That legislation to protect timeshare owners passed by Parliament more than three years ago has not been enacted yet, as pointed out by United Democrats (UD) leader Sarah Wescot-Williams in Wednesday’s paper, is indeed incredible. Mind you, this regards the dominant sector of St. Maarten’s stayover tourism industry and the need to better secure rights of its clients became obvious on various occasions in recent years, including at the former Pelican and Caravanserai resorts.
The new owner of the latter property in Beacon Hill recently won a related ruling by the High Court, which found insufficient grounds to anticipate the workings of the Draft Timeshare Ordinance, saying it was “absolutely unclear” when the law would go into effect. Especially as the content “deviates strongly from applicable law,” it could not be considered.
The member’s bill was drafted in English, which is after all what most persons that it targets speak. This initially led to questions from the Council of Advice because Dutch is the country’s official language for documents, etc.
However, the Member of Parliament (MP) was supposedly told in October 2017 by then-Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Melissa Arrindell-Doncher that Legal Affairs had prepared an advice on the revised ordinance that was to be handled in the Council of Ministers within a few weeks. That has now turned into 36 months.
One would almost think politics are behind the continued delay, but the bill was adopted unanimously. By not implementing such a unified decision from legislators without proper explanation for so long, the executive branch is bordering on antidemocratic behaviour.
Wescot-Williams correctly pointed out that government does not have to ratify the law, but should at least explain why. Ultimately this is not only a pressing issue of great economic importance, but also a matter of respect for the people’s chosen representatives and indirectly those who elected them.