Industry standards to be more accessible for SMEs in north, east and Uva Provinces

Monday, 28 April 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) has joined hands with the GIZ-SME Development Program to strengthen SME sector businesses in the Northern, Eastern and Uva Provinces by raising awareness and providing better accessibility to industry standards and certifications. Adherence to quality assurance practices is a necessity to compete in global markets and industry specific certifications will enable SMEs to tap into these developed markets. The project will promote Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) with a special focus on the SME sector and raise awareness on industry specific code of practices, product standards, system certifications processes and industry safety requirements. The awareness building workshops will also take into account the necessity of upgrading of quality assurance practices of SME sector to match local and global standards. Sessions will be conducted in collaboration with other regional technology transfer infrastructures such as Vidatha Centres, Government Officers attached to Divisional Secretariats, involvement of universities, chambers and the Industrial Development Board etc. Through these involvements, project aims to harness a good ecosystem and cooperation between SLSI and the above mentioned regional actors for better accessibility to standards and certification, while feedback on needs of SMEs are communicated through these regional actors to actors at central level. “We are seeing a positive trend with more manufacturers keen to get their products certified and we want to see more SME sector businesses applying for these certifications,” said SLSI Director General L.N. Senaweera. SLSI implements the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) scheme and ‘SLS’ Product Certification for the organisations, including the SME sector, and as at present, there are close to 450 manufacturers have forwarded their applications to obtain the GMP Certification. Under the SLS Product Certification scheme, SLSI has certified about 150 SME sector manufacturers. Through this project with GIZ-SME Development, SLSI intends to reach out to SME businesses with limited access to product certification services, in the Northern, Eastern and Uva Provinces. Deputy Director General Gamini Dharmawardana on behalf of SLSI thanked GIZ for supporting this imitative and said: “SME sector industrialists especially in the Northern, Eastern and Uva Provinces do not have any exposure for such certification even though they need to improve the product quality. The access to certifications will be very useful to such industrialists,” he said. In addition to the above, the second phase of the project will involve selecting of up to 10 highly potential SMEs from each province. These potential SMEs will receive focused training on their product and/or system certification, followed by a gap analysis of requirements for certification. Further trainings will be conducted by SLSI on new certification schemes in the fields of green technology, organic certification, waste management, and product certification. Afterwards the certifications such as GMP, HACCP, EMS, QMS, FMS and SLS will be awarded to the successful SMEs. “Encouraging SMEs to invest on industry standards and certification plays a pivotal role in the transfer of technology to less developed regions, and creates a ripple effect by providing much needed thrust to propel these SME businesses into international markets,”  German Mueller, Senior Advisor GIZ – SME Development said. Commenting during the inauguration of the project, Hasitha Wijesundara, Advisor- SME Development said: “The collaboration between GIZ and SLSI will provide further opportunities to enhance the capacity of the institution through training aimed at developing the human capital of the SLSI. “Further, it will assist the institution to upgrade its systems to achieve the international accreditation – ISO 17065 that will enable SLSI to issue product and system certification to SMEs that will be recognised in international markets. ISO 17065 conformity assessment and establishment of relevant documentation will be a major activity planned under this project. GIZ – SME Development is committed to maintain the sustainability of these initiatives by facilitating advanced trainings, study visits and other learning platforms on continuous basis,” he added. SLSI, the sole National standards body in Sri Lanka promotes and facilitates standardisation, measurement, quality assurance and related activities in all sectors of the national economy in order to increase productivity and maximise the utilisation of resources along with facilitating internal and external trade. It also contributes to enhance international competitiveness of products and services and safeguard the interest of consumers. Through the Sri Lankan-German SME Development Program, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Planning, GIZ aims to support a cohesive policy framework that enables SME to grow in an inclusive and eco-friendly manner, enhance competitiveness of SME due to technology transfer and innovation, improve access to finance for SME, and enable SME to take advantage of green technologies and maintain nature’s capital for sustainable growth. The project works with Minister of Technology, Research and Atomic Energy on topics related to technology transfer. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany.