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By Theresa Goodwin

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The Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS) has identified some of the challenges associated with the country’s transition to the metric system, with financial resources being high on the list.

While the metric system is a legally recognised form of measurement in Antigua and Barbuda, many traders, including vendors and small shop operators, are still using the imperial system.

Under the imperial system, goods are measured in feet, inches, pounds and ounces while the metric system calculates measurements in litres, kilometres and kilogrammes, etc.

Dianne Lalla Rodrigues explained that the project, which started some years ago, has slowed down significantly due to difficulties her department is encountering.

“It now requires a bit more resources, financial and political intervention, to say when we are going to change out. Assistance would also have to be provided to people who have measuring equipment to change that out and that is a cost that somebody has to bear,” she said.

“We are using for the most part metric units in most of the agencies because we have to communicate with the outside world. However, the basic measurements in the marketplace and so on where the average persons interact, that is still being done in imperial measurements.”

Rodrigues also explained that the challenges in Antigua and Barbuda are similar to those in other territories that are also seeking to make the transition.

She added that the regulations that are on the books would have to be updated before the twin island state can complete the process.

Dr Alfanso Jerry Simon, Vice Chair of the ABBS Council, said while both forms of measurements are actively being used in the medical system, it would be better for the country to convert to one system.

“To work out some measurements, we use the metric system and for others, because of familiarity and for ease of use, we use the imperial scale,” Simon said.

He said it is important to switch to one system, “preferably the metric, and when this is done medical practitioners should state clearly what their units are”.