Wescott-Williams accuses GEBE of disrespecting parliament

POSTED: 02/23/15 12:42 AM

St. Maarten —The attitude of the management of Gebe during their recent meeting with parliament, is being viewed as disrespectful by the Democratic Party faction in parliament.

Leader of the DP Sarah Wescott-Williams took particular issue with the company’s representatives remaining tight lipped on the details of a Memorandum Of Understanding the company recently signed and their refusal to answer direct questions as to with whom exactly the MOU had been signed. Wescott-Williams said it is clear from looking at the behavior of “some of these government owned companies” the way they view parliament. The agenda point for the meeting between Gebe and parliament was to discuss the lowering of the fuel clause and cost.

“One of the first questions I had—because that lead to a lot of frustrations—was how come Gebe’s first public reaction to the lowering of the fuel clause was a reaction that had many persons up in arms,” Wescott-Williams said adding that it is well remembered that the company opted to provide the relief in February despite the oil prices dropping internationally. She noted that the average citizen may not understand all of Gebe’s technical explanations but they understand that if fuel prices drop internationally there should be some type of reduction reflected in their electricity bill.

“The topic of that meeting was the reduction in the fuel clause for consumers and then other questions were asked as well. We learnt that there is a proposal of Gebe for its strategic five year plan which is with government. Then we turned to government for their thoughts on it, but the way that Gebe reps responded to parliament, it was like wow, this is parliament. I can’t speak for other Members of Parliament, I can’t speak for previous parliament but again we sit in this hall or that hall to basically ask the questions. Whether it is government or government owned companies, they are going to have to respect the position of parliament and be up front and give your answers. Nowhere was that disrespect more clear than in the case of this so called MOU.

“The issue of an MOU with whom, where and for what was raised by MP William Marlin.  However when I heard the response given, I was like they can’t be serious that this is the response they are going to give to parliament. We can’t tell you with whom, we can’t tell you for what because of laws of confidentiality,” Wescott-Williams said, explaining the reaction of the company’s reps. She added “we finally got it out of Gebe” that the MOU was about renewable energy.

“When Gebe pressed responded that ‘we cannot divulge anything because we are getting fuel from a supplier and that’s why we need to protect the identity and the purpose of those with whom we sign the MOU.’ If you tell me that there are some details in the MOU that basically would tell St. Maarten that in the next six months you don’t have to buy fuel, we have renewable sources for energy, we can’t give you those details, those figures, I can understand that. But government, the parliament of St. Maarten, cannot know with whom a government owned company, public utility company of St. Maarten has signed an MOU for renewable energy?” questioned Wescott-Williams.

She noted that the issue was later resolved to a degree when Gebe agreed to send a letter to parliament pertaining to the issue. However she questions, “What happened to the whole confidentiality issue?” questioned the DP leader. She stressed that what is Parliament’s is public so Gebe will be in no position to say that the details of the letter cannot be divulged to the public.

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