Feb 27, 2014 News
Government is seemingly troubled that the Alliance For Change (AFC) has now expanded its demand to include those set out by A Partnership for National Unity (AFC).
Initially, the AFC was only concerned with having the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) established before it could support the anti-money laundering Bill.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, at a press conference hosted by President Donald Ramotar, yesterday, said that after 10 months of demanding the creation of PPC and not “caring” about the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill the AFC has changed its tune.
But after all those months Government finally realized it was willing to trade the establishment of the Commission for the passage of the Bill. Incidentally, this is two days before the Government submits a progress report to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
According to President Donald Ramotar, initially the AFC wanted only the PPC, that it had no problem with the Bill. Government never conceded AFC’s position because it wanted to maintain its no-objection role in the public procurement process. The passage of an amended legislation would have eliminated Government’s no-objection.
Ramotar said that the AFC has not changed its position but has also adopted those of the APNU calling for amendments to the existing Bill that is compliant to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
In addition, APNU wants the president to assent to those Bills which were passed in the National Assembly but were not assented to because they were deemed unconstitutional.
The Attorney General said that the Opposition seems to be operating on the premise that the Bill is Government’s and that Government would stand to lose something without the non-passage.
“So they are using this Bill to extract all manner of things from the Government…This Bill has to be opposed because it is important to Guyana and everyone would expect that every national party, that every national leader in this country would see the importance of this Bill. That concept of national importance of this Bill is lost on the Opposition,” he said.
According to Nandlall, Government met with the AFC and APNU yesterday morning to discuss the possibility of having the Bill passed. Government had informed the AFC that it is willing to give the PPC tomorrow morning (today).
“We have said to the AFC that we are prepared to give you the PPC for tomorrow morning…We are prepared to do everything that can be done (before today’s sitting of the Nationl Assembly).
Government had been working on making the PPC possible. He explained that months ago Government tabled a Bill in Parliament to restore Cabinet’s no-objection even when the Commission is established.
“But when that Bill was put to the floor the opposition together signaled that they would defeat it as a result the Government had to ask that the Bill be adjourned…while we arrive at some compromise,” Nandlall said.
Nonetheless, as Nandlall emphasized AFC had been demanding the PPC some 10 months ago whilst Government tabled the amendments to the Procurement Act about four months ago.
According to Ramotar, the issue of the Procurement Commission came about in the Eighth Parliament.
“Cabinet sent this to the Parliament to be passed…And the modification was made on the floor-ill advised modifications however, we were still ready to proceed with some of these issues. And I was one of the lead negotiators with the PNC,” he said.
He said those negotiations broke down and the Bill was passed. However, he maintains that Government needs to maintain its no-objection.
Ramotar said that Government does not award contracts. “But we feel that if we are going to be held responsible, and charged everyday for corruption and all of that…this is an executive function and the executive is to be held responsible this is the minimum that we can have and that is our right to no-objection.”
Yesterday, during the meeting with Government the AFC proposed that Government establishes the Commission and act as a stakeholder who could raise issues for any tender awarded. The ultimate decision would be left with the PPC.
According to Ramotar, that proposal was put to Government (yesterday). As such, it has to be examined.
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