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State Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Senator Kern Spencer, has said that the Ministry was in the final stages of multi-disciplinary consultations on the revised Science and Technology Policy, which is due for debate in Parliament by mid-year.
“I envision that within the next couple of weeks, we will be able to take the process through Cabinet and once Cabinet has given its approval, then it will be taken to Parliament for the legislators to debate it. It is something we want to move on urgently and focus is going to be put in place to fast track development as it relates to science and technology,” Senator Spencer said.
He was addressing a science and technology stakeholders workshop at Eden Gardens on Lady Musgrave Road today (Jan. 9).
According to the State Minister, the government would be intensifying its focus on science and technology in the near future, with increased expenditure expected on more high profit yielding science and technology-related projects and investments.
“It is obvious that some form of economic support is going to be needed and it is something we intend to discuss with the Ministry of Finance and I believe that the Ministry will back the programme because the spin-offs can be significant,” said Senator Spencer.
In the meantime, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology, Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, noting that the policy has been in discussion for the past two years, pointed to the need for government to wrap up the consultative process, so that the document could go to Parliament.
According to Dr. Ventura, it is in the government’s best interest to move ahead with the implementation of the policy and then make amendments, where necessary.
“What should follow this well-grounded policy are strategies and plans for implementation, propelled by personal and institutional commitment to allow for a more confident economic restructuring of Jamaica by explicitly using science and technology at appropriate times and places,” he stated.
The 2006 Science and Technology Policy is Jamaica’s third such policy, having promulgated its first in 1960 and another in 1990. The revised policy comes against the background of tremendous changes in the structure of Jamaica’s scientific entities as well as increased activities in the mineral exploration and agricultural sectors.
The policy, which will be implemented through the National Commission on Science and Technology, states that inasmuch as the former policies served their purposes well, the rise of other entities besides the Scientific Research Council “have overtaken their usefulness because the law did not anticipate these rapid changes.”
“This policy is considered a platform for assertive execution, and consequently, will be accompanied by a national science and technology strategy, and will form the umbrella under which specific policies and implementation plans for the major sectors will be developed,” the document states.
The stakeholders meeting included preventatives from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica Bureau of Standards, the Environmental Health Foundation of Jamaica and the Scientific Research Council.