Friday, March 1, 2024

Metrology Bill to help avoid financial “leakage”


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Consumers could soon be getting protection from the state in regards to having measurement systems across the board that align with international standards.

Minister of Energy and Business Development Kerrie Symmonds introduced The Barbados Metrology Bill 2022 in the House of Assembly on Tuesday and said the unwillingness to align our metrology with the international standard has cost the business sector money, from manufacturers down to market vendors.

Metrology is the science of measurement. Barbados previously used the Imperial system of inches, miles, fluid ounces, ounce and pounds, but later switched to the metric system of grams, kilogrammes, metres and litres.

“We have contended ourselves with operating with the Imperial measurement system so that we understood yards, feet and inches. Nobody ever stopped to say why are you teaching one way but living in another. If somebody from Germany went down to any market in Barbados to purchase some dolphin and they are told it can be bought in whatever money per pound, the person from Germany would know nothing about pounds and ounces. The international recognised measurement has long been kilogrammes,” he pointed out.

The St James Central representative added: “We felt then, as many of us do now, that we can’t trouble ourselves to make the adjustment that the rest of the world has been making and has made. There are consequences to it and there have been consequences to it. Perhaps what we have done to some extent is model ourselves on what we see happening continentally in the United States where they are perhaps the last people to use the pounds and ounces from the Imperial measurement.

“The fact of the matter is the Americans can get away with it because of the size of their market. Barbados is going to import gas from overseas with one type of measurement specification, then we are going to use measurements which are calibrated in a different type of measurement specification and then we find there are losses in the quantification.

“You ask yourself between all of that what is the consequence because that sounds academic. The consequence is seepage in one word. That is what this Bill is about, avoiding seepage of money; leakage of a cent here and a cent there.”

Symmonds, who is also the Senior Minister coordinating the productive sectors, said that another reason for the introduction of the Bill was to explore methods of diversifying the economy ahead of what may be a slow tourism season given the way the pound sterling has fallen in recent times.

“Another reason for the Bill is to drive forward the issue of national competitiveness. The competitiveness of the Barbadian economy must be at the forefront of our minds. These are difficult times, it would be foolish thing for us to continue to believe that after all we heard not just now but for decades about diversification of the Barbados economy, about having to rely less on the principal instrument of our economic growth which has been the tourism sector.”

He pointed to what was happening in England with the “tremendous volatility with the pound” after the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Kwasi Kwarteng) presented his budget two weeks ago.

“There are those who would say that the United Kingdom is working hard on becoming the most developed country in the world. The reality is that with a very volatile pound there are ramifications for us. Simply put while we would hope and wish that we could get plane load upon plane load of visitors leaving the United Kingdom and coming here during their winter season, the reality is there is not necessarily the spending capacity or spending power of the average person in the United Kingdom and therefore with that uncertainty, that decreased spending capacity there may well be challenges we have to confront.” (JC)


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