JIS News

Director General in the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Karlene Francis, has charged business operators in the Small and Micro Enterprise (SME) sector, to institute quality assurance measures in order to enjoy better levels of international acceptability of their products.
Stressing that the Ministry was aiming “to create the best possible climate for our businesses to improve the quality of their products and services and to ensure that there is a robust quality infrastructure that support business excellence,” Miss Francis implored businesses to focus on quality in their production systems.
The Director General was delivering the main address at the Quality Jamaica ISO (Project International Standards Organization) 9000/14000 and HACCAP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) awards ceremony for the training of standards certification trainers held at the Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday (July 28).
She said quality assurance was crucial as Jamaica sought to participate in international trade, protect consumers, and nurture domestic industries. “This programme is a critical building block for the certification of Jamaican business that conforms to international standards. It seeks to provide a cadre of auditors, trainers and consultants for the implementation of IS0 quality management systems in SMEs,” Miss Francis said.
She stressed that small businesses especially needed to be certified so as to derive the economic benefits which were, according to global research, well established.
Miss Francis implored more businesses to become compliant by capitalizing on the training available through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) Quality Jamaica Project.
To date, a total of 17 companies have implemented quality management systems under the project, and are now advancing to the higher certification levels of ISO 9001/2000 and 14000/2000 environment system. The Caribbean Producers group received the award for the Most Committed SME to have completed HACCAP certification.
Stating that the small business sector was a vital engine for national development, contributing approximately 56 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product and employing up to 90 per cent of the global work force, Miss Francis emphasized that having a fully certified SME sector would augur well for the Brand Jamaica concept, as well as contribute to the country’s bottom line in the future.
“According to projections, [SMEs] will be responsible for the bulk of the 134,000 jobs that will be needed in Jamaica by the year 2007,” she said.
Miss Francis also pointed out that standards certification was becoming increasingly necessary for the country’s ability to compete on the global market.
Stating that the European Union had made “HACCAP certification mandatory for all suppliers seeking to export fresh produce and processed foods,” Miss Francis emphasized that this was an indication of how important it was for local companies to implement and be guided by internationally recognized quality foods safety, and environmental standards.
“By employing ISO 9000/1400 and HACCAP systems, our SMEs will be able to improve the quality of their products and services and gain access to these overseas markets. It has been proven that business that have these systems operate more efficiently and are able to reduce production time and cost,” she said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Representative at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Oscar Spencer, implored businesses to take advantage of grant funding for staff training towards ISO-9000 and HACCP certification.
Stressing that as Jamaica sought to penetrate the ready-to-eat food markets, consistent, compliant and reputable food safety standards was paramount, Meanwhile, Managing Director of Jamaica Producers Limited, Dr. Marshall Hall, warned against having less than optimum quality products entering or leaving Jamaica for domestic markets.
He insisted that “Jamaica being a tourist-oriented country, must regard environmentally friendly processes as the normal way to do business. The order to do this must be routine and comprehensive,” he said.
Dr. Hall pointed out that whilst getting standards certifications was important, maintaining them was even more valuable to Jamaica’s ability to compete with other countries with similar products.
Some 118 persons were certified as consultants in this phase of the ISO 9000/1400 and HACCAP certification project.