Government has made it clear that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism amendment Bill does not have to satisfy A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) but rather the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which dictated the Bill.
Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon expressed this notion, yesterday, during his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, and one day after APNU commented publicly that it would not support the legislation when it comes before the National Assembly next week.
Dr. Luncheon emphasized, “CFATF has dictated and will continue to dictate the Anti-Money Laundering Bills of the world of states that are specifically treaty bound under the FATF. So let’s put to rest that perspective.”
According to Dr. Luncheon, the Bill arose from a multilateral evaluation report done by CFATF as it examined Guyana’s compliance with its treaty obligations. The provision in the Bill were instituted and drafted to confirm to CFATF requirements for this particular stage in the evaluation for Guyana’s compliance.
When the Bill was presented to the National Assembly in April for its passage the Opposition requested that it be sent to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for review. This caused Guyana to miss its May 27 deadline. Guyana was subsequently given a new deadline of August 26 for the submission of the amended Act and relevant documents. Guyana is expected on November 18 to face the Plenary in The Bahamas.
Seemingly challenged by time, Government in the absence of Opposition members completed the works of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee and announced the Bill would be sent back to the National Assembly.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Dr. Luncheon said that there is still no unequivocal parliamentary Opposition support for the enactment of the amendment Bill.
“Cabinet noted the recent and not unusual occurrence by the APNU as it took to the public media to table its intention to amend the Bill further to make it more comprehensive. This peculiar action comes from a parliamentary political party that constituted and sat on the Parliamentary Special Select Committee that considered the Anti-Monday Laundering amendment Bill consideration that went for months on end,” he said.
He stressed that APNU’s intransigence during those sittings was well established and the question remains why. He added their espousal for a better and more comprehensive Bill rings hallow in the wake of their unprincipled behaviour during those sessions that considered the Bill.
On Tuesday, western diplomats met with several APNU Members of Parliament to discuss the circumstances surrounding the legislation. APNU remained resolute in their position.
However, involvement with the western diplomats in this matter is not new, Dr. Luncheon indicated. He said engagements between Government and western diplomats are an ongoing feature that addresses shared mutual concerns.
The discourses range from parliamentary democracy, to the Anti-Money Laundering amendment Bill and the bigger context, the CFATF and treaty obligations of Guyana. He said that the western diplomats have made remarkable inputs in furthering Guyana’s cause in complying with CFATF obligations.
“One can understand their zeal in which they prosecuted their presence and their mission because it is the health of the international financial system that is today being tested by the wiles of the opposition,” he said.
In what appears to be an act of surrender to have the Alliance For Change (AFC) support the legislation, Government signaled its intention to establish the Public Procurement Commission. The AFC, which has seven seats in the National Assembly, demanded the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission before they support the legislation.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the AFC has created an absurd linkage between the Anti-Money Laundering amendment Bill and the Public Procurement Commission. The creation of the Commission would remove Government’s role in offering no-objection to the award of contracts.
He said Government will soon be tabling an appropriately worded amendment to the Procurement Act to retain Cabinet’s role in the procurement process. Dr. Luncheon said Government expects that APNU would support the measure.
He added that Government will be identifying its nominees for the parliamentary consideration to sit on the Public Procurement Commission subsequent to the enactment of the amendments.
But, the AFC does not plan to support the legislation if Government wants to amend it. The party was firm that it would only support the Bill if the Commission is established under the current Act.
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