A number of international and regional organisations are scheduled to be in Barbados from April 4-6, 2018 for the 32nd meeting of the Council of Directors of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ).
The Secretary General of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), Mr. Sergio Mujica, as well as representatives of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) will be among a number of international experts in standardisation, trade and trade facilitation and international health matters, who will be addressing the directors of the CARICOM bureaux of standards during the three-day meeting to be held at the Accra Beach Resort.
The meeting, being jointly hosted by the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI), opens at 9 a.m. on April 4, and will discuss how each of these areas fit into the quality agenda of the region during the first two days. The third day is a closed meeting exclusive to the directors to look at the direction and development of quality infrastructure for the year ahead.
The opening ceremony is also set to be addressed by The European Union’s First Secretary, Mr. Luca Pierantoni; Barbados’ Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce & Small Business Development, Mr. Donville Inniss; and the Caribbean Development Bank’s Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration, Ms. Andrea Power.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar stated that it was also an honour for the organisation to be hosting so many international and regional leaders, including those from the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), and Caribbean Export, who could contribute to the ongoing discussion in CARICOM of how quality services are developed and what the region should be doing to improve life, health and safety here with quality as the stepping stone.
“This is the first time one of our Council Meetings will see this kind of engagement of such a wide range of professionals and leaders from so many areas that can add value to the work done by our bureaux of standards. In this increasingly expanding global environment, if we do not take the challenge of how we facilitate trade seriously; if we don’t take care in how we develop the services and infrastructure that help our products export and improve the products and services we offer as a region, then we will be left totally out of the loop.
“That essentially is what this meeting is about – bringing some of the minds together to discuss what is happening internationally and regionally and how they twin and mesh and finding out where the divergence and gaps are, so we can respond with convergence opportunities as a CARICOM Region. We can only do better if we have the information of what is out there,” said the CEO.
The CROSQ CEO noted: “It must also be said that after this meeting this week, in a few weeks CROSQ will officially be introducing the Regional Quality Policy to the region as a whole which deals with how we develop our quality infrastructure services, and this will include the roles that our public and private sectors, as well as civil society have to play in advancing our standards; our measurement capabilities and facilities; our accreditation and certification for services and products; and then how we spread the awareness of what is available to every corner of our region.”
This 32nd meeting will also be the first for the new Chair of CROSQ, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) who was appointed during last year’s meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved USD750,000 in funding for a programme that will assist the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with strengthening intra-regional trade.
At least five countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Suriname – will benefit from three interventions to be implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
“This programme will assist producers with overcoming some of the challenges encountered when trying to export their products, and will therefore enhance their ability to increase market access, penetrate new markets and integrate into global value chains,” said Mr. Daniel Best, Director of Projects, CDB.
“Some of the key constraints manufacturers, exporters and service providers in the CARICOM face are caused by non-tariff trade barriers, otherwise known as Technical Barriers to Trade,” he added.
The Director also noted that well-functioning quality infrastructure can minimize TBTs, open doors for producers in CARICOM countries to regional and international markets, and help them to raise the standard of their production processes, thereby enhancing their competitiveness.
Quality infrastructure refers to the public and private institutional framework required to implement standardisation, accreditation and conformity assessment services, including inspection, testing, and laboratory and product certification.
The CDB-funded interventions will assist with bringing Regional goods in line with international standards.
- developing National Quality Policies intended to protect consumers and safeguard human health, safety, and the environment;
- technical assistance to two testing laboratories – to be chosen from among the five countries – for International Standards Organisation (ISO) 10725 accreditation; and
- development and implementation of an awareness campaign to promote and sensitise stakeholders, particularly women, indigenous people, youth and other minority and at risk groups, on matters related to the development and implementation of quality policies, and to improve knowledge and use of accredited testing services.
CROSQ is scheduled to commence the 18-month Strengthening of Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme in May, 2018. The interventions to be rolled out under the initiative are consistent with the Bank’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development within its Borrowing Member Countries.
