Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, is calling on Jamaican companies to move towards improving the quality of their goods and services by becoming certified.
He said that certification is also critical in enhancing competitiveness.
“The implementation of a quality management system can have an important positive impact on the improvement of product quality. I want to raise the standard of quality of goods and services produced across the country. This is critical if Jamaican exports are going to become internationally competitive. The Jamaican export sector will not be able to expand if the quality of goods is not improved,” the Minister said.
He was making his Sectoral Debate presentation on Wednesday (June 20) in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Hylton said his Ministry along with the Bureau of Standards will be promoting the adoption of the International Standardization Organization (ISO) 9001:2008 quality management system, a standard already implemented by over one million organizations in 175 countries. This system is applicable to any entity, Government or private sector, which provides goods or services.
The Minister noted that many companies in developed countries, do not want to do business with companies in developing countries that are not ISO 9001 certified.
“Therefore, in this highly competitive global environment, certification is not an option, it is a mandate. Jamaica must move urgently to assist our companies to become ISO 9001 certified, to enhance their international competitiveness,” said the Minister.
Currently, Jamaica has only 23 companies that are ISO 9001 certified. Minister Hylton reported that all portfolio agencies within his Ministry are mandated to implement the ISO 9001:2008 quality management system and become certified and declared his vision for all government ministries and agencies to become so accredited within the next four to five years.
Minister Hylton also highlighted the importance of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), an important standard in the business of food production, which has serious implications for Jamaican businesses. He reminded that under the United States (US) Food Safety Modernization Act, all companies exporting food items to the US, must be HACCP certified.
“It is not easy for many small Jamaican food producing businesses to meet HACCP requirements. This requires modernization of their plants in some cases, and undertaking major and expensive capital development,” he said.
He urged local food producers to take advantage of the EX-IM Bank loan programme to facilitate this modernization work.
The Bureau of Standards will operate as the certifying body as well as monitor certified organisations while the Ministry will focus on in-plant consultancy.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter