May 18, 2013 News
The Alliance For Change (AFC) says that it finds it hypocritical that Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh would express anger and shock over its decision to withdraw support for the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.
Yesterday, leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan, said, “I see a hypocrite’s ranting and ravings coming from the Finance Minister’s statement that the AFC is “shamelessly irresponsible” in demanding a procurement body and review of veto before it gives its support to the Anti-Money Laundering Bill.
“Wastage and haemorrhaging of public monies are all around us– yet no anger and shock from the Minister. This Minister is standing on his head. We will put him right. If he can only have his feet on the ground, he would realize that it is his and his Government’s conducts which are shamelessly irresponsible.”
Last week, Parliamentarians were informed that President Donald Ramotar refused to assent to two Opposition Bills- the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Bill and the Former Presidents (Facilities and Other Benefits) Bill, which Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman sent to the Office of the President since February 25.
In justifying his refusal to sign the Bills into Laws, Ramotar said that they were unconstitutional. Since then, Opposition Parties in Parliament have been weighing their options. The AFC has been vocal in withholding its support for the Bill that has a timeline on Guyana.
Guyana has up to May 27 to satisfy the international criteria. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is demanding that Guyana tightens its Anti-Money Laundering Act by the stipulated timeline so as to comply with the recommendation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, (CFATF).
The AFC has made it clear that it will not support the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill unless Ramotar assents to the two Opposition Bills and establishes the Public Procurement Commission.
The reality is that President Ramotar has since returned the Bills to Parliament. For it to be resubmitted to him it must be accompanied by two-thirds vote of the National Assembly. And this must happen within six months.
According to Ramjattan, “The AFC never discerned any anger and shock from this same Minister over the last seven years when the Procurement Commission, commanded by our Constitution, (Article 212W), since 2001, is not established and made operational. Nor did we see such shock and anger when radio, TV and internet licences were granted to friends and family of the Government.”
Ramjattan said that Dr. Singh never expressed anger or shock when directly under his nose public monies were poured into NICIL to build a Marriott Hotel, a corporate project which could not see scrutiny and approval from the National Assembly.
In addition, the Finance Minister did not express disappointment when the President vetoed Bills,
which only seek to limit expenditures of former Presidents on the one hand, and ensure financial antimony for institutions like our Supreme Court, on the other.
“And to add insult to injury the President went beyond the constitutional time limit of 21 days to respond to the National Assembly about the position on the Bills.”
Ramjattan said, “This was the same Minister who said in Parliament that he will defend to the hilt, the majority Opposition’s right to amend the Budget, yet runs to the High Court days thereafter and argues that the Opposition cannot so amend. What a flip flop! What shameless irresponsibility!”
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