The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has launched an onslaught on the three-year-old Solutions Barbados, which last week all but accused the Bees of plagiarising its manifesto.
The BLP’s Kerrie Symmonds, who is seeking to retain the St James Central seat, last night reacted angrily at the allegation, describing Solutions Barbados as “a political nuisance group” which “has nothing to do with solutions for Barbados”.
Reading from a BLP manifesto dating back to the 2008 general election, Symmonds dealt with the part that referred to cutting taxes on healthy foods in order to encourage healthy eating.
“At page 50 of that manifesto, it says we will remove import duty and VAT [Value Added Tax] from a basket of goods which support healthy eating, including diabetic supplements, low sugar and low fat snacks, cereals, peas, beans, food supplements, multivitamins, and vegetarian burgers, tofu, etc,” he told a party rally at Briar Hall, Christ Church.
“I ain’t making up these things. It is here under the things called health . . . .It has been part of the policy of the party,” he stressed, emphasizing that then Minister of Health Dr Jerome Walcott had presented a Cabinet paper in 2007 urging the then Owen Arthur-led administration to agree a policy “that we should as a Barbadian people have a tax-free basket of goods, including healthy foods, to encourage people to eat healthy in this country”.
The information was similar to that which Dr Walcott, the BLP’s general secretary, had shared with Barbados TODAY on Saturday, as he refuted the claims by Solutions Barbados.
“The matter of tax reduction on healthy foods comes from a Cabinet paper presented by me in November 2007,” Dr Walcott said.
“It was our intention if we were elected. We were not elected [so] the plan wasn’t implemented. Now Solutions are claiming it’s their idea ten years later,” he added.
Dr Walcott had also provided Barbados TODAY with a screen shot of what he said was a published section of the BLP’s 2008 manifesto, which he said clearly showed that the ideas in question were in fact those of the BLP.
Reacting to a leaked document, which the BLP has since confirmed was a draft of its manifesto for the upcoming poll, Solutions Barbados leader Grenville Phillips II told Barbados TODAY last week the 80-year-old BLP had copied aspects of his party’s manifesto which had been online for three years, including the removal of taxes on healthy foods, teaching students to start businesses at school, and opening a new bank at post offices.
However, Symmonds last night argued that since the fledgling party was not around in 2008, “how could you steal from that which did not exist?”
He said he was “deeply offended” at the claim, “that we thief something from them”.
However, the BLP’s explanation has not satisfied Solutions Barbados, which posted on the Barbados TODAY website that while the party to which its leader once belonged had dealt with the issue of healthy foods, it had failed to address the other areas of concern.
“The BLP is attempting to explain away only one of several copied ideas from Solutions Barbados, but not fully. We never said we would exempt taxes on a basket of goods, we said we would exempt taxes on ALL healthy foods,” the post stated.
“So what about all the rest of the copied ideas? like the Post bank . . . What about removal of NSRL[National Social Responsibility Levy]? What about reinstatement of UWI tuition? What about lowering of taxes? What about teaching students to start businesses at school? The BLP steals ideas, due to a lack of creativity in this now antique party.”