ADDRESSING QUALITY STANDARDS

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A local standards expert has identified the tourism industry, Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the use of agro-chemicals as three areas which the region will be focusing on to improve standards.

Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Dr. Eslie Alleyne, made this observation while addressing participants who attended an ISO regional awareness workshop on Consumer Involvement in Standardisation.  The two day workshop was held recently at the Savannah Hotel.

Noting that the Caribbean faced serious challenges regarding standards development, he singled out large quantities of agro chemicals and gaseous pollutants that are released into the environment from automobiles as issues to be speedily addressed.

Dr. Alleyne also contended that the rapidly expanding tourism industry in most countries had placed additional pressure on the environment. “We must be constantly aware that most tourists, who visit the region, originate in industrialised countries, and are accustomed to a much higher degree of standards.  So, they will be less likely to tolerate any laxity in our standards development and enforcement.”

He also expressed “concern over the level of pesticides being pumped into the environment. The residue level of pesticides on crops needs to be monitored more closely and must conform as closely as possible to the standards promulgated by the Codex Alimentarius Committee,” Dr. Alleyne advised.

In the area of ICT’s, he said the expanding informatics sector had also posed problems and remarked that in many instances, the regional standard development process was not in sync with the region’s development.

In view of this, he said the newly created Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) must play a pivotal role in assisting the region in the creation and harmonisation of regional standards.

“For most of our existence, we have had a fragmented system with individual countries doing their own thing.  And, if we are to progress, this situation must change.  Thus, the setting up of CROSQ, whatever the original rationale, is strategically positioned to play the role of coordinator of standards development for the region.  The need for a higher degree of harmonisation of our efforts is critical, so that our standards development in the region can at last reach an acceptable level,” Dr. Alleyne maintained.

He did concede, however, that despite the efforts of the BNSI and other regional standards institutions to educate Caribbean people about the importance of standards, most populations were still unaware about its benefits, and contribution, to a country’s development.

The participants also heard presentations from a representative of Consumers International, Sadie Homer; Julius James of the St Lucia Bureau of Standards; and Charles Barker of the British Standards Institution.

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