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Trade Minister Promotes Accreditation of Public Laboratories

Minister of Trade and Industry (MTI), Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon underscored the importance for public laboratories to become accredited, in order to improve the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) and culture of quality in Trinidad and Tobago, to support a diverse and competitive economy.

In delivering the Feature Address at the launch and workshop for the accreditation of public laboratories at the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) Auditorium on Tuesday 11th June, 2019, Minister Gopee-Scoon indicated that “During 2019, the aim of the programme is to assist at least two (2) public laboratories to prepare and establish their respective management systems for accreditation in support of at least one scope of testing or calibration, and by 2030 to have all public laboratories accredited”.   She further cited that accurate test results and reports are vital not only for the wellbeing of citizens but various stakeholder groups who use them every day as the basis for making important social and economic decisions. The Minister affirmed that the accreditation of public laboratories will assist with improving governance and service excellence for the public service with conformity assessment activities.

In April, 2018 Cabinet approved the National Quality Policy of Trinidad and Tobago (NQP-TT) for the period 2018-2030.  Amongst other priorities, the NQP-TT Implementation Plan included a programme to get public laboratories accredited in support of the national development strategies outlined in the Vision 2030 National Development Strategy for Trinidad and Tobago.

The Workshop coincided with World Accreditation Day (WAD) 2019 under the theme “Accreditation:  Adding Value to Supply Chains” and was organized by the TTBS in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to sensitize participants on the accreditation process, and the requirements for achieving accreditation status.

In December 2018, Cabinet gave approval for the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (TTASCA). TTASCA would be an independent National Accreditation body and it will be the steward and primary advocate for accreditation nationally, with its scope of operation being expanded to encompass all aspects of conformity assessment: testing, calibration, certification and inspection.

Currently, the accreditation of laboratories are completed by the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS) of TTBS. However, this accreditation does not allow full international recognition status which is the aim for the establishment of TTASCA. In its pursuit for international recognition, TTLABS will soon be an entity separate and apart from the TTBS.

Mr. Lawford Dupres, Chairman, TTBS, said the road to accreditation of all public laboratories is not a short one, but one we must set foot on with determination and deliberate speed regardless of who holds the purse strings of the economy”. He gave the commitment of the TTBS to partner with stakeholder institutions to guide the programme so that each is empowered to assume the responsibilities for demonstrating a competent, innovative and robust national laboratory system integral to the National Quality Infrastructure.

Mr. Derek Luk Pat, Executive Director, TTBS in addressing the participants described the event as truly a progressive step in actualizing the vision for all public laboratories to be accredited. Mr. Luk Pat said “laboratory accreditation uses criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence, thus assuring customers that the test, calibration or measurement data supplied by the laboratory or inspection service are accurate and reliable”. 

Acknowledging TTBS as one of the agencies charged with a lead role in supporting local socio-economic growth through the active development of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI).  Mr. Luk Pat told the participants that “TTBS plays a key, active part in ensuring that our citizens and organisations operate in an environment characterized by reliability, confidence and assurance which we define as a National Quality System (NQS).  This NQS essentially comprises a NQI governed by the National Quality Policy (NQP).  TTBS has a responsibility to balance the economic development of the nation with the welfare of its citizens through its work in the implementation of the NQP and the promotion and facilitation of a robust NQI”. 

ALL SMILES: Senator the Honorable Paula Gopee Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry (centre) is surrounded by TTBS officials prior to the start of the Accreditation of Public Laboratories Workshop(L-R): Ms Felicia Thomas- Standards Officer III, TTBS, Mr. Lawford Dupres-Chairman, TTBS, Mr. Derek Luk Pat- Executive Director, TTBS and Ms Karlene Lewis, Manager, TTLABS.