Government accused of political interference after ex-PLP MP appointed to RA
The Government has been accused of political interference after the appointment of a former PLP MP to the board of the independent Regulatory Authority.
However, Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs and Home Affairs, said the appointment of Mr Scott eroded the independence of the energy and electronic communications sector regulator.
He said: “Of all of the talented and capable people in Bermuda who could have been selected as a new commissioner of the Regulatory Authority, a former PLP MP has been appointed.
“This will come as no surprise to those familiar with how the Burt administration operates. Sadly, it is nothing new.
“Yet there are consequences to this approach. When the One Bermuda Alliance was the Government, the OBA strived to ensure that public institutions taking decisions for all of Bermuda were as independent as possible.
“The OBA believes independent organisations are better run by professionals, not politicians.
“Since the PLP has returned to power, we have seen increasing political interference in our public institutions. Take the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission. And now the Regulatory Authority.
“With the BTA we witnessed the former minister tell Bermudians he wanted to tear the engine apart. With no engine, how can the car move forward?
“It is flawed to believe that power is a goal in itself. The OBA wants all of Bermuda to succeed. Continued political interference in public institutions is doing damage to our whole island. Bermudians need to stand up and be counted if we want change.”
The RA describes itself as “an independent regulatory body” that aims to promote sustainable competition in the telecommunications sector and regulate electricity licencees to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Electricity Act 2016.
Its board of commissioners is responsible for the actions of the RA and the general administration of its affairs and business.
A spokeswoman for the RA said: “Based on the Regulatory Authority Act 2011, a selection committee, comprised of ministers of the presiding government and the Opposition Leader are jointly responsible for the appointment of members of the board of commissioners for the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda.”
The act says the selection committee should consist of the minister responsible for justice, who serves as the chairman of the committee; the minister responsible for labour; the Opposition Leader or such other person as the Opposition Leader may designate; and each minister responsible for a regulated industry sector.
It says the selection committee makes all decisions by simple majority vote with each member being given one vote, and in the event of an equal number of votes, the chairman of the selection committee, in addition to a deliberative vote, shall also have a casting vote.
Cole Simons, the leader of the OBA, was on the selection committee for the RA and supported a different candidate for the board of commissioners.
The Ministry of Home Affairs published a government notice in February seeking applications for a commissioner role at the RA. The subsequent appointment of Mr Scott does not appear on the Official Gazette as required by the Act, though the appointments of commissioners Mark Fields and Wayne Carey in August are listed.
The government notice said: “Applicants should demonstrate that they have at least five years’ relevant experience in administration, economics, law, energy and/or telecommunications.” The deadline for applications was March 22.
The RA’s chief executive is appointed by, and reports to, the board of commissioners and serves a term of three years with the option to be reappointed.
Denton Williams, the RA’s chief executive since January 2019, recently announced he is to retire from the position.
The Government was asked for comment on Friday.