(Source: CDB Press Release)
The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS) has officially launched its fuel pump verification programme, thereby joining the ranks of some other CROSQ Member States.
In April this year, the Metrology Act came into effect and the Bureau of Standards proposed its first steps for implementation of the Act to be the establishment of a national Fuel Pump Verification Service.
At the launch of the programme a few months later, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Standards Council, Mr. Cottrille George said: “This journey for developing the nation’s quality infrastructure employs metrology or measurement science as one of the main vehicles for promoting fairness and equity in trade, business excellence and consumer confidence.
“It is for this reason that we celebrated the proclamation of the Metrology Act in April this year. This Act gives credence to the Bureau’s mandate to ensure the accuracy of weighing and measuring instruments used in trade. The practice of checking, because it is mandated by law, is known as legal Metrology, and will soon become a regular consideration and /or characteristic of any form of business for which earnings or profit are derived from measurements based activities.”
The journey to this stage involved Bureau of Standards personnel working with the fuel suppliers and retailers to perform checks/tests on the fuel dispensers for accuracy to ensure that the pumps are delivering correctly the stated metered quantities. This will ensure that consumers are receiving the quantities purchased and also retailers are not losing product due to faulty dispensing.
Having done the necessary preliminary checks, all fuel dispensers that have “passed the test” will be affixed with a blue validation sticker providing the logo and name of the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards and the expiration date of the authentication of the specific fuel dispenser nozzle.
Consumers are being educated to look for these validation stickers and verifications will be carried out hereafter, in accordance with the provisions of the Metrology Act and Regulations. Lessons learnt will be shared with regional metrologists through CROSQ’s Caribbean Metrology Network (CARIMET) and that is recognized by SIM, the Inter-American Metrology System.
A major aspect to the recent 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, in St. Kitts and Nevis was a half-day sensitization seminar on the ground-breaking efforts CROSQ has initialised in the area of energy, with joint-venture support from the CARICOM Secretariat’s Energy Unit.
The workshop, which took place on the first day of the two day CROSQ Council meeting, focused strictly on the increasing energy portfolio of the CROSQ network – namely the Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC) Project, which is partnered with the GIZ-REETA programme (German Development Agency, Renewable Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance programme); and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project, which is funded by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB).
Technical Officer, Communication and Information, Ms. Latoya Burnham, who conceptualised the seminar, along with other technical staff of the CROSQ Secretariat explained that the key objective was awareness.
“The main things we wanted our directors to walk away with were – an understanding of the progress made thus far with our energy projects; what the next steps would be, and what would be needed in terms of collaborations and cooperation to make our outcomes successful. Primary among all this of course, was to also hear what their concerns were; their thoughts on the Energy Roadmap that has been devised with considerable CARICOM Energy Unit input and their suggestions to us that could make it all happen.
“The manner in which CROSQ functions makes all our project implementation at the national level; so whatever we do at the Secretariat, has to be rolled out on the ground among our regional people. So at every stage, the consultation, buy-in and clear ideas of the roles different parties have to play must be a central thread,” she stated.
As such, the Communication Officer said she believed their objectives were reached, especially as far as Member States understanding what comes next, how and why.
For the R3E Project, there was a major stakeholder meeting in Guyana in late October, and the Draft Minimum Energy Performance Standards for Energy Efficiency Buildings in the REEBC Project was still in Member States for comment and feedback, a process that remained open until the end of November 2017.
Activities will intensify in 2018 - with the expected approval of the REEBC by the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and then the development of model legislation for the REEBC along with conferences and stakeholder engagements; and too, the declaration of regional standards for energy efficient lighting, air conditioners and refrigerators in the R3E Project, along with strengthening of laboratory testing capabilities for energy efficiency in these devices.
There will also be a pilot project for the energy efficient labelling scheme in select countries.
There is a new chairperson at the helm of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford, who is also Director of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), was selected to office during the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held in St. Kitts and Nevis in October. She takes over the reins from outgoing chairman, Mr. Jose Trejo, Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards.
