- 30 September, 2016: The Utility Regulatory Authority (URA) was the focus of a presentation yesterday at the Lunch Room of the National Assembly, in the presence of the Board members. The Board has as Chairman Prof. Goolamhussen Mohamedbhai, and three commissioners, Mr Luc Eddy Astruc, Mr Rampiar Luchmun-Roy and Mr Philip Ah-Chuen.
The main objective of this new body, which comprises the water, electricity and waste water sectors, is to protect the interests of users of public services. Under the Utility Regulatory Authority Act, the body is able to grant, modify and revoke licenses for a public service. The URA will also keep a watch on developments and investments in the sector. The body may, for example, redirect operators depending on the application or needs, in specific regions. It will also be responsible for regulating tariffs charged by an operator.
The priorities of the Board include the recruitment of a director and qualified staff to work on the updating of the existing legislation regarding electricity and water as well as the formulation of regulations to enable it to fulfill its responsibilities and work on the establishment of a licensing system.
The main functions of the URA are to implement the policy of Government relating to applicable utility services; establish an appropriate procedure for receiving and enquiring into complaints by customers in relation to any utility services; establish and implement adequate systems for monitoring the compliance by licensees with standards and applicable regulations; take measures for the better protection of customers in relation to any utility services; and examine and make recommendations to a licensee in respect of any Power Purchase Agreement which a licensee proposes to enter into.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Ivan Collendavelloo, said that the URA represents a major development for the public utilities sector. ‘It will constitute a pillar of transparence for the protection of consumers and will boost investments in a framework conducive to development’, he pointed out. Referring to the Board of the new URA, he said Independent Power Producers, the renewal of contracts, and renewable energy should also constitute priority areas.
For the Chairman, Prof. Mohamedbhai, the four attributes of the URA are independence, autonomy, responsibility, and expertise. The Board will meet once every three months.
It is to be recalled that in 2004, the Government approved the setting up of a Utility Regulatory Authority and the URA Act was enacted in November 2004 to set up a regulatory framework for the electricity and water sectors. The Authority did not become operational since the Board was not constituted. In June 2016, the Act was amended to alleviate stiffness criteria around the recruitment of a Chairman.
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