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URCA clears up inaccurate reports about its CEO

The Utilities Regulations and Competition Authority(URCA)is clarifying the timing of it’s CEO Usman Saadat’s appointment following inaccurate reports appearing in a local daily paper.

The timing of Saadat’s hiring to the regulatory body after he left a position at Cable and Wireless prompted one union leader to say”we smell a fish there,”according to the December 28 article, but an URCA release has set the timeline straight and defended Saadat.

“The appointment of Mr. Saadat as former DPR(director of policy and regulation of the Public Utilities Commission), and now(URCA)CEO, is far from sinister and should not give rise to any reasonable person concluding that some untoward scheme was underway or otherwise provides a basis for one to”smell a fish there”, the release read.

The article attributed the’fishy smell’allegations to Bernard Evans, president of the Bahamas Communication and Public Officers Union(BCPOU). In the article, Evans is reported as having said that Saadat left Cable&Wireless in July 2009 and was hired by URCA in August of that year. URCA responded, saying that Saadat left the telecommunications company in July 2008, and did not take up the

appointment with the PUC until April 2009(the PUC and the Television Regulatory Authority have both been replaced by URCA).

“It has been more than two years since Mr. Saadat left the employment of Cable&Wireless, and severed any ties with that company,”the release read.

URCA also clarified who the chairman of the regulator was. Reference was made in the article to Saadat being the”newly appointed”URCA chairman. According to the release, Wayne Aranha is the chairman of URCA, and has been since his appointment on August 1, 2009. Saadat was appointed the DPR of the PUC with effect from 20 April 2009. The PUC was URCA’s predecessor, and when URCA came on stream on 1 August 2009, Saadat continued in that position. After Mr. Michael Symonette retired as chief executive officer of URCA on October 1, 2010, Saadat was appointed to that position, according to the release.

URCA also addressed any insinuation that industry experience should disqualify persons from working with the regulator. Experienced professionals with relevant industry experience are employed by many regulators internationally, regionally and locally, according to the regulator. The URCA release said that both URCA and the PUC utilized leadership with industry experience, and their past employment history within the industry had never been called into question by unions before.

“The[URCA]board is very pleased with Mr. Saadat’s performance firstly as DPR and now as CEO. The board is satisfied that no conflict of interest exists, and will ensure that none arises, between Mr. Saadat’s duties as CEO(and an executive board member)of URCA and any past association that he had with Cable&Wireless,”said URCA’s Chairman Wayne Aranha.

According to Aranha the URCA board appointed Saadat after a competitive and rigorous selection process, in accordance with the URCA Act. Saadat himself was excluded from the process as he was DPR and an executive member of the board at the time.

“The unions have recently been making factually incorrect and misleading statements about URCA’s role, and now its management;(which do not add)any positive contribution to the BTC privatization debate,”the URCA release noted.

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