(CNS Business): The newly appointed boss of the government’s newest regulator says there are several challenges ahead for the new office but one of the most important is gaining the trust of the stakeholders across the utilities that he and the team will be regulating. Consistency, transparency, impartiality and independence will be key to forging a positive relationship with the various industries, according to J. Paul Morgan, CEO of the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (URCO), which is also known as OfReg.
Morgan, who has over 20 years experience in utility and telecommunications regulation, started the job just three weeks ago.
“There is a lot happening all at once but I see three particular challenges facing this new entity,” he said in a release Tuesday. “The first is managing the amalgamation of three organisations, all with quite different cultures, into one while taking on the responsibility for a fourth sector as soon as the legislation to give OfReg responsibility for the water sector is enacted.”
He also said that the regulatory processes have to be reviewed and adapted for compliance with the new legal framework. But he said a major aim was developing trust.
“If we can demonstrate consistently that these are the core principles by which we act in our decision-making, our stake holders will value how and why we operate the way we do. Even if there is disagreement with some decisions or positions that we take, I hope that our stakeholders will appreciate the consistency with which we act and therefore trust our judgments,” Morgan said.
The immediate short-term goals are organisational in nature, the CEO of the new regulator stated.
“First, we have to organise ourselves in order to deliver on our mandate efficiently. There are some overlaps in functional areas, as one would expect, so we will focus on identifying those activities and skills which can be shared across all sectors. We do have some skills gaps that must be filled even as we put a credible succession planning process in place,” he added.
Morgan said that he and his team believe Cayman canould become the “intellectual” technology centre of the Caribbean if the country could provide a backbone infrastructure that is reliable and delivers competitive connectivity with the world.
“I see OfReg as the facilitator of innovation in the sectors for which it has responsibility, therefore promoting economic development. How we do this is by ensuring that whatever is necessary for us to guarantee the achievement of government’s policy is central to our development work, for example, the deployment of national broadband infrastructure, introduction of renewables, initiatives to support an e-economy, cybersecurity and the like.”
The impetus to set up the utilities regulator was largely driven by the perceived need to monitor the fuel sector, as there have been broad concerns, by the public and the government, that the fuel importers are significantly overcharging and using the islands’ dependence on supply to manipulate prices. But there was no mention in the release of any plans to address those concerns about the fuel wholesalers.
According to the release, Morgan served 24 years as a senior manager and practicing professional engineer at the senior management levels in electric and water utility management and operations. He was a founding deputy director general, serving for two consecutive three-year terms at the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in Jamaica before being appointed as director general and chairman, a position which he held for two consecutive terms.
Before that he was a key member of the consulting team engaged by the government of Jamaica to put together that organisation. He currently serves as a non-executive director and deputy chairperson of the Utility Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) of the Bahamas, and has been practising as an independent consultant on regulatory policy and related issues in the energy, telecommunications and water sectors to several regional utilities regulators.