Consumer’s right to know thrown out by new NV GEBE Board. Transparency becomes a vail of secrecy


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — United People’s Party (UP) Leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore Heyliger says that reports on the purchasing of new generators for NV GEBE have been on the table awaiting a decision.  The policy of the current Government and which is being pursued by the new Board is to give Government Naf.30 million from NV GEBE reserves to spend for the elections and have the company contract a loan to purchase a new generator.

“All studies were done so it was mainly to execute, and now the new board is trying to play the blame game with no foresight for the company.  It was a National Alliance led coalition motion last year that stalled any decision-making on the purchasing of a new generator when the UP-led coalition was in Government, which left the country sitting and waiting in the dark, which continued up until last week Monday.

“The only thing that the new chairman of the NV GEBE board said since he was appointed was that NV GEBE should pay dividend to the Government.  I warned since last year about the failure to prepare with the acquisition of a new generator for the power plant. Yes, a new generator will take time to get here and be installed.  I have pointed out how stretched the existing generators are at the power plant.  No attention was paid, and the results are people living by candle light.

“I stated months ago the need for additional generating capacity, and I questioned why should NV GEBE go get a loan while they had funds in-house to purchase a new generator.  A new loan means more costs to the company and consumers.  Why would you do something like that?  Use the money that you have and give the population and the business community relief without having to take a loan,” UP MP Theodore Heyliger said on Sunday.

“The people also have a right to know what is going on at NV GEBE.  If there is a breakdown, they have a right to be informed.  Residents and businesses have a right to be properly informed so they can plan there day.  People want to be able to unplug their appliances and not come back home to meet everything burnt up.  Sint Maarten is heading downward and the new approach by the new board is re-enforcing the downward trend as well where consumers have no right to information only until after the fact.  The new board wants the people to sit in the dark and wait for the lights to come back on.

“The approach by the new board as stated in the media last Thursday says that ‘consumers should wait until technicians restore the power during a blackout.’  It is common courtesy to inform your clients about what is going on.  Restaurants and other businesses need to know so they can plan ahead.  They need to know how long it will last.  Residential consumers also have a right to know as well.  I guess with the new board, transparency has gone out the window which is very unfortunate.

“It was also stated in the Thursday newspaper that, ‘This newspaper understands that Marlin has given orders to management not to make any media statements until he has cleared them.’  This is micro managing the company.  Where are we going?  Where is the transparency? I would like to remind the new chairman of the board that NV GEBE is a company owned by the people of Sint Maarten and paid for by the people of Sint Maarten.  It is not a private company and cannot be run as such, and the people and consumers have to be kept informed.

“I take this opportunity to commend the hard working staff of NV GEBE for working diligently and resolving the current spate of power outages.  I know the conditions that you work under in such circumstances,” UP MP Theodore Heyliger concluded on Sunday.