Shadow Finance Minister of the A Partnership of National Unity (APNU), Carl Greenidge is saying that the opposition, which is a part of the Parliamentary Select Committee, is not opposed to the presence of the media fraternity, except in the cases where there are discussions on “sensitive matters.”
This position was also supported by Joseph Harmon of APNU who serves as the Shadow Minister of Public Works and Telecommunications.
Chairperson of the Special Select Committee, Ms. Gail Teixeira and even President Donald Ramotar, were reported as being in agreement with having members of the media alliance and stakeholders present at their meetings.
This, Teixeira believes, will allow for a true understanding of what really transpires during the discussions on the controversial Anti-Money Laundering Bill.
Teixeira and Minister of Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, are also of the firm impression that the political Opposition is only employing delaying tactics for such a very important Bill.
Teixeira said that since the first meeting on Monday the Opposition’s attitude towards discussions on the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill (AML/CFT) has not changed.
President Ramotar noted that there were several members of the political Opposition who, after attending the meetings, expressed that they would not be able to “make decisions on simple matters until they consult with the leader of the Opposition.”
To this comment, Greenidge asserted, “When such statements are made I would like to ask how many times we said we needed time to consult. It was only once. Is it a crime to consult?
“Because doing that enables you to come back with a definitive decision. If the government is saying that consultation is simply a waste of time I would like to refer to the time they have taken and wasted to consult on their nominees for the Public Procurement Commission which they have still not submitted. The government should be the last to talk about delaying tactics. Those who live in glass house shouldn’t throw stones.”
Harmon in support of his colleague’s points said, “We are not opposed to the presence of the media. Our position on this matter will be clearly stated on Wednesday. But on the point of the media being present, it is surprising that they would now ask for that because how the Chairperson (Teixeira) behaves is very appalling at times. And I’m sure she wouldn’t want the media to be preview to her unparliamentary language.”
Greenidge then said, “We don’t believe that the presence of the media would be conducive to frank and candid discussions. Our position is that we can call on them when it is something that is not of a sensitive nature.” He added, “Some aspects just need to remain confidential.”
“When we look at the discussions held by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on several matters such as the Audit Department and promotions or criticisms on areas of weaknesses, such meetings are held privately. It is not open to the media because of its sensitive nature.”
With the case of the Anti Money Laundering Bill, this is perhaps even more sensitive because of the issues pertaining to businesses, smuggling of drugs, people, fuel, gold and other related issues.”
The Member of Parliament added, “Discussing issues about the security of information and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and its adequacy and its mode of recruiting personnel, I believe should not be open to the press. These are all matters that will be on the table for discussions. However, I wish to reiterate that our position should not be misconstrued by any means to mean that we are against the presence of the press. We are in support of transparency but some discussions should just remain private. It is too sensitive.”
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