Utilities office will oversee IT, power, water and fuel

| 15/09/2016 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Government’s plan to create an umbrella utilities commission to oversee and regulate all of the utility related sectors in Cayman are now well underway and four pieces of legislation required to change the current regime and provide for the new office will be debated in parliament next month, with several more amendments to other laws due early next year. The goal to establish a multi-sector regulatory agency to not only regulate the utilities but ensure fair competition was fuelled by age-old concerns that the islands fuel suppliers have been less than transparent, leading to artificially high gas prices.

As part of government’s plans to reform the regulation of all utilities, the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (URCO) will assume the responsibilities and regulatory functions currently carried out by the Information Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) and the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA). It will also take over the regulation of water to address the conflict the government-owned Water Authority has as a service provider and regulator of the sector.

But one of the office’s main functions will be to ensure the pricing mechanism used by importers and retailers of fuel is fair following years of speculation and concern about the lack of transparency in the sector.

Officials said the Utility Regulation and Competition Bill, the new legislation establishing the URCO, has “clear unambiguous powers to effectively and independently discharge its regulatory duties” while acting transparently and impartially. It will offer consumer protection functions as well as facilitate economic development and promote innovation in line with government policy in the relevant industries.

“In the case of the fuels sector URCO will also take on the competition functions for that sector. The remit of the URCO is therefore significantly wider than that originally conceived and its reach and outcomes are expected to have economy wide impacts,” government officials said in a release about the new office and legislation.

The statutory framework to support the new office will include the Utility Regulation and Competition Law, creating the URCO as the multi-sector regulator, amendments to the ICTA law to replace that authority with the URCO as the regulator for the ICT sector, and amendments to the ERA law as the URCO will also take over the work of the electricity sector regulator.

The Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage Law (DSHSL) has also been amended to bring the operations of the Chief Petroleum Inspectorate under URCO. These draft bills are all expected to be debated in the LA next month, with other laws to support the new utility regulator expected to come before parliament in the New Year.

According to the new legislation, employees of the ICTA and the ERA will all transfer to the new office under the same terms and conditions.

See bills and more details of the new regime on the CNS Library

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Category: Laws, Politics, Private Sector Oversight

Comments (8)

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  1. Sharkey says:

    I think what Government is doing is putting the fox to watch the hen house, and everyone should be outraged by their conduct, and tell them face to face .

  2. Anonymous says:

    Election time must be just around the corner, for three years the Government did nothing and now we are bombarded with new laws, new roads, new schools, and now new recycling of garbage (NEW DUMP). I guess they intend to at least put us back in DEBT, as far as I am concerned that is the only thing they can do right. This government should be ashamed of their reputation, just look at the news of today!!! What a great job the POLICE did with the molestation case of that poor little girl? Nothing will be done about it, just look at what happened in the CAREPAY case, nobody held responsible.WE NEED A CHANGE!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      We have not cleared our debt, not even close. All we’ve managed to do is scale back spending to something more plausible – finally giving the impression that our heads are above the rising waters from years of wild unaccounted department mismanagement – some of which continues unabated!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Even with all of the massive economic problems that the Cayman Islands is facing, if the government would just get off our backs most of us would do okay. In Cayman today, it is rapidly getting to the point where it is nearly impossible to start or to operate a small business.
    The government is cramming new ridiculous regulations down our throats each year. It would take a full team of lawyers just to even try to stay informed about all of these new regulations. Small business in the Cayman Islands is literally being suffocated by red tape. The truth is that our lives and our businesses are actually tightly constrained by rules and regulations. Today there is a “license” for just about every business activity. In fact, in some areas of the country today you need a “degree” and multiple “licenses” before you can even submit an application for permission to start certain businesses. And if you want to actually hire some people for your business, the paperwork nightmare gets far worse. It is a wonder that anyone in Cayman is still willing to start a business from scratch and hire employees. The truth is that the business environment in the Cayman Islands is now so incredibly toxic that hundred of Caymanians have simply given up and don’t even try to work within the system anymore.
    We have become a island that is run and dominated by bureaucrats. Yes, there always must be rules in a society, but we have gotten to the point where there are so many millions of rules that the game has become unplayable.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please can we have a committee made up of people who have no vested interest in any of the utility companies on the island? You know, to avoid any chance of corruption and conflicts of interest and all that…

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes no point having this shiny new form of oversight if you are going to staff it with the same old recycled board members or those interested in the current utility service providers or better yet family members of elected members of the legislative assembly. Lets do this one thing properly.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Really, an initiative from government that will actually help the people of Cayman?
    Government will have to hire top dollar expats with titles that sound like something out of a science fiction novel.
    Nobody will dare criticize and nothing will ever get done because at the end of the day, it is the people who stand to make the real money that call the shots and they NEVER change.
    Back to sleep Cayman, we do love to snooze, don’t we?

  6. Anonymous says:

    gas and electricity is artificially high

    When an electricity company can make 20 million profit, a year off an island of 60 thousand people

    And can control how much electricity you decide to generate, so no matter how green you go, you are still paying into the CUC monopoly.

    There is something really wrong with this.

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