MP Wescot advises the Prime Minister to reconsider the presentation to parliament on GEBE behind closed doors.

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“It has nothing to do with any demands for an open meeting.”

In a press release, issued on Sunday,  MP Wescot-Williams stated  that while she understands the sensitivity of some of the negotiations regarding GEBE, she has suggested to the Prime Minister, Dr. L. Mercelina that “whatever can responsibly be  divulged should be done in an open meeting of parliament”.  

“Although   information has been shared with the public at different intervals and by different parties (COM, GEBE etc), it is parliament’s right and duty to question the government,  and government’s duty to provide information and answers publicly, once release of the information is not harmful to the country”, the MP added.

“Our Rules of Order are clear in this regard, and the minsters also have the right to request a closed door meeting. It will always  be a discussion about having closed door meetings of parliament or not”.

GEBE has not arrived at this point where it is at “out of the blue” and this parliament has not reneged on its duty to hold the government responsible and ask the government  to  give account for its actions or the lack thereof. This is evidenced from the fact that the current pending public meeting of parliament was requested on September 29, 2023 with questions remaining unanswered for months.

In fact, answers that were provided in writing to the parliament by the previous ministers painted a picture of GEBE that belied the actual situation of the company, the MP clarified.

“Solutions that on the surface appear to be feasible, whether in time or money, could contain risks that should be avoided in the interest of the country”, the MP opined.

“Had the government been transparent during its interaction with GEBE especially during the past governing term, we just might not have been in this dilemma.”

“Again, I emphasize that  from the limited information I have been able to garner, there is no quick fix solution for the challenges we currently face and in my view, this conclusion would necessitate that government undertakes some intermediate action in the social domain, such as purchase of solar fans for the elderly and the most vulnerable ones in our community. 

“We also, in collaboration with the relevant organizations already operational in the field, need to ensure that the same vulnerable groups are assured of one daily meal at least. This must be an island-wide undertaking.”

On the topic of renewable/alternative energy, the NA/UPP government  approached the matter of alternative energy like it did with so many other things, lots of talk, fluff and hype, but in reality nothing. Four years of underperforming or overdoing and this is the result. Discounting  18 months for the Covid pandemic and even then, 2 ½ years of underperforming or overdoing, MP Wescot bluntly stated.

“Former ministers have spoken about accessing funds for alternative energy programs, but did nothing concretely to access these funds.”

“We are awaiting the results of  Energynautics GmbH’s analysis , supported by the Trust Fund, which is ironically  co-managed by the government and are yet to hear the previous government’s take on this and the relationship of this project with the government-commissioned Gridmarket study, which according to the NA-led government was confidential, due to an NDA (non-disclosure agreement)”.

“My decision to request Prime Minister Mercelina to reconsider his  proposal for a closed door meeting and allow the people of St. Maarten to hear from the respective minister(s) on GEBE has nothing to do with any demand by the opposition for an “open door” meeting, but all to do with allowing the government to balance providing the public with information and safeguarding any national interest that could be affected by untimely and incomplete information that could jeopardize GEBE’s long-term survivability. This survivability is more than a corporate issue. It is the livelihood of the people of St. Maarten who are entitled to an uninterrupted supply of basic  commodities, such  electricity and water”.

I understand this balance, but I wish to assure all involved with solving GEBE’s woes, that in small communities like ours, it’s nearly impossible to escape the political rhetoric, especially in these times. 

However, I am of the belief that sound judgement will prevail in the end, because there are more who truly wish to see this crisis solved  structurally than there are those bent on derailing the process for short-term political gain, MP Wescot concluded.