BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Barbadians will be consulted on the issue decriminalizing marijuana and implementing fixed election dates and term limits for Prime Ministers under the new government.
That was one of the disclosures made by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason as she delivered the Throne Speech yesterday, at the start of the new parliamentary term.
Outlining the priorities of the new Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government which was swept into power on May 24 with a 30-nil victory – since reduced to 29-1 with Reverend Joseph Atherley crossing the floor and becoming Opposition Leader – Dame Sandra said there would be consultation on major issues to give citizens a greater say in what is going on in their country.
“My Government will pursue every avenue to ensure that all Barbadians and residents are informed and active partners in the process of transformational nation building,” she said.
While the previous Democratic Labour Party administration was adamant there would be no decriminalization of marijuana, the incoming government has indicated it will let the people decide on that.
“My Government will consult with Barbadians on major national issues, such as the decriminalization of recreational marijuana and the question of Parliamentary Reform, including fixed dates for elections and term limits for Prime Ministers,” Dame Sandra said.
“After a period of public education, debate and consultation my Government will hold a referendum on the decriminalization of recreational marijuana.”
She also announced Government will offer a six-month gun amnesty and buyback program for legal and illegal firearms to reduce their numbers in the hands of civilians and in communities.
The Governor General added that there will be an extensive program to immediately confront and resolve some of the urgent national challenges.
“Our agenda will focus on addressing all mission critical issues. Clear timelines will be set for deciding on and applying solutions. Dedicated mission critical teams, comprising public servants and highly experienced professionals, recognized nationally, regionally and, in some instances, internationally, will be established and tasked to ensure delivery. More important, proper management structures will be put in place to prevent these issues from reaching crisis proportions again,” she assured those present.
Dame Sandra also noted that Government would abolish the National Social Responsibility Levy, which would result in the lowering of the cost of living and stimulating consumer spending; eliminate the Road Tax and replace it with a more equitable but bearable tax on petroleum products; repeal the requirement for tax clearance certificates; revoke the Municipal Solid Waste Tax and give a tax credit over a period of time to those who paid; and return the Value Added Tax to a rate of 15 per cent within 18 months.
She also said Government would take immediate action to safeguard Barbados’ financial services sector, which had been a major contributor to the economy. She stressed that the team’s focus would be to settle the policy framework on international business by the internationally required deadline of December 2018, to ensure that Barbados was not again unfairly blacklisted as an uncooperative jurisdiction by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union.
“Thereafter, the team will assist the Government in its efforts to redefine Barbados globally as a centre of excellence for certain niche sectors in international business and for potential new strategic growth areas, where Barbados can develop a comparative advantage, especially as it relates to our quality of life and stability as a nation,” the Governor General added.