…fate to be decided by Thursday
By Abena Rockcliffe
The Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce has begun its regular reviews of countries within its jurisdiction and Guyana’s fate will be decided on Thursday.
Guyana’s report which was recently submitted will be reviewed to see if the country has complied with the CFATF recommendations including the passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill.
With Parliament being adjourned until June 19, it is highly unlikely that the National Assembly will be able to pass the AML/CFT Bill before Thursday.
Guyana has already been blacklisted regionally by CFATF and this resulted in a change in which other Regional jurisdictions are transacting business with this nation.
But international sanctions would be the proverbial “final nail in the coffin” for Guyana, should the nation be blacklisted globally.
This could occur when the parent body for CFATF, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meets later this year.
CFATF began meeting in Florida yesterday and this will last through Thursday.
Guyana is expected to make an appearance before the regional body today represented by a team led by Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.
Numerous calls placed to Nandlall yesterday went unanswered.
Government maintains that the positions taken by the Opposition parties—A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC)—are unfortunate, given the looming deadline and the devastating consequences non-passage of the Bill will have for Guyana.
CFATF has already publicly stated that should Guyana be found to be still non compliant, it will report the country to FATF for a review by its International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). Once that is done, the country could be liable to further sanctions, including being put on the international blacklist, having already been blacklisted regionally by CFATF.
Aside from the government’s position, many entities have lamented the stalemate that characterized the Special Select Committee that was set up to address the AML/CFT Bill. The Private Sector Commission was quite vocal on the need for the Bill to be passed.
Recently, the Ministry of Tourism declared that it was facing a challenge in the placement of ads around the Caribbean.
AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, in a recent interview with this publication said “come hell or high water,” his party will be sticking to its original position of ensuring the operationalization of the Public Procurement Commission.
He said his colleague, Trevor Williams, who sits in representation of the AFC on the Public Accounts Committee, has given clear indications that there is no fast tracking of the process to name the five commissions to make up the Procurement Commission.
He pointed out too that his party had set out a road map which had indicated certain deadline for the passage of the bill but it has not been adhered to or even come close to adherence by the government.
He said that it was the government side that insisted at the end of the last sitting of the National Assembly that it be adjourned until June 19.
Ramjattan said that the government must have known that that will prevent any chance of the Bill passing before the Florida meeting. Hence CFATF will have as a report that Guyana has not passed the Bill.
“They (the government) wants that which will happen upon the non-passage of the Bill to occur so that they can blame the opposition, they will put all the blame on the opposition…They will make their regular propaganda chants on television and so on.
He said that the AFC will “hold out” because the party has seen “too much suffering at the financial level in Guyana with the absence of the Procurement Commission, “and it is a constitutional mandate that must be implemented
He said he thought the government was concerned how Guyana can “go down” by not having the Bill passed. “But this government will prefer its corruption in the absence of the Public Procurement Commission along with all the hardship that the Guyanese people will face with the anti money laundering bill not being passed, that is the caring nature of this government.”
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