With a primary focus on increasing exports out of The Bahamas, the Government there has just launched the newest standards organisation in the region – The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ).
As the country rang in its 43rd anniversary of Independence, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Perry Christie, noted they indeed had a lot to celebrate, including the establishment of the bureau.
“As a Government, we hold that the formulation and maintenance of standards and quality by BBSQ is essential, not optional; it is a necessary and well-considered strategy. It is a primary plank in my government’s plan to expand national development through trade, primarily through increased exports of Bahamian goods and services and access into new markets. The Bureau is also important in terms of local consumer protection,” the Prime Minister noted in recognition of the achievement.
He further extolled: “The ultimate objective is to enhance the quality of life for the Bahamian people for the long term.”
His sentiments were echoed by the Minister of Financial Services and Local Government, Mrs. Hope Strachan, whose portfolio has primary responsibility for the bureau. She too noted the need for standards and a focus on quality in the Bahamian society.
“We are fully aware that transforming the culture in both the manufacturing and services sectors to comply with new internationally accepted national standards could possibly result in apprehension and skepticism from the business community and even the general public. I wish to advise, however, that these changes, once implemented will improve public confidence and create new opportunities for Bahamian and international investors and put our relationship with our trading partners on an even playing field,” she noted.
The Minister further invited stakeholders to join with Government as it made this vital step to take advantage of the opportunities to expand the Bahamian economy and global trade.
Both the Prime Minister and Minister, lauded the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and other agencies for the role in helping the BBSQ’s establishment, including training, financial and technical assistance.
Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo hailed the launch as a momentous occasion for the Bahamas as well as the region as a whole.
“The institutionalization of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality is a declaration that the Government of the Bahamas recognises the need to install the requisite infrastructure to support and promote a culture for quality; but more so, it is a reflection of the government’s commitment to ensure, above all, the health and safety of its peoples and its environment. By extension, it underpins the socioeconomic importance that the Bahamas places on the development of trade in goods and services as it now openly seeks to embed quality infrastructure in its national development dynamics. This not only enhances the national effort, but also serves to draw us closer in our unrelenting regional endeavour at harmonizing our economies across a single space…
“Strategically, our mandate within CROSQ is to facilitate trade and competitiveness of CARICOM products and services for sustainable development through the implementation of a regional quality infrastructure. This we intend to achieve by offering support to the national bureaux of standards in the development of their own national quality infrastructures. With this in mind, over the past seven years, CROSQ has been working closely with the Bahamas having undertaken various onsite and offsite interventions. These interventions have led to the provision of equipment, training attachments, workshops and seminars, and meetings,” said the Chairman, adding that it was also significant that increasingly women were stepping into the roles of leadership in the development of the region’s quality infrastructure.
Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford added her voice of thanks to the Government of The Bahamas, as well as the various agencies and programmes that allowed them to reach this point.
“The Bahamas has long been known as a stable economy within the Caribbean; but to advance further towards globalization, we must turn our attention to the building blocks of a sustainable and viable quality infrastructure. This means developing national standards based on international requirements, developing a metrology regime to ensure free and fair trade of goods and services, and building conformity assessment services which include testing, market surveillance, certification and accreditation of our laboratories and other systems of operations.
“We cannot afford to be left behind in terms of global markets access, industry competitiveness, innovation, further development and growth of this country's main economic sectors of tourism and financial services; and in the areas of agriculture, public and environmental healthcare, and the list goes on and on. We believe our strategic plan is properly aligned to the national development plan and Vision 2040 of the Government,” said Dr. Bufford.
Energy security and the efficiency of use of energy in the buildings of CARICOM is the focus of a three-day workshop in Grenada from July 13-15, 2016.
The regional workshop on Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations brought together over 40 experts from the 15 Member States of CARICOM to examine two key objectives: the establishment of benchmarks for the energy performance of buildings in the form of agreed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs), and the provision of a firm basis for the development of a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).
CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar remarked that the organisation’s directive to develop energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings was one handed down by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Such a directive was embraced by CROSQ which committed to the development of the REEBC.
“We also recognise the importance of development of standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy as it enables us as a region to meet our obligations under international agreements, meeting millennium goals and reducing carbon foot print; as well as relieving pressure on our governments as it relates economic transformation, providing for energy independence and security.
“To guarantee success of fulfilling the directive it is both necessary and important for CROSQ to partner and explore synergies with other organisations with similar goals,” said the CEO at the opening ceremony of the workshop.
CROSQ is partnering in this initiative with agencies and projects, including the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA), the CARICOM Energy Unit, and the Caribbean Development Bank, alongside hosts of the workshop, the Grenada Bureau of Standards.
Services are the largest component of both developed and developing country economies and constitute major inputs into the production of most “tangible” goods.
