13.12.2016

No investment plan yet for 2017 from Gebe

For many years, utilities company Gebe has not provided clarity about its profits and investment plans to its shareholder, the government of St. Maarten, Finance Minister Richard Gibson said yesterday in answer to questions from MP Tamara Leonard. “The company had a substantial amount of money, built up over many years, sitting in the bank.”

Efforts have been made to have Gebe present financial statements and investment plans but they just weren’t there. “All of these things are now in the process of being cleaned up,” the minister said. “Gebe has not presented its investment plan for 2017 yet; management has asked for more time.”

Minister Gibson said that Gebe still has 17.7 million guilders in the bank and that the government has paid off its outstanding debts to the company – estimated at 10 million guilders.

Answering a question from MP Theo Heyliger about tariff adjustments, the minister said that this is a management decision. “They still have 17.7 million of their reserves. That is an ample amount for investments next year or, if management so decides, for an adjustment of the rates.”

Gibson noted that dividend is a dynamic number that depends on the performance of the company. He noted that concession fees are expenses and that they should not be confused with dividend.

Heyliger said that he “begged to differ” with the minister about the tariff adjustments. “The ministry of tourism, economic affairs, transport and telecommunication regulates the tariffs. My question is, are you for taking more revenue out of the company or for lowering the rates?” 

Hilbert Haar (Today)

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