Guyanese urged to petition CFATF on AMLCFT

Georgetown, GINA, November 9, 2013

A call is being made for all Guyanese to recognise the importance of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Bill, and let their views be known to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) via petitions, emails or resolutions.

This course of action was called for by Government’s Parliamentary Chief Whip and Presidential Adviser Gail Teixeira on a live National Communications Network television programme this evening.

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission Ronald Webster, Government’s Chief Whip and Presidential Advisor Gail Teixeira and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh  on the panel that discussed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Bill the implications of the non-passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Bill

Teixeira said that Guyanese should find a way to let the CFATF understand that, “Here are the legitimate voices of the people who don’t want to see the country go down, let CFATF know that the APNU and the AFC are against the tide of the international standards and global issues on financial matters, and against the national tide. They have pitted themselves against every single legitimate civil body in this society so it’s now time for the voice of the people”.

The actions of the parliamentary opposition which voted against the passage of critically needed amended AMLCFT Bill was “bewildering and baffling” to Teixeira. She said the importance of the legislation should have been understood by all, and noted the precedence set by both President Donald Ramotar and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) which had appealed to the National Assembly to support it.

As far as Teixeira is concerned, there was never any intention by the parliamentary Opposition to support, much less pass the legislation. “Each time it was filibustered in the committee to prevent it…My view now is that the leaders of the opposition, APNU and AFC, cannot rationalise anything that has happened. We can criticise them as being anti-national and anti-patriotic, but I think … there is no rationalisation to explain how you could take a country and put it in jeopardy… It’s either sinister, or you want to bring the government down.” 


Utter disgust

Joining Teixeira was Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and Chairman of the PSC Ronald Webster. The latter said his reaction to the stance taken by the political opposition was one of “total disgust”. The PSC chairman said that the organisation’s petition to the National Assembly was aimed at the parliament in “totality” and was not intended to be aimed at any particular party.

 “The parliament represents various thoughts and ideologies and so on, and I think the reason why the reading of the petition document was not permitted was to avoid it going down in history, so if there’s a total mess up of the economy two years down the road, there’s no record that the private sector commission had warned that this would happen. I believe that’s one of the reasons.”


Truly representative PSC petition


The belief by some that that the PSC represents only the crème de la crème of society is not correct, the PSC head said. The grouping actually represents various statutory bodies whose membership ranges from large corporations to small shop owners and almost every conceivable business entity locally, he noted. The petition, which was dismissed by the Parliamentary opposition on Thursday, was circulated to all affiliates, said the PSC chairman.

 “Nobody voted against it, I think it was 89% of the membership who voted for it in writing. That was a truly representative petition… It’s a very, very serious issue. If you are blacklisted in today’s economy where you have to make decisions in fractions of a second almost, where you have to move funds and pay for goods in order to get discounted prices swiftly, where if you fail to place an order by a certain time, you probably face two or three week delay in the delivery of goods, that’s what happens now. With a galloping economy, the demand is going to be swifter and swifter. Now imagine a situation where it takes weeks to process funds, the whole system slows down. There is tremendous concern,” Webster said.   


Madness or design to destroy?


The opposition’s conduct leading up to the vote in the National Assembly, was “designed to delay” and there was never any intent to pass the bill according to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh. He recalled a conversation with seasoned politician Dr. Roger Luncheon who was questioned on whether those who voted against the bill were indeed Guyanese, given the importance and implications of the internationally required legislation. This question is legitimate Minister Singh said, given the actions of the political opposition with regards to budget cuts, developmental projects and perceived threats to potential investors, with regards to projects like the Marriot Hotel. He said that the PSC, in particular, represents the employers of the country, and for an AFC Member to say “We don’t care about them and they don’t have a voice in  this House, we are not interested in how they are going to be affected, we are not going to honour contracts with them, let the Blackstone Group go back and come back whenever…they seem to believe that the whole world is going to wait on them to make up their mind….if you put these pieces together, there is such a clear and distinct pattern emerging that one has to wonder whether it is madness or a design to destroy”. 

He added that these actions and utterances were, “the ultimate examples of wanting to seize political power at all costs, no matter what it does to the Guyanese people, no matter what it does to Guyana’s economy, to Guyana’s image internationally, no matter it does to Guyana, they want to make Guyana look bad and do bad, with one motive in mind, to displace the People’s Progressive Party from government”.

The Guyanese people are watching very closely, he stated in closing, as is the international community and potential investors who are taking note.

The AMLCFT) was defeated in the National Assembly by a majority opposition vote despite pleas from the Government benches for responsible action during the arguments. The Bill was presented to the House for its final reading on November 7.

However, Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall and Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit Paul Geer will still attend the November 18, CFATF meeting and attempt to explain the situation.


CFATF has already prepared a draft report which will constitute the evaluation report of Guyana and in the conclusion of that report; Guyana is scheduled to be declared a non-compliant jurisdiction. This means that member states worldwide are invited to implement against Guyana such counter measures that they deem necessary to protect themselves and their business entities within their respective jurisdictions from the money laundering and terrorism risks which Guyana will pose.


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