Jul 29, 2018 News
The decision by the Government to exclude the soon to be established Anti-money Laundering Committee from all taxes has been criticised as expected.This tax-free clause is included in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2018 which was passed on Friday by the National Assembly.
According to the Bill, the Committee, its assets, property, income and its operations and transactions authorised by this Act, shall be exempt from all taxation including customs duty, consumption tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, property tax and purchase tax, and the Committee shall be exempt from payment of any tax or duty whatsoever.
Further, the Bill clearly states, ‘No taxation of any kind shall be levied on any obligations or security issued by the Committee’.
Those who will benefit from the tax-free arrangement include the Attorney General, who will head the Committee, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, The Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, the head of the Special Organised Crime Unit, the General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council, the Chairperson of the Gaming Authority and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officer.
Additionally, the Committee has to be staffed and this will be done by the Attorney General, which according to opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill, raises more questions.The Attorney General is paying staff, determining who gets what because he is the head of the budget agency collecting the money and paying. This is normally the duty of the permanent secretary; it now goes to the head of the committee which is the Attorney General and we are hearing that its committee, its assets, its property and everything else will pay no tax,” Edghill declared.
The Committee replaces the Anti-money Laundering Authority which came about as a result of Amendment Act #1 of 2015 which was passed by the current Coalition administration and was signed into law on July 10, 2015.
Although the Committee is tasked with similar functions as that of the Authority, the tax-free provision is totally new.
Several names were put forward for the Authority, but Government never moved forward with their appointment.
The names included Nicholas Deygoo, Captain Gerald R. Gouveia, Wayne Eucaulton Fordyce, Hance Manohar, Frederick Collins, Thomas Bissessar Singh, Mohamed Alli, Christopher Ram, Melissa Jessica DeSantos and Ms. Sadie Amin.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said that the ‘no tax’ clause is to allow the Committee to function effectively. Ramjattan also pointed out that if the Opposition is not pleased with the provisions in the Bill they can change if they get ‘popular again’.
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