OfReg dodges funding bullet from MLAs

| 24/04/2019 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service

Finance Committee members

(CNS): The utilities regulator, OfReg, came close to missing out on an additional $1.3 million in funding during the recent Finance Committee hearings after MLAs were tied on a vote for the money. Opposition members raised concerns over the regulator’s failings to address fuel pump prices and the wholesalers’ acquisition of gas stations. Several members were absent at the time, so when that particular budget line item for 2019 was scrutinized and government back-bencher Bernie Bush (WBN) voted with the opposition against the cash, the tie had to be broken by the chairman to keep the regulator operating.

The original budget for OfReg’s monitoring and controlling of petroleum products, storage and handling for this year had been just $150,000. But the committee heard that the regulator wanted a further $1,300,000, largely because the original policy idea that the fuel providers would pay fees, which would fund the regulation, had been dropped and so it had to turn to the public purse to fund the work.

But as MLAs questioned the work of the office and the many “teething issues” that the premier admitted had happened since its creation, the regulator’s failings stirred up serious criticisms. Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller asked when OfReg was going to introduce some form of regulation that would deal with the high price of fuel.

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But when OfReg Acting CEO Duke Munroe said the regulator was focusing on competition rather than price controls, Miller and other MLAs raised their concerns that competition was not working. Arden McLean (EE) said the idea that “we cannot stifle competition is the biggest piece of BS I have ever heard”, as he pointed to the price controls that exist on other utilities.

McLean said that OfReg was standing by while the wholesalers bought up retail gas stations and then went on to sub-lease them. He accused OfReg of doing nothing about it and giving poor advice to the premier, under whose ministry the regulator falls.

Munroe told members that the regulator was doing the work to understand the fuel market and they would soon have recommendations for government. Premier Alden McLaughlin confirmed that a new director has been recruited and was due to take over soon.

The premier said he accepted that there had been problems with OfReg and government also had concerns.

McLaughlin said that no one was trying to pretend all was well but he believed they should give the new chief executive a chance to look at what is happening with the fuel regulation and price issues.

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Category: Politics, Private Sector Oversight

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t Government just shut down OfReg and use the $2 million plus we throw at them each year and reduce the import duty on gasoline and diesel by that $2 million, so that all of the population can get some benefit by reduced CUC bills and transportation costs..

    Instead what do we do, we give them $1.5 million more to waste.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because the greedy Merchants will still not reduce their prices to reflect the savings in electricity

    • Anonymous says:

      Running an airport, and retaining FAA credentials requires methodical testing and certification of Jet A Avgas at scheduled intervals. All the rest of OfReg’s efforts seem to be varying degrees of window-dressing, and questionable competency. There might be significant commercial motivation for a regime that defers enactment of the SIPL Law to amalgamate the Petroleum Inspectorate, ICTA and everything else into one big inconsequential and ineffective agency.

  2. Mervyn Cumber says:

    Please just close this useless Department down! Market forces will determine the cost of fuel, electricity, propane gas and water. Bring in the competition instead of this socialist inspired Department.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mervyn, market forces are not working. The fuel merchants are acting like an oligopoly, electricity is monopolistic (no issues with water – i.e. Water Authority).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Four MLAs in shot. One looks like he is asleep, and two others looking at their phones. Not just OfReg that needs to be examined for value for money

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  4. Anonymous says:

    OfReg is top heavy and there needs to be significant cuts at the top.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I like cats

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  6. Johnny Rotten says:

    More money for what? I fail to see what we the public benefit from by having this defunct entity fiddle with what they know nothing about.
    They have failed to effectively change the way fuel companies sell and handle products. And if my memory serves me correctly, they failed to enforce safety protocols for fuel handling, cases in point being the huge leak at former Shedden Rd. Rubis Station and the tank fire at Sol Terminal.

    One would think at the very least OfReg would reveal the truth about what happened in both cases and hold the Water Authority to task by insisting they publish which specific customer’s water supply was contaminated as WAC seems mum on this. This all smacks of collusion with Authorities, suppliers and contractors alike to essentially cover up the truth. The same failure, I suspect, is going on with telecom oversight. XXXX

    Just like the proposed port, the fate of this entity should be determined by the people through another referendum, SOON.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    ofreg…. a perfect representation of the the civil service.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Duke is not even qualified to be wearing that hat, let alone to be captain of the ship!
    The mans background was in marketing and knows nothing about how the fuel flows.
    So much going on in the fuel market that very little knows and bad it is!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Chairman broke the tie? is the Chairman Ezzard? tell me I wrong please…

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      • Anonymous says:

        Anon 1:58. Since you asked nicely “please”, Let me be the first to educate you. YOU ARE WRONG!

        How ignorant are you about the workings of your own Government anyway?
        The chairman of Finance Committee is Hon. Roy McTaggart, The Hon. Ezzard Miller is the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.,,,,,,,,,,, Dummie.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    CIG less work for more money. It’
    s the one thing they are actually good at.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    More COW. Caymanians on welfare. Spending lots of money. Getting nothing in return.

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    2
  11. Mervyn cumber says:

    A total waste of Public resources! Close it down.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Auntie at CNS, any news yet from OfReg on the Cayman Brac Power & Light License that expired in December 2018? Wish we had data to compare the cost of regulating the electricity sector under the old ERA versus the new and powerful OfReg….
    .
    The more OfReg costs to operate the more customers of the regulated sectors will pay unless by some miracle OfReg can effect cost reductions in these regulated sectors.

    CNS: On the CBP&L question, as far as we know there is no update yet to Auntie’s answer here: Expired licence for utility company

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Shut OfReg down. Complete waste of tax payers money

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    • Tell It Like It Is says:

      Oh say can’t you see Mr. Premier or are you so blinded by the bull crap these OfReg incompetents are feeding you. They know not what they do and we the people ain’t forgiving them any longer for living the life of Riley with our money.

      It’s them or you Mr. Premier mark my words Sir!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    OffReg is a complete joke and waste of money. Other than create controversies it has done NOTHING. Disband it and use the millions to help people in need.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman national cultural foundation hundreds of thousands salary costs and cocktail party budget could also be added to help the needy.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Duke Monroe was head of Fuel Inspectorate for years and oversaw the public report into fuel quality and station tank contamination. If he needs millions to get up to speed, how dumb are we?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman Islands is a sweet gravy train. If you are lucky enough to ride, you get a higher compensation than even the prime minister of your own country, and you get the Caymanians to fund your travel, training and expensive car while you do absolutely nothing. All our MLAs do is beat their gums, nothing will change as the pirates continue to rape and pillage the public coffers.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    They need more money for Personal Expenses and travel.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    OfReg should do an audit check and see if the telecommunications companies are providing the service and products consumers are paying for. But again that would mean some rolling up of sleeves and doing some work !

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh please. These people don’t do anything but drive around in their work owned cars. Must be why they need money, new SUVs. Had one guy in, I think, a Tahoe drive so close behind me then speed off around at the first chance.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    They are all on $100,000 + salaries, including a failed political candidate who was severely censored by a labor tribunal for his treatment of a dentist he employed in a health company which for reasons beyond anyone’s belief (except of course he’s a Caymanian) he was allowed to form. They do nothing, it’s a disgrace. And they have a former Complaints Commissioner working for them on a huge salary though no one knows what he does all day. But that’s nothing compared to the thousands paid out every month to Linford and his cronies on the Board. Surely an Auditor General can stop this abuse?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    They do nothing to control the high prices of fuels, its better to shut them down and use the money to do something about the stinking Dump.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    shambolic all around….
    how many lodge memebers in ppm and ofreg?

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