Nov 17, 2008 News
The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS), in collaboration with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), on Thursday last held a workshop at Hotel Tower on ‘standards and the drinking water industry.’
The workshop was in keeping with the Inter-American Development Bank’s promotion of small and medium enterprise (SME) competitiveness, through regional standards.
Executive Director of GNBS, Dr. Chatterpaul Ramcharran, in delivering brief remarks, urged water producers to comply with standards of the industry.
He also stressed that there is great need for the introduction of standardization in the water sector.
According to Dr Ramcharran, the industry needs to have the standards established, or revised if they are already there, and these standards need to be promoted in the sector.
“You need to have these standards implemented…you need to have the enforcement when it comes to that, so that the quality of the water coming out of these processing plants will comply with those standards.”
He noted that when he interacted with the water producers, he found that many of them were not aware that Guyana has a national standard for drinking water.
“The Guyana Standards consultation is what deals with the public water supply system, but the one that would relate to you is the one dealing with specifications for packaged water, this is the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).”
This standard, Ramcharran added, was prepared by the CROSQ and was adopted by the Bureau of Standards in Guyana. It has become the national standard.
According to him, it is a comprehensive standard dealing with different aspects of mineral water and purified water. It deals with packaging, labelling, and methodologies.
Ramcharran suggested that, in streamlining the sector and promoting standardization, there are a few things that should be done, including registration. All operations will need to be registered with the Food and Drugs Department (FDD), and then the FDD will work with the companies accordingly to deal with the standards and the various requirements that must be obtained. “Your product must be licenced. Before bottled water/ packaged water is marketed, you must obtain a licence from the FDD…you must obtain a copy of the standard, and familiarize yourself with it.”
Ramcharran also suggested that the National Authority holds a review meeting with all the operators to discuss the standards, parameters and specifications, with the view of mobilizing these standards.
“I would suggest that you look at setting up a basic testing system in your operation. It is very important…you need to monitor the quality of water among your processing lines, and you need to do the basic testing. I would encourage you to vie for the National Standards Mark. If you can comply with the standards, and you can obtain the permit to use the standards mark on your product, this would be a good asset to your product.”
Ramcharran noted that the idea came up for the operators to form an association so that they can have uniformity and can work together in a cluster towards compliance with the standards.
“If you work together harmoniously and intimately, we can achieve this target very easily, and we can have a water sector which complies with the various standards and which carries the certification in Guyana…quality water that can be compared with any international or regional standard.”
Recently, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad, met with representatives of water selling businesses in light of concerns about the quality expressed by consumers.
After the meeting at the South Road, Georgetown ministry, the stakeholders committed to register with the Ministry of Health’s Food and Drugs Department (FDD) within a week, the minister reported.
Deputy Director of the Food and Drugs Department, Khame Sharma, said that since the meeting with the minister, where all water producers were called upon to register with the FDD, persons have been updating their registration.
The Inter-American Development Bank’s project seeks to improve the competitiveness of small and medium size businesses by enabling them to have greater opportunities to trade goods and services at the regional and international levels.
Once specific demands for standards are detected, the project will support the development of national technical standards and harmonization at a regional level.
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