The organization that advocates on behalf of the island’s retirees is demanding that parties contesting the next general election include issues of concern to people over the age of 50 in their manifestos.
The approximately 40,000-strong Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) this evening agreed to submit their proposals to all the political parties by the end of November.
Following a lively interactive meeting at the BARP Marine Gardens, Christ Church headquarters, the advocacy group’s president Ed Bushell told Barbados TODAY corruption was a major concern for the members who were adamant that those seeking their votes should make a strong policy statement on the issue, including what they intend to do to eliminate it.
While pointing out that the recommendations put forward this evening were among a broader set suggested by members, Bushell said members also requested a revision of the Prevention of Corruption Act which was passed in 2012, but not yet proclaimed into law.
It was that same Act which former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons this week tore apart during a public forum, describing the legislation as nothing more than “a joke” that contained “several serious deficiencies.
This powerful lobby group will also ask political parties to scrap taxes on pensions and prioritize tax refunds by paying them on time.
“There are some proposals that we had made to the Minister of Finance regarding the National Social Responsibility Levy that we may put in our proposals for the manifesto, depending on whether or not we get a response from the Minister. We also need to have a more effective and efficient transport and we will be putting in a part on that into our proposals,” Bushell said.
Expressing grave concern about abuse of the elderly, a vocal membership will recommend that the manifestos include a pledge to establish, by law, a statutory board for the elderly, similar to that of the Child Care Board, with the entity replacing the various agencies handling issues of concern to seniors.
“We looked at the cost of living and we felt that there were some zero-rated items in the basket of goods that need to be removed and replaced by ones that a more reflective of the basic needs of Barbadians,” the BARP head said.
The enforcement of penalties and jail time for littering, as well as legislation which ensures the prosecution of persons who illegally use designated parking lots for the elderly and disabled will also be part of the proposals.