ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, 3 June 2014 (Caribarena Antigua) – The Antigua & Barbuda True Labour Party (ABTLP) launched its manifesto over the weekend, ahead of the political faction from which it came, the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).
The document, dubbed “The Plan,” is built on four major pillars – the economy, crime, health, and education, explained over 16 pages.
True Labour will field five candidates in the upcoming elections, and if given an opportunity to lead, would eradicate personal income tax (PIT) to “attract investors to the island”.
The ABTLP would also scrap the Citizen by Investment Programme (CIP).
“A True Labour Party administration will not sell the Antigua & Barbuda passport,” it explained in its manifesto.
In addition, True Labour would make sure that “all the last remaining beach front properties owned by the government will be turned over to the National Parks for preservation for future generations.”
Another plan involves the legalisation of marijuana.
“The True Labour Party believes that Antigua & Barbuda could solve many of our economic problems with the legalisation of marijuana, and the medical marijuana industry that we will promote to provide employment for those out of work,” The Plan said.
There would be a referendum on the issue before the legislation is amended.
The manifesto noted, however, that “there will be several professions where use of marijuana by active practitioners will remain illegal due to the need for public safety and confidence, such as police officers, firemen, air traffic controllers, publicly employed doctors and nurses, and taxi and bus drivers.”
The education policy of the True Labour Party advocates “that there should be revolutionary education, whereby the state should provide programmes to help individuals with life skills, consequently creating employment opportunities.”
True Labour also promised teacher training and assessment, along with a re-developed skill-based curriculum.
In addressing the future of healthcare, True Labour would transform State Insurance and Medical Benefits Scheme into a proper national healthcare scheme where people could buy additional healthcare options.
All 17 constituencies would have healthcare clinics. Mobile clinics would accommodate remote areas where there are no permanent structures.
On the topic of crime, True Labour would “repeal the Magistrates Code of Procedure Act, 2004 (MCPA) in order to restore the magistrates’ power to grant bail for the offences that they were allowed to grant bail prior to the act.”
The role of the police as it pertains to stops, searches, seizures, and arrests would also be regulated.
True Labour would build a new prison “not only to house and protect our citizenry from those who have fallen foul of society’s laws, but also to provide hope and forgiveness to all those who are incarcerated but want to rejoin society and be a good and productive citizen.”
True Labour would also adapt a national service programme divided into corps including the national cadet corps, nurses, Royal Police Force, the coast guard, and defence force.
True Labour promised more affordable electricity, as well as an end to cronyism, especially where government contracts are concerned.
They will also look into the proper management of seaport employment through light manufacturing to supply the hotels and resorts on the island.
Better management of public accounts was another promise made by True Labour. Its manifesto said: “We believe that the political salvation of Antigua and Barbuda is when the electorate becomes astute and mature enough not to vote based on support for political parties coloured red or blue, but willing to change the political culture and vote against corrupt politicians regardless of the political parties they represent.”