SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the public demanding answers about the cyber-attack at NV GEBE, Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs has called on Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran to answer questions the MP has sent in writing during Parliament’s Question Hour.
“This attack on NV GEBE is a serious and constantly changing situation. It has been more than two months since it happened, and all the public really knows is that the main office is closed and the company is working to become operational,” said MP Gumbs. “This long-term closure of the country’s only electricity and water provider is creating anxiety among both residents and the employees of NV GEBE. Sending official questions in writing is nice, but it usually takes weeks and months before answers are received. I therefore invite the Minister to attend Parliament’s Question Hour to provide immediate answers to an information-starved public.”
In advance of this meeting, MP Gumbs has drafted a list of questions after consulting with citizens and several persons close to NV GEBE.
“The first question, that I would like Minister Doran to answer, is the most pressing. When can the public expect to receive access to GEBE offices?” questioned MP Gumbs. “This is a very important concern. It is understandable that NV GEBE is urging their customers to pay their bills online, but many in the community, such as seniors, do not have access to online banking. Providing a timeline and the plan for the company’s reopening would go a long way to ease the anxiety of our seniors.”
Many utilities and telecommunication companies deduct their employees’ bills out of their monthly salaries. MP Gumbs wants to know if NV GEBE has done this for their employees since the ransomware attack.
“If an employee has had their GEBE bill taken out of their salary, but now they receive their full salary without the deduction, this could have serious financial consequences for the employees when they finally get the next bill. Does NV GEBE plan to deduct these extra costs from their salaries at once? Or will there be a payment plan to prevent this burden from hitting all at once?” asked MP Gumbs.
She also has taken note of residents and businesses not paying their bills until they receive an accurate invoice.
“With this reduced cash flow, how has it affected the company’s finances and cash flow position? Is NV GEBE financially stable, and what is the current liquidity position? Has anything been done to ensure that NV GEBE does not slip into bankruptcy? In addition to that, meter readings have not been taken since March 2022. The data of these readings form the basis for the country’s new fuel clause. Since the ransomware attack, has the fuel clause changed or will it be changed? If so, how will the change be justified, considering the outdated meter readings?” questioned the PFP MP.
Even if NV GEBE comes out of this crisis relatively unscathed, MP Gumbs believes that measures should be put in place to ensure that the country’s only electricity and water provider is never again threatened by its apparent lack of digital security.
The PFP MP wants to know if an in-depth audit has been conducted into NV GEBE’s information and communications technology (ICT) department
“If yes, what were some critical points of attention identified and how is NV GEBE planning
to address them? If not, are there plans to conduct such an audit soon? Additionally, has there ever been a project planned to move company information to more secure, cloud-based servers, as has been the case with utility companies in other countries? If so, what is the status of this project? If not, why has this not been considered for NV GEBE?” asked MP Gumbs.
She urges the President of Parliament to urgently call a meeting of Parliament’s Question Hour, and requests Minister Doran to come prepared to answer these questions that are of vital public interest.
Source: Souliga Newsday https://www.soualiganewsday.com/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_k2%26amp%3Bview%3Ditem%26amp%3Bid%3D43822%3Amp-gumbs-requests-question-hour-to-receive-answers-about-gebe%E2%80%99s-ongoing-cyber-attack-woes%26amp%3BItemid%3D450