Deputy Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Everton McFarlane, says the agency will be placing greater focus on enhancing the country’s science and technology policy framework.
The move, he contends, is within the context of Jamaica’s Growth Inducement Strategy, development and implementation of which is being led by the PIOJ.
The strategy aims to improve the rate of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the medium-term to ensure that gains from the Government’s reform agenda and the Standby Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are optimised and sustained.
Mr. McFarlane, who was addressing a panel discussion at the Wyndham Kingston hotel on Tuesday (November 29) under the theme: ‘Innovate or Die,’ gave the PIOJ’s undertaking and commitment to incorporating science and technology “more explicitly” within the Growth Inducement Strategy, pointing out that “it is something that we have recognised, and that we will take on”.
“We also commit to work with our (fellow) stakeholders…to listen, and to incorporate those ideas (generated) going forward. We also commit to take this issue and to advocate it, to use our influence to place it squarely on the policy agenda, and to see just how far we can take,” he assured.
Describing the existing policy framework as “fragmented” and “incomplete” Deputy Director General argued that as policymakers, “we have not, perhaps, advocated as strongly as we should with regards to the measures that need to be taken to advance science and technology and I think that’s a feature that runs right across the public sector.”
He cited the need to “build out” the policy framework to develop a culture of science and technology and innovation throughout all levels of the society. “It should aid in building world class capacity for cutting edge research and development and innovation, and should facilitate a bridge between ideas, research and development, and the commercialisation of inventions,” he said.
Additionally, Mr. McFarlane said, the policy should facilitate strengthening of private and public sector institutions to undertake research and development, and assist in greater utilisation of indigenous resources to address local and, where possible, international challenges, relative to Jamaica.
Further, he said, the policy should support “strong” intellectual property rights, arguing that “people need to be able to have a framework that safeguards their ability to reap the returns from (this) very risky activity (science and technology investments)”.
The forum, jointly hosted by the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), and the PIOJ, formed part of the activities marking November as Science and Technology Month by the SRC.