Component 1 National Quality Infrastructure (NQI)

There is no clear definition for quality infrastructure. That said, there are agreed upon principles that the international community has established.

Quality infrastructure is composed of a number of functions that the state must establish in order to improve both the safety of products, produce and services as well as raising the quality of what is being offered to the consumer.

This system should adhere to international practices and standards and should align with the long-term strategies for economic development on the country.

 In May 2016, the G7 released the Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment to reaffirm “the critical importance for stakeholders to work coherently to bridge the existing global demand-supply gap of infrastructure investment by promoting quality infrastructure investment so as to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth and to enhance resilience in our society.”

The main features of a National Quality Infrastructure are:

  1. Technical Regulations, establishing international practice for development of these in accordance with a Good Regulatory Practice and supporting any legislation measure by developing Regulatory Impact Assessment of the proposed legislation.
  2. Standards, identical adoption of international standards in the local economy that will support regulatory measures thus providing a means as to how to comply with the regulations in terms of safety and environmental matters and improve the quality of goods.
  3. Accreditation, is a review process to determine if an enterprise is competent to certify other enterprises, e.g. ascertains competence.
  4. Conformity Assessment, is a review process to determine if an enterprise is complying with the standards that they claim to conform to e.g. ascertains compliance. Also known as pre market surveillance.
  5. Market Surveillance, this is an obligation mostly carried out by government inspector or sometimes sub-contracted to private enterprises to sample the goods either at the point of entry into the country or already placed in the market to assure that these goods are safe to use or consume.
  6. Metrology, without being able to measure it would not be possible to do either conformity assessment or market surveillance and also this function ensures also market surveillance (verification) that instrument are measuresing within the established paramenters to prevent fraud.

The Quality Infrastructure that fails to meet any of the above elements would affect the safety and quality assurance and sustainability of the economic operators and consumers in the national society. Economic growth relies upon consistent quality infrastructure.

It is the intention of the CSN St Lucia and Caribbean UK AID project to strengthen the NQI of the country. Currently the national quality infrastructure of the country is not following international good practice. Therefore it will be necessary to establish a NQI Committee and develop a national quality policy (NQP), the Committee will also have the responsibility of maintaining the NQP up to date and monitoring its fulfilment on a continuous. The following are the intended outputs for this Component.

Project Expected Outputs

Output 1.1          Develop a national quality policy based on the CROSQ established model.

Output 1.2          Establish a NQI Committee which is representative of the economic operators, government relevant agencies and civil society which preferably should be directly under the office of the Prime Minister.

Output 1.3          Provide capacity building to all members of the NQI committee and government agencies responsible for NQI elements and those regularly involved in delivering conformity assessment, standardisation, technical regulations and market surveillance activities and also to private industry in awareness and importance of the NQP.

NQI Mission 1 Initial Situation Analysis

International Expert:      Dr M. Peet

Dates:                                   21st to 31 January 2019

During the inception phase of the project an agreement was reached to undertake activities related to the NQI of the country and to strengthen the elements which will increase trade, such as technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment in Saint Lucia and eligible ODA Caribbean countries.

A review of the status concerning the NQI of Saint Lucia, specifically in relation to the Standards Act and Regulations are required as part of developing an NQI implementation plan to align the NQI of the country with good international practice.

In introducing the NQP part of the project to the Director and management of the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS), reference was made to a document “Guide for the formulation of a National Quality Policy for Saint Lucia Stages 1 to 5” (the Guide) that had been created by the NQP expert prior to the mission.

It was explained that this guide was based on best practices in the formulation of NQPs as identified and agreed by a group of international NQP developers and implementation agencies, including BSI, under the auspices of the international network for quality infrastructure (InetQI) supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in which BSI had played a leading role.

A series of bi lateral interviews were undertaken throughout the mission to tailor and refine the document and develop an associated draft NQP project plan. The opportunity was also taken to identify the various strategic documents, legislation and regulation that would be required to identify the key drivers for the development of an NQP in St. Lucia as well as issues in legislation that would need to be addressed. 

 It was noted at the outset that there was a need to create a suitable governance structure for the work ahead as well as a small working group – the NQP Task Group. Given the size of the country it was agreed with the Chair of the SLBS Council and the Director SLBS, that the work of the NQP Task Group should be overseen by just one governance committee, the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) Committee.

The identification and nomination of members to this committee will form part of the next mission. It was also agreed that the membership of the Task Group should include representatives of the SLBS, Department of Commerce, Industry, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, as the line ministry to the SLBS, and the Saint Lucia Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA).

These organizations will be approached to nominate suitable representatives during the next mission. An inaugural meeting of the NQP Task group took place on 29 / 01 / 2019. The latest version of the Guide was discussed. It was also noted that efforts had been made to clearly align it with the needs related to the technical regulations part of the project given that both aspects would need to be considered by essentially the same group of key stakeholders.

The meeting also reviewed the NQP / NQI Project Workplan and the various project activities that had already been identified were noted as were the proposed timing of various interventions noted. The formation and role of the National Quality Infrastructure committee was also discussed. It was noted that the issue of ToRs for this committee was scheduled to be addressed during the next mission.

Given the process that needed to be followed to appoint members to such a committee, it was agreed that the Cabinet Secretary needed to be approached to ascertain the requirements in this regard including the role and contents of a cabinet memo.

The Task group also considered and agreed to the use of other project documents proposed by the expert, namely: St. Lucia NQP – Issues from Documents provided and reviewed; NQP St Lucia list of strategic documents provided and accessed; St. Lucia National Quality Policy – Meetings with stakeholders; and Master List of interviews Saint Lucia 29 01 2019.

Regarding the last document, the task group noted that information was still required to complete the table. It was agreed that this would be completed and used to schedule a series of bi-lateral meeting appointment during the next mission. It was also noted that the next two-week mission of of the NQI an Legal international experts would take place between 25th March to the 5th April 2019.

Conclusions

This mission details the various activities undertake during related to the NQP component of the project. The commitment and support of the Director SLBS, and his staff enabled the rapid commencement of work. The initial meeting of the NQP task group was a major milestone and has already created an appropriate enabling environment for the work that lies ahead.

The availability of an agreed guidance document that will inform the future steps of this component of the project as well as an agreed workplan to achieve the SLBS Directors vision of providing a draft NQP to cabinet by December 2019 is noteworthy.