A National Quality Policy Workshop for Saint Lucia has been ongoing at the Finance Administrative Unit in Pointe Seraphine. The development of the National Quality Policy is part of the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) project, which was funded by UK Aid and launched in 2018 by the British Standards Institute (BSI). The workshop was divided into two sessions, the first of which was held on Tuesday September 3rd. The second session is scheduled for today September 5th.
The project is designed to deliver in-depth technical assistance for the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards in enhancing domestic standards capacity and promoting engagement with the International Standards Development Process (SDP). The goal of the CSN is to provide a platform of collaboration between national standards bodies and key stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth.
Verne Emmanuel, Director of Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS), stated “The objective was to develop a Standards Network and promote the role of standards as a tool to increase Intra-Commonwealth trade and to strengthen the quality Infrastructure of all Commonwealth countries.” He noted that it was on the common ground of shared values and economic ambitions of the 53 Commonwealth member states that the network was built upon. He said the network will work to increase the use of standards throughout the Commonwealth. He said the CSN will compliment the essential work of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) by facilitating activities that will increase the value of standards for enhancement of export trade, consumer and environmental protection, innovation and industrial development.
Emmanuel said that the project was in alignment with the activities of the ISO action plan for developing countries 2016/2020, the aim of which is to improve opportunities for developing countries to generate economic growth, to better access world markets and to help them achieve sustainable development through standardisation.
He further added, “Through focused attention on standardisation Government can harness the effectiveness of standards in supporting public policy and the development and operation of a robust national quality infrastructure.” The project will support SLBS in raising awareness of the benefits of standards through the provision of training on marketing in order to develop campaigns on the value of voluntary standards, and on the importance of product safety and quality. The campaigns are committed to improve the understanding of consumers and enterprises and hence increase their participation in SLBS’s work in order to facilitate trade.
SLBS will also be supported in preparing a sustainability plan that will ensure continuity of the project after its completion. This will be carried out through the development of a five-year strategic and business plan which will include training for local experts to work alongside international experts, to provide technical assistance and to participate in all capacity building programmes which are developed by the project.
The first facilitated discussion on the draft National Quality Policy was held on September 3rd. The draft is a three-part document which consists of a policy, a situational analysis and the implementation plan. The project has also invited development aid from eligible countries to attend the capacity building seminars and workshops in Saint Lucia. Charles Barker, Project Leader for the CSN, who was present at the seminar, led the discussion on situational analysis of the draft National Quality Policy. He discussed the importance of standardisation and the need for a National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) which is needed, as he stated, “To support and enhance the quality, safety, and environmental soundness of goods, services, and processes.” Barker emphasised that the NQI was critical in promoting and sustaining economic development.
Emmanuel articulated the outcome which was expected from the project by the time it ends in March 2020. He said, “SLBS will be an effective and efficient fit-for-purpose organisation; that it will improve the competitiveness of our economic actors; it will contribute to safety and quality of products and services, and it will support the national quality infrastructure, small and medium enterprises and the overall economy of Saint Lucia.”