Jersey split from Cicra to come at a cost for Guernsey

News | Published:

CONSUMERS face being hit in the pocket and the 5G roll-out affected in the wake of Jersey pulling the plug on the Channel Islands’ joint competition regulator.

Colin Leach (28459670)

Paul Masterton, who was interim chair of the Channel Islands Competition & Regulatory Authorities body, said costs would likely increase as a result of the decision which means reverting back to individual authorities for Guernsey and Jersey.

Writing in Cicra’s annual report, he said the board was ‘surprised’ to receive the decision by Jersey’s minister for economic development, Senator Lyndon Farnham, that he was pulling out of the bilateral agreement that formed the regulator given a recent independent review endorsing the joint authority and a positive meeting with Jersey’s chief minister.

Responsibility for Cicra was moved from Jersey’s chief minister’s office to Senator Farnham in February 2020, said Mr Masterton, and the Jersey politician communicated his decision to his Guernsey counterpart – Deputy Charles Parkinson – on 2 March.

‘The board recognises however that this is a matter of ministerial direction, as do the Guernsey government, and consequently the bi-lateral agreement supporting Cicra will terminate on the 30th June 2020,’ said Mr Masterton.

‘Whilst accepting the minister’s decision, the board wishes to note its view that a combined authority remains the optimum and most efficient structure for competition and regulatory oversight for both Islands. Further, it is the board’s view that reverting to insular authorities may have significant short- and long-term implications for both competition and regulation and the ability to deliver on government policy.’

It increased the challenge of coordinated oversight across the jurisdiction, with the potential for increased delay between the islands on critical matters, said the Cicra interim chair.

‘Critically this will also bring additional complexity to regulation of the telecommunications sector, including not least the 5G roll out and spectrum allocation. It is also apparent that it will result in increased costs. It will likely increase costs to businesses, in particular the regulated sectors, costs that will, in all probability, be passed on to consumers.’

Planning was under way in both islands to ensure that impacts on the 2020 work plan were minimised and that certain key matters are seen to completion. Cicra was also working up to the separation date with plans addressing the need for properly constituted authorities in either island.

‘Looking to the future, with competition and regulation undertaken by separate insular authorities and in a world that will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be critically important that the two authorities forge a cooperative and collaborative relationship, working in tandem for the benefit of both islands and the Channel Islands overall,’ continued Mr Masterton.

‘The original concept for Cicra was for the benefit of consumers and businesses and while, following the minister’s decision, the full benefits of a pan-island organisation will not be possible close cooperation should help mitigate this.’

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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