Photo: Daniel Gibbs
MARIGOT–Opposition party members from Team Gibbs have denounced the +13.9% increase in the price of water by SAUR as well as the so-called Tariff Shield that Team Gibbs members describe as a “gift that is not a gift.”
The subject is to be debated at the Territorial Council meeting on Thursday, May 25. In a late press release on Tuesday, Team Gibbs urged the new majority to take its responsibilities to avoid users having to pay twice for a failing water service.
“As we reported on March 28, the exchanges on the issue of the management of drinking water in St. Martin were contentious between Councillors of the majority party and us, members of the Opposition Team Gibbs 2022, during the last Territorial Council meeting of March 21.
“The agenda of this Territorial Council provided for the vote on a deliberation instituting a “price cap” aimed at coping with the 13.9% increase in the price of water by SAUR, in 2023. It was therefore a question of the Collectivité taking charge of this increase, via the introduction of a supposed “tariff shield”, which in reality was more of a deception intended to:
– On the one hand, compensate SAUR’s loss of income, estimated according to the company at nearly 1.7-million euros for the year 2023.
– And secondly, to amend the public service delegation contract between SAUR and the Collectivité of St. Martin.”
The release stated In the Finance and Taxation Commission, members of the opposition Team Gibbs 2022 protested against the very principle of the increase, compensated by the taxes of the citizens, and above all without any guarantee of the quality of the service rendered (insufficient production, numerous interruptions, etc.).
“In an official letter dated March 16, 2023, we expressed our concerns to the President of the Collectivité not only about the legal risks involved in the said operation, but also about the fact that it was unfair to have to ask for more effort from consumers, even though the latter remain dissatisfied with the service provided. The deliberation scheduled for the Territorial Council of March 31, was then postponed.
“To our great surprise, on Wednesday, May 17, at 5.30 pm, under the auspices of a technical information meeting, the President of the Collectivité summoned Territorial Councillors to discuss the issue of water in St. Martin and to propose a new deliberation to be put on the agenda of the Territorial Council of May 25, the content of which, it should be emphasised, is almost identical to the one that had been adjourned.
“Another surprising fact is that the Collectivité chose to ask Councillor Melissa Nicolas-Rembotte who is also the Director of SAUR to lead this meeting and answer our questions. However, the Engineer of the Water Establishment (EEASM) of the Collectivité would have been quite naturally designated to do this, if he had been invited or at least present at this meeting.”
The decision will therefore be made on Thursday, May 25, when the last deliberation (n°8) of this Council is put to the vote.
The release was signed by Team Gibbs members Marie-Dominique Ramphort (EEASM Board of Directors member), Alain Gros-Desormeaux, Philippe Philidor, and Daniel Gibbs.
This newspaper has so far been unable to reach Melissa Nicolas-Rembotte for an interview abo
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/opposition-party-members-from-team-gibbs-react-to-increase-in-water-price