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Published:Monday | November 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Wheatley
Samuda
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Food import bill

trending down

Jamaica's food import bill continues its downward trend, with data indicating that there was a 0.7 per cent reduction or US$2.4 million for the period January to May 2016.

This was noted by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda in a message read by chief technical director in the ministry, Stephen Wedderburn, at the 13th anniversary of the Eat Jamaican Day exposition, on the lawns of Devon House in Kingston last Friday.

He further informed that traditional domestic food export for the January to May period in 2016 was US$13.2 million, an increase of 19.5 per cent when compared to the US$11.06 million in the similar period in 2015.

"While we have seen an increase, it is clear to us that the gap between our food import bill and our exports is still too wide," the minister said.

Samuda said the gains have resulted from initiatives such as the Eat Jamaican Campaign, the import substitution, and the onion development programmes, among others.

"The Government certainly recognises the need to eat things Jamaican and that is why we have been encouraging the production and consumption of locally grown food to reduce our large food import bill and achieve food security," he added.

Gov't to engage private pharmacies to ease long wait for medication

The Government is implementing a policy to ease the long wait at public pharmacies by contracting private entities for the dispensing of drugs to persons who obtain prescriptions from state-run facilities.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said starting next month, the National Health Fund (NHF), will be engaging private pharmacies, through a pilot project, where a person, having visited a hospital or clinic and received a prescription, will not have to wait long to collect his or her medication.

Tufton, who was addressing the opening of a Drug Serv Pharmacy at the Kitson Town Health Centre in St Catherine last Wednesday, said due to the long wait to get drugs through the public system, some persons do not treat their illnesses.

"Designated pharmacies contracted to provide the service will give persons choices. You will have more distribution points, and that is important, because when someone is sick and wants solution, they shouldn't have to wait four and five hours in the sun to get drugs," the minister told the audience.

Spectrum has kept us connected - Wheatley

Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley has lauded the role of the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) in advancing Jamaica's telecommunications and broadband landscape over the last 15 years.

He said the SMA, which is the national regulator for the radio frequency spectrum, has facilitated expansion in a number of entities.

These, the minister outlined, includes more than 20 radio stations, three local free-to-air television stations and a number of agencies offering cable channels and Internet capabilities, among other services.

"The SMA has single-handedly kept us connected. This is indeed a tremendous responsibility, and on behalf of the Government of Jamaica and the ministry, I commend the SMA for the tremendous service that you have been giving to this country," Wheatley said.

He was speaking at the SMA's 15th anniversary awards dinner at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Wednesday.

Wheatley said the Government and other stakeholders have a responsibility to effectively and efficiently utilise the spectrum "so that we are able to deliver the quality services that Jamaicans deserve".