In its 2015 Manifesto unveiled on 31 May, the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) announced that it has successfully completed a process of change and renewal to support its fundamental philosophy as the party of the people.
In explaining the change, the Party’s President Mr. Carvin Malone said: “We recognized that the massive change taking place in the world required a new approach to maintaining and building on the fundamental values that have allowed Virgin Islanders, Belongers and residents to grow and prosper with the success of their country.”
“Over the term of the last government, we vigorously defended the People’s right to good governance to preserve the legacy of equality given to us by the founding leaders of the VIP. At the same time, we worked to create a new governance structure for the party that would allow the same equal access to political opportunities,” he added
As it relates to the topic of governance the VIP will fight corruption in a number of ways such as strengthening the mandate and capacity of existing anti-corruption bodies, transparency of how tenders are decided on and awarded and stopping ministers and other politicians from abusing public money by putting some strong mechanisms in place.
In its Manifesto the Party pledged to uphold the integrity of the House of Assembly by putting safeguard against high level corruption from elected officials. It stated that it intends to encourage the drafting of laws to deter misuse of Government funds and abuse of power while in office.
On the economical front the VIP stressed its belief in a policy of special tax incentives for investments, and as such stated that more money will be spent in training to make youths more employable.
“We will vitalize and fully energize the Small Business Assistance desk that will work directly with people in marginalized communities to get into the production mainstream. There must be targeted tax breaks in various sectors to help spur growth. We believe that excess taxation is counter-productive; while it will increase the government’s revenue intake in the short term, it will stifle entrepreneurial spirit and economic growth, and will in the end lead to recession and poverty. But by reducing the tax burden, we will help unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that will inspire growth in the economy – expanding the pie to give each one a large slice,” the Party announced.
It was noted by the VIP that under their leadership Government revenues will be enhanced by increased economic activity. “It will be a decisive policy shift from the current government, whose policies have helped widen the gap between the haves and the have not, and see a major rise in local poverty,” the Party noted.
The Virgin Islands Party explained that its proposed policies will spur widespread economic growth that will help raise the standard of living of everyone. “We will encourage industries to be developed, expand and thrive by providing special tax incentives to develop a manufacturing sector that will help create more jobs and ultimately expand the economy, spurring on a new era of growth that will rebound to the benefit of the wider society. We will also pursue an aggressive agricultural enhancement strategy that will provide incentives for the producing of certain crops and vegetables that will reduce both the cost of food and our import bill,” the Manifesto pointed out.
As it relates to the issue of cost of living the Party announced that it will seek to lower it by a number of measures including: encouraging local production, developing special shipping arrangements that will lower the cost of imports, and reducing the consumption tax on basic foodstuff and medicine.
The Party also plans to develop a tax policy that will lower the burden on people and spur economic growth and activity. This policy is expected to readdress tax burdens imposed in the previous years, promote economic growth through responsible and intelligent fiscal stimulus, and change the tax system to better support entrepreneurs.
Policies that promote and support small businesses are also among the Manifesto plans of the Virgin Islands Party. The Party also announced that it intends to cut the current rate of unemployment in half within three years by encouraging growth through smart policies in the financial services, tourism and entertainment sectors; and through a progressive policy which encourages small business development.