Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick
The modernisation of the Barbados National Standards System (BNS) may not be a panacea for addressing the stumbling blocks to achieving competitiveness; but it represents a major step in having it assume the number one status for maintaining high quality standards.
This assertion was made today by Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick at the Launch of the modernisation of the BNS project at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church.
The Minister noted that the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), which was established in 1973 as the lead agency for Standards regulation, had been “almost starved out of existence, through neglect and under-funding”.
Dr. Estwick said: “The buildings are dilapidated, the laboratory obsolete and there is insufficient staff to carry out the mandate of this once proud institution. It is unimaginable, unacceptable and irreconcilable, that the entity charged with developing and maintaining standards in Barbados, is below par.”
Underscoring reasons for modernising the BNS, the Economic Affairs Minister stated this would also strengthen the existing economic sectors such as manufacturing, international business services, agriculture and tourism.
Dr Estwick pointed out that: “We must have the basics right, while at the same time being proactive. We know that our products are of a high quality; but we need to document this in a manner that is compliant with international requirements.”
The project will be divided into three components – the strengthening of the Barbados National Standards System, modernisation of the BNSI, as well as an upgrade of its physical and technological infrastructure.
Under the first component, Dr. Estwick said, the administration of standards will be strengthened through the implementation of a National Quality Infrastructure Model.
In the second phase, the operations of the BNSI will be enhanced through the preparation of a new strategic plan. He also revealed strategies for the modernisation of internal management and operations systems and the development of a corporate image programme to highlight the importance of standards throughout Barbados.
The third phase of the project will involve the construction of new administrative buildings and laboratory facilities at the BNSI.
Dr. Estwick said the benefits of the project would include the achievement of Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Standards as required by the European Union to facilitate the export of fish and other dairy products. He also disclosed that there would be a review and update of all existing standards and the reduction in the average rate of standards development from 15 months to 12 months.
The total cost of the project is US $7.29 million and from this sum, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will provide US $5 million, while Government will supply US $2.9 million.