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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller has urged stakeholders, particularly businesses, to examine and address the country’s Science and Technology needs and resources with a view to building their regional and global competitiveness.
“The private sector needs to look at their own organisations and what needs to be done in S &T to keep them ahead.we should position ourselves as a country to meet the regional, as well as the global demand,” she asserted. The Prime Minister made these remarks while chairing her first meeting of the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), at Jamaica House yesterday (September 5).
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that all Jamaicans must be prepared to make the sacrifice for the country to become a first world nation and that in order to do that, people needed to understand the process to support it. “Preparation is key.we must get the private sector involved so that we can grasp any opportunities that might come our way to move the country forward,” she said, adding, “any country that does not pay attention to regionalization and globalization is in trouble”.
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes echoed the Prime Minister’s concerns, noting that globalization impacted on every aspect of life and that the nation must respond accordingly. He said that in order for firms to effectively take on the global market, they must come together to form larger groups.
Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Techonology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell noted that many businesses still do not have a research and development department, and that the only way the country could become more competitive was through the effective use of S& T.
Special Advisor on Science and Technology to the Prime Minister, Dr. Arnoldo Ventura emphasized that ways must be found to ensure that persons trained in S &T remained and worked in Jamaica.
Among the matters discussed at the meeting were: a draft S &T Policy; the legal status of the NCST; the national medal for S&T; human resource development; the proposed management scheme for the NCST; and the establishment of a public education and awareness committee.
In addition an update was provided on the Spinning Cone Column project at Bull Savannah, Westmoreland by the Jamaica Exotic Flavours and Essences Company. Trial extraction from fever grass, mango, melon and escallion were conducted, and following consultations with the Scientific Research Council, the samples were sent to the United States for testing. The Company is now in discussions with an interested party there.
Legislation for the NCST was considered by Cabinet last month and the resulting Bill is expected to go to Parliament for review and approval. Issues regarding the proposed new management scheme for the Commission are now before the Prime Minister for consideration, and a recent decision was taken to reposition the body within the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce.
Meanwhile, the 4th draft of the country’s Biotechnology Policy for Socio-economic Development was created on the basis of discussions at two policy consultation meetings held in eastern and central Jamaica. A biosafety ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ booklet is to be finalized shortly, while the draft biosafety policy document is being reformatted, to include intensive public consultations.
As it relates to public education, the NCST has continued to facilitate the update of information on its website and the Secretariat is working with the Jamaica Information Service on the design of an e-newsletter. The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled for December 5.