The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) at its national consultation on the Draft Standardization Strategy at the Regency Suite, Hadfield Street, Georgetown, yesterday, said that consultation is very important especially when a National Standardization Strategy is being developed.
Acting Executive Director of GNBS, Evadnie Benfield, said that the programme includes the input of all the key stakeholders across all the economic sectors of the country.
According to Project Coordinator, Support for Competitiveness Programme, Radha Krishna Sharma, the consultative exercise must be seen in the context of a series of programmes and activities aimed at institutional strengthen and capacity building to assist the process of increasing the level of competitiveness in private enterprises and other sectors of the economy.
He said that the support of competitiveness programme is a US$27M programme that was funded by the Inter American Development Bank.
Sharma said that Guyana relies on its production and export of unprocessed commodities which were sold in preferential markets at guarantee prices, however, lots have changed within the last 10 to 15 years.
“We have lost those preferential markets; we no longer have guaranteed pricing that is above market price and we have the influence of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and globalization.”
Sharma said that Guyana now has to compete on an open transparent system. Guyana has to be more competitive and widen its production base while being as profitable as possible, he added.
“….Our competitiveness means the ability to make products to meet the test of increasingly open domestic and international markets while at the same time, expanding our domestic real income. We have to recognise that the government can only do that much, and the emergence of a massive and progressive, dynamic private sector is also critical.”
He further disclosed that Guyana’s national competitiveness strategies outline 122 actions and activities to enhance national competitiveness, all of which will increase job creation, economic growth and global competitiveness.
Some of the major institutions that were given support included NCSU which coordinates the implementation of the national competiveness strategy; Go-Invest, which allows exporters to access market information; Guyana Deeds Registry, which allows the digitization of registration and documents along with linkages with sub-registries; GRA which deals with the trade transaction; and the Small Business Council.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Willet Hamilton, said that increasingly companies are asked to comply with standards as a requirement for business, and standards must be accepted as part of the everyday life.
Hamilton said that standards are critical in economic survival, and a systematic and structured approach is needed to devise a workable strategy for an implementation across all sectors of the economy which will benefit Guyana in a number of ways.
According to consultant on the Draft Standardization Strategy, Dr Camella Rhone, the GNBS was established to deal with standards and quality, and standards development will be used to make sure that what is being exchanged is being paid with the equivalent value.
Adding that international organisations have found it important to become involved in standardization, Rhone said, any agreement that can be conceptualized in the international community is guided by the base agreement which is the WTO.
The consultant said that the GNBS can focus on becoming an independent regulator “dealing with governance issues not government with the issues.”
Trade agreements are not binding commitments, Rhone said. The Government is no longer policing heavily and spending enormous sums of money that forces people to comply, however, the consumer becomes the watch dog because “it is your country and it is your responsibility…the consumer therefore is not to sit back and take everything he get.”
She further disclosed that openness, transparency and inclusion are essential for proper standards which will have to be revised every three to five years.
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