In her incoming remarks, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford underscored her satisfaction with the work the CROSQ network of standards, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment bodies has been engaged in over the years and her willingness to work through the CROSQ Secretariat to continue the work.
“I would really like to thank the CROSQ Council for the faith it has placed in me to take on this mantle of leadership. I know this is a great responsibility to lead the network of bureaux and I promise to strive to do what I can to ensure that the success we have enjoyed under past leaders continues. I would like to also thank our past directors who have led this body of agencies for the work they have done and the path they have blazed for me to continue,” said the incoming chairperson.
The new chair, took over from Belize Bureau of Standards Director, Mr. Jose Trejo, and will serve alongside Mrs. Candelle Walcott-Bostwick, Director of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, who is Vice Chair.
Dr. Fergusson-Bufford shared her vision for what she would like to achieve during her tenure in the post:
“I believe my role as chairperson is to further progress the mandate of CROSQ and to expand its profile internationally; both in presence and voice. In fulfilling this vision and mission, as well as to ensure the strategic goals are being carried out effectively and efficiently and that regional initiatives are guided by individual national priorities, I will continue the governance, advocacy, and outreach effort to all, so as to support the sustainable production and trade of goods and services in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and beyond.”
Dr. Ferguson-Bufford noted that during the tenure of the last two chairpersons, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael of the Barbados National Standards Institute and Mr. Jose Trejo, there was considerable work done to produce a Regional Quality Policy, and this was one of the initiatives she would like to see implemented during her term in office.
“I am in full agreement with the objectives as set out in our Regional Quality Policy and share the sentiments of our past directors that with this policy in place we can, as a region, really begin examining how we make quality a part of all our everyday life in nation building. If we want to see our competitiveness increase and level of innovation improved in the region, we have to be serious about making sure quality improvement systems are an integral part of our productive environment, and so I look forward to continuing that drive at the regional level to ensuring this thinking gets pride of place in action at the national level,” she said.
But her mandate, she noted, would also include ensuring that the Bahamas bureau continued its current path of development as well.
“At the bureau, we have a team of qualified, well trained Bahamians, who have demonstrated the competence, ability, dedication and commitment to ensure that every function of the Bureau is developed to achieve its objectives and by extension the overall value of the BBSQ as outlined in our Strategic Plan.
“In the past three to four years we have made significant strides at development, thanks to the efforts of the CROSQ fraternity of Member States and other external financing and technical assistance agencies. I know we will continue our trajectory of growth that will enable us not only to help our own citizens, but the rest of CARICOM as well by contributing to the development of our Regional Quality Infrastructure.”
The following is an edited version of the speech by Outgoing Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality, Mr. Jose Trejo at the Opening of the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held at Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts & Nevis on October 5, 2017.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 31st Council Meeting of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality. A special welcome to the Acting Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Weekes, we are glad that you could be here with us this morning to share a little bit of your time, surely enough we welcome you to stay for our seminar that will follow immediately after, to learn about the strides we are making in energy standards etc. Let me also extend our sincerest gratitude to our host, Mr. Hiram Williams, Director of the St. Kitts Bureau of Standards for receiving us so graciously during our short stay. To the Directors, friends and colleagues present, I extend a warm welcome.
Before I address you, in my last capacity as Chairman of the Council, I would like to take this time to express our deepest sympathies to all the Caribbean Islands – CARICOM and non-CARICOM – that have been devastated by the passing of two successive and powerful hurricanes in the likes of Irma and Maria. As I watched the images light up on the television screen, I admittedly was jaded, as I am sure most of us were, in disbelief that this could be happening and that it did. The images that you no doubt have seen are a stark reminder that Mother Nature unleashes her fury at will and that the only thing that we can be thankful for in the aftermath, is life itself. Anything outside of this can be replaced. Anything outside of this can be rebuilt; but more so it speaks to the resolve of the unbreakable human spirit to carry on despite the heartbreaking devastation. I am positive that the strength and courage of the peoples of the Caribbean will prevail and that life as we know it will return to some sense of normalcy. We wish for a speedy recovery with the hope that the rhythmic sounds of steel pan and salsa will soon reverberate, flowing from the comfort of homes into the streets, fast restoring what we have come to recognise as truly Caribbean.
