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Is Fuel Clause rephrasing gross mismanagement?

Communities of the Dutch Caribbean are consistently complaining about the utility bills and therefore a simplified explanation is necessary. Colombian educated Certified Risk Analyst Terence Jandroep illustrates the utility bills using layman terms after conducting a historical research:

The operating costs of the GEBE (SXM), WEB (Aruba, Bonaire) STUCO (Statia), SEC (Saba)  or AQUALECTRA (Curacao) consists of payroll costs, Consumption and Waste of production. Fact is that most of these utility companies are not the Energy or Water producers but the distributors that are governed by a consumption parameters contract with the Energy & Water providing Body.  Meaning the energy and water consumption of the entire country are preset, and therefore actual consumption or over-consumption are not relevant, based upon the hedging trading principle by the consumption fluctuations.   

Example: the utility company signs a contact with the Distributor for 100 million gallons of water with an increase of 5% per year. The real consumption is 80 million, but the Distribution Company is obliged to pay the 100 million gallons.  The 20 million is an amount that has to be paid and is not consumed which refers directly to “Waste” not “Production Costs” while on the utility bills this phenomenon is rephrased as “Fuel Clause” to the consumer. This action has been taking place for over 3 decades in the entire Dutch Caribbean in which Distributing companies pay unconsumed production and is forced into a fuel clause decoration to the consumer.

Questions and Answers
The question that arises is why the Fuel Clause is higher than the consumption? The Answer relies on that the actual consumption does not meet the preset contract parameters, and therefore the waste has to be allocated as fuel clause.

Utility bills influenced by  Government Immigration policies
In order to reduce the Fuel Clause significantly, consumption of water and light must be promoted, meaning growth of the population with aligned housing projects are necessary, under the existing circumstances.  The immigration policies with anti-immigrant objectives have an adverse reaction on the utility bills if the current population is reduced significantly and financially devastating for the small man that remains hanging on the last rings of the food chain.
These are factors that are forgotten by Governments that lack understanding of the financial dynamics in the utility areas and the reluctance to allow Risk Analysts to secure the community against inconvenient financial impact.

Fact is that by reducing the Population significantly in any form, the waste of the production will systematically increase with an uncontainable direct impact on the Fuel Clause that should cover the “Preset Waste”. Is the Ministry of Justice aware of this event when applying anti-immigrants policies?

The Financial Vicious Cycle
The problem in the vicious cycle is, that should the utility company build storage tanks to avoid waste, the Production plant remains with an increasing fee per m3 per year and the consumption remains low, there is no financial leverage placing the burden on the remaining utility consumers in the Dutch Caribbean resulting in higher utility bills.

Governments have failed?
The introduction of fuel clauses is considered an easy way to cover-up mismanagement due to lack of planning and vision. The question that arise is who is responsible for this catastrophe within the Dutch Caribbean or is it a legal and quick way to pickpocket consumers without resistance because of a created monopoly position of the utility companies in the Dutch Caribbean Kingdom with the intend to reduce the National Deficit with the dividends or advances on these to the Governments. This is a very interesting subject that any Government should have an understanding of the financial dynamics to help their constituency in hard times. 

Preserving Sint Maarten's Pristine Beaches: A Call for Sustainable Policies.

Dear Editor,

Sint Maarten, a jewel of the Caribbean, is renowned for its breathtaking beaches that stretch along its coastline, attracting tourists from across the globe. These beaches are not just beautiful; they are a natural resource of immense value, both ecologically and economically. It is high time that we recognize the critical importance of these pristine shores, not only for our tourism industry but also for our very survival in the face of climate change. To safeguard our beaches, we must advocate for responsible beach management policies that prioritize protection, accessibility, and sustainability.

Our beaches are the lifeblood of Sint Maarten's tourism product. Tourists flock to our island for the sun, sea, and sand, and our beautiful beaches are a central component of their experience. These visitors contribute significantly to our economy, providing jobs, income, and opportunities for countless locals. However, if we continue on the path of unchecked development and privatization, we risk losing the very assets that make Sint Maarten a world-class tourist destination.

One of the key issues we face is the sale of our beaches to the highest bidder. This trend not only threatens the accessibility of our beaches for locals but also endangers the fragile ecosystems that thrive along our coastlines. Selling off our beaches wholesale might provide a short-term financial gain, but the long-term consequences for our environment and tourism industry are dire. Instead, we should prioritize policies that restrict excessive development and emphasize the preservation of our natural resources.

