PLP MP says corruption exists in URCA
A”high level of corruption” exists within the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority(URCA), charged MICAL MP V. Alfred Gray, who was among opposition MPs who called on the government to stop the sale of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC).
URCAapproved the controversial deal for the sale of 51 percent of BTC shares to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)earlier this month..
“[The deal]is tainted with corruption because the[CEO]of URCA was an employee of Cable and Wireless,”Gray said as he contributed to debate in the House of Assembly on the bills and resolutions relating to BTC’s privatization.
“You have a representative on URCA who was an employee with Cable and Wireless and you’re giving him the right to say whether this sale[could]go on as a regulator of BTC. What[do]you expect him to do?He came from CWC to be a part of URCA so this deal could turn out just the way it turned out.
“That’s corruption. That’s a high level of corruption. And you want us to swallow this hook, line and sinker?No. We will vote against this and when we come to office we will ensure that BTC is returned to the Bahamian people.”
Gray is the latest member to allege that URCA was biased in its decision to approve the deal.
As has been widely reported byThe Nassau Guardian, the questions raised about the regulatory body surround URCA’s engagement of its current CEO Usman Saadat, and Marsha Lewis, who was URCA’s human resource manager.
Lewis heads LCI Inc. in Barbados, which she formed not long before landing the contract with URCA in 2009. Lewis is a former executive of Cable and Wireless Communications’Caribbean operations, as is Saadat who introduced his former colleague to URCA in 2009 when he was the regulatory body’s director of policy and regulation.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham recently said that Lewis won’t be coming back to work in The Bahamas.
Ingraham said Saturday night at a Free National Movement rally,”URCA’s hirings have been their own decisions as an independent operator. We do not agree with, nor do we support URCA engaging a foreign person for the human resources post. We have told them so. And the minister of immigration has advised accordingly.”
Opposition members have said even without the concerns relating to URCA, the BTC deal”stinks”and have called on the government to cease and desist.
However, government officials are standing firm behind their belief that the deal is the best for The Bahamas.
On Monday, Ingraham said the sale is going to happen and will bring an end to the state monopoly on telecommunication services.