The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is sticking to its pledge to immediately scrap the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which was increased last July 1 from two to ten per cent of the custom duty of both locally produced and imported goods, if it wins the May 24 poll.
Speaking at a press conference at the party’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters today, Dr Jerome Walcott, the party’s general secretary and campaign manager, also reiterated an earlier promise made by party leader Mia Mottley to restore free education for Barbadian students attending the University of the West Indies.
Walcott also promised that details on the sources of funding for these initiatives would be included in the party’s manifesto which is due to be officially launched by the middle of next month.
While declaring that the BLP’s general election campaign would officially “lift off” next week Saturday with a rally at Weymouth, St Michael, Walcott also promised that his party would wage a clean political battle in the lead up to next month’s poll.
In fact, he said the BLP had no intention of adopting the kind of “salacious” campaign that it expects the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to conduct.
Flanked by BLP Marketing and Communications Committee Chairman Noel Lynch, Walcott warned that Barbados now stood at a crossroads, adding that it was time for serious national discussion on the pressing issues of the day.
“We intend to run a campaign addressing the issues that matter to Barbadians. Topping the list, of course, is the economy,” he said, while accusing the DLP of running away from serious discourse on the issue.
“After ten years in office, they have not made a difference and have nothing to show in this regard,” the BLP campaign manager charged, while stating that he fully expects the incumbent DLP will try to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the electorate in the coming weeks.
“We expect the Dems to run a trivial, vile and salacious campaign, a campaign of distractions to divert public attention from their mismanagement and incompetence. In fact, they have already started their nastiness. They want to pull the wool over the people’s eyes, but we will hold their hands to the fire. We will demand accountability from the Dems,” he said.
Asked about his party’s policy on vote buying, Walcott said the BLP and DLP shared a common position on the matter, that those involved should face the full force of the law.
With regards to same-sex marriage, the BLP general secretary said his party’s policy was that a decision of this required a national discussion and referendum.
He said that as the campaign unfolds during the coming weeks, the party was committed to keeping the lines of communication open at all times with the media.
“You will be kept fully abreast of our events and activities. We will provide regular opportunities for you to interact with our leadership, candidates and officials so that you acquire a clear understanding of our policy platform and agenda for Government,” the campaign manager said.
However, in light of concerns expressed in writing by the Barbados Light & Power Company about the practice of erecting posters on its utility poles, Walcott said the BLP, whose campaign workers moved immediately following yesterday’s election announcement to put up new posters of its candidates, sought to defend the move.
“They [Light and Power] said in their correspondence staples, and I said we are using tape,” he said in response to a reporter’s question, while pointing out that traditionally all parties in Barbados have put up posters on utility poles in the lead up to elections.