Furthermore, we must acknowledge the need for zoning our beaches to regulate activities and hours of operation. This is not about restricting access but about ensuring that our beaches are enjoyed responsibly and sustainably. By designating specific areas for different activities, we can protect sensitive habitats, reduce conflicts among beachgoers, and enhance the overall beach experience. For instance, certain areas could be reserved for swimming and sunbathing, while others could cater to water sports or wildlife conservation efforts.

Turning our beach policy into a national ordinance is a crucial step toward achieving these goals. This would establish a legal framework to protect our beaches, ensuring that decisions about their use are made in the best interest of the island and its people. Local input should be sought and considered when developing such policies, ensuring that they reflect the needs and desires of the community.

Moreover, our beaches are not just a source of economic prosperity; they are also vital in building resilience against climate change. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events pose a significant threat to our island, but healthy, well-managed beaches act as natural buffers against these challenges. They absorb wave energy, prevent erosion, and provide a critical defense for our coastal communities.

In conclusion, the importance of Sint Maarten's beaches as a natural resource cannot be overstated. They are the cornerstone of our tourism industry, a bulwark against climate change, and a source of pride for our community. To protect them, we must resist the allure of short-term profits and prioritize long-term sustainability. Let us come together as a community to advocate for responsible beach management policies, zoning regulations, and the transformation of our beach policy into a national ordinance. By doing so, we can ensure that our beaches remain a source of pride, prosperity, and resilience for generations to come.

Tadzio Bervoets
+1 721 5864588


Insurance Onslaught.

Dear Editor
The onslaught on the insurance brokerage industry continues as several insurers are set to reduce their commissions to brokers on binder arrangements or all commissions that these brokers have received for many many years.

Brokers are a major source of expertise and knowledge. They save their clients large sums of money and they provide extensive services to their clients. They provide professional advice and search the market for the best prices with the best coverage possible. They also provide claims support, basically fighting for their clients to ensure that the insurance companies settle claims fairly, quickly and accurately, without allowing insurers to dig out the customer's eyes by low balling them for their damaged property.

For over a hundred years brokers have provided trusted superior negotiations for clients in Trinidad and Tobago by securing the best cost, ensuring policy conditions are adequate for the clients needs and most importantly processing, reviewing and negotiating claims with insurers. Many Insurance companies are known to try to take advantage of clients if they are left to deal with them directly especially in the settlement of claims directly with insurers. Some insurers believe in collecting premiums without settling claims fairly for their clients and many insurers often try to settle claims with their customers as cheaply as possible. Without Brokers many insurers would take advantage of clients that they deal with directly. Brokers work for their clients and do all of this with no cost to the client, as the premium charged by the insurance companies already has a built in commission in it, whether a client opts to have a broker or not.

So the attack on brokers with reduced commissions from insurers will have an impact on the industry as insurers must realize that this is a broker’s market where Brokers control about 75% of major insurance business locally. They have been in the industry for over a hundred years providing insurance services to the public and now with this new stance by some insurers, cutting their commissions for no logical reason, as insurers have already increased rates across the board. It seems the insurance companies only care about their own benefits and their own profitability, and this is concerning to say the least. Many brokers believe these insurers are being unfair to brokers who make up a significant amount of their business.

The Insurance Brokers Association of Trinidad and Tobago ( IBATT) is not taking this way of thinking very well also and believes if Insurance companies have to reduce commissions of their most valuable main producer, the brokers, which is basically their extended sales representatives, the fraternity that DRIVES insurance sales and business up, then it’s a sad day for the industry. The Brokers carry a lot of the costs on their shoulders such as the documentary costs of the placement, the attention to detail, the constant customer touch and service to their clients as well as the claims negotiations, to name just a few and have done this for years although commissions on some lines of insurances were not sufficient. However, many focused on homeowners and motor accounts to grow their portfolios. Nevertheless, Brokers think the move is uncalled for at this time and do not believe that the insurers are in such a dire state to do something like this. If this is the case, and insurers are suffering so much, then the Brokers must look at only strong financial insurance companies that can afford to pay a claim reasonably and they must consider their responsibilities as Financial Intermediaries to ensure that the client’s risk is covered properly. Basically that these insurers can settle a claim sufficiently. Therefore they can not recommend placement of their client’s business through such financially weak insurance companies. Given what the insurance companies are purporting, and what they are doing, so it’s obvious that these insurers can not settle a claim adequately for their clients and the brokers should not be placing their clients' business with such insurers.

Clearly the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) must realize what is going on here as well and this type of fall out is not good for business in this industry. This causes adverse effects throughout our industry and CBTT as the regulatory body for insurers, agencies and brokers must stop hiding their head in the sand and address this situation directly. Further, the Brokers want to send a clear message to the Insurers who are trying to adopt this “Adverse-Broker” approach to business, and want them to know that they most likely we will be moving their business from insurance companies that have been reducing their commissions below the acceptable standards that would affect the caliber of Brokerage services they provide to their clients. They will be moving their business away from the insurance companies they believe are unable to settle claims adequately and sufficiently for their clients.


