The newest bureau in the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) network, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), recently held a week of intensive activities aimed at updating legislation, devising a strategic plan and increasing the capacity within the institution.

Drawing on its own national resources, as well as those under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) programme, the BBSQ brought together a number of consultants  from September 28 to October 2, 2015, to aid in necessary institutional development.

According to the Bahamas Information Service, the foreign consultants, Dr. Joseph Khan and Mr. David Tomlinson, were welcomed by Minister of Financial Service, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan; Permanent Secretary, Mr. David Davis; Ministry Consultant Mr. Hillary Deveaux; Project Manager, Ms. Sandiria Hall and Bureau Director, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford. Local legal consultant, Ms. Tira Greene, who is a specialist in legal reform and drafting in developing countries, was also among the team of experts on the mission.

Minister Strachan, the BIS noted, expressed her gratitude to the team for the assistance they provided to the BBSQ, and while noting the demanding task ahead, had high praises for the work already done by the BBSQ.

The Minister also noted that the development of the BBSQ and the two projects ­– the redrafting of legislation to comply with the World Trade Organisation TBT Agreement, and the finalisation of a three-year strategic plan – were strategically aligned to the Government’s mandate. This mandate speaks to the creation of an enabling infrastructure that supports the economic development and growth of The Bahamas. Minister Strachan recognised that the initiatives would meet international standards, while reducing technical barriers to trade.

Management consultant, Dr. Khan, was charged with the development of the BBSQ’s Strategic Plan and spent the early part of the week with stakeholders delineating the bureau’s strategic plan. Mr. Tomlinson, Technical Officer responsible for Metrology in the region with CROSQ provided additional technical assistance as he has been doing with the bureau due to his in-depth knowledge of the quality needs of the country, as well as his expertise in metrology, which is the science of measurement. Both consultants undertook these initiatives with funding through the 10th EDF TBT programme.

Ms. Greene has been working with the BBSQ towards finalising the proposed changes to the Standards Act, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Weights and Measures Act to ensure international compliance with the WTO TBT Agreement.

The week started with a stakeholder engagement; legislative drafting on Tuesday; Strategic Plan development on Wednesday; a Metrology workshop with BBSQ staff on Thursday, and even with approaching bad weather, concluded with focus on technical assistance on Friday.

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As the newest standards bureau in the region, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is now well on the way to enhancing its offering of accreditation and measurement standardisation services with the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) recently.

Minister of Financial Services, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, under whose portfolio the BBSQ resides, signed the documents on April 30, 2015, to establish the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, and to recognise the Bureau of Standards Jamaica’s (BSJ) Mass Metrology Laboratory as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory (CaRL) for Mass Metrology.

Accreditation, which is a third-party attestation, refers to the demonstration of competence in certification, inspection and testing, by a conformity assessment body. The CCA Scheme brings together such bodies for the purpose of mutual cooperation and collaboration toward facilitating trade in the Caribbean region and internationally. CROSQ coordinates the support services for these facilities.

Metrology, on the other hand, is the science of measurement; and the CaRL Scheme is aimed at providing economical and sustainable traceability in specific quantities by National Metrology Institutes (NMI) within the region. A CaRL is a metrology laboratory within a NMI or Designated Institute in the CARICOM region, recognised by CROSQ as a regional reference lab for a specific measurement quantity or magnitude within a defined scope.

The signing of the two documents have begun the process of moving the national standards body, BBSQ in The Bahamas, from its early conceptual phase into being the premier institution in the country for quality infrastructure services.

With the CCA Scheme in place, the BBSQ will be better able to access economical and readily available accreditation services through the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS); be able to facilitate the development of regional quality infrastructure as well as facilitate regional and international trade; provide avenues for manufacturers to expand their markets, as well as give them local access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services, among other benefits.

Being a signatory to the CaRL MOU for Mass Metrology will mean that the BBSQ will have access to calibrations at reduced cost from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its national reference mass standards. This will translate into a reduced cost for maintaining the traceability of mass measurements in The Bahamas. Additionally, the BBSQ will be able to access technical assistance from the BSJ mass metrology experts, which will prove especially important as the BBSQ now develops its capability in this area.

Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford was particularly heartened by the signing of the CaRL MOU between the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the Government of The Bahamas. She noted that the role of the CaRL was to provide measurement traceability to the Caribbean region by serving as the ‘entry point’ of the highest measurement capability within the region characterised by having an international recognised quality management system, the smallest measurement uncertainty and highest technical capability in the region.

The completion of the CCA MOU will happen when the CROSQ Council meets in Barbados this week, from May 6 – 8, to set that scheme in motion and empower the Bahamian bureau as far as accreditation services are concerned.

“We have been working for quite some time to get the Bureau of Standards in The Bahamas up and running effectively and the signing of these MOUs demonstrate a commitment to making our country one of the regional leaders of quality infrastructure. We have been sensitizing Bahamians on the importance and benefits of standards, and also promoting and implementing quality services into everything that we do. Now, the Bureau has more power to begin to offer the services that our private and public sectors need to make them more competitive on regional and international markets.

“I would like to thank Minister Strachan for committing to the process all the way, as well as to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) for lending the technical assistance to get us to this point, and their continued commitment to ensure that we are fully operational.  As the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as regional QI is concerned, we know a lot is expected and we will strive, harder than ever, to live up to those expectations,” said Dr. Ferguson-Bufford.

This move towards further development of the BBSQ has been made possible through funding by the European Union through the 10th European Development Fund Economic Partnership Agreement Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, and private USA lending companies like, Instant Same Day Loans 24, Amone, Country Wide and others, focusing on Technical Barriers to Trade.

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