National Quality Infrastructure of Sri Lanka: a key driving factor to augment Sri Lanka’s position in the International Trade
Sri Lanka aspires to become a middle-high income country by 2025 by having a highly-competitive economy with a diversity of products and services for local requirements and export markets. An increase on export revenue will be achievable only through consolidating Sri Lanka's share in the existing markets and by venturing into and establishing itself in newer markets through new, highly value added and diversified products and services. Sri Lanka's bold ambition to become South Asia's next regional Trade Hub are, consequently, anchored to many national development programmes including the implementation of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) strategy.
For Sri Lankan goods and services to maintain their current market hold amidst increased regional competition, it is vital that Sri Lankan products and services are found synonymous with high quality, safety and compliance with international regulations and standards. An improved NQI has the potential to boost the standing of Sri Lankan goods and services, but also to accommodate an enabling environment for SMEs in managing requirements of local and international markets, thereby boosting rural economies of Sri Lanka. In order for Sri Lanka to get recognised as a regional Trade Hub by 2025, the NQI strategy has identified three priority areas.
These include focus on policy, legal framework & regulatory issues and supply side issues & demand side issues. Therefore, the strategy dictates that NQI related policy & regulatory frameworks need to be updated, capacity building needs to be set up, and staff with expertise on NQI development need to be trained and deployed to implement the plan of action. A focused intervention in these strategic issues will ensure that the NQI works smoothly to increase the quality, safety and environmental protection in Sri Lanka.
Adherence and support to this vision and strategic approach will pave the way for a well-established and dynamic NQI in Sri Lanka. The NQI has identified three strategic objectives. They are (1) to implement the National Quality Policy together with the National Quality Council as the monitoring body of the NQI, (2) to promote recognition of Sri Lanka's NQI system and (3) to foster a culture of national quality consciousness while improving provision of NQI services to all Sri Lankans.
Stakeholders of NQI in Sri Lanka, look forward to the implementation of this long-awaited strategy, which Sri Lanka's manufacturing and export bases have long been in need of to contribute and co-operate to ensure that the NQI strategy is implemented such a way that Sri Lankan products and services can reach their optimal potential. The NQI Strategy: The goal of Sri Lanka's National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) Strategy is to set quality-related functions on a course to provide high-performance services that allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), larger companies and exporters to comply with market requirements. It equally aims to build capacities, support the enforcement of Sri Lankan regulations, assist environmental sustainability and ensure consumers are protected through access to quality and safe goods.
The NQI Strategy originates from the need to implement the National Quality Policy (NQP) of Sri Lanka. All key NQI institutions, the private sector, relevant Government institutions and civil society (representatives from universities and technical and vocational education and training institutions) were involved in the consultative and inclusive design process to ensure the final document reflects their diverse ambitions and is fully implementable for the benefit of Sri Lanka.
This Strategy builds upon the findings of an NQI gap assessment, corresponds to a broader vision for the long-term improvement of the quality function, and defines a precise five-year implementation road map (action plan) This NQI Strategy was designed in conjunction with the National Export Strategy (NES) of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka's NQI has been developing progressively for many years and has established the main functions required to operate and be internationally-recognized through multilateral agreements. Sri Lanka has all the necessary institutions that form the basis of an NQI: the National Metrology Institute (NMI) of Sri Lanka handles industrial, legal and scientific metrology; the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), which formulates standards for Sri Lankan products in line with international standards; and the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board (SLAB), which is the national accreditation body of Sri Lanka. These core institutions, in close coordination with Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), have been protecting Sri Lankan consumers and ensuring compliance of Sri Lankan exports.
The following constitute the key focus areas of the NQI Strategy :
- Reinforce overall institutional coordination in the NQI
- Revise the legal framework and initiate the development of RIA and an umbrella legal framework for the NQI
- Strengthen managerial and technical capacities of NQI core institutions in line with international best practice
- Strengthen and broaden conformity assessment services in Sri Lanka with international recognition; Broaden and coordinate the metrology function
- Promote the participation of national technical institutions (SLSI, SLAB, MUSSD) in international technical forums
- Develop national standards in line with newly-developing economic sectors; Streamline food safety control in Sri Lanka
- Build awareness and understanding about quality in the private sector and the general public