23 FEBRUARY 2017
PHILIPSBURG–History was made on Wednesday afternoon on two accounts. For the first time extensive protection has been given to timeshare buyers, offering safety and comfort to one of the largest money-generating sectors of the country, and with the passing of this law Parliament adopted its first-ever initiative law tabled by a Member of Parliament in its seven years of existence.
The law was tabled by Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party (DP)) and was unanimously accepted by Parliament. She took the initiative to get the law to Parliament by taking up the process started by then DP Parliamentarian Leroy de Weever. This law is also unique as it is the first to have an English version.
The law is not yet in effect. It requires ratification by the Council of Ministers. Thereafter the Ombudsman will have up to six weeks to scrutinise the law to ensure it does not conflict with the Constitution.
The adopted law extends bankruptcy protection to owners of all kinds of timeshare products, including lease-hold.
Wescot-Williams said the law brings “real checks and balances” for everything from regulation of timeshare maintenance fees to reserve levels.
Timeshare project developers are compelled by this law to fully disclose all projects to buyers and to continue to do so as developments expand or are taken on and sales are made.
Deceptive marketing strategy is also outlawed by the law and will incur fines to be levied under the still-to-be-established timeshare authority.
A code of conduct, based on the law, must be implemented for timeshare salespersons.
The second initiative law that Parliament started to handle after passing the first is for the establishing of a timeshare authority. This authority will offer “a practical system for resolution” of timeshare conflicts, among other items.
Wescot-Williams will appear before fellow MPs in the near future to deliver answers to their questions on the draft law before it is put to a vote.
Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on Integrity met earlier on Wednesday to discuss the establishing of a code of conduct for Members of Parliament and the recommendations for Parliament as outlined in the integrity reports carried out in 2014 and 2015.
The committee, chaired by Wescot-Williams, talked about the way forward on the recommendations and deferred the code of conduct review to a later session to give the current members of the committee time to review the draft document. The committee has several new members since the last time it met in late 2016, due to elections.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten