Minister with Responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, has reiterated the government's commitment to openness and transparency to ensure a more informed and engaged citizenry.
Speaking at the official opening of the Jamaica Information Service's (JIS) Montego Bay Regional office in St. James today, the Minister said it is imperative that the administration provides as much information as possible to the public, so that Jamaicans can know "what we are doing to ensure economic growth and development, socio-economic justice, the protection of rights, and the encouragement of local entrepreneurship."
She noted that a number of measures have been put in place to open up government to the public, including expanding the scope of the weekly Jamaica House Briefing; holding monthly meetings of government communicators across all the ministries and agencies; a new OPM website is under construction by the JIS; while strategies are being looked at to make government more accessible through the use of technology and the Access to Information Act.
Minister Falconer said that the JIS, as the government’s chief information agency, is crucial to the process.
She said the JIS has a critical and fundamental role to play in providing valuable information to the public in timely, efficient and technologically innovative ways, including online, through its website, and the use of social media.
She noted that, with more than 22 radio stations, 10 community cable channels and an expanding network of outlets for the JIS-produced programmes "you will agree that this framework can only augur well for the Prime Minister’s commitment to openness and transparency".
Minister Falconer stated that the JIS will be called upon to assist with the education programme for digital switchover, which, she said, is to be rolled out in "short order." She informed that the process towards switching from analogue to digital format by 2015, has been advanced, and the education effort will alert consumers as to what to look for when buying a new television (TV) as they will not be able to use analogue TVs after the switchover.
"We have to ensure that our people do not become the victims of unscrupulous merchants, who may want to profit from dumping TVs at cheaper prices that they know will become obsolete in a few years. It is our job to protect our people and JIS will be an important part of this campaign," the Minister stated.
She further urged the public to visit the JIS' Jamaica 50 page, specially designed to commemorate the country’s Golden Jubilee. There is resource information on all the parishes, a calendar of events to mark Jamaica 50, and highlights of achievements in sports, as the country counts down to the summer London Olympics.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter