JIS News

Jamaica’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector will benefit significantly from the provision of more than $300 million by Universal Access Fund (UAF) Company Limited during the 2010/11 fiscal year, said Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz.
Making his contribution in the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday (July 27), Mr. Vaz informed that some $264 million will be channelled into the development of Internet access points in at least 75 additional communities, which, he advised, the company “is far advanced in identifying”, adding that “this is real, substantial empowerment of the people.”
He said the UAF has been collaborating with agencies, such as the Social Development Commission (SDC), National Housing Trust (NHT) and Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and faith-based organisations in the effort.
Mr. Vaz disclosed that during the 2009/10 fiscal year, the UAF funded the establishment of 17 community access points, islandwide, at a cost of $30.4 million.
He informed that the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) was provided with a custom-built state-of-the-art mobile cyber-library for scheduled visits to communities across the island, and to provide these communities with library and Internet services.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vaz advised the House that the UAF is also expected to provide $40 million to effect infrastructural upgrading at the Postal Corporation of Jamaica, which will entail establishment of an additional 10 Internet facilities island wide.
“We will continue to prioritise infrastructure for educational institutions, public libraries and post offices. We will pursue, even more vigorously, the creation of an information and knowledge-based society, as well as facilitate lifelong learning to boost productivity and innovation. We keep ever before us.the imperative of providing islandwide broadband connectivity for all high schools, public libraries and select post offices,” the Minister assured.
The UAF is the government entity set up to collect and manage the service levy from telecommunication companies on all international calls terminating in Jamaica. The revenue earned from the charges is used, primarily, to finance implementation of the national e-learning project, which is designed to enhance the education process through the use of information technology, as well as facilitate broad IT access at the community level.
Mr. Vaz informed that since the UAF’s inception in June 2005, up to the end of the 2009/10 fiscal year, the entity has collected levy payments totalling $6.7 billion.
“Accounts receivable at end of the fiscal year amounted to $410 million, which is nearly $120 million above projected levels,” Mr. Vaz said.

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