JIS News

Although Jamaica has been historically designated the land of wood and water, Jamaicans should be mindful of the need to protect the island’s valuable water resources to ensure that everyone had access to affordable potable water.
Consultant in the Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology and Consumer Affairs Commission board member, Fay Sylvester made this call at a recent symposium in observance of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) held at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) Auditorium in Kingston.
WCRD is celebrated annually by consumer organisations worldwide and each year, under the guidance of Consumers International, an independent non-profit organisation, a topic of global interest is identified. This year’s theme is ‘Water is a Consumer Right’ and it is intended to bring to the fore, issues surrounding consumer’s access to the vital resource, including cost and quality.
Speaking on the focus of the symposium, which was ‘Open Source Systems (OSS), A Vehicle to Enhance Development: What Consumers Should Know’, Mrs. Sylvester said that in addition to the focus on water and consumer rights, the CAC had also highlighted the importance of information technology as an important aspect of sustainable development.
The consultant said the Ministry was committed to the implementation of an Information Communications Technology (ICT) policy that emphasized e-governance, e-commerce and the use of ICT to drive the process of trade development and the generation of jobs.
“If we appear to be in a hurry to realize our goals, it is because of our recognition that the new economy, the digital age, waits for no-one. Our fortunes rest on our ability to compete, to prepare our people for the challenges of change and opportunity and to provide the infrastructure, environment and legislation to facilitate trade and development,” she stated.
She noted that government was mindful of the dynamic nature of the global business environment and the need to examine and modify its policies as well as the legislative and regulatory frameworks in order to be responsive rather than obstructive.
The Science and Technology consultant said that promoting the adoption of ICTs by enterprises had become an important component of national policies and the Ministry was now identifying best practices for promoting ICT usage by enterprises in different sectors of the economy. “In this regard, we welcome the efficacy of open source software, which is becoming serious competition to proprietary software in a number of markets. It has been recognized that governments can use open source software as an instrument in ICT for development strategies,” she stated.
She pointed out that open source software had freedoms that characterize it as non-proprietary and as such, consumers could use it for any purpose, modifying it according to individual needs. In addition, as its use became more pervasive, it had significant potential for contributing to e-governance, the open-university concept, distance education, and the process of lifelong learning.
“We accept that the more knowledge is shared, the more knowledge grows. However, any decision to go to open source technology or to use proprietary software, needs to be based more on strategic reasons rather than cost only,” Mrs. Sylvester said, adding, “Any transformation from proprietary to open source needs to be carefully managed.”
Presentations were made on open source software and the Linux user system by General Manager of IBM, Stephen Meghoo; Chief Technical Officer of E20 Solutions, Emoquad, Stephen Knight and Attorney-at-Law and Board Director of the CAC, Suzanne Dodd.
In addition to the focus on the theme for WCRD 2004, the CAC has broadened the week of activities under the banner ‘Wise Consumption’ to highlight the various facets of consumption, demonstrating the linkages between consumption patterns and the national economy.

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