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Hylton defends BSJ

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Opposition Finance Spokesman, Audley Shaw
Industry Minister Anthony Hylton
Bureau of Standards Jamaica. - File

Industry Minister Anthony Hylton is rejecting reports of a breakdown in the operations of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and is warning that such claims could "cast a negative shadow on the work of an internationally recognised and accredited organisation".

At the same time, Hylton has accused Opposition Finance Spokesman, Audley Shaw, of being misled by a report in The Gleaner which, the minister argued, could "bring into question the validity of information presented by a member of the Parliament".

Shaw on Tuesday urged the auditor general to carry out an immediate performance audit of the BSJ.

"I consider this necessary and urgent because it appears manifestly clear that the standards compliance fees collected by the BSJ at our ports of entry are not being used for the purposes for which they were intended," Shaw told Parliament.

"The Bureau reportedly is short of inspectors to adequately monitor the main areas of food, standards compliance and weights and measures, thereby leaving the health and welfare of Jamaicans potentially exposed to the importation and sale of dangerous and unapproved products, as well as victims of unfair trade practices in the marketplace," added Shaw.

The opposition spokesman's claim came hours after The Gleaner had reported similar claims from sources close to the Bureau.

Key labs operational

Responding to questions from The Gleaner, the BSJ has claimed that all its key labs are operational.

"This includes the chemistry laboratory, recently accredited to ISO 17025 ... and the mass laboratory, which is accredited and internationally recognised for its calibration and measurement capabilities and now serves as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory, for mass measurements," said BSJ head Yvonne Hall in an emailed response.

"The organisation, in an effort to ensure that equipment is fully operational, engages in a scheduled process of maintenance to include recalibration of equipment. It should also be noted that the BSJ continues to monitor the ageing of equipment and schedule the acquisition of new items before the others become obsolete," added Hall.

The BSJ boss rejected claims that the Bureau does not have the ability to test several items but admitted that it faces a challenge with, "some staffing issues which we are working to address".

According to Hall, the BSJ has 19 compliance inspectors responsible for monitoring the ports of entry as well as the domestic market island-wide and is embarking on a more efficient method for ensuring compliance in the marketplace.

"The organisation uses a risk-based approach in monitoring the marketplace, and it must be noted that this is done on a scientific basis. We continue to monitor the ports of entry and the domestic marketplace on a daily basis," said Hall as she argued that in no jurisdiction is 100 per cent inspection conducted at ports of entry or in the marketplace.