~Minister of VSA/TEATT selected as the most outstanding Minister for the year 2022~
PHILIPSBURG: --- When it comes to selecting a person of the year for 2022 it was clear that there is no specific person that stood out this year, but the government-owned company NV GEBE was in the news almost daily negatively. Therefore, SMN News selected NV GEBE in the NEGATIVE for the year 2022. However, we have opted to credit the workers at the Powerplant all of whom managed to keep the electricity and water on throughout the year without major hiccups.
NV GEBE made the news on almost every news platform negatively over the past years, but 2022 was the year that no one will ever forget. It was the year when it became clear how those in authority used their position to milk the company for their own benefit or for their friends and families.
While some people were busy greasing the hands of politicians so that they could secure contracts for top positions such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, or Chief Operations Officer even though these persons were not qualified for the job, they were selected because of whom they frequented or are friends with, or the best person that will act as a stooge for certain ministers.
The Council of Ministers did not look out for the best interests of the company and its over 200 workers that managed to keep the company afloat when they decided to appoint their friends to the top positions. Today, NV GEBE has one person at the helm of the company with special advisors that are running the company, while the incompetents that almost ran the company aground will end up with huge payouts after the various court cases that will be filed against the company.
Besides the three C’s persons were vying for the position of Temporary Manager so they too could set themselves up financially or their families. Company credit cards were used to treat families and friends including certain politicians that love dining at the expense of others or government-owned companies. At least one Temporary Manager had to repay the company the monies he spent on himself and family members using the company credit card. But paying back did not go for everyone else that worked at NV GEBE and had access to credit cards or have the CEO and the Temporary Managers close to their chest.
GEBE paid more legal fees than any other government-owned company even though there were not many litigations except those that were initiated by those that held power. While NV GEBE made the news negatively based on decisions taken by those at the helm of the company, the government of St. Maarten cannot be excused because they are the ones that appointed people that lack knowledge and experience as members of the Supervisory Boards.
These persons were appointed even though the Council of Advice rendered negative advice against the appointments. The decision taken by the Council of Ministers to appoint rookies and friends has impacted the company negatively and even cause splits within political parties.
While these ad hoc decisions by the Council of Ministers did not bode well for the company and its workers, the worst was on March 16th, 2022, when the company servers were hacked by Black Byte Ransomware. To date, NV GEBE has not been able to recover from this hack and while the company and its Temporary Managers and SBOD members have said they did not pay the two million ransoms, they paid way more to other companies to try and recover their lost data. Data could have been restored within one day if the Manager of the IT Department of NV GEBE had only done the right thing by saving the company’s data in the cloud or on a separate server with a different password. GEBE backed up its data on its inhouse server while the password was the same, this decision cost the company way more than it bargained for because the hackers had their hands on the company's active server and their backed-up data, a situation that basically crippled the company for three months or more. Besides not doing the right thing in today’s IT world the company also opted not to have cyber security insurance for disasters such as the March 16th, 2022 Black Byte Ransomware attack.
Because of the chaos and badly kept IT department with no cyber security insurance in place NV GEBE is soon to face bankruptcy because no proper billing is taking place and companies and residents alike are not living up to their responsibilities and paying their utility bills. In December 2022 GEBE almost did not make its payroll and the over 200 staff were t ready to down their tools. The manager who managed the IT department for several years had the entire department in chaos, yet the government of St. Maarten saw it fit to appoint a said person as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Temporary Manager. Today NV GEBE is faced with a lawsuit because the former IT Manager felt he should be reappointed to his position after he resigned from his function as statutory director. The ridiculous part is when the court condemns NV GEBE to pay this person out because of the sloppy contract that was made where the same person managed to squeeze the hands of the shareholder and SBOD to get the salary and benefits he wanted.
Despite the chaos and disaster at NV GEBE the people of St. Maarten managed to have their electricity on even though creditors are not being paid. As such we have decided to recognize the workers of NV GEBE that meant well and did well throughout the year 2022.
Politician and Minister of the year.
As it is bad, there is also good in every country, there is also a good apple among the bad ones, and for that, we have chosen the Minister of VSA and Acting Minister of TEATT Omar Ottley who was appointed Minister of VSA on April 20th, 2021. Ever since his appointment as Minister, Ottley took off running as he did everything, he possibly could to bring COVID-19 under control.
Not only did the good Minister manage to keep St. Maarten and its people safe, but he also managed to safeguard the economy by reopening when everyone was against it. With the decisions taken, Ottley allowed people to put food on their tables while giving them the opportunity to pay their bills.
As of July 29th, 2022 Omar Ottley has been juggling two Ministries as he is also the Acting Minister of TEATT. In the absence of a Minister to run that Ministry. Ottley stepped up to the plate and has since bolstered the economy since this 2022-2023 tourist season has been earmarked as the best since Hurricane Irma devastated the country.
Minister Omar Ottley has proven to be a dependable man of the soil who would do everything in his power to safeguard his country. As such we are depending on Minister Omar Ottley to see this country’s New General Hospital completed while we are also looking forward him to cutting the ribbons of the new state-of-the-art airport that has been promised to St. Maarten and its people.
With that, we at SMN News wish the Minister all the best in the year 2022.