Finance minister outlines metrication plans, goals and timetable

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda consumers and producers were officially put on notice Friday that things are going to change, as Minister of Finance Harold Lovell set a goal of fully converting the country’s measurements to the metric system by the first quarter of 2015.

This deadline was announced in a statement issued by Lovell on the international observance of World Standards Day last Friday.

“Over 95 per cent of the people in the world conduct their business entirely in metric units. However, in Antigua & Barbuda, despite some progress in education and a few other sectors, we continue to use the Imperial System of Units (SI),” Lovell explained in his official address to launch the metrication programme.

“Since trade and communication with other nations are critical to the wealth and well-being of the state, adopting the metric system is not a matter of choice – it is a matter of necessity. Antigua & Barbuda can no longer delay the conversion to the metric system, given the realities of a Caribbean Single Market and Economy and the various initiatives under the World Trade Organisation and the European Union that promote international standards as the basis for trade,” he said.

The legal framework for the change was established by the Metrology Act of 2007, which recognised SI or the metric system as the legal system of unit measurement in Antigua & Barbuda.

The adoption of the metric system will be gradual over the next few years. Government has identified certain sectors to begin phasing in the new measurements to build the process toward the final goal.

“In the spirit of leading by example, our government has elected the public sector as the first sector to initiate the process of complete conversion and operation exclusively in metric units. As of the first quarter of 2013, each ministry, division, agency, or unit of the government of Antigua & Barbuda shall use the SI in its procurements, grants, and other business-related activities,” Lovell said.

According to Lovell, the process will follow an action plan that was prepared by the Special Advisory Services Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat at the government’s request. The plan promotes a programme of awareness, education and participation for stakeholders and the general public.

A metrication advisory committee will be established to oversee the transition by creating sub-committees necessary to oversee specific aspects of the conversion.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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