Published On: Sun, Jun 21st, 2020

Heyliger-Marten: “Local lenders must show confidence in local businesses”

GEBE SOL Petroleum Texaco in Cay Bay - 20200405 JH

PHILIPSBURG — At a time when local and global economies are facing economic hardship and the US stock market is showing instability, Faction Leader for the United People’s Party in Parliament, the honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten says, “it is unbelievable to learn that NV GEBE is unable to secure financing from local lending agencies for its projects.”

GEBE is a local utility company that has shown remarkable resilience through hard times. GEBE has never defaulted on any of her loans. MP Heyliger-Marten issued a press release Sunday, asking why these lending agencies are not willing to offer GEBE new loans. She said the unsettling news reaching her faction was nothing short of alarming. It appears despite attempts by the local Electricity and Water Company NV GEBE to secure a loan for much-needed investments, none of the local lenders are making a real concentrated effort. Now GEBE is being forced to seek funding abroad.

“I am still trying to get to the bottom of this but what I do understand is that despite attempts to get funding locally, local banks and the Pension Fund Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS) have not put up enough energy to provide financing for GEBE.” Both APS and SZV have substantial investments in the US stock market. A stock market that at this time is showing volatility. Why doesn’t our own want to invest at home?”

MP Grisha Heyliger-MartenMP Heyliger-Marten says she will be seeking answers from the government on whether it is aware of this and to find out what can be done get the local financing going for NV GEBE. She also intends to find out from APS whether it has formally offered to assist NV GEBE. “Where there is smoke, there is fire, and I would rather find out now what that fire is while it is small than wait until it blazes out of control to try to put it out.”

Heyliger-Marten contends that both the APS and NV GEBE get their revenue locally. APS receives its income from its members who are local civil servants, and it re-invests that money to increase its revenue base. NV GEBE gets 100 percent of its revenue from local consumers. While foreign direct investments drive economies, Heyliger-Marten said Government-owned companies in particular but businesses, in general, should recognize the benefit of domestic investments.

“The benefit that comes from activities of local small and large businesses can result in increased competitive advantage, the need for more workers which boosts employment. Showing local investment confidence benefits the entire population as it results in the tax income increase for the local governments.”

“We are still feeling the blows of COVID-19, and we must become better at protecting local businesses. We need to show more confidence in our institutions and give them a priority.” She said, “Investing in local businesses and individuals is one way we can support the local population. Why must we continue to pump money abroad and refuse to do business with our own?”

“It is impossible to believe that two local companies, whose revenue comes primarily from the people of St. Maarten, are unwilling to work together,” said MP Heyliger-Marten. Her sharp criticism of the local institutions’ failure to work to ensure local investments resulted in revenue staying on the island to boost economic activities and secure the APS’ future liquidity is amplified based on the continuing devastation to the local health institutions and the poor financial outlook for the future, with little signs of relief to come.