Opposition Parliamentarians yesterday walked out of the Anti-Money Laundering Special Select Committee, in response to Government’s support for the Private Sector Commission (PSC) attendance of meetings of the Committee in an observer capacity.
According to a Finance Ministry statement, the PSC had submitted a letter to the sub-committee last month requesting, as stakeholders, to observe the meetings.
“Tonight (yesterday), Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh moved the motion to have the PSC attend the meetings but the Opposition, after objecting strenuously to the PSC being allowed to attend all meetings of the committee, walked out of the meeting in an attempt to avoid voting on the matter,” the release said.
“Minister Singh maintains Government’s position that the private sector of Guyana has a legitimate interest in the timely passage of the legislation, given the grave consequences that would devolve on Guyana’s economy should Parliament fail to enact the amendments,” it added.
According to the release, the Finance Minister described the Opposition’s stance as “a most unfortunate development,” which “reflects yet another attempt by the Opposition to frustrate the timely passage of this bill.”
“Their refusal to allow the PSC to observe the committee’s proceedings reflects the fact that they are unwilling to be unmasked and have revealed to the world at large the blatant delay tactics they have been attempting in frustrating the work of the committee. “
According to the statement, the Finance Minister said that that Government members of the committee emphasized that they would have “absolutely no objection” to the PSC attending and observing the proceedings of the committee.
“In contrast, the Opposition clearly and persistently objected to the PSC being permitted to attend and observe all of the meetings of the committee. They attempted to evade and contort the matter and, eventually, when the Chairperson of the committee attempted to put to the committee the specific matter of whether the PSC should be permitted to attend all meetings of the committee in an observer capacity, the Opposition walked out,” the release stated.
According to the Finance Ministry, this is the second incident where the Opposition has moved to muzzle the PSC in Parliament.
“On November 6, last year, the combined Opposition voted down the motion for the reading of the PSC petition on the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill prior to its debate in the National Assembly.
“The petition represented 17 private sector groups which sought to urge Members of Parliament to recognize the damage to the private sector, local economy and the citizens of Guyana if the legislature failed to enact the bill.
According to FATF, jurisdictions that have not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies or have not committed to an action plan developed with the FATF to address AML/CFT will be penalized. If Guyana does not comply, it will join countries such as Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen as a blacklisted country by FATF.”
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