Nov 01, 2013 News
The Joint Political Opposition has said that it will only be supporting amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill (AML-CFT) that provide for the appointment of members of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), independent of the President or Minister of Finance.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) yesterday issued a joint statement in an attempt to make clear its position on the proposed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
“We would only support a bill which ensures the strong, effective and independent oversight by its FIU, with adequate resources to carry out its functions and achieve the objectives of the Bill.”
According to the two parties, the Substantive Law must be complemented by other institutional authority(s) to ensure integrity, accountability and transparency in the use of public resources.
As such, “our support is conditional on the appointment and operationalization of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC).”
This is the first time that APNU has tied its support to the proposed amendments to the setting up of the PPC.
The AML-CFT Acts of 2000 and 2009, which the proposed amendments are seeking to adjust, have never been enforced by the government, according to the Joint Statement.
“No investigation was ever carried out, nor report presented by its FIU, even though many Ministers and their friends flaunted considerable unexplained wealth locally and amassed significant fortunes overseas.”
The Joint Opposition parties said too that failure to enforce the existing law and implement the PPC “has met with deafening silence from sections of the Private Sector and has accelerated the spiral of corruption in public office which keeps the vast majority of Guyanese poor.”
They said that in the midst of widespread propaganda and criticism from many quarters, “we would not support just another Bill without strong built-in capacity for enforcement simply to give false comfort to concerned international bodies.”
The Opposition parties maintain that they would not compromise the interest of the Guyanese people and request the support and understanding of the Private Sector, international bodies and diplomats in forcing full compliance on an obstinate and uncaring Government interested only in passing the Bill but not in its enforcement.
In recent weeks, several stakeholders such as the Insurance Association of Guyana, the Bankers Association of Guyana, the Aircraft Association and the Private Sector Commission, among others, have been appealing to the Joint Political Opposition to support the proposed amendments.
This past week several western diplomats met with members of APNU on the matter.
Present at the meeting were US Ambassador Brent Hardt; British High Commissioner, Andrew Ayre; Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Nicole Giles and European Union Representative, Derek Lambe.
The amendments to the existing Anti Money Laundering legislation came from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) following a review of the substantive Act.
Failure to pass the legislation before the November 18 deadline could see CFATF blacklisting Guyana as a non-compliant country. Already there have been reports from businesses that transfers have been held up by overseas banks as questions have arisen over the transactions.
Banks in Trinidad and Tobago have already started to exercise greater caution in doing business with Guyana.
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