Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall has responded to the A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) accusation that Government is delaying the work of the Anti Money laundering Bill (AML) in the Special Select Committee by “dragging its feet.”
Nandlall, in a recent interview, accused the Opposition of having amnesia when he mentioned that Government tabled the AML Bill in April last year in the National Assembly. He said it was the Opposition “without any good reason that sent it to a Select Committee and kept it there for six months without making a single amendment to it… During those six months they employed every dilatory tactic available, including manufacturing a statement … the President called them terrorists and boycotted the Committee.”
“It was in their absence that we got an opportunity to wrap up the work of the Committee and return it to the Assembly when they rejected it by vote. They then requested us to bring it back in the National Assembly and it was re-tabled by me in December of 2013.Again the Opposition by vote took it to the Select Committee where it currently is.”
According to the AG, the Opposition presented “for the first time in nearly ten months” on the 9th of February, two pieces of paper, one by APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance Carl Greenidge and the other by Member of Parliament Jaipaul Sharma which he said the Opposition “claimed were the proposals for amendments. These proposals were badly written and they collided with each other. Though they were coming from the same party it was obvious that they did not even discuss it among themselves. So after ten months of repeating to the press that they have amendments to make to the Bill …yet they first presented those carelessly scrambled together proposals and put it before the Committee.”
The Attorney General also outlined that the Alliance For Change (AFC) for the last ten months have repeatedly said that they have no problems with the AML Bill “all they want is the establishing of the Public Procurement Commission now they suddenly have professed love for APNU amendments and are arguing that the Bill must be amended.”
Nandlall further articulated that APNU did not amend the Bill, but the Principal Act, and stressed that the Special Select Committee has no mandate to review the Principal Act but the Bill that was given to it, “so at that late stage they brought amendments that are completely irrelevant and outside the remit of the Principal Act. Those amendments had to have been put in proper legislative language and their impact had to be examined against the Amendment, Bill, the Principal Act, the Constitution of Guyana as well as other legislation to see whether they will not be inconsistent.”
As such, Nandllall explained that the Government has tabled their own Amendment to counter APNU’s. He said that both APNU’s Amendments and counter Amendments will be sent to CFATF to see which one is found to be compliant.
The Attorney General said that APNU’s Amendments were put to the populace and was rejected.”We have a duty in Government to ensure that the wishes of the people of this country are respected and are not highjacked by parliamentarians who are pursuing an agenda that is radically different from that which the people want.”
Speaking to the reason why the work of the Select Committee was placed on hold, which the Opposition is citing as an example to of Government “dragging its feet,” Nandlall said that Chairperson of the Committee Ms. Gail Teixeira had to leave to attend an international engagement representing Guyana and that is why the next meeting was fixed for the 26th of March. Additionally he said that many times meetings were adjourned to facilitate lawyers from the Opposition going to Court and for them travelling overseas.
“The attendance record of the Committee and the minutes of those meetings will show the constant battle that the Government had to have been engaged in to have meetings held frequently. So it is blatantly dishonest for the Opposition to attempt to blame the Government for any delay in this Bill” said Nandlall.
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