The leader of the less than three-year-old Solutions Barbados, Grenville Phillips II, is accusing the 80-year-old Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of copying several of his party’s ideas and passing them off as its own, after the BLP’s draft manifesto was mysteriously leaked to the public earlier this week.
Phillips, in reacting to the BLP’s first draft – the authenticity of which was confirmed by both BLP leader Mia Mottley and former Attorney General Dale Marshall during a political meeting in Four Roads, St John last night – told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the manifesto plans were strikingly similar to those made public by his party close to three years ago.
While stopping just short of accusing the BLP of plagiarism due to the fact that the manifesto is still in its draft stages and therefore does not cite sources, Phillips is demanding that the BLP gives credit to his Solutions Barbados, which was launched on July 1, 2015, for some of the salient points or risk being called out publicly.
“Since it is a draft document, it cannot attract the same level of criticism as a final document, since the ideas are still being formed,” said Phillips, a BLP supporter before he launched his own party.
“There is obvious copying of Solutions Barbados policies that have been published for the past approximately three years; for example, removing taxes on healthy foods, teaching students to start businesses at school, and opening a new bank at post offices.
“If they choose not to cite their sources in their final document then they will attract an accusation of plagiarism,” Phillips insisted.
Barbados TODAY has obtained a copy of the 52-page BLP document leaked this week. It speaks of “banking the unbanked through the development of basic banking services at the post office” and plans to return Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15 per cent by broadening the base, but at all times exempting from VAT a basket of goods, food and medication to support healthy living.
In light of Phillips’ charges, Barbados TODAY visited the Solutions Barbados website, and under the heading Policy Solutions posted in July 2015, it was observed that there are several similarities with the BLP draft proposals, in the categories of education, health care and tax reform.
For instance, to address the high cost of health care, Solutions said “taxes will be removed from all healthy foods and a health tax will be applied to all unhealthy foods consumed in Barbados, whether imported or locally manufactured”.
Like the BLP, Solutions had also proposed to institute banking at post offices.
“A new national development bank will be established to assist small businesses. Transactions can be performed at the various post offices across Barbados, over the Internet, and at ATM’s. Unsecured micro-loans (up to $5,000) can be provided through overdraft facilities. Larger loans can be obtained with securities,” the fledgling party said.
In the area of education, the BLP, which was founded on March 31, 1938, proposed to “integrate financial literacy into secondary school curricula”, while Solutions Barbados had said that in order “to address the lack of knowledge, secondary school students will learn how to develop and manage a home-based business as part of their school curriculum”.
Contending that the overlaps were too many to be mere coincidences, Phillips said while there was nothing wrong with borrowing each other’s ideas, originators of the ideas must be credited.
“There is absolutely no problem with borrowing. I suppose if they had a small party and were new to this thing we might understand and let it slide, but they are an established party and they are getting their manifesto reviewed by a professor and he would not want his name associated with plagiarism,” the Solutions Barbados leader suggested.
“Maybe it would be a coincidence if it was just one idea, but not with so many, and especially since we were talking about these things for three years.
“We have gone on panel discussions with them and shared these ideas. So we know where they got them from,” the political leader charged.
Apart from the lack of originality, Phillips said it was worrying that the BLP manifesto seemed laced with “pie in the sky” aspirations without showing the logistical pathway or funding to achieve them.
“Our main criticism is that they have simply mentioned what they hope to achieve, with little information on how they plan to achieve it. We have now grown accustomed to these illusions for the past 40 years, and their illusions have brought us to the brink of economic ruin.
“They need to stop their attempts at entertaining us with magic and get serious. They need to get their plans costed, and submit them for objective verification by an independent non-partisan analytical review.
“Solutions Barbados has done this and our plans are verified as workable. We challenge the BLP to do the same, for the sake of this country,” Phillips stressed.
Barbados TODAY tried unsuccessfully to get a response from Mottley, as well as BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott with respect to Phillips’ claims.
However, during last night’s political meeting at Four Roads, Mottley thanked BLP colleagues for putting together the manifesto.
“This plan for Barbados … is about the people of Barbados. It is about what you want, expressed.
“Even if the Dems want to take piece, they can take piece for their manifesto too,” she said, while Marshall suggested it was no big deal that the draft document had been leaked.
“Our manifesto is a document, even in its draft form, that is full of substance and promise.
“And I invite each of you to read it. It is all over social media, it’s no secret now,” the Member of Parliament for St Joseph acknowledged, as he invited Barbadians to comment on the document.