PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The OSPP is hereby extended hearty congratulations to the newly appointed members of the board of NV GEBE. You are very much aware of the gigantic task that lies ahead of you and we want to caution you to make the right decisions in favour of the people of St. Maarten. Some of you have served on this board before and you are granted another opportunity to carry out the much needed services for the people.

     The purchasing of a new engine to avoid the latest load shedding that we have been experiencing recently and the building of water tanks must top the list of priorities coming from the sitting government. A waste to energy plant and the establishment of a solar panel park is also of utmost importance. These actions will require some deliberating with the new management team and the supervisory board.

     However, we believe very strongly that one of the most important decisions that this board has to make now within the next thirty days together with the new management team is to change the commercial rates that are being charged to our schools to a more affordable rate, a rate equivalent to the residential rate or lower. The savings that will be derived from a change of rate should be applicable to the school fee that our parents are paying for their children to attend primary and secondary schools. We are calling on our Minister of Education, Ms. Silveria Jacobs to add free primary and secondary education to the educational program, Education on the Move. Education must be free. We are begging her to bring such a proposal to the next Council of Ministers meeting and to instruct NV GEBE to carry it out. Failure to act now is a deliberate move not to help our people and to keep our young people from moving up the ladder.

     If this nation truly believes that education is a life time investment and it is the key to success then we should move mountains to provide our children with free education. NV GEBE is owned 100% by the government of St. Maarten and by extension the people of St. Maarten. As the shareholders of this company the people must be able to receive some type of dividends and the first payment must come in the form of reducing the rates charged to the schools and passing this savings on to the real owners, the people of St. Maarten. Many parents are not able to pick up their children report cards because they could not afford to pay the school fees. These school fees that they have to pay can now be used to buy a much needed computer in their home and other educational material to better prepare our young people. Only the prepared will inherit the future.

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