May 21, 2013 News
Moves by the parliamentary opposition to not render its support to Government were yesterday condemned when the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) held a press conference at its Headquarters, Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown.
Unsupportive tactics portrayed by the Opposition were described by Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, as “a psychological warfare” aimed at developing a sense of frustration and withdrawal syndrome among the populace thereby allowing the Opposition “to score cheap political points.”
Ali’s verbal ranting was forthcoming even as efforts were made to denounce moves by the Alliance for Change (AFC) to withhold its support for Government’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.
And even as he slammed the declaration of AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, that Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, is a “hypocrite” for expressing anger and shock at the AFC’s decision, Ali warned that the onus is now on the entire Guyanese society to guard against political pettiness.
Although A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the other crucial faction of the Parliamentary Opposition, has not indicated plans to withhold its support of the Bill, it has questioned the Government’s rush to have it passed.
But according to Ali the approach being embraced by the Parliamentary Opposition is one that is akin to “political blockade that is being developed against this Government and against the infrastructure of this country.”
Ali contended that there is currently a “comprehensive understanding” among the members of the Opposition to block development, economic advancement and financial reforms all aimed at seeing the Government fail. “They want to see the Government fall, they want to make governance impossible and they want to see the economic gains stalemated.”
He noted that the society must not only guard against this but it must seek to recognise that moves are being made by the Opposition to generate enough energy around what he dubbed a “sinister plan” to destroy the country.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Bishop Juan Edghill, said that the National Assembly should have been more sensitive and responsive to Guyana’s interest as it relates to the legislation in question. He disclosed that when the piece of legislation was tabled all members were furnished with it two weeks before the next sitting to consider the proposed amendments to the Bill.
He noted, though, that even before it was tabled there was a history attached whereby the Act was established in 2009. However, a gap in the Act required that it be amended in order to not only synchronise a number of other pieces of legislation but also to ensure that “dirty money” does not go undetected.
Edghill said that Government was able to benefit from expert advice both from the Caribbean and International Financial Task Forces. Additionally, he made mention of a special meeting which was attended and addressed by President Donald Ramotar. That meeting was supported by the Americans, the British, the Canadians and the European Union.
“Members of the Opposition, even before its tabling, knew of the importance of this piece of legislation and they also knew that Guyana was coming up for review in May 27- 31 which is closely approaching,” Edghill noted.
In fact immense efforts were made by the Government representatives yesterday to emphasise that not only was the Bill supported by the private sector and the religious community but it was touted as a piece of legislation that “all members of Guyana should show a keen interest in.”
Edghill said that without the enactment of the amended legislation “banks will literally be refusing money coming to Guyana because there will not be sufficient policing to ensure that they are not tied into any untoward activity.”
Could you imagine Guyana being placed in a different category as a result of not having this legislation in place and the consequences that flow from such actions?…And here it is we have men and women in the National Assembly being fully aware of how their insensitivity, their unreasonableness, their irrational approach to national development can affect a wide cross-section of Guyanese and take a hard-line position that first of all says we are not supporting and another group saying what is the issue with the timeline…”
Government has been desperately advocating for the passage of the Amendment Bill as failure to do so could see Guyana being blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force for not doing enough to combat money laundering and to stop the financing of terrorism.
The Task Force, made up of 29 states of the Caribbean Basin, was created in 1990 following meetings in Aruba and is mandated to implement measures to address the problem of money laundering.
And even as the Government’s side insisted that it had not procrastinated in addressing the needful amendments to the Money Laundering Act, APNU at its most recent press briefing stressed that it would not shirk its responsibility for careful scrutiny of the amendments to the legislation on the altar of expediency.
The Amendment Bill is currently before a Special Select Committee.
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