Any person can leave Guyana with up to US$9,999 and not have to inform anyone that this sum is in their possession. Yet, if someone sends you a US$100 you now are required under some inexplicable regulation to show identification and give your address.
Now why would any country allow someone to leave the country with US$9,999 or less without having to show any identification or even to indicate that this sum is accompanying the passenger, and yet insist that some poor person changing a mere US$100 at a cambio, bank or money transfer agency has to produce an identification and an address. This is preposterous!
Surely, the government cannot be serious about this. This will cause problems within our society and force many of the cambios out of business, because citizens will be now encouraged to change their foreign currency at money changers such as the guys on the streets, instead of using the established cambios which pay fees and taxes each year.
One can understand the need for the government to monitor the flow of funds into the country. There are ways in which this can be done without having to ask persons to provide their identification or to give out their address. There are ways in which these types of flows can be monitored without placing undue hassles on citizens and on established cambios.
Persons having money to change are going to be very reluctant to provide this information. And the data that the cambios are going to produce are going to be problematic, because for example, someone wishing to change a sum of US$200 is going to send someone else to change the money because the person to whom the money is going to be consigned is not going to want that information to be noted.
Those persons who benefit from remittances do not want their identities to be known. The criminal network in Guyana has its spies all around, and sometimes when you think that your transaction is confidential it is not.
How many persons in this country have not had the misfortune of being robbed while either going to or from the banks? There are many cases in which the victims have expressed surprise at being attacked because they presumed that their business was confidential.
So why would a small man want to provide his ID plus his address to a cambio, bank or money transfer agency. So that information can be transmitted to some government office and somebody in that office is going to know when your family sends money for you and how much they send.
Is the private citizen going to launder money in small transactions such as a US$100 or US$200? Come on; let us be serious. Money laundering is done in huge transactions and it is not going to be done through cambios.
Suppose now a married man from overseas has a local sweetheart and has to send money every month for her. Do you think that man wants there to be a record to show that he is sending money to his lover? Do you think his lover wants others to know that she is receiving money from abroad?
Nobody wants bandits running in their homes demanding, “Give me the money you change today.” What is going to happen is that some person will be sent to change the money and for this that person will have to be paid a fee which will reduce the money that is being received by the person to whom the money actually belongs.
What will also happen is that the money changers on the road are going to make more money. Citizens are going to be very reluctant to provide the information that the authorities want to change sums in excess of US$100, and now most of the transactions will now be done in bottom houses and at street corners, transactions which will not become part of the formal system but the informal economy. And all because of some crazy regulation, which is ill-considered and impractical.
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