Being true to their promise APNU/AFC vote against anti-money laundering bill
Posted in the Georgetown, Guyana Forum
#1 Nov 11, 2013
Guyana Chronicle)IN a highly-charged debate with fierce representations on both sides of the House, Members of Parliament (MPs) wrangled over procedural issues in considering the third reading of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill, since there has never been a debate at the stage of a Bill’s third reading.
And eventually MPs moved to a vote that saw the joint-Opposition defeating the Bill, which cannot be considered again in this session of the National Assembly.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, noted that it could be possible for ways to be found to bring the Bill back to the House, but added that there has to be a clear indication of support from the Opposition – a reality he was very doubtful of.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in moving the motion for the Bill to be read for a third time and passed, urged MPs to consider the bigger picture and the consequences looming if the Bill is not passed.
Prior to the vote, Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, met with Government and Opposition MPs, but no consensus position was reached, hence his call for the vote to proceed – a call that was preceded by intense debate.
Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, argued that the report of the Select Committee, which considered the amendments to the Bill, was tabled without the contributions of the Opposition and as such cannot be supported.
He called for the Bill to be committed once more to the Select Committee – a motion that was subsequently withdrawn, after Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, rose to make her contributions.
According to her, the Opposition was given ample opportunity to be engaged in the review at the Committee level.
Greenidge returned that the process agreed to for the review at Committee level was not honoured.
Teixeira, Chair of the Select Committee, made it clear that she was willing to go “tit for tat” in countering the comments made by Greenidge.
The Finance Minister told the House that the arguments of the Opposition MPs are not only transparent, but also the latest attempt for the Opposition to drag its feet on the Bill.
He added that even though the call for the Bill to be resent to the Select Committee, no material suggestions were made, except vague suggestion of the desire to see the Bill strengthened.
Dr Singh stressed that the stipulations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) are clear, as are the impending consequences.
“We have a definitive statement by CFATF,” he said.
Nandlall, meanwhile, stressed that Guyana does not have the luxury of time and any further changes to the Bill can be made as the system is one that is continuously reviewed – leaving no excuse of the Bill’s non-passage.
He made it clear that the Opposition will have a chance to address further recommendations, but the November 18 deadline has to be met to avoid consequences.
Nandlall, along with the Dr Singh and the Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill also addressed the media soon after the vote.
The consensus was that the consequences for Guyana and the Guyanese people at all levels is a real problem.
Dr Singh said CFATF meets at a plenary session on November 18 and Guyana’s delegation, led by Nandlall, will now have to make a case and stress that real attempts were made to have the legislation passed.
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