By Dr Neil Gosine

GEBE has always been behind with its data.

Dear Editor

GEBE has been fooling the public about this virus from day one. GEBE's record-keeping has always been out of sync. In order to verify one bill, the date, account number, invoice number, document number, due date, the amount due, and a few more items have to be checked. This is for one bill.

They have always been behind in their updates to payments made by clients and those clients that did not keep records of payments made have found themselves having to pay again because GEBE misplaced or lost the records, and the bills become outstanding according to the collection program. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of bills that have to be verified after this virus attack

Long before the virus attack the installation and removal meter records were out of date. Meters that were installed or removed years before the virus attack were not updated, confusing clients who were being billed for meters that after being removed were repaired and installed for another client, but still listed on the client's account.

For years now, GEBE personnel have been estimating people's utility usage. Whether it was due to lack or laziness of personnel we will never know but it was obvious that the meters were not being read on a monthly basis due to the wild up and downswing of usage. They just estimated what they thought you would have used and you had to pay it or be disconnected. It's time for GEBE to be held accountable for this abuse of trust and the St. Maarten people.

GEBE stating that 75% of their data has been repaired is a blatant lie because for two years I have been visiting GEBE to correct the wrong meters on my account and they are still listed on my account. I personally took in the information, pictures, and documentation of meters that were removed but are still on my account. People saw me coming out of GEBE's office so many times they asked me if I was working there,

It's time to grab the bull by the horns and start over again with a new billing system. GEBE should cut their losses and start over because they will never be able to correct all these outlandish bills they have been sending people. On top of that, being the only provider they have their boots on people's necks threatening to cut clients' utilities if they don't pay, How can anyone continue paying for a meter that is installed somewhere else? That is lost money because GEBE will never be able to reconcile these bills. They cannot keep up with the workload they have now, imagine correcting all those ridiculous thousand-dollar erroneous bills.


Name withheld upon author's request.


The Looming Peril: Disregard for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation on Sint Maarten.

Dear Editor,

Sint Maarten's breathtaking beaches, vibrant culture, and warm climate have made it a popular tourist destination for years. However, as development and tourism flourish, the island's delicate ecosystems and biodiversity face an alarming threat. The disregard for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation on Sint Maarten could have disastrous consequences for our island’s future.

One of the most pressing concerns we face is the loss of native habitats. Urban expansion and tourism infrastructure projects often encroach upon vital ecosystems, displacing native flora and fauna. This disrupts the delicate balance of the island's biodiversity, leading to the decline of various species, some of which might be found nowhere else on Earth. We need to have laws that mandate Environmental Impact Assessments, just like any other territory in the region.

Furthermore, the depletion of natural resources puts local livelihoods at risk. Sint Maarten's economy heavily relies on its natural beauty to attract tourists, but unchecked development can lead to environmental degradation that drives visitors away. Coral reefs, for instance, provide protection against storm surges and support fisheries, but their destruction could leave the island vulnerable to climate-related disasters.

Invasive species are another consequence of neglecting ecosystem conservation. As trade and travel increase, foreign species are introduced, often outcompeting native plants and animals. This disrupts the native food chains and ecosystems, causing a ripple effect that can harm both wildlife and human communities. And yes this includes the highly invasive Green Vervet Monkey as Dr. Antonio Carmona Baez so eloquently outlined in his recent Op-ed.

Climate change exacerbates the challenges. Rising sea levels, more frequent hurricanes, and changing weather patterns threaten Sint Maarten's delicate balance even further. Healthy ecosystems can act as buffers against these impacts, but their destruction leaves the island more exposed and vulnerable.

It is crucial for the government, businesses, and local communities to collaborate on sustainable development practices. Conservation efforts, such as protected marine areas, reforestation projects, and responsible waste management, are essential steps toward safeguarding Sint Maarten's natural heritage for generations to come.

Inaction is not an option. The disastrous consequences of neglecting biodiversity and ecosystem conservation are already visible in various parts of the world. Sint Maarten has an opportunity to learn from these examples and take proactive measures to ensure a resilient and prosperous future.

Preserving Sint Maarten's biodiversity and ecosystems requires a holistic approach that values the long-term well-being of both the environment and its people. Only through collective effort and responsible stewardship can the island navigate the challenges ahead and secure a sustainable future that honors its rich natural heritage.

Tadzio Bervoets
Milton Peters Rd 10
Sint Maarten
+1 721 5864588

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