x. Effective July 1, 2018 government will introduce a Room Levy on hotel rooms. The rates will now be US$2.50 for the B Class and apartments, US$5.50 for the A Class and US$10.00 for the luxury hotels per room per night;

xi. Effective July 1, 2018 the levy will be 2.5% Product Development Levy on Direct Tourism Services;

xii. Effective August 1, 2018 there will be a 10% tax on all shared economy such Airbnb, Homeaway, Expedia etc.;

xiii. Government has reached an agreement with the Unions to allow for a zero percent increase in wages and salaries for the period April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2018 and a five percent, across the board, increase in wages and salaries for the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019;

xiv. Government will from July 1, 2018 raise the minimum non-contributory pension from $155 to $225 per week at an annual cost of $20M. For the nine months beginning July 1, 2018 this would cost the treasury $13.5M and a full fiscal year $18M.

xv. There will be a temporary increase to the Welfare Department and our poverty alleviation initiatives to the tune of $5M per annum until poverty rates fall back;

xvi. The undergraduate tuition fees for those persons attending the University of the West Indies will be abolished. This will cost the treasury an additional $22M annually.

xvii. A Trust Loan Programme will be introduced within 3 months to offer up to $5,000 loans to those entrepreneurs without collateral on presentation of a viable, basic expenditure plan. The interest rate will be the same as earned on Barbados government securities. (This Trust Loan Programme will cost $10M in a full year and will be established as soon as possible.);

xviii. Safety Officers and additional Social Workers and Guidance Counselors for 7 secondary schools will be hired for the next school year; A system, of Master Teachers and Senior Specialist Nurses will be established at a cost of $5M;

xix. The opening hours will be extended to 24 hours for two (2) Polyclinics:
• Randal Phillips; and 

• Sir Winston Scott
This will be at a cost of $3 million.

xx. Three temporary Judges with be assigned to the Supreme Court in order to eliminate the backlog of cases at a cost of $700,000;

xxi. Sugar Farmers will be provided with a partial settlement in 2018-19 costing approximately $5M;

xxii. Government will remove the costs of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and Barbados Tourism Product Authority from its budget by entering into a Public-Private Partnership between government and this sector. The BTMI will be funded through the proceeds from the Airline Travel and Tourism Development tax which the Government will collect and handover to the BTMI/BTPI. The BTMI will now be led and managed by the private sector;

xxiii. From August 1, 2018 Government will also remove the expenditure of the Sanitation Service Authority from the budget by funding it through a new Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) to be levied through Barbados Water Authority bills. The GSC for households will be $1.50 per household per day. Commercial premises will pay a Garbage and Sewage Contribution that will be set at 50% of their existing water bills, with 25% going to SSA and 25% remaining at BWA; we will review the existing sewerage and connection fee being charged to South Coast and Bridgetown Sewerage Plants.

xxiv. Fix the South Coast and Bridgetown sewage problem with an allocated budget of $27M;

xxv. $20M to purchase new buses for the Transport Board and $5M for repairs;

xxvi. $15M to purchase garbage trucks and tractors for the Sanitation Service Authority;

xxvii. $10M to purchase equipment for the Ministry of Transport, Works & Maintenance; xxvii. Introduce an essential road repair and de-bushing programme that will cost $25M; xxviii. Commence a programme to eliminate pit toilets and at a cost of $10M;

xxviii. Aim to make Barbados more climate resilient ahead of the most dangerous months of the hurricane season including the establishment of a rapid roof replacement programme. This will cost a further $5M;

xxix. Expand the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a cost of approximately $10M;

xxx. A $2M investment in Smart Bridgetown; xxxii. $2.5M to fix the Supreme Court;

xxxi.The sum of $2M will be provided to strengthen revenue collection at the Customs Department, strengthen the Compliance Unit and revenue collection at the Barbados Revenue Authority, create an Arrears Unit and to cover payments of experts;

xxxii. Given the change in the OECD regulations with regard to the residency of corporations, it is expected that a number of companies will now fall into the tax net as a result of the anti-hybrid mismatch rules and thus now make a contribution to corporation tax. This is expected to yield $60M; and

xxxiii. Government will allocate $2M for the electrical upgrade of National Housing Corporation (NHC) housing units.
These measures will give a surplus of 1.8% of GDP ($182 million) to the end of March 31, 2019 and going forward will reduce government’s recurring expenditure since these entities will no longer be on governments books.

Recurrent expenditure will decline by $23 million by the end of the fiscal year.New capital expenditure for this fiscal year is $134.5 million. The net revenue for this fiscal is $150 million.

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