UD MP Sarah Wescot-Williams.
PHILIPSBURG--The United Democrats (UD) party says that another government-owned company “drama” seems to be unfolding with utilities company GEBE.
The company’s financial situation was the agenda point of a meeting which continued in Parliament on Friday last, where it was questioned whether the minister with responsibility for GEBE was deferring his responsibilities by having the company’s Interim Manager answer questions posed by Members of Parliament (MPs).
UD MP Sarah Wescot-Williams said in a press release on Sunday that the meeting was requested seven months ago and questions were asked nearly two months ago. “More answers are still to come, but in the meantime, another government-owned company drama seems to be unfolding,” Wescot-Williams stated in the release.
“These developments at GEBE are reminiscent of the PJIA [Princess Juliana International Airport – Ed.] saga that played out over a period of several months without the shareholder exerting its authority to bring the matter under control. The consequences of that inaction by the government of St. Maarten are plain for all to see. Now the government is scrambling to do some damage control, while the people anxiously await the outcome.”
Wescot-Williams said whether it was right or wrong what caretaker Dutch State Secretary for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops did as it relates to liquidity support and PJIA, does not help St. Maarten’s situation at this time. “The government had to realise that the cat-and-mouse game it played with St. Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport was going to catch up with the St. Maarten government at some point. That has happened now.”
Wescot-Williams said, as in the case of the airport, while a lot is played out via the media, it cannot be assumed that the entire story is known. “This has nothing to do with arm’s length or (un)due processes, but all to do with taking charge of an issue that could boomerang again. Tranquillity and trust in our government companies are of utmost importance for the companies’ workers, their clients and other relevant stakeholders. Responsible for that trust and tranquillity are the shareholder, the supervisory board of directors and the management board, together. If there are cracks in that top, the government has to act swiftly. Our advice is simple: take charge, do not delay. The ultimate shareholder, the government of St. Maarten needs to step in and bring parties back in line, based on the corporate structure of the company and the alignment of the vision for the country’s electricity company.”