Bajans’ manifesto wishes
If some people in Barbados had their way, political party manifestos would priortise a reduction in direct taxes, public-sector salary increases and specific measures that would encourage citizens to take up farming.
This was the main feedback which a Barbados TODAY team received this afternoon when it “hit the street” and asked members of the public what they would like to see in each political manifesto that would sway them to a party.
Surprisingly, only one of the 17 persons randomly questioned thought jobs were a big deal for them. But for Ricardo, a taxi driver, greater attention to cruise tourism and a larger share of that business for ordinary taxi operators, were of specific interest to him.
He said he believed both administrations had failed to remedy the ongoing challenge where “small” taxis got the “left-overs” after the big tour operators have “lapped up” the majority of those visitors who disembark from ships and are transferred to the Grantley Adams International Airport.
He was also upset that licensed taxis which did not operate from the airport, had to pay a fee if they wanted to collect customers who requested their service.
However, said he believed the Government ought to intervene and help the ordinary taxis in this matter, considering that the “no one does ask the big companies for any fees when they go to the airport to pick up people”.
He said he would also like a party manifesto to address the existing fare structure, where “small” taxis were unable to adjust their tariffs, while the price of gas, food and everything else continued to rise.
Hazel’s manifesto proposals called for a general reduction in the cost of living, more specifically food prices and improvements to the agricultural sector.
She said he would be more attracted to the party that introduced greater incentives to encourage recultivation of idle land for food production.
“I think there should be more incentives to encourage people to do farming. More serious thought should also be given to praedial larceny, which is an impediment to farming,” said Hazel.
She is of the opinion that the manifesto should include a drop in import duties on food, a moratorium on the importation of motor cars and a bigger push for a greener economy and better environmental management.
Livi, a middle aged man, wanted a more serious focus on agriculture as well. He suggested that idle lands should be brought back into food production, redevelopment of the sugar cane industry and restoration of derelict government buildings.
Harvey’s manifesto idea was for a cut in income taxes, which he said were too high. He was in favour of retaining the Value Added Tax, since he argued, it “hit” the rich as well as the poor.
Hubert, a former officer of the Caribbean Development Bank, was “sweet” on agricultural development and food security.
“If you want to encourage food production, you have to get people into farming, and you would need incentives to encouragethem,” asserted Hubert, who is a farmer.
He was of the view that praedial larceny, which was a discouragement to people wanting to farm, must be attacked, head on.
Other issues which were of interest to him were environmental, such as beach upgrades, the disappearing windows to the sea and crime and violence.
A return of free meals for pensioners and other social measures which would benefit the poor, is John’s brief submission.
Nancy wanted a raise of pay, Juliett, would like her travel allowance reinstituted, Peter desired price controls on certain basic food items and entrepreneur, Robert was demanding a drastic relaxing of the “red tape” in accessing the various funding schemes for small businesses.
Gersene was interested in returning VAT to 15 per cent and for light bills to drop.
Alfred is asking for more disposable income by way of changes to the current income tax structure, whileJarvis believed there should be at least two ambulances at each polyclinic for a more timely response to emergency calls and Judy was demanding a cut in the salaries of Government ministers.
Bob, a public servant, was desirous of a manifesto that pledged a wage increase and a greater investment in cruise tourism for large and small vessels.
He also submitted that “red tape” was keeping out certain major cruise lines and wealthy business people who wanted to home port in Barbados.
At least one person questioned whether manifestos were anything more than a marketing tool of promises and lies. (EJ)††