JIS News

Jamaicans will soon be able to have easier access to government and its services through the use of information communications technology (ICT) as the country moves towards a paperless system, said Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology.
The Minister, who was part of the panel at yesterday’s (Feb.17) Government Communications Group-organized discussion on ‘Going for growth and development through ICT’ at Jamaica House, pointed out that with faster broadband system being put in place, there would be even greater commitment to electronic (e)-government.
The “12-lane highway for broadband”, which is being created by government, would allow for speedier and cheaper access to the Internet and a full range of e-commerce transactions. The success of the e-government project, now being undertaken, hinges on the provision of adequate bandwidth, which would allow persons to take advantage of the full range of government services being offered online.
“People have been complaining about access to government, transparency of government; we are going to enable Jamaicans to have easier reach of government through ICT and it has already started,” Minister Paulwell stated.
He informed that very soon, persons would be able to register their companies and have their drivers’ licences processed online. In fact, he said, the greater aim was to eventually have a paperless government.
“We want to ensure that there is an entire platform for government to operate on and that there are standards so that when you visit a government website, you don’t feel let down that this is a government site and it is less than appropriate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Paulwell said he was pleased at the level of investment in wireless telecommunication. “We have seen investments of major players – Cable and Wireless, Digicel and Miphone of over US$700 million, but quite remarkable has been the achievement in terms of growth of voice telephony in Jamaica,” the Minister stated.
He pointed out, that Jamaica had the highest cell phone penetration rate in the entire Western Hemisphere. “We hope that some day, someone will take it up as a challenge to see what has been the real contribution to our economic development and our ability to communicate the way we are doing now,” he said.
According to the Technology Minister, the government’s move to liberalize the communications sector was not just to get Jamaicans to talk, but to create an infrastructure for a knowledge-base society. “The aim is to enable every single Jamaican to have access to knowledge, ” the Minister said, adding that, “it is only through broadband access that Jamaica will be able to claim that they are creating this infrastructure”.
As such, he said, every effort would be made to ensure that computers became just as affordable as cell phones. “We want to see the computer being treated in a similar way and we hope the marketers will use that same level of creativity (as they did with cell phones) for us to see the greater sale of computers,” he said.