PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Faction Leader in Parliament for the United People’s UP Party the Honorable Grisha Heyliger-Marten has proposed that Government-Owned utility company NV GEBE institute a permanent rate reduction on electricity and water for all seniors ages 60 and older through what she calls a “Tariff-60” subsidy program.
She wants this to be a set rate so that seniors never again have to go through the hassle of registering with the Utility Company annually for a periodic decrease in their bills. MP Heyliger-Marten has sent a letter on Tuesday to the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) the honorable Roger Lawrence urging him to implement the permanent relief for seniors by Christmas of this year.
The proposal comes during the United Nation’s month-long honoring of “Older Persons” which is something MP Heyliger-Marten has consistently said is close to her heart. In her letter, she asked the TEATT Minister to help her “implement a more senior-friendly program” for those persons who have worked tirelessly over decades to build St. Maarten.
“Our beautiful nation St. Maarten was built on the backs of our forefathers from the salt trade to our present-day Tourism product,” the letter states.
“Yet today our seniors are often taken for granted. I hope that with your help we can implement a senior-friendly program via the 100% Government owned Company NV GEBE. Approximately 10-years ago an UP-led Government required GEBE to implement a Senior relief subsidy. This was to eventually become a full-fledged tariff. That has never happened although NV GEBE has budgeted for this relief annually.
MP Heyliger-Marten is now requesting that the TEAT Minister turn the subsidy into a fixed tariff for seniors covering both electricity and water and give it to all seniors at their place of residence.
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of TEATT is responsible for the implementation and approval of GEBE Tariffs. The last tariff was conditionally approved using Article two (2) on June 15, 2011.
Article 12 of the concession related to the relief states on page 8 “based on social considerations, for certain categories of users, a full application of the principle of cost orientation can be avoided. This could include low-agree rates for small users.”
In her letter to Minister, MP Heyliger-Marten also noted that NV GEBE’s Budget states in Chapter 9 on Page 20, “GEBE has already approved Naf 500,000 towards senior relief.”