Government is working to strengthen the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) so that locally manufactured products and goods can meet international standards.

So says Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the Opening of the 23rd Meeting of the Council of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) yesterday at Amaryllis Hotel. The BNSI, is the member body of CROSQ in Barbados.

He explained that over the last few years, member states of CARICOM had signed a number of trade agreements that would provide ???new and unique opportunities for the export of goods and services???.

Mr. Inniss said the implementation of these various agreements and the reduction or removal of trade barriers over time would result in Caribbean producers being required to meet international requirements for their goods and services as they sought to penetrate these markets. ???Standardisation addresses the critical need for quality assurance across all levels of the production and service chains,??? he noted.

As a result, he pointed out that some of the changes to the BNSI would involve it being restructured to strengthen its corporate governance.

He added that further training opportunities would be identified for its staff, and ???much needed??? equipment sourced within the current budgetary constraints. He further noted that comfortable office accommodation would also be made available.

Mr. Inniss said: ???Two weeks ago, the Cabinet agreed to the engagement of professional services for further works to be done in respect of the provision of new laboratory and administrative facilities for the BNSI to be located in Graeme Hall in Christ Church.

???This will be augmented by a changing programme for those whose mandate [it] is to inspect goods entering our Ports and being offered to our citizens.???

The International Business Minister advised regional manufacturers and service providers to be sensitive to the increased quality awareness of consumers and be prepared to respond accordingly.

???I envisage that there will be a much closer working relationship between our standards bodies and our private sectors. It must not be an adversarial one, but one borne out of mutual respect for each other???s roles,??? he stressed.

Describing CROSQ???s role in the process as a pivotal one, Mr. Inniss said the body needed to realign itself, widen its scope of operation and develop its capacity to help regional businesses move from a strategy of price competitiveness to one of quality competitiveness.

???…CROSQ is implementing a number of developmental projects to improve the capacity of the National Standards Bodies in Member States. The Government of Barbados welcomes this initiative since we are currently implementing the Modernization of the Barbados National Standards System Project, co-financed by the Inter-American Development Bank.

??????We will, at the same time, continue to give full support to the regional and international agenda and work plans as we seek to have standards work take its rightful place in our economic and social development,??? he noted.

CROSQ???s principal mandate is to represent the interest of the region in international standards work; to promote harmonisation of metrology systems and standards and to increase the pace of development of regional standards for the sustainable production of goods and services in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, and the enhancement of social and economic development.

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