Yesterday, the Standards Council of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality held its inaugural meeting at its new offices at Source River Centre, Bacardi Road. At the inaugural meeting the council finalized its name and logo, and formed sub-committees.

Minister of Financial Services the Hon. Hope Strachan addressed the meeting, stating that while the country, by Acts of Parliament, officially established the Standards Act and the Weights & Measures Regime in February of 2008, her Ministry is advancing full steam ahead to ensure that the Bureau of Standards is fully operational, effectual, and that this standards body is afforded the legislative teeth to ensure compliance with regional and international treaties.

To date, some of the achievements of the Ministry include:

* Appointing the Director for the Standards Bureau
* Appointing the Standards Council
* Creating a 3-year Organizational Structure and Roadmap Plan for the Establishment of the Bureau
* Redeploying a technical officer to work in standards development
* Finalizing the process of contracting three staff members to work at the Bureau of Standards
* Membership into regional and international groups such as CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) and Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT), and
* Completing the final phase for adoption of three Regional Standards as National Standards.

Minister Strachan pointed out that her Ministry intends to gainfully employ an additional 10 members of staff (Cabinet approved), particularly with technical competency, to give effect to the work of the Bureau of Standards in the new budget year commencing this July. And also, the Bureau has conducted several sensitization workshops throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on the benefits and importance of standardization at which there was public outcry that the Bureau of Standards is long overdue.

Minister Strachan said, *“the mandates for the Bureau of Standards will help to advance the national economy, support sustainable development, benefit the health, safety and welfare of workers and the public, assist and protect consumers, facilitate domestic and international trade and further international cooperation in relation to standardization. While this work ahead is a gargantuan task, I am confident this Standards Council will undoubtedly begin to make certain these systems are effectively implemented.”*

*“The Standards Bureau will be the institution to help the Country build its national quality infrastructure (NQI). Quality Infrastructure refers to all aspects of metrology, standardization, testing, certification and accreditation that have a bearing on conformity assessment. This includes both public and private institutions and the regulatory framework within which they operate.”*

She continued, *“if the Caribbean is to see continued growth as an emerging market for foreign investment and also export its goods and services to the rest of the world we must implement an effective QI system to improve and support health and safety, environment, competitiveness, trade, research and development, and innovation.”*

In concluding remarks Minister Strachan encouraged the Council to study the Standards and Weights & Measures Act and begin to ensure the following policies and procedures are set in motion:

* The goals and objectives, in accordance with the Acts of 2008, are clearly defined and that strategies are in place for achieving them;
* A Human Resource Structure that will properly outfit the Bureau – particularly in the Inspectorate Division; also development of a permanent policy structure for the staff to have a sense of security on the job;
* A Financial Structure with procurement possibilities that will complement the enormous task ahead of staffing and outfitting the administration building; additional to begin to look at measures needed for the laboratory to ascertain the proper alignment needed to meet environmental specifications.
* Further, to ensure that the Bureau’s financial statements and accounts are always true and accurate;
* A Marketing and Informational Plan that will bring awareness and training to Bahamians;
* Development of strategies that will strengthen the performance of the Bureau through innovation, initiatives and technology; and development of its business capita; AND
* A Market Surveillance and Compliance Program that would align to conformity assessment measures and standards;

Authored by: Bahamas Information Services