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Jan 17, 2017

Belize Wants to Improve its Standards

The Belize Bureau of Standards has received a grant from the Caribbean Development Bank to the tune of two hundred and eighty thousand U.S. dollars to be used to enhance the National Quality Infrastructure. The first step has been an assessment of standards currently in place and the preparation of a draft plan to bring Belize up to mark with the rest of the region as well as internationally in its testing, sampling and inspection capabilities.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Belize Bureau of Standards is looking at the possibility of transitioning to a statutory body through the establishment of a national quality infrastructure and technical regulation regime. Since August of last year, a policy is being drafted with assistance from Quality Systems Solutions and Initiatives and the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality. The institutional framework intent is to establish and implement standardization practices, metrology and accreditation recognized and accepted regionally and more specifically, internationally when dealing with the trading of goods.

 

Sheryl Anderson

Sheryl Anderson, Managing Director, Quality Systems Solutions & Initiatives

“We are looking at the gaps that are within the Belizean society because there is a particular standard that all countries need to be pegged to. So we are looking at the specifications, looking at where Belize is right now; identifying those gaps and then at this stakeholders meeting we are actually developing a draft implementation plan. We have about another four months to close this off because once we do the draft implementation plan, we are going to go back to the Bureau of Standards and BAHA and say that these are the relevant policies and the procedures that need to be put in place, these are the changes that you need to make to the process, these are the processes that the stakeholders need to be committed to, this is what the government needs to be committed to. Present that and then we want to actually put a system in place that Belize is constantly monitoring the implementation of the plan.”

 

The project, which is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, focuses on all areas including academia, manufacturing, food processing across public and private sector groups. So what are the shortfalls or gaps in the processes as they currently stand?

 

Sheryl Anderson

“We need to have some improved stakeholder involvement; that’s number one. The testing labs need to put in the relevant systems in place, quality management systems. Get their accreditation, making sure that they have enough testing capacity to represent the relevant industries that are in Belize. Resources are a problem, the technical expertise are a problem. We want to…we are thinking that they should improve their training program as well. Government commitment is a problem.”

 

Almost a year ago, the Government of Belize, with funding from the European Union, broke ground for the construction of a Metrology Laboratory, a measurement testing facility to be used by the Belize Bureau of Standards. Now completed, the building is the second of its kind in the region, besides Jamaica. But there is need for training and accreditation for the staff to meet international standards needed to offer services to stakeholders.

 

David Tomlinson

David Tomlinson, Metrology Technical Officer, CROSQ

“We are trying to support Belize to export; the products that you are strong at, to get them out into the world market. And you have to have the standards in place to show that we are shipping products at one liter, they are one liter; if they are supposed to have this amount of orange juice in them, it’s that amount of orange juice.”

 

Stephen Farquharson

Stephen Farquharson, Accreditation Technical Officer, CROSQ

“Belize is I’ll say in need of significant, more, introduction training and utilization of accreditation services because if you are going to trade internationally and especially with developed countries, they require that you demonstrate that you are competent in doing what you are doing. That you have the equipment, you have the personnel, you have the process of delivering a good or service that meets requirement at the international level. And as it is right now, a significant percentage of the Belizean operations, especially testing services are not yet meting those requirements.”

 

According to Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards, Jose Trejo, the idea is to provide an internationally recognized facility with the personnel and competency to provide services at a reduced financial cost.

 

Jose Trejo

Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards

“What the Bureau is going to be doing is to be providing services at the national level for the calibration of equipments across various areas and so giving traceability to our measurement systems. So a company in Belize may not have to send its weight sets all the way to England or to the Caribbean to calibrate; they can get it in country. There are other agencies in the country that have a responsibility to inspect to sample to test and that cuts across the public and private sector. So what this is going to do is to try and map out Belize’s testing capabilities, sampling capabilities, inspection capabilities across agencies.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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