This wasn’t the case only a few decades ago, when a proposal to bring services into the multilateral trading system was met with opposition, with many countries worried about “rules” undermining their ability to pursue national policy objectives and constraining their regulatory powers. The creation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), however, proved to be a landmark achievement by allowing “a high degree of flexibility within the framework of the rules and market access commitments”. The industrial sector is no longer leading growth; services are now recognized as a swifter and more lucrative alternative.
The economy of Antigua and Barbuda – like that of many small island developing states – is services-driven. Tourism and tourism-related services are responsible for 85% of all foreign exchange earnings and account for over two-thirds of GDP. In its efforts to galvanize economic development, the government is pursuing investment in niche markets, including but not limited to tourism, international financial services, offshore education, and information and communication technologies. These are some of the fastest-growing and most rapidly changing service sectors. The ISO New Rights Pilot Programme1) has allowed Antigua and Barbuda to participate in, and influence the development of, International Standards in such areas as tourism, management consultancy and quality management systems.
Service trade is the new frontier. Service providers consistently need to meet and anticipate customer requirements, while providing them with the service they want “right the first time” and every time thereafter – eliminating the need for rework or replace. The development of the “service economy” further underscores the need for standards.
As a result of the global importance of services, ISO has organized a workshop to be held in June 2016, in Geneva, Switzerland, to obtain feedback from relevant stakeholders on the need for International Standards on services.
The event explores how ISO standards can help to design, assess and measure service excellence, benefitting both businesses and consumers. The outputs and outcomes of the workshop will help the service sector realize its core values such as social responsibility, service excellence, collaboration/consensus building, reliability and competence as it strives to meet customers’ needs and expectations.
Without a doubt, standardization will support the services sector by increasing its competitiveness and market access – necessary to boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth and development. Service standards will enable transparency and comparability of services, promote reliability and effectiveness as well as improve efficiency and quality. They will also enhance consumer confidence in services and service providers alike.
Given the multifaceted contribution of services to the global economy and trade, it is critically important for service providers to have a “standards platform” from which they are able to supply quality services, while still ensuring innovation, technology transfer and differentiation among competitors. And what better forum for continual improvement than ISO?
- The above text is an article published in ISO Focus, May-June 2016 Issue 116, featuring Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards, Mrs. Dianne Lalla-Rodrigues and the country of Antigua and Barbuda.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is on a thrust to make quality a way of life in the region.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar made this clear as he addressed media yesterday during a break at a forum of directors of standards bureaux in CARICOM. Remarking on the challenges identified by some directors in the development of standards, the CEO remarked that this was one of the reasons behind the current drafting of a Regional Quality Policy for CARICOM.
“At the regional level the 15 CEOs of the Bureaux of Standards have gotten together and we are basically writing a regional constitutional document on what quality consciousness is all about and how to foster and promote a quality culture in the Caribbean region. We have that document in draft form and we are currently developing that and once we get that approved we would want to distribute that widely through the region, and that will be a Regional Quality Policy approved by policymakers as to what we believe quality is,” he said at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) CEO Forum being held at Courtyard by Marriott in Barbados from July 4 to 6, 2016.
He noted this was one of the ways to address the challenges bureaux experienced with engaging stakeholders. In relation to engagement with industry to increase the uptake and use of standards, the CEO explained that CROSQ was supporting each of the 15 bureaux within CARICOM to develop and improve their awareness, marketing and communications with stakeholders.
“Being scientists we love standards development, we love testing, measurement infrastructure, but when it comes to engaging with people and society and those softer issues, that is a new talent we are helping the bureaux to bring into their core as to how to develop marketing and communication plans, how to reach out to [the media] the help us spread the message of standards and the use of it,” he added.
Finally, he stated that the attraction and retention of staff, as well as financing were issues bureaux indicated challenges with and which CROSQ as a network of bureaux of standards was trying to assist. “At the regional level we look for a lot of donor funded projects that can support Member States to invest in resources, be they people, be they tools, be they equipment or even work methods and then what we do is develop frameworks that helps these bureaux to share these resources across the region.”
The ISO-sponsored forum is being facilitated by ISO Acting Secretary General, Mr. Kevin McKinley, who said the intent was to maximise the shared knowledge and connect the Caribbean more fully with the world and influence the standards process.
“There is a huge gap, a huge opportunity, that exists right now. We cannot run a region, a country, only by mandatory rules, only by laws. You need organised market forces that compliment public policy objectives. International standards are set up in a way that involves the key countries and the key countries include the Caribbean in a lot of areas that are of priority to this region.
“So how do you get to the table on subjects that make most sense and influence the standards that are going to have the most impact on how global new public policy related to climate change, related to the environment, energy efficiency . . . These policies are coming out at a global level and you need tools to implement them at a national level and a company level.”
Mr. McKinley acknowledged that not all members were equal in their level of development, but noted this forum was intended to take the best practices from each and help each other implement.
The forum, sponsored by ISO, is hosted by the Barbados National Standards Institution, and facilitated as well by CROSQ.
