Barbados’ newest political party, Solutions Barbados, is warning that it should not be written off in the next general election due next year.
Political Leader Grenville Phillips II has revealed that the party had already confirmed 14 candidates for the poll, all political novices, with a full slate expected by the time Prime Minister Freundel Stuart sets the date.
However, Phillips told Barbados TODAY the identities of the candidates would not be released just yet in order to protect jobs, since many of them hold contracts for major Government projects.
“I cannot identify the 14 candidates at this time mainly because some have contracts with the Government and they do not want to put their employees at risk. I encourage them to lay low, but when the elections are called then they can disclose their identities,” Phillips said in an interview this week.
“I believe it is best that they retain their employees for as long as possible especially in these times because these are serious economic times. You do not want to put employees at risk. Some of our candidates are large employers and some are small, but at the end of the day even if you employ one worker, that person has a family he/she is trying to look after.”
At the party’s official launch in April last year, Phillips had said Barbados should be managed by people with experience in successfully implementing investment ideas, as well as growing a local economy.
Almost a year earlier, while still in its embryotic stage, Solutions Barbados posted on its website that people who had operated a business for at least five years with at least two employees should consider becoming candidates.
The party had also posted the equivalent of a manifesto, offering solutions to various problems facing the country, including improving governance, the criminal justice system, transportation, education, health care and welfare.
Its solution to violent crime, for example, includes a minimum three-year sentence for first offences and a minimum ten-year prison sentence for subsequent offences, as well as fines ten times the value of the offence.
The party also promised to privatize the transportation system, although students in uniform and seniors will be allowed to travel free; institute a flat tax of ten per cent of gross income, with one deduction; pay full tuition at the University of the West Indies for those with seven CXC general passes grades I or II) and three CAPE passes for the normal duration of a marketable Bachelor’s degree; remove taxes on healthy foods and impose a health tax on all unhealthy foods.
Phillips said the recommendations would be easy to implement if there is the will.
“It takes very little effort to implement the solutions. We also published implementation plans anyone can simply go and implement. They do not even need us. We think the two major parties should start implementing these solutions or at least discussing them in parliament or even with my party. It is time that we should start considering Barbados’ future.”
Of concern to the budding politician is the country’s high debt, which stood at about 108 per cent of gross domestic product as at September 2016.
Phillips, one of Barbados’ leading young businessmen, suggested that proper management of Government departments and agencies would be the first step towards reducing the debt and returning the country to growth.
This, he argued, was within the level of competence of the 30 candidates Solutions Barbados intended to present as alternatives to the established parliamentarians.
“If the electorate decide they do not want us and they prefer to go with the two established parties, no problem. At least we would have done our part. We have to do something now because we are deep in debt,” Phillips said. [email protected]