Senate committee cites breach in transfer of public transport regulation from OUR

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior Staff reporter

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

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THE regulations committee of the Senate has cited a breach in the way Government handled the transfer of regulation of public transportation from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to the Transport Authority (TA).

The committee said that

the lack of consultation constituted "an unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the (Office of Utilities Regulation) under which it was made".

The committee has, therefore, recommended that the regulation -- which was based on an order issued by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in June -- should be brought to the "special attention" of the Senate pursuant to the Standing Orders for its consideration.

The committee said that it was concerned about the report that the OUR was not included in the consultations leading up to the decision, and made it clear that "even though there was no evidence that there were any legislative breaches the entity, as the economic regulator, should have been consulted".

Opposition senators who thoroughly opposed the Government's decision to transfer regulatory authority from the beginning also issued a minority report, which agreed with the conclusion, but accused the Government's majority of failing to expose all the excesses in the committee's hearings.

The House of Representatives has already approved the order, which was gazetted in June, transferring regulation of the public transportation sector from the jurisdiction of
the OUR.

Public transport operators, who are battling the Government in court over the right of its Transport Authority to regulate the sector while it was still under the authority of the OUR, denounced the move.

The criticisms were reinforced by a declaration at the meeting of the House of Representatives regulations committee in July to discuss the matter, when legal counsel for the OUR, Cheryll Lewis, reported that the first time the regulatory body became aware of this move, was in an article carried by the Jamaica Observer.

She pointed out that the OUR had extensive discussions over the years with the Transport Authority and the Ministry of Transport and other stakeholders and settled on a position that the OUR would be the economic regulator to fix fares for the transport sector.




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