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1- BANKING OPERATIONS WITH NEW PRUDENTIAL REGULATIONS
2-
THE DECLINING INTEREST RATES
3- FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
4- CERTIFICATION MARK

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CERTIFICATION MARK

 

Such marks are however being used almost all over the world and mean the same i.e. the marks of conformity

 


By Dr. M. ASAD HASAN
Dec 15 - 21, 2003
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It is quite common to find some special mark on the products in the markets of advance countries whereas such marked products are few in non-developed and developing countries and hence a common man is not generally aware of its significance. All such kinds of voluntary, mandatory well respected and self-invented marks, denoting compliance with standards developed by the national, regional? International Standards Organizations (ISO) and standards based on codes of conduct tell the consumers something about the product itself while other inform of the way a product is manufactured. Some marks are about safety; others include performance and/or environmental issues. Still other marks may have been put on through third party certification or by manufacturers declaration. While recognition of such marks can in some instances be quite high, consumers knowledge on what is behind the mark is usually very low. This is a pity for marks that really do provide the consumer with an informed choice. On the other hand, some marks do not provide the consumer with any really valid information, and yet they can still be-erroneously-taken as adding value.

Such marks are however being used almost all over the world and mean the same i.e. the marks of conformity. They convey powerful messages about products and services and generate market confidence. But will the consumer understand the difference between marks which are placed on the product by the producer or by a product certification body carrying out the conformity procedures against the specified requirements set out by the standard for the product concerned? This entails the testing of representative product samples, evaluation and attestation of conformity etc. Generally, consumer organizations are most favourably inclined towards third party certification to donate compliance. And in order for that to be based on harmonized rules, a working group under ISO/CASCO (ISO Committee on Conformity assessment) has produced a draft standard ISO/FDIS 17030, Third party marks of conformity and their use, which has just been put out for electronic balloting. In this International Standard there are sets of rules for monitoring and surveillance, protection of the mark from unauthorized use, publicly available information about the meaning of the mark and the issuer, etc. It should be noted, however, that while the standard provides the requirement for third party marks, it may also be used as guidance on the use of marks of conformity in other than third party activities.

A licence to use such mark of conformity is issued to manufacturer under a scheme called Certification Mark System, in which an assurance is provided that the goods being manufactured are in conformity with the specifications of national, regional or international standards by an authorized government agency which dose not possess any trading interest (neither as buyer nor as producer). In general, national standards bodies all over the world have been made responsible for the monitoring of such schemes.

The Certification Marking Scheme can, however, not be taken as guarantee and the quality of manufactured goods remains the prime responsibility of the manufacturer. The hundred per cent assurance of quality of each product by any agency other than the manufacturing unit is neither practicable nor economical. Moreover, it has been revealed from the experiences of quality control that better results could be achieved if the quality of raw materials, their storage, manufacturing processes, packing, inspections, testings, quality control and their corrective actions, etc. are monitored than to concentrate just on final products. The Certification Marking Scheme has, therefore, been evolved to monitor, the quality adherence by the manufacturers in above referred processes through a competent organization independent of any trading interest. The monitoring organization, however, is not restricted from obtaining samples from open market to assess their quality and in fact collection of sample from shops is a common exercise being practiced by such an organization.

The Certification Marketing Scheme being followed in this country by Standards Development Centre (SDC) Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (Formerly PSI) is in line with the recommendations of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and its being observed in all the countries through out the world by their respective national standards bodies. The insignia shown in the head-lines is the national mark of conformity for Pakistan and symbolizes that the product is in conformity with Pakistan Standard Specifications. The number mentioned after the word PS over the mark indicates the Pakistan Standard Specifications being claimed for that product. A manufacturer is allowed to use this mark of conformity on his products after obtaining licence from Standards Development Centre, PSQCA under the authority of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority Act-VI of 1996.

 

 

Under this Act Government is empowered to enforce quality of products on compulsory basis through the Certification Marking Scheme. After being an article declared by the Government through Gazette Notification as compulsory, the manufacture, storage and sale of that article without the PS conformity mark is prohibited in the country and the defaulter is liable to be penalized as per rules. It is, however, the policy of Government to popularize the Certification Marking Scheme on voluntary basis and only in cases of safety, health, etc., very few items (46) have been notified for compulsory enforcement up till now.

In order to qualify to use conformity mark on the product the manufacturer has to apply to SDC, PSQCA for the issue of such certificate. The manufacturer is also required to submit a supervision and quality control scheme, which usually describes the method by which the manufacturer shall ensure that his product complies and shall continue to comply with the referred specifications. This scheme also includes the necessary arrangements available for testings, samplings and inspections. SDC, PSQCA manages the assessment and approval of the manufacturers quality control arrangements by regular surveillance (at least 3 times in a year) through inspection of factory, quality control and audit testing of samples from factory and also monitoring the quality of samples from open markets.

It is among the duties of the SDC, (PSQCA) Officer, responsible for inspection of factory, to submit a report for each inspection about:

Overall factory conditions, procurements, storage facilities and condition of raw materials, condition and arrangement of machineries and plant, the storage and condition of semi-finished and finished products.

Testing facilities available on the premises and outside premises and the availability of caliberation facilities for the instruments.

Production control measures being exercised in relation to raw materials, process/production, semi-finished and finished products and the corrective actions.

Keeping of records in relation to control measures for raw materials and their testings, production and testings, and finished products and their testings.

Marking and labelling of the product in accordance with the referred standard.

The officer on duty from SDC (PSQCA) also collects several random samples and finally selects three samples of finished products and put the SDC's seal on them in presence of factory's representative. One sample is left with the manufacturer, one is sent to an independent laboratory by SDC, PSQCA for its analysis and the third is kept with SDC as reference sample which may be used in case of some dispute regarding its quality. After qualifying all these tests the manufacturer is issued with a licence to use SDC's conformity mark on his products. After the issue of such licence it becomes the responsibility of SDC, PSQCA to monitor the quality through regular and surprised inspections and collection of random samples from the factory, purchase of samples from open market and getting them tested for their quality and also by responding the complaints from purchasers and consumers about quality of PS marked products. If any manufacturer fails to maintain the quality of the product under licence, investigations are made and necessary actions are taken against him as per rules.