Colleagues, now to the order of business. As we gather here today at this 31st meeting, there is an enormous sense of pride felt as I reflect on what we collectively have achieved. It is without question that the Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) that we have been tirelessly focusing on over the past decade, is now bearing fruit. In no special order, the region boasts its first ever Regional Quality Policy; a 5-year regional standards development priority plan; laboratories accredited with some as I speak in the pipeline; establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories in Volume and Temperature; Quality Awards schemes developed, marketing and communication plans that in principle are packaged to promote and sell QI services; a Secretariat that has developed an on-demand skill-set that can now confidently extend itself to the wider region. Fair to say that the majority of this was accomplished under the 10th EDF-TBT project executed by the PTB with CROSQ and INDOCAL serving as sub-executing agencies.
To this end, it is important to recognise the technical and financial support that the region has received from its regional and international partners and donor agencies. Arms outstretched, it also serves as given testimony that the region has slowly gained the trust and confidence of it partners and agencies as evidenced in the scaling up of recent initiatives, namely CDB, Tradecom and the PTB to mention a few. As this pool widens so will the benefits flow towards the continued advancement of the RQI.
Colleagues, as we push towards a new frontier we are bound to encounter challenges. I therefore urge you to be ever so mindful that we must in collective fashion, continue to rally as a group to overcome these challenges. Please allow me to say, that no one institution should bear the burden and struggle of solving institutional challenges on its own especially when among you is a repository of experiences that can be draw upon to provide the lift that we more than often need.
With this, I ask those of you who have spent a great portion of your professional careers in quality systems to continue to provide your support and to continue to be the stalwarts for QI. To the new comers – and once upon a time I would consider myself in this group but my grey hair now tells me otherwise – I want to encourage you to be open and willing to bring fresh and innovative ideas to a dynamic field that could never be short of it.
If you will allow me, I would now like to personally thank the Council for giving me this opportunity to serve as the Chairman. It was indeed an honour and privilege to serve in this capacity for the past two years. It was quite an experience, as I have candidly echoed to some of you, much of the credit is due to the work of the CEO and the staff of the Secretariat. Under his sound leadership and support CROSQ is gradually distinguishing itself from the pack, elevating itself as a premier CARICOM Organisation on this platform for RQI.
The CEO continues to thread the needle to ensure that the internal environment at the level of the Secretariat continues to evolve to meet the multidimensional and multidisciplinary needs of the external environment in our region. This has brought to bear a Branding Strategy that is tightly knit to meet the region’s needs in an efficient and effective manner. It should come as no surprise then that we are indeed turning heads. The CEO’s efforts to draw the attention of regional and international organisations to the unfolding of an RQI in the Caribbean has been nothing short of relentless.
This pivoted on the successes that the region has been experiencing despite the multiplicity of needs across an economic and geographical space that may at times, appear far and wide. The push for the RQI in the Caribbean to stand its own, is an opportunity to explore new frontiers across other regional organisations that not only can assist and support our region but that can also equally learn from us. The CEO has ensured that this plays out to the tune of a region that is outward looking; fully embracing of new alliances that will undoubtedly propel the growth and development of the RQI further into the foreseeable future. To the CEO and his staff, I extend my deepest and sincerest gratitude for all the support that they have given me during this time.
I think it is most appropriate to close with a bold declaration that the RQI is on an unprecedented path of development and as it continues to gather momentum, I remain ever so excited and positive about its future. It is my sincerest hope that we continue to support the Secretariat and the incoming Chair as they carry us into what I consider a promising future.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, let not our hearts be troubled, the RQI is in a good place. I welcome you and thank you once again.”
(Mr. Trejo is also the Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards.)