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Since 2005, the Government has been on an aggressive e-learning access drive islandwide that has, so far, positioned Jamaica in 59th place in the Global Competitiveness Report. This, Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell said, “reflects strident moves toward an information-based nation”.
“We have, as a nation, become acutely aware that success in becoming a global player could bring economic growth, employment generation, greater social equity, administrative efficiency and more participatory governance. The e-business/e-government challenge, therefore, is more than just technology. It is about implementing policies and providing the framework and environment that will facilitate investment, modernise industry, enhance productivity and broaden the worldwide presence of Jamaican products and services,” the Minister said. Mr. Paulwell was addressing an e-Government public forum yesterday (November 30), at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
The Minister pointed out that the thrust towards an information economy comes against the background of an intensely competitive, rapidly evolving global marketplace, adding that with the global shift to a digital economy, there were both threats and opportunities for Jamaica.
He emphasised that the country has a fairly far way to go in terms of its progress towards a knowledge based society.
“We have achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time, but we have a far way to go and today we are told we are ranked in the top 60 in the world out of 190 countries. We want to be first in our region and eventually we want to lead the world,” Mr. Paulwell said.
In her address, Acting President of JAMPRO, Sancia Templer said that in the last decade, “we have witnessed dramatic advances in the information and communication technology sector. The digital age has radically transformed the way we live, learn and do business. It is within this context that in 2003, the Government of Jamaica sought international expertise for the development of an e-commerce strategy”.
“Significant process has been made in providing access to world class telecommunication structure, with increased bandwidth and connectivity at affordable rates,” she added.
Mrs. Templer said this strategy provided a roadmap for the Jamaican economy and has been working to advance Jamaica’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.
She said the Government undertook initiatives, which included the Tax Administration Department facilitating online tax payment as well as the Jamaica Customs facilitating the online submission of import and export entries, which made commerce less cumbersome.
“We also had the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the Jamaica Trade Board for online import and export permit applications, all within the Trade Point initiative, which is being facilitated through JAMPRO, with the help of Fiscal Services Limited,” Mrs. Templer noted.
Jamaica’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategic action plan, which has been under rigorous revision over the past year, is to be unveiled within the next three weeks.
This plan seeks to use information and communication technology to enhance Jamaica’s social and economic development and is geared at ensuring that the country continues to benefit from emerging technologies over the five-year period, 2007/12, and beyond.
The public forum was funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which has provided further funding for a study to be undertaken into the weaknesses in Jamaica’s e-commerce framework and to recommend priority areas for strategic action.