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RAB remit set to widen as CEO search goes on

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Losing two chief executives in the space of three years has added to the challenges faced by the Island's telecommunications sector watchdog.

And things are going to get busier as the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda (RAB) prepares for the regulation and oversight of the energy sector to come under its auspices.

It is anticipated the transfer of those responsibilities from the Ministry for Economic Development and the Energy Commission, will occur shortly after a new Electricity Act goes before MPs during the next parliamentary session.

The combining of regulation for the telecoms and energy sectors under the RAB umbrella will be a pivotal moment. In preparation for that, at the beginning of this year the authority announced Robert Watson as its new CEO.

With previous experience heading up telecoms and electricity companies in Canada, Mr Watson appeared to be the ideal choice to guide the authority into its dual-sector role. However, he resigned at the beginning of this month, citing personal reasons.

A year earlier, the RAB's inaugural chief officer Philip Micallef resigned, also for personal reasons, having led the watchdog organisation for almost two years.

Acknowledging the departure of the two men as unfortunate, RAB chairman Carl Musson said: “We have to cope, and that's what we are doing.”

He was upbeat that a suitable replacement will be found. “We need to address the situation as soon as possible. It is a challenge, but we are optimistic,” he said.

“It's a more unique situation as the CEO is going to manage two sectors.”

Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, when asked if he was concerned by the departure of two chief officers, said: “There has been a variety of reasons why we have had the turnover. The initial phase was intense — getting the operation up and running.

“In Philip Micallef we had a very capable CEO. He got a lot of things under way, such as number portability and spectrum allocation. In the end he had personal reasons for leaving.

“Robert Watson was hired by the Authority. He had a background in the electricity sector as well.”

Dr Gibbons said it was important to recognise that the top roles can be highly pressured positions, and while he liked to see continuity, he also respected an individual's decision to move on.

He said it might turn out to be an advantageous time to be going through a succession planning stage as the role of the RAB is about to change, with the imminent transfer of energy-sector oversight responsibilities.

“The change in CEO has given them the opportunity to give some careful thought to what they are looking for and the role they have in coming years,” he said.

Since it was created at the beginning of 2013, the RAB has been overseen by three commissioners. The current commissioners are Mr Musson, Angela Berry and newly appointed Kenneth Robinson.

Mr Musson was asked if the commissioners might be having too much of a bearing on the organisation. He replied: “I do not think we are too involved. The CEO is responsible for the day-to-day running of the authority and is the regulatory advisor to the board. Our intent is to leave management to the managers and not to get involved in the day-to-day management.”

He explained that the commissioners made regulatory decisions and issued statutory instruments. Mrs Berry, who is also an energy commissioner, and Mr Robinson are both attorneys, while Mr Musson has a wide-ranging background in business, including telecoms and electrical engineering.

Speaking separately, Dr Gibbons said that in the initial stages it was “all hands on deck” setting up the RAB and meeting tight time constraints due to the volume of work undertaken.

“You can understand why the commissioners have been actively involved,” he said, pointing out there is a separation between the Bermuda Government and the operations of the RAB.

“But going forward we want a balance, and that is still evolving.”

Dr Gibbons said it was possible the number of commissioners may be increased in line with the RAB's soon-to-be-enhanced responsibilities.

Mr Musson believed an increase in the number of commissioners was likely to happen, and added: “We would not be opposed to that.”

Regarding the appointment of a new chief executive, he said various options are being considered.

Kyle Masters is the current interim CEO, his second stint in the role.

Dr Gibbons said: “He's a young Bermudian and has been there for a couple of years. I would like to think he could be considered for the role.

“It could be that the Authority is looking to see if there is an internal candidate, or if they need an external candidate experienced in these [expanded] areas.”

Regarding the transfer of regulation and oversight for the energy sector to the RAB, Dr Gibbons said that was still on track to happen in the near term.

Consultations have taken place regarding the draft legislation. The Minister said the Bill will pave the way for independent energy producers, such as those using renewable sources, LNG and others, to present options for the Island.

On track: The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda is currently seeking a permanent CEO, following the departure of Robert Watson. Dr Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, does not believe the situation will impact the timetable for passing the new Electricity Act, which will result in the RAB assuming regulation of the energy sector
On track: The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda is currently seeking a permanent CEO, following the departure of Robert Watson. Dr Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, does not believe the situation will impact the timetable for passing the new Electricity Act, which will result in the RAB assuming regulation of the energy sector

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Published September 28, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated September 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm)

RAB remit set to widen as CEO search goes on

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