UPP Political Leader, Harold Lovell, shared some highlights from the UPP’s solutions for delivering “Relief, Recovery and Shared Prosperity” in key areas of development, during his Pre-Election National Address:
The delivery of water in 14 days was also another major promise made by Gaston Browne. But, again, eight (8) years later – in spite of assurances from the Minister responsible, Sir Robin Yearwood, and despite the installation of more reverse osmosis plants – there has been little improvement in water delivery. Another area in which Gaston Browne gets a failing grade.
The UPP will take a more serious and comprehensive approach to water management. It will involve the improvement of water catchment, storage and distribution and training for APUA staff. And we we will actively pursue investment from, and collaboration with, other rainfall-deficient nations who have successfully used technology to make fertile plains of their deserts.
The ALP Administration lacks a sense of urgency about, and has failed to focus on, the safety and welfare of Antiguans and Barbudans. Crime is on the rise, and it will require a multi-faceted approach that includes the efforts of the entire society.
We have also heard about, and actually seen, the deterioration of the prison and the adverse conditions that both inmates and prison officers face. Even the basic provision of food has become a challenge.
The UPP will implement a holistic plan for national security that includes the entire nation, with significant emphasis on community policing and greater reliance on technology.
We will also “reset the prison mindset.” First, by pursuing alternatives to incarceration, such as probation and community service. And, second, by making rehabilitation the ultimate objective of custodial sentences – employing skills education, training, and work-release programmes that support our adage of “jobs, not jail.”
Small farmers are frustrated by the lack of water, and the cost of trucking it, while the Prime Minister’s farm operation is offered discounts. The government agricultural stations are in a state of disrepair and under-production. Cades Bay, where we used to cultivate our signature “black pineapple,” is now overtaken by bushes.
The UPP will establish a pro-agricultural policy: “Harvest More; Import Less. We Reap What We Sow.” And we will focus on agro-industrial development and modernize farming, irrigation and fertigation units.
The UPP has announced the introduction of the “One Caribbean Vision” as a way to champion a more effective and reliable immigration system. This policy change will deliver an immigration system that is simpler and fairer, but also properly enforced to prevent abuses by either officers or visitors.
The eBooks scandal was a national embarrassment and will be recorded as one of the biggest failures of any administration in Antigua and Barbuda. This scheme was riddled with controversy from the onset, with uncertainty about the true cost of the devices and the subscription plans.
Videos and photos of the reckless dumping of these devices – many with working batteries and useful parts – at the Cooks Landfill infuriated and shocked many citizens and residents, and reinforced the level of callous waste that has characterized the Browne Administration.
The UPP will return ICT to the prominence it enjoyed under the Spencer Administration with its community penetration, distribution of devices to students and teachers, and advanced training of our young people with initiatives like the GATE programme.
It will also put in train an education revolution that emphasizes the teaching of civics, the acquisition and certification of skills, and the theory and practice of entrepreneurship.
Youth empowerment is another area in which Gaston Browne and his government have failed to deliver meaningful opportunities, with the SHARE Foundation being a prime example. Major announcements that the youth would be empowered with investment capital never materialized.
However, through its various initiatives, such as the YES and OK Programmes, the UPP will create a local economy fit for the youth of today and tomorrow. It will focus on job creation, education, leadership, sports development, logistics and entrepreneurship.
What do we have here? Failure to improve wait time and diagnostic tests at the hospital. Failure to expand the list of approved drugs. Failure to maintain and equip the community clinics; failure to open and fully operationalize the polyclinics; and failure to complete the satellite hospital at Nugent Avenue. Failure to adequately compensate and equip nurses to do their jobs.
These are just some of the areas where the ALP has failed miserably in addressing the health needs of citizens and residents in their most vulnerable state.
In social transformation, the ABLP also receives low marks for not making any meaningful contributions to uplift the citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda.
Within its first 90 days in office, the Gaston Browne Administration raided our Social Security Scheme. According to them, these surplus funds were used for investments. However, if you talk to the Social Security pensioners, be prepared to weep at the indignities visited upon them by this Administration after their decades of work and sacrifice.
Meanwhile, as I speak, the Social Protection Board owes senior and disadvantaged citizens three months’ worth of benefits. October’s grants were paid in December last year, while November, December and January’s payments are yet to be made.
The UPP will work assiduously to introduce a National Health Insurance Plan and a National Retirement Plan that will include Future Care, a plan that specifically targets seniors and addresses their need for residential and long-term care. We will convene an Adult Center Summit to assess the emerging needs of seniors, one of the fastest-growing demographic groups.
Utilizing the existing employees of National Housing – there will be no sending home of these already underpaid workers – the UPP will offer affordable housing for all, made available through three flexible financing options. We will build housing developments of the future, also known as “smart community” plans. These include condo-style single-family units that will ease the housing crisis and yield affordable homes that feature modern infrastructure, renewable energy, broadband, recreational and services facilities.
We must also address the irregularities associated with NAMCO. How is the people’s money really being spent? There have been many questionable deals and suspected speculation, and so the UPP has committed to Suspend – Audit – and Dissolve NAMCO.
The primary companies that form part of NAMCO’s investment portfolio (present and future) are WIOC, State Insurance, Caribbean Union Bank and APUA PCS – ALL of which were in operation years before NAMCO was conceived – and will continue to operate long after NAMCO is wound up.
Prior to the creation of NAMCO, all surplus after-tax income generated by these companies was paid into the Consolidated Fund. As a result, these funds were readily available to finance well-needed social programmes.
So the question is: Why do we need NAMCO? The truth is NAMCO IS NOT necessary; and under the ALP, it was used to create another layer of bureaucracy that makes it more difficult to trace what is happening to State revenue.
The UPP Political Leader made this concluding statement:
I know many will question how the UPP will pay for many of our proposed plans and policies. But when you look at the lack of transparency and accountability with NAMCO, National Housing, and other government agencies, the question you should be asking is not “Where the money will come from?” but “Where does our money go?”
The people deserve to know how their money is being spent, and the UPP will ensure greater transparency through public education, regular audits, public reporting and accountability.
There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny; the Government should set standards for accountability and the people should demand more of it. Transparency is the currency of leadership and good governance. Transparency is the politics of managing mistrust.
Ahead of the polls tomorrow, peruse our Manifesto, “Relief, Recovery and Shared Prosperity,” in order to better appreciate the UPP’s Redemption Plan.
Vote for change.
Vote for a brighter future for yourselves and your family.
Vote for our beloved Antigua and Barbuda.
Vote as if your life depends on it; because, in fact, it just might.
The United Progressive Party and the Team to Redeem: The Right Choice! The only choice!