Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has announced plans for the creation of a single entity within the Ministry, which will have responsibility for overseeing and administering activities in Jamaica’s science and technology sector.
Speaking at the opening of University of Technology’s (UTech) 2nd international scientific conference at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston on Tuesday (June 5), Mr. Paulwell disclosed that this undertaking will entail streamlining the operations of agencies such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).
(Related Story: Paulwell: Increased use of Science and Technology Will Propel Country's Growth)
“That activity is just about being completed. We have done wide-ranging consultations and we are at a point now, where, the Cabinet is going to be presented with a proposal,” the Minister disclosed.
Lamenting the “disjointed space” that currently exists in the sector, Minister Paulwell contended that stakeholders have not been able to harness the attendant skill sets towards a national objective of “focusing on ensuring that we can achieve the (Vision) 2030 (National Development) Plan of Jamaica becoming a first world country”.
In light of this, Mr. Paulwell said the Ministry has been doing “some work” over the past several months, aspects of which preceded his current tenure, in examining the sector’s various areas of excellence. This, he pointed out, revealed a “plethora” of agencies, “each with their own areas that they preserve”.
“So, we have laboratory space across the country. Some are totally underutilised, and others are bursting at the seam. We, as a government, are determined to effectively join-up these activities into one and for there to be greater collaboration, greater sharing, and in that mix, we want to add institutions, like the University of Technology (UTech), because some of the work that we need to do in government can be outsourced to institutions like UTech,” he explained.
Mr. Paulwell assured that the Ministry is “well placed” to ensure that the nation becomes “totally pre-occupied” with the importance of science and technology in all aspects of national life, and that “we recognise the importance of generating wealth and creating jobs at the same time”.
The three-day UTech scientific conference, being held from June 5 to 7 under the theme: ‘Linking Science, Technology and Innovation to Economic Development,’ provides a forum for discussions among scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs on discoveries and innovations, and how these can positively impact social and economic development in Jamaica, and internationally.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter