Urca Chose To Give To Nema

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Re: Letter to the Editor Published October 26, 2015

I read with regret Felicity L Johnson’s letter to the editor published today (entitled “Misuse of URCA”) which cast serious aspersions on the integrity of URCA as an independent regulator and on the bona fides of its Board in making a donation to the victims of hurricane Joaquin.

While Ms Johnson is, of course, free to publicly question the actions of URCA on any matter, I consider it appropriate and necessary to correct certain factual inaccuracies made by Ms Johnson in her letter.

Ms Johnson’s letter speculates that someone in the Office of the Prime Minister “went looking to see who they could influence into donating urgently needed monies to NEMA...and, of course, the first line of sight was the self-sustaining financially independent coffers of URCA”. This assertion is entirely untrue and deeply offensive.

Contrary to her assertions, URCA’s donation to the hurricane relief efforts was entirely conceived and determined by URCA, without any external influence by any person. The donation was initiated on October 5th, 2015 when, following Board discussions on the matter, Mrs Kathleen Riviere Smith, URCA’s Chief Executive Officer, advised BTC that URCA was minded to use the outstanding part of the fine to benefit victims of hurricane Joaquin.

URCA considers this to be in furtherance of its mandate to promote access to electronic communications, and consistent with URCA’s already expressed intent for the fine to directly benefit consumers. On that basis, URCA decided to pay the funds to the government’s hurricane relief efforts, and advised the Prime Minister accordingly.

At all times in making and implementing its decision, URCA acted independently, in a manner consistent with its mandate and objectives, and in the best interest of the public in The Bahamas.

We strongly refute the statements and allegations made by Ms Johnson in this regard.


Chairman, URCA,


October 26, 2015.


DaGoobs 3 years, 8 months ago

The title the newspaper gave Ms Johnson's letter was a misnomer; it should have been titled "Misuse of Power of URCA". The point of her letter was that the fine money was not URCA's money to donate to NEMA but fine money that should have gone to BTC's customers as compensation resulting from its 2014 island-wide network outage. If the fine money was surplus monies after end of year external audit, URCA could have asked the government to pay it over to NEMA for hurricane relief rather than into the Treasury/Consolidated Fund. But the fine money was neither surplus monies or even URCA's own money but compensation payable to BTC's customers. Ms Johnson asked under what authority did URCA make this decision and URCA's chairman in his letter fails to answer that question. Ms Johnson's plea was against the misuse of power by URCA as the regulator of an important sector, whether deliberately or in ignorance, a plea which URCA's chairman would do well to keep uppermost in his mind.


ThisIsOurs 3 years, 8 months ago

Agree, the money was not URCA's to decide to do anything with. Nobody with a brain would argue that the money was put to good use "this time", but what happens when a new chief executive officer or a new board is in place and they decide to use funds for a less seemly cause? Who will tell them they don't have the authority to do it? It's been done already. Rules aren't in place to assess the goodness of any individual or cause, they're meant to check abuses irrespective of person.


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