Powell was speaking at his ‘Grand Debate’ event Monday afternoon (9th Feb.) for which he had invited the incumbent Labour representative Marcella Liburd to debate with him issues about the development of the constituency.
Last week, Powell’s letter of invitation was returned to his constituency office in a torn condition. Later, at a public meeting, Liburd indicated that she had torn up the letter because, in her view, the tone of the letter was rude.
It was not unexpected, therefore, that the incumbent representative was a ‘no show’. Her absence, however, did not deter Powell from outlining to the gathering his own plans for the development of Central Basseterre once elected to office.
In what was essentially a sober sidewalk meeting, moderated by Dr. Irvin Sweeney, a former candidate for the People’s Action Movement in constituency #3, the late afternoon event was an occasion void of the usual exuberance typical of the traditional nighttime public meetings. Instead, the audience listened attentively and had an opportunity to ask questions of the candidate.
In the absence of his debating opponent, Powell took the opportunity to outline his development strategy for the constituency, as he spoke of plans related to crime, education, business, urban re-development, community enhancement, plans for the elderly, among other community development matters.
According to Powell, the proposed Centre of Innovation would offer a range of services applicable to young men and women, as well as older residents of the constituency. He believes that the Centre would help drive small business development, promote entrepreneurial activities and reduce unemployment.
He spoke of establishing a program for the elderly that gives special assistance for health care, food and improved housing. He emphasized the importance of education and skills training and the need for special support to help students achieve their potential.
Another of the critical agenda matters, according to Powell, is the full incorporation of persons from countries of the region who have made Central Basseterre, and generally the Federation, their home. He said he would work toward ensuring residency amnesty, equality in social services costs and work toward reducing the residency fee.
The PAM candidate indicated that persons from countries such as the Dominican Republic and member countries of the Caribbean Community who have been living and contributing to the country’s development should have the opportunity to own land, build homes and pursue other aspirations.
“We want to create equality in the payments made for hospital services and other social services. We want to reduce the annual residency fees for those persons who have to pay it. In particular, for the persons coming from Santo Domingo, we want to ensure that we offer a better life for you,” said Powell.
Among several other initiatives, Powell proposes a complete redevelopment of the ferry and bus terminal in downtown Basseterre. As a country heavily into tourism, he is promoting a modern terminal facility for inter-island ferry passengers and bus commuters.
Powell said he is committed to providing the communities of Central Basseterre the “proper representation” that he said is required to build the constituency.
“As the next representative for Central Basseterre, I would ensure that you, the people of this constituency, come first. I would ensure that you have proper representation, real and fulltime representation, as opposed to election time representation. I will be there for you all of the time, and I will represent all of the people, whether you voted for me or not,” as he ended the session and requested the support of all in the constituency.