The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) was created to serve as the primary governing body of the new regulatory regime for electronic communications in The Bahamas.
To promote the new regulatory regime and achieve the goal of liberalisation, a package of new legislation was drafted by the Government of the Bahamas and submitted to Parliament for approval in May 2009:
- The Communications Act, 2009
- The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) Act, 2009
- The Utilities Appeal Tribunal (UAT) Act, 2009
URCA, as an independent, well resourced regulator will oversee electronic communications as well as broadcasting (including cable television) and will also control spectrum and numbering.
The Public Utilities Commission and the Television Regulatory Authority have been replaced by URCA.
URCA has a Board of Directors, initially comprising three non-executive members one of whom will be the Chairperson and another of whom will be the Deputy Chairperson, and two executive members being the Chief Executive Officer and the Director of Policy and Regulation.
Additional non-executive members representing other regulated sectors may be added to the Board by the Minister responsible for relations with URCA as and when URCA’s obligations are extended to sectors other than electronic communications.
In addition to its regulatory functions and powers over the electronic communications sector in The Bahamas (including the designation of operators as possessing significant market power), URCA will also be responsible for competition issues arising from anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and merger control in the provision of networks, carriage services and content services (including broadcasting). Thus, the roles of the national communications regulator and the national competition authority are combined into one agency as URCA.
In line with worldwide best practices, it is expected that URCA will eventually assume responsibility for other sectors as new sector-specific legislation is passed.
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