Chris: GEBE in financial crisis amidst government deception

November 16, 2023  -The financial position of St. Maarten’s utility company, NV GEBE, is scarier than anyone has been told, raising concerns about the stability of essential services provided to the community. Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel has openly challenged the government of St. Maarten to address the mounting facts surrounding GEBE’s precarious financial situation and on Wednesday disclosed information that he says proves that the government has been “lying to the people and to Parliament.”

The MP said that recent revelations expose GEBE’s dire financial state, with its bank balance at WIB (Windward Island Bank) indicating a guilder account in the negative by 5 million guilders and a dollar account in the negative by 400,000 dollars. Notably, the dollar account, per the WIB agreement, is not permitted to go into overdraft, yet GEBE’s account shows otherwise, resulting in a substantial debt of 7 million owed to WIB.

“On Tuesday I mentioned in my article that that GEBE has a remaining balance as of last week of 13 million guilders. However what I did not mention is that the amount included a 6 million term deposit that was taken away from First Caribbean and transferred to Republic Bank due to their interest rate being double,” Emmanuel said.

Among the issues highlighted as financial mismanagement are the excessive expenditures on consultants, including T&R consultants at $65,000 per month, DCC consultants at US $10,000, and Jacqueline Luis, the Ohndae Marlin campaign marketing manager, at US $6,000 per month (USD). Additionally, concerns are raised about questionable payments to Computech, violating GEBE’s procurement policy. Computech was paid in July 250,000 (USD) from a contract GEBE signed with the company totaling US $500,000 for routers and services. “In addition to that GEBE is also paying Sharine Daniel thousands per day as instructed by the court to literally stay home,” MP Emmanuel said.

The Crisis Team, active for two years, has reportedly failed to resolve billing problems, with costs exceeding 2 million guilders. Financial reporting challenges persist due to incorrect bills, outstanding billing for over 6,000 consumers, and a reliance on bank statements rather than the SAP system. GEBE also faces a critical setback in financial reporting, with the last fully executed financial statement by Deloitte in 2019. The statements for 2020 and 2021 remain incomplete, leaving GEBE three years behind in financial reporting.

“These revelations prompt an urgent call for a thorough investigation into GEBE’s financial practices and demand immediate corrective actions to ensure the continuity of essential services to the residents of St. Maarten. It almost feels like the government of St. Maarten and the management of GEBE wants to bankrupt the company, lining it up perfectly for a Dutch takeover. We have seen this before. They will turn to the Dutch to save the company.

“The Dutch will respond positively and attach conditions for management, operations and more. And this government, with its history of mis-managing government companies and forsaking hard-working local people, will go along happily,” Emmanuel said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *