PHILIPSBURG–Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams said on Thursday that utilities company GEBE has informed Enviro Green that it is “still working” on the power purchase agreement and that it will be in contact with the company soon.
The power purchase agreement is one of the documents that is linked to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the former National Alliance-led government and Enviro Green two months before hurricane Irma struck the country in July, 2017, for a waste to energy facility for St. Maarten, expected to cost the country nothing.
Former Minister of Public Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christophe Emmanuel had said while four signatures were needed only two persons on the GEBE board had signed the agreement, stagnating the process. Both the GEBE board and management had been asked for comment on the matter in December, but neither had responded to this newspaper’s queries.
Wescot-Williams said at a press conference that based on media reports, she had invited Enviro Green to Parliament to make a presentation on its proposal to government as information was not forthcoming from the former government. She said while the company said it had no qualms in making the presentation, when she followed up with them about the visit, the company said while the MOU was signed with government, the compensation and concession agreements were not followed up on. It was also still awaiting the power purchase agreement with utilities company GEBE.
The company had also indicated in correspondence, in which Wescot-Williams was copied, that the VROMI Ministry was not responding to its queries and questions and the company needed feedback from government before making its presentation to Parliament.
“I also received communication that they were also waiting on the response from GEBE on the power purchase agreement between GEBE and Enviro Green based on the MOU signed with the company and government. And earlier this week I got an indication that GEBE responded and said to the company that they are still working on the power purchase agreement and will be in contact with the Enviro Green company soon.”
Wescot-Williams said over the years, several commissioners and ministers had entered into different agreements with different companies regarding waste management in St. Maarten, but none of the projects have come to fruition. She said it is important, moving forward that an assessment is conducted on all the different agreements that have been made regarding waste management over the years and why these agreements never bore fruit.
She said it is important that such an analysis is done so that St. Maarten doesn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. She suggested that government, with expert advice establish what it is that St. Maarten wants as it relates to the dump and waste management and not what different companies indicate that they can do for the country in this area. “The Government of St. Maarten must have an idea of what we want… it’s not an easy mater,” she maintained.
In a related matter, at a Council of Ministers press briefing in late 2017, Emmanuel had promised to release the details of the MOU signed with Enviro Green, but he never did, despite a request from this newspaper enquiring when the document will be sent. Emmanuel had said at that same briefing that a waste-to-energy facility can become a reality in St. Maarten in 18 months providing the concession agreement is approved by the Council of Ministers and all signatures are obtained from the GEBE board for the related power-purchase agreement.
The concession agreement was expected to be handled in a Council of Ministers meeting late last year. He said at the time that the power-purchase agreement has been at GEBE for three months awaiting four signatures from the Supervisory Board of Directors and thus far only two members – Tadzio Bervoets and Bienvenido Richardson – had signed, and another board member has promised to sign providing additional information has been received. Other members of the board are Roy Marlin, Agnes Monte, Sandy Offringa, Patrice Gumbs and Oral Gibbes.