May 21, 2013 News
The country’s major opposition coalition bloc APNU has pulled out of a Special Parliamentary Committee tasked with fine-tuning amendments to the country’s law on financial crimes.
The move essentially paralyses the government’s efforts to have the amendments rushed through the House before it faces an international review panel in Nicaragua next week.
The issue which forced the pulled out of APNU from the committee is a letter sent to President Donald Ramotar by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) on April 10, last.
The CFATF is an arm of the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering and terrorist financing, among other financial crimes.
Non-passage of the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act could shame the government for failing to act and could put the country on an international blacklist for not doing enough to combat money laundering and stopping financing for terrorism.
Opposition Leader David Granger wrote President Donald Ramotar yesterday saying that he was shown the CFATF’s letter of April 10. The letter was circulated to members of the Special Select Committee concerning amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.
The CFTAF recommended that President Ramotar share its letter to Members of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition as well as Members of the Opposition and all technical public sector officials involved in the fight against money laundering.
The letter noted that Guyana’s Report to the Plenary of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force be comprehensive, in writing and submitted to the Secretariat well ahead of the Plenary Meeting and in any event by May 6, 2013.
Granger said that he did not receive a copy of that letter from the President and asked Mr. Ramotar for an explanation of his refusal to share the letter.
As such, Granger instructed the APNU representatives of the Select Committee to take no further part in the work of the Committee until a satisfactory explanation is received from the President.
The Special Parliamentary Committee was set up to examine and tidy up the amendments proposed by the government.
The AFC, the other Parliament party, is participating in the work of the Commission, but when the amendments come up for a vote on May 22, the AFC could withhold its support if its demands are not met.
The government is due to defend its efforts to stem financial crimes when the Plenary Meeting of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) meets in Managua, Nicaragua from May 27 to May 30.
It wanted to have the amendments to the money laundering Bill passed before that review.
The government has already prepared its report for the plenary and this fact also has APNU taken aback.
Joseph Harmon, a front bench Parliamentarian with APNU feels that the preparation of the report should have involved all stakeholders, but he said that the government fell into the pattern of not treating stakeholders as equals.
“A pattern is developing where the government feels that it can give us any little dribbling of anything and we must deal with that,” Harmon told Kaieteur News.
He said that Granger’s letter to Ramotar is an indication that the Opposition is not prepared to “accept this nonsense anymore.”
The government has been saying that if the amendments are not passed the relationship with donor partners including the US, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom would immediately be impacted and could unravel.
Both Opposition parties have said that they would excuse careful scrutiny of the amendments to the legislation before the Special Select Committee because of haste to meet a deadline.
The AFC and APNU have said that the emergency is the government’s own making.
“Therefore, any failure to meet a deadline of May 27, 2013, lies squarely on the shoulders of the PPP/C Administration.”
APNU said that it is convinced that Government is attempting to create a situation where it could tell the Nicaragua meeting that the Opposition is to be blamed for Guyana not being ready.
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