“Over-ruling the regulator undermines independent regulation.”

Yesterday the BBC reported that the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator had “published its final determination on NI Water’s Price Control 2010-2013 (PC10), which identifies £91 million of revenue savings. The final determination also supports an investment programme of £564 million.” As the Regulator noted, “NI Water now has two months to accept the Utility Regulator’s final determination or refer it to the Competition Commission.” Except that by the end of the day UTV’s Jamie Delargy was reporting that the NI Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, was suggesting that the “final determination” wasn’t final. As Jamie Delargy says on his blog

He says the Executive will have to take into account economic conditions including job prospects before deciding what cash NI water will be allowed. He also says we have to be realistic about the levels of efficiencies the water company can achieve.

That seems to be a broad nod and wink that he will not impose the ninety million pound efficiency cuts demanded by the regulator. But then what is the point of the regulator going to all that trouble to work out his numbers only to have them cast aside? Over-ruling the regulator undermines independent regulation.

Adds Here’s Jamie Delargy’s UTV Live report.

Video courtesy of UTV