DP LEADER WESCOT-WILLIAMS: ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION  AND DISTRIBUTION BY  THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED COMPANY G.E.B.E IS OF THE HIGHEST PRIORITY  FOR THE DP AT THIS TIME

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The  focus needs to be on what matters most at this time, namely stable electricity production and distribution on our island, MP Wescot stated as she explained the party’s stance on the energy crisis, which the country is experiencing.

Admittedly, the MP added, there are many questions regarding the company GEBE, but most importantly at this time is the energy crisis our island is facing. It’s a triple whammy.”

Firstly, the residents at this time of the year without guaranteed daily electricity, then the business sector and other specialized agencies and institutions, that could affect employment,  and service to the same people.

“All in all, it is not a good situation for any sector of the community and we have to pay special attention, not only to the critical and specialized services, but also to our elderly and youth.”

“The Sint Maarten government,  which is supported by the DP is facing a herculean task. I  believe that simultaneous approaches need to be deployed. There is no quick fix to this dilemma, but neither can we afford to allow it to continue without prospects of a solution. That’s like throwing your hands up in the air. It’s affecting the lives and livelihood of our people, the image of our country and the cashflow and the survivability of GEBE.”

In the view of the DP leader, the biggest hurdle of any solution is the financial aspect and the feasibility and  availability of funding. So while urgency is required, due diligence is also warranted.

“I am  urgently  awaiting the responses from government on the financial needs and the possible means to meet these needs”, stated MP Wescot.

“Just as important however as the finances,  is a clear and transparent plan and timeline of any potential option to address this crisis, MP Wescot added. We need the people’s trust that any solution is in their interest first and foremost.”

Turning to parliament, MP Wescot explained that GEBE has been on the parliamentary agenda, with an ongoing meeting that started in October 2023. 

“In reviewing the answers provided by the former government, some things just do not add up. The rosy picture that was presented by the shareholder, the government, does not sync with today’s reality.”

“The inconsistent responses from the former government in their letter dated January 25, 2024, regarding BTP as a  regulatory body; the energy policy of St. Maarten, alternative energy plans, Gridmarket agreement, GEBE investment plan etc. painted a picture that conflicts with reality.”

“On the other hand, some of the answers did allude to a looming energy crisis, but the government in January 2024 did not blink at the observations in the letter it presented  regarding an overloaded grid and lack of coordination with large scale projects,  putting more pressure on a system that needed retroactive and current maintenance”. 

Rehashing this however, does not solve our immediate issues, which are grave, stated the DP leader.

The current government now has to answer the remaining questions of this ongoing meeting, asked in the meeting of March 7, 2024.

“I think, even though we need to admit our own  shortcomings in this area, if our solutions are well documented and transparent, funding can be sought in the context of climate funding, energy transition funds etc. 

But the in-fighting we have seen in the last 2-3 years between the shareholder and the company has to stop”, MP Wescot added.

“When seeking funding or accessing available funds, we can not put alternative a/o green energy on the back burner. That too is an issue that has become the proverbial can, kicked further down the road every time. The approach to this crisis should therefore be a multi-faceted, time-bound one.

“As chairperson of parliament, I will endeavor to have the government inform parliament as soon as possible about the true state of our electricity supply and any feasible solution(s) the people of St.Maarten can look forward to”, the MP concluded.