MP Kotai: APS funding possible solution to GEBE Crisis

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Member of Parliament Viren Kotai (Democratic Party) proposes seeking funding from the General Pension Fund (APS) to acquire new generators for the ailing utilities company GEBE. Kotai will present the proposal and other points during the parliamentary meeting scheduled for Monday, June 17, 2024, about the ongoing GEBE crisis.

Kotai said in a press statement on Sunday, “By collaborating with the Council of Ministers (COM), APS, and GEBE, we can address the funding needs for new generators.” He emphasized that APS, as a government-funded pension fund, and GEBE, being entirely government-owned, make this collaboration both logical and feasible.

According to MP Kotai, GEBE has not invested in new engines, resulting in inadequate electricity production amidst the growing demands of the St. Maarten community. To resolve this issue, GEBE urgently requires funding to purchase new engines,” Kotai explained. While alternative energy sources present a promising long-term solution, the immediate need is best met through acquiring reliable, brand-new engines.”

I propose that APS finance the US$ 30 million required for the purchase of new engines,” Kotai continued. Given the national emergency’s gravity, we must expedite this process. The Government could safeguard the funds by offering a government guarantee or pledging shares toward the loan. This approach ensures immediate acquisition of new engines and mandates GEBE to stabilize its finances within a year.” Kotai also wants to collaborate with the Council of Ministers (COM) in reaching out to the APS, seeking the best way forward in making this a reality. 

Kotai highlighted the mutual benefits of this solution: APS invests in St. Maarten, securing a healthy return for its pensioners, while St. Maarten gains reliable energy. Once GEBE’s financial health is restored, we can then focus on exploring alternative energy sources. Comprehensive studies will be necessary to identify the best options for sustainable energy, particularly during hurricane seasons.”

Kotai also pointed out that GEBE’s concession obligates it to invest in renewable energy, a requirement that has been neglected. It is imperative that our COM enforces this concession to ensure GEBE meets its obligations,” he urged.

Drawing a parallel, Kotai recalled that Princess Juliana International Airport also received government assistance for its financing, setting a precedent for such collaborative efforts.

The urgency of this situation demands immediate action,” Kotai asserted. We must unite these two entities, eliminate bureaucratic delays, and implement decisive measures. The short-term solution is nearing finalization, and our next step is to secure financing for new engines at GEBE. Our long-term vision will prioritize alternative energy avenues.”

The ongoing crisis at GEBE, emphasizes the critical principle of the 5 Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. The previous administration’s lack of vision and preparation has brought us to this juncture,” Kotai stated. However, it is time to shift our focus from past shortcomings to viable solutions.”