After a long wait the Progressives United Party which is being led by former Virgin Islands Party Chairman Hon. Julian Fraser was launched on 11 January. The launch comes after months of speculation – especially since the Party teased earlier with a billboard and ignited numerous questions and speculations.
Last Friday in addition to the Party Chairman Hon. Fraser who would be seeking reelection for the Third District, three other candidates were presented. The other candidates include former Fourth District Representative, Vincent Scatliffe, as well as renowned musician Dirk Walters who would be vying for the Fifth District seat.
Additionally, Stephanie Brewley, who has been campaigning on social media for months under the nick name ‘the Brown Girl in the Ring,’ was revealed as the only female candidate of the Progressives United Party. It was announced that Brewley will be contesting for the First District Representative title.
All of the candidates spoke passionately about their decision to run and what they hope to bring to job if they are elected. However, it was Party Chairman Hon. Fraser who during his remarks gave a broader view of what Progressives United Party will work on should the party be elected to office.
The Party Leader prefaced his remarks by stating: “The road leading to this place was unimaginably lonely, not because it was abandoned, but because there were no conversations. It was also difficult, because of the constant pressures demanding answers,” he explained.
In further explaining the journey to the launch Hon. Fraser said: “there was the frustration, because people just made up their own stories. Nonetheless, I am convinced that everyone meant well, and by the help of God this day is here. Not everyone is here today, but they are coming. Great minds had no difficulties in predicting the day was coming when Julian Fraser RA was going to stand here before you with this mammoth undertaking, because they knew that I never stopped believing in myself, and how much you looked forward to having someone you can trust.”
Zooming on the plans for the Territory Mr. Fraser announced that Progressives United intends to promote more local entrepreneurship. This will be achieved with the passage of legislation for the Registration of a new class of companies geared towards the accommodation of local businesses. He said that this would afford these businesses all the traditional benefits of a Limited Liability Company, which existed back in the days before the repeal of the International Business Companies Act.
He said that his government will be one that understands that local businesses can thrive only when money is circulating within the Territory’s shores.
Under the heading of healthcare Hon. Fraser advocated for a revision to the operation of the Hospital. He said under his watch such a revision would be done in order bring the facility in line with the major hospitals which BVI patients are generally referred to overseas.
He also spoke of reforms to the National Health Insurance (NHI) which he said are necessary. Among the changes proposed for NHI is the severing of ties with the Social Security Board. He said that this would pave the way for NHI to become a Statutory Body. In explaining why this push would be made Hon. Fraser said that it was necessary because the Social Security Board is a client of NHI, as well as because NHI needs its independence.
“The symbiotic relationship between the BVI Health Services Authority -BVIHA- and NHI has to end as well, because they too are clients of NHI. And so too, shall NHI be umbrella under a Ministry other than the one responsible for SS and BVIHA,” he further explained.
In addition to NHI matters Progressives United intends to pursue chronic non-communicable diseases. Hon. Fraser said that his Party will ensure that Government provides upwards of one million dollars each year for the research development and implementation of a program to mitigate chronic diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Kidney Failure. Far too many people are dying from these diseases for reasons that are preventable.
As it relates to education the Party Chairman mentioned that his government will commission a study to ascertain whether the Territory is best served with every neighborhood having a Primary School. “It can be argued that less schools results in more resources to go around, meaning better schools. As things stand, children are attending schools far away from home, despite having one in their neighborhood,” he added.
On the front of labour reform Hon. Fraser announced that Progressives United will in its first 100 days, redirect the focus of the Labor Department from being a facilitator of Work Permits, to one that reduces unemployment with a view towards its elimination.
“Meaningful Training and Placement will take place by the Labor Department. The Department will become our labor-Tsar. Every working age ably bodied Belonger is entitled to a job. At least that’s the way we at Progressives United see it. And we are prepared to hold up our commitment by ensuring that you will never be disenfranchised in your own land,” he pointed out.
The Party announced as well that it intends to push women owned businesses. “Progressives United will establish a fast track to government contracts for women owned businesses. And in addition, we will set aside a certain percentage of government contract work for women. This will in no way limit their ability to compete for a greater share of work. We believe that positioning the Virgin Islands for the 21st century, must be a Virgin Islands with women at the forefront,” he explained.
Hon. Fraser also announced that his Party is in favor of arming police officers. “Progressives United will immediately and unconditionally move to have policies in place that will see our officers properly equipped to patrol our streets and neighborhoods all hours of the day and night,” he said.
Additionally, the Party promises to tackle the issue of slow internet and other telecommunications inadequacies with haste. Hon. Fraser declared: “The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has work to do, and Progressives United would order them to do it without delay.”