A major consultation on the quality of goods and services in Antigua and Barbuda on April 12, 2016, is expected to be the first step toward the establishment of a National Quality Awards for the country.

In a process being led by the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), and facilitated by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), stakeholders from across sectors including tourism, health, agriculture, business, as well as quality infrastructure development, will gather at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute for a day-long consultation on quality-related matters.

The objective of the consultation is to examine the feasibility of introducing a National Quality Awards to the country that will recognise companies and organisations for their dedication to running quality focussed operations and services, and their commitment to producing high quality products for the country and global markets. It will be addressed and opened by Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Honourable, Mr. E. P. Chet Greene at 9 a.m. The consultation runs until 4 p.m.

It is funded through the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme, being implemented in the Caribbean by CROSQ, alongside INDOCAL in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).

Mrs. Dianne Rodrigues, Director of the ABBS, which is serving as host for this meeting, noted that "the thrust of the Bureau is to offer services that can help promote a culture of quality in the country, and as such this dialogue was a step in that direction".

“We are very interested in what the various sectors have to say about this programme on which we are embarking, and we are hoping that stakeholders can see the value in what we are trying to create and actively get on board and support the process. This initiative will be very beneficial for us all,” said the Director.

"A National Quality Award could help improve the standard and quality of products and services being offered in Antigua and Barbuda, and that is for both the local and foreign markets. It has the potential as well, to be a major branding initiative for the country which is focussing its attention on improving industries and sectors like tourism, agriculture, and health services. One way of getting the kind of growth a country would want is to look at the quality of what is on offer," said Ms. Latoya Burnham, Technical Officer, Communication and Information with CROSQ.

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The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), being the leader in developing an efficient National Quality Infrastructure, believes it is their job to train and develop its stakeholders and to provide world-class training at an internationally-recognized standard. They also believe it is their duty to recognize potential in different players in the industry, leverage their existing talents, and foster them to produce output at their optimum.

To this end, the BSJ has partnered with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Monday, September 28, 2015, towards the achievement of the accreditation of the BSJ’s Personal Certification and Training Programme for the Jamaican Manufacturing and Service Industries to ISO/IEC 17024 and ASTM E2659-15, through its Industrial Training Unit.

The funding of this project will be done by both organizations at a total cost of $13 million Jamaica Dollars. The BSJ has committed to funding the benchmarking and implementation phase, as well as expanding the types and number of courses that are currently offered. These two accomplishments will be equivalent to milestones one (1) and two (2) of the project and will be done at a cost of $7 Million Jamaican Dollars. Also, the BSJ will begin developing webinars and an E-training platform to deliver the training courses. This will account for 25% of the total training programmes the BSJ now offers.

The DBJ, on the other hand, has committed to funding, at a cost of $6 million Jamaican Dollars, the implementation of the IT platform and the implementation of ISO 17024 and ASTM E2659-15 Management System. These will be the final two milestones of the project.

Speaking at the function, at the offices of the DBJ, the BSJ’s Executive Director, Ms. Yvonne Hall noted that the project fits perfectly with the BSJ’s strategies as it seeks to strengthen the National Quality Infrastructure, as well as foster business development in two of Jamaica’s critical industries.

“This grant will assist in providing world-class training at an international standard with international recognition,” she said, adding that her team is committed to finishing the project’s objectives in the given time, at the operational level and by the Standards Council.

The DBJ’s Managing Director, Mr. Milverton Reynolds noted that among the over 700 organizations that will benefit from the BSJ’s programme are small and medium-sized enterprises.

“SMEs are specifically targeted by the DBJ for assistance in accessing 1 hour loans and other forms of financing and business development – to make them more structured, more efficient and more likely to survive,” he said.

Mr. Reynolds praised the BSJ for the development role of the programmes and pointed out that among the positive impacts they will have is the improvement of Jamaica’s standing among its regional and international counterparts.

 

Also present at the event was Prof. Winston Davidson, Chairman of the Standards Council - BSJ.

(A news release from the BSJ)

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