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An Act to establish the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST) as a statutory body with responsibility for providing advice to the government on matters related to science and technology, was approved in the Senate on Friday (Jan.19).
State Minister for Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Senator Kern Spencer, who piloted the Bill, said that the legislation would allow for “fostering, advancing and executing the national policy and strategy for science and technology in Jamaica”.
He noted that even though the Commission has had a number of significant achievements, which have impacted on national development, “it lacked the formal legal status that will allow it to stake claim to resources and build the necessary influence to help in the removal of the critical factors that have contributed to the weakness of the science and technology as a developmental tool.”
“It is therefore critical that measures be established to place the NCST in a more secure and better operational position with an appropriate organizational structure to perform its management functions in accordance with its mandate,” said the State Minister.
The legislation, he noted, would allow for the “rationalization and optimal utilization of resources, increase the ability to monitor, co-ordinate, evaluate and manage science and technology programmes, and as such, will provide a greater impact on the productive and competitive capacity of the country”.
“It will also improve decision making, accountability and transparency, and it will provide greater access to resources,” he stated.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton, in supporting the Bill, said that “there is a critical role for science and technology in producing the innovation and the creativity that we need if we are going to go beyond our material constraints.”
The NCST became operational in 1993 and since its inception, it has served as a significant facilitator of dialogue and action among various actors in the national economy including the public and private sectors, academia and the scientific community.
Through its various programmes and activities, the NCST has galvanized action in areas pertinent to national development including research and development co-ordination, agricultural transformation, utilization of information and communication technologies, bio technology, food safety and security, the environment and the science and technology capability. The Act was approved in the House of Representatives on December 6, 2006.