Response to CICRA’s rejection of calls for them to improve

Following commentary from Michael Byrne, Chief Executive of the Channel Island Competition Regulation Authority (CICRA) on 12/03/18, regarding calls for them to reform the organisation, ATF Fuels (ATF) has issued the following response from their Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Best:

‘We have read the recent commentary from Mr Byrne with further disbelief.  While we accept that the regulator is likely to have a biased view of their own work, there does not seem to be any acknowledgment from them that they should be doing better. They talk about the need to communicate more as the only example of their failings, but, as four court cases have now shown, they are clearly failing to operate correctly in many ways.  The claims being made by CICRA need urgent scrutiny. 

For example, CICRA claim that they have made £30 million worth of savings for the consumer. But when they handed Rubis La Collette Terminal, without any usual tender process, they enabled Rubis, to charge a throughput fee of what we understand to be approximately 3.4 pence per litre for fuel, on top of the profit they already make just selling fuel. On 90 million litres of fuel per annum, (a conservative estimate of consumption over 10 years of the lease), that’s £30.6 million. If the government owned the terminal and the equipment like they now do at the airport, this money would be passed on in savings to the consumer. Effectively, the government is now subsidising Rubis to make a substantial profit at the cost of the taxpayer, and CICRA cannot, or will not, explain why they allowed this to happen.

When CICRA talk about their ‘successes’ in supporting the consumer, most of these relate to the telecoms industry.  Why then, have the majority of the Royal Court decisions that CICRA have lost been telecoms related?

Regarding our concerns, CICRA need to explain why, when we at ATF provided them with evidence, in writing, of the unlawful arrangement between Rubis and Aviation Beauport in October 2015, they did not even reply to us regarding our concerns. They also need to explain why, if their organisation is being run correctly, they didn’t identify this unlawful arrangement when they themselves conducted their independent review of the fuel supply at the airport in 2014?

After ATF advised CICRA of the unlawful arrangement, not only did CICRA ignore this information, they transferred  legal advisor to the same lawyers that Rubis use, and they used Rubis to give evidence of our Royal Court Appeal. A clear conflict and further evidence of CICRA’s flawed judgement. CICRA has annual funding of approximately £1.2million (£500k from the States and the remainder in fees from the Telecoms industry). This case has cost CICRA £500k in its own costs and a further £500k in costs it will pay to ATF. Where is the benefit to the taxpayer with this?

All because CICRA wanted to defend an unlawful arrangement, which in our opinion should have been discovered in their own independent review of the Jersey fuel market.

CICRA demonstrate a lack of skill, in our view are not competent  and lack the ability to learn from mistakes and have a propensity for waste and arrogance, which their most recent statement highlights.  We would like to emphasise, again, this situation needs to be addressed urgently before further taxpayers’ money is wasted.’

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