Next week all eyes will be on Barbados as it hosts the ISO Forum for Chief Executive Officers of National Standards Bodies in the Caribbean, which will be facilitated by the ISO Acting Secretary-General, Mr. Kevin McKinley.
The CEO Forum, which will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church, opens on Monday, July 4 at 9 a.m. and concludes Wednesday, July 6, 2016. It is being sponsored by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and is intended to be a platform for heads of national standards bodies, members of ISO, "to get together to discuss issues related to the day-to-day management of their organisations".
ISO describes the forum, which is expected to attract the Directors of National Standards Bodies (NSBs) from across the region, especially from within CARICOM, as an “ideal setting for fellow executives of NSBs to exchange views on matters of mutual interest, to consider possible solutions to the challenges they face, and to identify concrete actions for implementation in their organisations”.
Barbados and the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), will serve as hosts to the forum entitled "What Keeps a CEO Awake at Night and What Are His/Her Top Priorities to be Successful".
Among areas to be discussed are relations with policymakers; national standardization strategies, funding mechanisms and business models; as well as standards development and publishing; stakeholder engagement – success and failures; marketing and sales of standards, NSB services and operational efficiency.
Director of the BNSI, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael noted that, as a member of ISO, it was a pleasure to host such a major regional event here in Barbados.
"Just like our partners across the CARICOM Region, the BNSI is committed to the development of the quality infrastructure and we recognize the importance of collaborating and working together on areas of mutual interest and also sharing ideas and best practices.
"We are looking forward to very interactive and fruitful discussions next week and to outcomes that would provide the bureaux of standards within CARICOM with an even stronger platform to strengthen the quality infrastructure, thereby making our respective organisations, and by extension our region, more competitive," said Ishmael.
For queries, please contact:
Ms. Latoya Burnham,
Technical Officer, Communication - CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ)
Tele: (246) 622-7670 ext 671
If the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) is to press ahead to aid the development of quality goods and services across the region that trade and compete internationally, regional governments and businesses need to play their part.
That was the view of accreditation expert, Mr. Pat Paladino, as he addressed a symposium to mark World Accreditation Day in Guyana this week.
Mr. Paladino, addressing an audience that included Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, regional leaders in quality infrastructure development, as well as regulators and private sector business leaders, acknowledged the role that the two major accreditations in Guyana; one in Jamaica and one in Grenada utilising CROSQ’s Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, had played in pushing quality to the forefront of discussion.
He also highlighted the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) another programme created by CROSQ to assist the development of the region’s conformity assessment bodies, namely the inspection, testing and certification entities within both the private and public sector.
Additionally, said the international accreditation expert, the National Standards Bodies of Belize, Suriname and Jamaica, had all been certified to the ISO 9001 quality management system, with the assistance of CROSQ, but all this work was only the start of what was needed in the region.
“The CARICOM and CARIFORUM Regions have much more to do to be able to ensure that all quality and quality-related services are available within the regions. There are many more standards to adopt or adapt and many more conformity assessment bodies to accredit. There is a need for the development of capabilities within the NABs for product, services and personnel certification bodies and inspection bodies.
“It is also necessary to obtain international recognition of the National Accreditation Bodies for certification and inspection bodies. Each one is a formidable task, but I have confidence that the organizations are up for the task,” said the accreditation consultant.
“All this work and the achievements will go to waste if there is no uptake by government or business. That is the policies and programmes developed must be embraced and put to use. Regional standards that are harmonized internationally must be adopted at the national level. National regulations must start to reference the use of these standards and address qualification of organizations to the international standards.
“The time is now to show such commitments. Without your commitment it will become extremely difficult for Caribbean organizations to be competitive in international and regional markets,” he added, congratulating the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) on the tremendous work it had done in the country thus far.
Head of Conformity Assessment at the Bureau, Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick noted the high demand in the country for quality management services and accreditation services, since the recent accreditations of the Guyana Rice Development Board’s Central Laboratory and the Eureka Medical Laboratories Inc. in Georgetown, with the assistance of the bureau, CROSQ and funding partners.
Likewise, Technical Officer for Accreditation with CROSQ, Mr. Stephen Farquharson, made a call for labs wanting to move to accreditation status to contact the local focal point at the GNBS to access the services CROSQ could provide to begin the process.
He noted that CCA Scheme and the CANCAB mechanism were both created under the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, and additional funding partners like the Caribbean Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, as well as the Centres for Disease Control under various programmes, had enabled the assistance to be provided to the labs and bureaux that had received certification or accreditation. This assistance, he noted, was available to others seeking it.
Furthermore, like Mr. Paladino, he underscored the importance of the focus on quality to breaking barriers and opening new markets for products and services for the countries of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, and protecting the general welfare, health and safety of consumers and the environment.
The CROSQ officer noted that the organisation was in the process of cooperating and collaborating on a common regional quality policy and strategy of development that was needed in the region and for which close public and private sector linkages with the bureaux of standards would be needed.