Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards
Aug 17, 2016
Mrs. DIanne Lala-Rodrigues
Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards

The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards was established by the Standards Act of 1989 (Cap 411 Revised Laws of Antigua and Barbuda).  The Act established the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards as a body corporate, the Antigua and Barbuda Standards Council as the governing body for the Bureau and mandated the Bureau to prepare, promote and maintain standards for goods, services, processes and practices.  It also gave the Director the authority to declare voluntary standards and gave the authority to declare mandatory standards to the Minister with responsibility for the Bureau.  The Standards Act Cap 411 dealt mainly with documentary standards.

Measurement standards were regulated in accordance with the Weights and Measures Act 1918 – with some amendments through the years, including one which made the Metric System a legal system of measurement for use in Antigua and Barbuda.  Under the Weights and Measures Act 1918 the responsibility for maintenance of the national measurement standards was the Comptroller of Customs and the responsibility of implementation of the Act and any accompanying regulations and associated legislation was the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.

In the mid-1990’s major changes begun to take place in the world trade arena.  The WTO came into being, several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements were being negotiated.  Tariff barriers were falling and non-tariff barriers were increasingly being used by the industrialized, developed countries to regulate trade.  Developing countries had to get their national standards bodies established and functioning.  As signatories to the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement we were now focused on Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures as opposed to voluntary and mandatory standards.  The measurement arena has also evolved from Weights and Measures to Metrology – the science of measurement and its associated infrastructure including the establishment and maintenance of the national measurement standards.  Not to be confused with Meteorology which is the study of the atmosphere and its phenomena, especially with weather and weather forecasting

In the ensuing years the Bureau evolved from being just a standards setting body to a quality infrastructure organisation - building capacity and providing services in Standardization, Metrology, Conformity Assessment and Laboratory Accreditation – all elements of a national quality infrastructure.  In order to address this paradigm shift, the Standards Act is currently being reviewed and a Metrology Act, transferring Weights and Measures activities to the Bureau, and expanding the requisite measurement capabilities from just legal metrology (mandated by law) to industrial, chemical and scientific was gazetted and will shortly be enacted.

Initially Bureaux of Standards were set up as regulatory agencies with the main aim of protecting the consumer.  With the changing trade environment, globalisation and developments in technology the Bureau’s function while still maintaining a consumer protection aspect is now also aimed at supporting businesses and protecting the environment.  The capabilities developed and the services provided by the Bureau are all aimed at improving the quality of goods and services produced locally - with the intention of increasing market access, competitiveness and protecting the environment.  They are also aimed at ensuring the quality of goods and services which are imported - with the aim of protecting the consumer, preventing dumping and protecting the environment.

Earlier this year we completed our 2016-2019 Strategic Plan and began the implementation of an ISO 9001 Quality Management System.  We are currently finalizing a Marketing and Communications plan and the implementation of a Knowledge Management System.  All these programmes are aimed at supporting our stakeholders in their quest to provide quality products and services.

In recognition of the achievements of our stakeholders the Bureau is currently spearheading the development of a national quality awards scheme which we hope to launch before the end of 2016.  I encourage you to continue to support the work of the Bureau – we cannot do it alone; we need your expertise.   I also ask that you demand of the policymakers that they provide the resources needed for the Bureau to fulfil its mandate.

In closing, I say thanks to the President and Members (particularly Dr Vanetta Rodgers) of the Rotary Club for recognising the importance of the work of the Bureau and inviting us to make this presentation.  And, I wish the Club every success as you continue to serve the public of Antigua and Barbuda.