Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas on Saturday evening launched his party’s 2010 manifesto themed “Progress, Not Promises”, just 10 days before polling day. Before a crowd of thousands gathered at the Warner Park for Labour’s biggest 2010 political campaign rally, Dr. Douglas gave the public its first official glimpse of the party’s administrative plans for the next five years. According to the 54-page document, it “provides proof of the impressive strides” being made By the Federation under a Labour administration and outlines its vision for the future. “It is time for us together to decide what the future of St. Kitts and Nevis will be, and we will do this By casting our votes in this very important general election. The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has built an impressive record of delivering solid, durable and quantifiable results. I urge you to again stand with Labour and the visionary programs outlined in this manifesto so that we will be able to continue producing outstanding results for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in the months and years ahead.” Under education, Labour claims that between 1995 and 2009, there were 1821 Development Bank student loans granted to young persons compared to 21 under the previous People’s Action Movement’s administration of 1980 to 1995. “Beginning this year, the Ministry of Education will introduce an after-school character development program,” the manifesto states as part of expanding youth development through intergenerational relationships. Labour also pledged to provide 250 additional early childhood spaces By the end of 2010 and new daycare centers for St. Pauls and Basseterre. Home ownership was another sector highlighted in the Labour manifesto, stating that PAM constructed 250 homes during its 15 years of governance compared to Labour’s 3891. The manifesto also speaks to poverty reduction, health care, agriculture and food safety, economic management, energy security and tourism. One of the most discussed issues of 2009 was crime and violence, and as outlined in the manifesto, training and community policing are critical to Labour’s crime fighting policies. “Money laundering, illicit drugs, the glamorization of the thug culture and illegal weapons are just some of the threats that security forces around the world, including St. Kitts and Nevis, confront every day. Training, infrastructure expansion and community policing are key to Labour’s crime-fighting strategy…Specialized units have been created and/or strengthened and community-based crime prevention initiatives are key to our efforts.” Prior to Saturday’s release of the Labour party’s manifesto, PAM preemptively revealed its contents at a press conference last Thursday to harsh criticism. PAM political leader Lindsay Grant decried the Labour manifesto, calling it “a shameful admission of the failure of the Labour Party” and said he desperately hoped that people would not read it. “It is a failure to respond to the critical issues of the day and an insult to the intelligence of the people St. Kitts-Nevis… Pages 29 to 31 are the ones that deal with crime. Three pages deal with crime, two of which are pictures, and crime we know is the number one issue facing our country…What the Labour Party has planned for crime is a Bysmal. Crime is such a priority (yet) it is cleverly buried in the middle of the manifesto. This is because they have no solutions at all.” PAM released its 35-page 2010 manifesto on Tuesday night during a public meeting, themed “Ready to Serve-Prepared to Govern”. According to PAM’s ‘agenda for change’ economic growth and sustainable development, land and home ownership and national security are among the party’s foremost priorities, however national security plans and policies were found on pages 26 to 29 of the 35-page booklet. Under its crime plan, PAM claims it will allow the Police Force to function free of political interference, increase the number of police officers, remunerate officers based on academic achievement and performance, establish a modern forensic laboratory, improve the working conditions of the officers, increase security of the country’s borders to prevent the importation of guns and implement 24-hour mobile patrols among other initiatives. The manifesto states that a PAM administration would increase the number of Magistrates, request the appointment of a second resident High Court Judge, establish night courts, provide a witness protection programs and modernize the High Court Registry. The party, if elected, also plans to reform the existing penal system and build a new prison. Also outlined in the PAM manifesto are proposed changes and initiatives as it relates to governance, education, regional integration, infrastructure, electoral reform, agriculture, communications, sports, transportation and healthcare. Grant also recently announced that under a PAM government, all duties and consumption tax on imported food-stuff would be removed and that an immediate 90 amnesty for illegal persons from CARICOM and CARIFORUM countries living in St. Kitts and Nevis would be implemented.
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