BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) says it will launch a forensic audit into the collapse of the insurance company, CLICO, if it wins the February 21 general elections here.
The party on Thursday night launched its 84-page manifesto that Opposition Leader Owen Arthur said is aimed at putting the country back on a path of economic growth as well as address other important issues in the country.
Arthur has been critical of the present Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart over its handling of the CLICO affair, contending that many Barbadian policy holders had lost millions of dollars following the collapse of the Trinidad-based regional insurance giant.
The manifesto promises voters a reduction in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 17.5 to 15 per cent on electricity bills and food, a removal of taxes on entertainment and travel allowances, introduce a 25 per cent income tax on taxable income between BDS$35,001 and BDS$50,000 (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) and under allowances, registered saving plans of up to BDS$10,000 and personal income taxes for pension up to BDS50, 000.
The BLP spokesman on economics, Clyde Mascoll, told party supporters that as BLP government would give back to citizens 50 per cent on the improved value of property at a cost of BDS$11 million.
The opposition party is also pledging to construct fly-overs and a new expressway as it brushed aside what Arthur described as “ a passive train of thought” that nothing can be done due to the international recession.
Arthur, a former finance minister, told supporters that the manifesto did not contain any false promises.
“We can’t afford to build a new hospital, because it will cost one billion dollars and we do not have that,” he said, adding that the manifesto “reflects what is possible and doable.
“It is not the party’s manifesto, but the people’s manifesto. We do not lack the resources to put this country back together,” Arthur said, adding that banks were flush with liquidity and therefore must be pressed into service to help build this economy.
He promised supporters that the three billion dollar in foreign exchange could also be used to help improve the country.
Meanwhile, the DLP will launch its manifesto on Friday night.
“Our manifesto is ready. Today is one week from the Election Day and we are happy to report that our manifesto has been completed and will be launched on Friday 15 November...,” said DLP strategic member and candidate for Christ Church East Central constituency Ronald Jones.
The theme of the DLP’s 56 page manifesto is “continuing our Pathway to Progress”.