Cabinet has approved the setting up of a National Quality Committee for the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), to assist with shaping the standards and technical rules across all sectors of the economy.
Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, made the announcement recently as he addressed the Small Business Association’s State of the Sector Conference at Hilton Barbados and streamed live on Facebook and Zoom.
He told the audience that persons involved in economic activities must carry out their functions in accordance with certain best practices and standards, to be competitive and export ready.
“…It is important because technical regulations and standards are essentially that common thread that lifts ships on an ocean of competitiveness. It is an investment…which we are going to be making with a view to making sure that our companies, enterprises or firms are more competitive coming out of the COVID environment than they have been going in,” Mr. Symmonds underlined.
He posited that under international trade rules, it was impossible for the sector to secure market access unless it had demonstrated that its goods were export ready and manufacured in accordance with certain regulations and standards.
The Energy and Small Business Minister further pointed out that this requirement was also key to the export of services.
“So, key to market access is the discussion on standards. But, what we have often found is that too many of our micro and small businesses have not been subjected to the rigour and the robust reflection internally, in terms of their business dynamic internally as they prepare to move from a micro platform to a small platform, to a medium platform, to a support level platform.”
Mr. Symmonds noted that when businesses were export ready, they must be familiar with standards; have an understanding of the challenges and the “pitfalls when they failed to meet an appropriate standard(s) and “how you put yourself back together and remain competitive”.
He added that the BNSI must enhance the partnership with the sector by providing daily support, in relation to avoiding the pitfalls, as they work towards making themselves more competitive.
The Minister expressed disappointment that, of the approximately 9,000 micro and small businesses on record, less than 65 small businesses had a working relationship with the BNSI.