I made the following speech in respect of the proposed deregulation of Guernsey Electricity and Guernsey Post, with a strengthening of the shareholder role.
Sir, I’ll speak briefly. I support the findings of this report.
I’ve always found it odd that States owned entities should need to be regulated in the way they are. I do appreciate this was considered appropriate a decade and a half ago nearly, but circumstances have changed and we have learnt over that period that applying a model that may fit the commercial sector, probably isn’t the best when dealing with public sector bodies and in many ways, what works for a population of 62m may not be appropriate for one of just over 62,000.
It certatinly doesn’t make sense when some trading entities are regulated and others, like Guernsey Water, are not.
BUT, what is important here is the States understanding its role in relation to its trading entities. There was a time when commercialisation was seen as synonymous with privatisation. When these bodies were set up it did appear, at least from the outside, that the States very much took a hands-off position – let them get on with it. But, this is not a sustainable position to have.
It is for that reason I fully support the desire to strengthen the shareholder role.
Companies are answerable to their shareholders and it is important that the States of Guernsey as the shareholder asks the right questions and holds the management of those companies it owns on behalf of the people of Guernsey, to account.
Far from weakening control over these trading entities, these proposals should lead to greater accountability and at the same time ensure those entities can focus on their strategic objectives, in the longer-term interests of islanders.
I welcome the introduction of key performance indicators and benchmarking. This is something that we should be developing across the States, whether through trading companies or directly in terms of the work done within each department.
Finally, it is my belief that at least one of the non-executive directors should serve as a shareholder representative. This would be standard practice in any company with a dominant shareholder and I would welcome further research into this possibility.
So, I think this is a positive move that reflects changing times and better governance and I will therefore be supporting this report.