MP Emmanuel: Clarity needed on former Jacob’s government deal with GridMarket

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MP Christopher Emmanuel

 

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — MP Christophe Emmanuel, leader of the Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) party, has voiced strong concerns over revelations that the former Silveria Jacobs government signed an exclusive agreement with GridMarket in violation of GEBE’s concession.

GridMarket is a private company that approached the former National Alliance led government in 2021 with the hopes of securing the facilitation of clean energy on St. Maarten in collaboration with the Island Resilience Partnership. According to information obtained by the MP, in order to meet its objectives, GridMarket approached GEBE with a request for information about the production and distribution of electricity on St. Maarten.

In a letter from the former Temporary Manager of GEBE Merrill Temmer in March 2022 to Jacobs, Temmer raised significant concerns regarding the government’s dealings with GridMarket. In his letter to Jacobs Temmer stressed that GEBE holds an exclusive concession for electricity production and distribution on St. Maarten, and any investment in this sector requires a public tender.

Furthermore, the concession stipulates that GEBE cannot share confidential data with third parties. The letter emphasized that GEBE was not organizing a tender at that time and any future tender would follow the proper procedures, including reaching out to qualified potential contractors.

Temmer added: “All correspondence GEBE has received has been from the Department Head of Interior and Kingdom Relations and GridMarket. In August last, to better understand the objective, GEBE requested to receive the memorandum of understanding as entered into by the government of Sint Maarten, the Island Resilience Partnership and GridMarket.”

Emmanuel said despite these legal constraints, it appears that the Jacobs government proceeded to sign an agreement with GridMarket, which seemingly violates the terms of GEBE’s concession as GEBE itself apparently does not have a standing formal agreement with GridMarket. This, he stressed, was a unilateral decision by the former national Alliance led government.

“Once again the public is caught off-guard by yet another brewing controversy and possible legal case hung around the country’s neck by the former National Alliance government,” MP Emmanuel said, adding that GridMarket has seemingly received more than just “research” permission from the former government.

“If GEBE told you (Jacobs) that it cannot share any confidential information with third parties and GridMarket still secured an agreement with the government, how did this go down? Was a bidding process held? Was GEBE consulted even after they told you that the concession would be infringed upon? What are the financial details of this agreement? How did GridMarket get confidential information to engage in an MOU? Somebody gave it to them.”

“We are not going to get correct answers from the former Jacobs government so this government must now provide the answers to the public,” Emmanuel said. Emmanuel went on to express disbelief over Grid Market potentially having exclusive rights to the island’s renewable energy projects without a public tender.

“What kind of backroom dealing went down here? Imagine giving a company sole right over renewable energy projects, without seeing what competitors might offer? So, this company will control your solar costs if you decide to invest in solar, it will control who it wants to work with and what to charge, the government will have no say about anything or anyone GridMarket chooses to work with,” MP Emmanuel said.

“What was the rationale for doing this which, directly and indirectly, undermines GEBE. The former Jacobs government, through this move, ignored GEBE’s concession and cemented its status as the destroyer of GEBE. It cannot be said in any other way. Information is kept from the public, no transparency whatsoever, no plans, no long-term vision for energy and now we don’t know what the legal consequences will be,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel argues that the Jacobs government has effectively tried to “choke the community” into using the services of GridMarket through an exclusive deal. He demands that the current government provide answers regarding the legality and transparency of this agreement. Emmanuel stresses that the lies and deception of the Jacobs government are now coming to the forefront, asserting that everything done in the dark is coming to light.