Log In

Reset Password

Government accused of political interference after ex-PLP MP appointed to RA

Michael Scott, former Progressive Labour Party MP, is on the board of the Regulatory Authority (File photograph)

The Government has been accused of political interference after the appointment of a former PLP MP to the board of the independent Regulatory Authority.

Michael Scott, a former Progressive Labour Party attorney-general and senator who retired from frontline politics in 2020, is listed as a commissioner on the RA’s website.

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.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published August 30, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated August 30, 2022 at 7:58 am)

Government accused of political interference after ex-PLP MP appointed to RA

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon