Over the next three (3) years, 2020-2022, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Bureau of Standards (SVGBS) will be principally focusing on the development and effective operation of a National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
To give credence to this strategy, a National Quality Policy (NQP) will be developed to guide the establishment of this infrastructure.
The introduction of the National Quality Policy has to describe and prescribe in a fair amount of detail the current regional and international trends, the local situation and why it has become necessary to re-engineer the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI). Some of the issues that are useful to highlight in this endeavour, typically include the effect of globalization, challenges faced by enterprises, the current situation regarding the NQI and the technical regulation regime, and the overall commitment of government.
As the globalization of the markets continues its relentless pace and as it is shaped by technological developments, and now taking into account the present COVID 19 pandemic, more and more governments and the private sector are carefully reconsidering the overall arrangement of their national quality infrastructure. This is coming about because enterprises in the developing economies in particular are confronted with daunting challenges in accessing markets in the more developed economies. Over and above the financial, management, logistics and skills challenges, they also need to have access to a supportive but internationally recognized quality infrastructure that can provide the independent attestation of product or service quality, without which access to developed markets is well-nigh impossible.
At the same time, it is becoming apparent that the technical regulation regimes of developing economies are often times in disarray, fragmented and non-compliant with WTO-TBT and SPS Agreement requirements, with massive overlaps occurring amongst various regulatory agencies. These agencies, sometimes stand on each other’s feet in trying to control the integrity of products entering the market, thereby creating bureaucratic chaos for suppliers. These technical regulation regimes, therefore, constitute a major impediment to trade.
The technical reulation regimes and the national quality infrastructure are interwoven in complex ways that cannot be separated.
Lastly, as governments are pursuing good governance in order to better integrate with the international community, and establish policy frameworks conducive to social, ecological and market-economic development, they also realize that the establishment of an effective and efficient quality infrastructure contributes in no small way to good governance and the enhancement of lives for its people.
Therefore an efficacious quality infrastructure together with a proficient technical regulation framework can promote the rule of law at the technology level; can help in the fight against corruption; can simplify bureaucratic processes; and enhance macro-economic stability.
With the foregoing in mind, it is therefore logical that governments need to develop the appropriate policy framework in order to re-engineer the quality infrastructure and the technical regulation regimes, and to determine the proper division of the responsibilities, i.e. a division of work. Such a policy framework is known by many names, but for this article the name National Quality Policy is utilized.
In order to obtain the biggest buy-in for the National Quality Policy, the government will have to engage in extensive debate with a whole variety of stakeholders. Proper re-engineering of both the quality infrastructure and the technical regulation regime in most countries inevitably requires much and often painful change. Consequently, stakeholders should not be happy with the status quo, but should be involved early on in discussions about the standards and quality environment and so make themselves aware of the many views of the globalised world. Therefore, in doing so, avail themselves of the many possible outcomes – which will prepare them to deal with the “changing tomorrow”.
The SVGBS as the national champion of the National Quality Infrastructure is still mindful of the role that it can and must play in creating and maintaining the enabling environment for the harmonious development and implementation of this infrastructure. The SVGBS’s commitment to this panacea is unsurpassed, and as such, it will harness all energies to ensure that it fulfils it legal mandate and mission.