GEBE: A tale of mismanagement by its shareholders

Dear Editor,

Rarely have I witnessed a company so severely mistreated by its own shareholders as is the case with GEBE. We all recognize our current situation, and it’s tempting – especially for some – to blame the current management for mishandling matters.

However, this decline didn’t start recently; it has been a decades-long drama. While I won’t pretend to understand all the technical challenges, one thing is clear: no other electricity company in the former Netherlands Antilles or Aruba has made such poor decisions at the shareholder level.

During my intermittent tenure as a consultant with the company, I’ve seen competent management boards dismissed, supposedly in the name of good governance, while utterly inept managers and directors were appointed, dismissed, and sometimes reappointed. How can we manage one of the island’s most critical companies with such flip-flopping decisions? While GEBE was never beloved, it was at least respected and, to some extent, stable.

Too much political interference has brought GEBE to its current state. Decisions were often driven by personal or political agendas rather than objective, professional considerations. Aqualectra in Curaçao, WEB Aruba, WEB Bonaire, STUCO on Statia, or Saba Electric Company SEC – none face the issues plaguing GEBE. Why is that?

Isn’t it high time to entrust a competent, forward-thinking body with a broad mandate to define the company’s path? If this company isn’t “too important to fail,” then which one on the island is?

Sometimes having the government as a shareholder is a blessing. In this case, it has proven a terrible curse. One of the really sad parts is that GEBE has many excellent, well-qualified employees. They too deserve better management at the top and, especially, on a shareholder level.

Harald Linkels

Organizational psychologist

The Daily Herald

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