Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Model legislation being worked on

Russell Franklyn, Officer in Charge of CARICOM Regional Organisation of Standards and Quality (CROSQ), says policy across the region, as it relates to standards and quality, is not at all where his office would like to see it.

Speaking to the media following the opening of the Regional Food Safety Preparedness Meeting at the Hilton Barbados on Wednesday, Franklyn said that to address this, one aspect of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Programme is focused on updating legislation across the region.

His comments came as he lamented that while a number of countries have signed onto World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements, for example, they have not made their legislation WTO compliant, particularly as it relates to standardisation and technical barriers to trade (TBT).

“We are hoping through the 10th EDF programme to come up with a model legislation which would make it easier for member states to update their legislation, especially those who haven’t as yet. There are a few member states who have, but the others would have a model that they can use to become compliant,” he said.

Outdated legislation

The lack of appropriate policy is also a concern for the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA). IICA Representative in Trinidad and Tobago and Co-ordinator – Regional Integration, Gregg Rawlins, noted that a lot of the legislation concerning animal and plant health is very dated, and there is in particular, a need for legislation in the area of food safety, including fish quality.

“Similar to the TBT programme, the 10th EDF SPS [Sanitary and Phytosanitary] component will focus a lot on supporting member states on moving forward the legislation. There has already been some model legislation developed. What we want to do is help member states to be able to get the legislation through the processes, and one of the things we want to do in that regard is generate information that would justify assigning priority to legislation in relation to SPS and related matters,” the IICA representative said.

Rawlins noted the aim is to highlight the economic implications of not taking action in that regard. He suggested that given the large legislative agenda of countries, unless such an approach is taken, food safety and related legislation and policies will always be “at the bottom of the pile”.

“So we want to make that economic justification to say that if you don’t do this, the consequences for health, the consequences for business, the consequences for imports and so on, could be very serious,” he stated. (JRT)

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