PHILIPSBURG – In defending her decision to maintain English as the language of the timeshare ordinance, Member of Parliament (MP) Wescot-Williams referred to her proposal, which was unanimously adopted in a motion by parliament to establish English as the first official language.
English AND Dutch are the official languages, but the constitution of St. Maarten makes no distinction between the 2 languages. While the instructions for regulations as adopted by the government of St. Maarten do stipulate that legislation will be drafted in the Dutch language, “this policy of government does not supersede the constitution,” the MP explained during the handling of the timeshare ordinance in parliament.
“After several months of no action on the December motion, government has conceded that there are no funds to draft and implement a plan to achieve the desired status of the English language.”
This led to another motion by the MP, again adopted unanimously, to reserve an initial sum of NAf. 500,000, for the plan as outlined in the first motion. This, according to the parliamentary motion, must take place via the first budget amendment for 2017.
At the time of the first motion, the MP herself had contacted Dr. Rhoda Arrindell to gauge her interest to draft the plan “English as the first official and mother tongue language.”
The timeshare ordinance was passed by parliament on February 22, now needs to be sent to the government for ratification and a 6-week period needs to be observed for the Ombudsman’s scrutiny of the law.