Internet access should be a right for every citizen says Technology Minister

May 23, 2020
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology,  Fayval Williams, says the coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus, the need to make access to the internet a right to every citizen. 

“This right is fundamentally inseparable from the right to education and healthcare,” the Minister expressed.

Mrs. Williams was participating in an online webinar hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS), titled ‘Science, Technology and Innovation to Mitigate the Effects of COVID-19’, on Friday.

Her presentation was based on the topic ‘Using Science, Technology and Innovation to address and contain the COVID-19: the case of Jamaica.’

The Minister also said that for Jamaica’s future, post COVID-19 activities should include “scaling up access to energy, whether on or off the grid, in our inner cities and deep rural villages; the establishment of a National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to leapfrog Jamaica’s move to a digital society; the Data Protection Legislation already passed in the Lower House of Parliament to broaden the rights of our citizens in a significantly transformed technological landscape; and increasing access to public services with MYGOVJM app that will improve citizens’ access to their government, e-participation, e-decision-making and e-access.”

Mrs. Williams noted that COVID-19 will impact the country negatively, citing the effect on the 2020/2021 Budget, which has been reduced from $853 billion to $838 billion, with the biggest impact on the Capital expenditure, which has moved from $76.2 billion to $46.1 billion.

The Minister also pointed out that the gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year is expected to decline by 5.1 per cent; revenues are projected to decline by 18 per cent; and the Net International Reserve (NIR), which stood at more than US$3 billion pre-COVID-19, is being utilised to provide some level of foreign exchange liquidity, as the main source of foreign exchange earnings (tourism) is projected to decline by more than 80 per cent.

The Government has put in place a stimulus package of $25 billion to cushion the impact of COVID-19, with some $10 billion allocated to assist the most vulnerable in the society, through the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme.

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