September 8, 2023 -Philipsburg – The Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) expresses deep concern over the persistent issue of high electricity costs that continue to burden residents of our beloved island. Despite the apparent news about a recent 25% reduction in due payments announced by GEBE and a Minister, the underlying problems have not been effectively addressed, leaving St. Maarten residents grappling with inaccurate bills and skyrocketing electricity expenses.
The situation has been exacerbated by the prolonged cyber-attack on GEBE, which has left the utility company struggling to restore its services fully. The URSM Board understands the challenges that GEBE has faced in the wake of this cyber-attack, but we believe that more could have been done by the government to ensure a swift resolution and safeguard the island’s residents from the financial consequences of this situation.
The core concerns regarding high electricity costs and GEBE’s billing issues are as follows:
Inaccurate Monthly Bills: Many St. Maarten residents continue to receive inaccurate monthly bills from GEBE, which is causing significant distress among customers. Inaccuracies in billing not only make it challenging for individuals and businesses to budget effectively but also erode trust in the utility provider.
Exorbitant Billing: St. Maarten residents have been subjected to unexpectedly high electricity bills and, in some cases, even double bills for the same billing period. These costs are placing an undue burden on households and businesses, particularly in an already challenging economic climate.
25% Reduction Offers Little Relief: The recent announcement of a 25% reduction in due payments does not address the root issues. While it may provide temporary relief for some, the total amount of the bill remains due, further straining the financial resources of St. Maarten residents.
The URSM Board calls on the St. Maarten government to take immediate and decisive action to resolve these pressing concerns which have been lasting for too long. We believe that the government should have played a more proactive role in ensuring the stability and reliability of the island’s essential services.
URSM believes that a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the ongoing GEBE saga is urgently needed. This should include:
Rapid Resolution of the Cyber Attack: The government should have truly prioritized the swift resolution of the GEBE cyber-attack to ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential services.
Transparent Billing System: GEBE must implement measures to ensure transparent and accurate billing, including improved customer communication and a thorough review of billing processes.
Affordable Electricity Rates: The government should work collaboratively with GEBE to explore options for reducing electricity rates, making them more affordable for St. Maarten residents.
Consumer Protection: Measures should be put in place to protect consumers from the financial hardships caused by the GEBE billing issues, including the possibility of providing financial relief for affected individuals and businesses.
The Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) stands in solidarity with the residents of St. Maarten and calls for swift and effective action to address the challenges posed by high electricity costs and the ongoing GEBE situation
The populace must be able to expect more timely their utility bills for proper planning of their monthly budget. Thus, we believe that, with concerted efforts and commitment, we can ensure a more resilient and prosperous future for our island.