Government to instruct GEBE on tariffs this week

POSTED: 09/8/11 11:47 AM

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication Franklin Meyers will send utility company GEBE a letter this week telling the company what tariff to charge consumers for electricity consumption. The announcement that he’d be sending the letter was made at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.

Meyers took the decision to enforce a tariff because the implementation of a new tariff structure proposed by KEMA that was implemented on August 1, 2011 delivered little or no relief to consumers. This is a sore point between the government and the company, which also has yet to provide government with information it has requested so that the administration can truly determine whether or not the rates that are being charged are truly justified.
Meyers did not give a specific figure for what the new rate would be during Wednesday’s briefing. He did indicate though it would follow an “international norm” of between 23 cents to 25 cents per kilowatt hour. That would be a savings of between four and six cents on the 29 cents per kilowatt hour that was applied to bills in August.
The minister said imposing a tariff structure now is a stop gap measure until Bureau Telecommunications and Post Curacao can conclude a tariff study commissioned by the government. That report is due before the end of the year but the company still has yet to hand over the unprotected copies of the makeup of the company’s tariff structure. Once the information is handed it will be used to assess whether or not the current tariffs are justified, or whether they should be lowered.

Meyers is hoping that enforcing a tariff will bring the utility company to the negotiating table. He also announced that beyond finding out what the international standards are, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication had done no in-depth study on how the imposed rates will affect GEBE.
“I cannot, as minister, be writing letters and GEBE not responding to me. If GEBE realize it has loans then GEBE will come, sit down with the ministry and say, well you know something, this is how we can move forward, but to be blatantly ignored, you’re basically telling government to go ahead and do what you got to do. I’ve written a letter to GEBE two months ago and GEBE did not reply. I’ve written another one, referring to the first letter that I wrote and GEBE still did not reply, so if I’m going to take the public scrutiny for telling GEBE this is what I want, well then so be it. But I’m not going to be put in a position where I am writing and trying to find an amicable solution for this and that party is not cooperating,” the minister said.

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