Opposition needs to understand their role in a democratic society- President Ramotar

Georgetown, GINA, August 20, 2013

President Donald Ramotar said that whether a Government has a parliamentary majority, or not, this should not affect the task of national development as there must be a genuine commitment and political will from both sides to ensure that national interest is placed above all else.

He was at the time speaking on a recent special television programme on Television Guyana (TVG).

Speaking about the three branches of a democratic society, he explained that there needs to be a better understanding of various roles under the executive (of which the President is the head), the legislature (Parliament) and the judiciary.

“There is lack of understanding of our various roles in the various sections of the State in which we operate. The Parliament is very important, but it cannot substitute for the work of the executive, and that is the problem we are facing, the Opposition wants to take executive powers, which they do not have, in Parliament,” President Ramotar said.

He said that this attempt by the Opposition to usurp the executive’s power is unconstitutional and is deemed unacceptable anywhere in the world.

The Head of State said that initially he had hoped that the new configuration in Parliament would have been used to further advance the country; however, it being used to do the opposite.

“I hope the Opposition will understand the role of Parliament; if they do then they can play a more constructive role in the general development of the country.

With regards to inter-party talks, the President said that while this has and will continue to be made a priority, the experience thus far has not produced a great degree of success. He recalled certain events that occurred in 2012 such as tripartite talks as it relates to the national budget and the concessions and agreements which were reached and subsequently reneged on by the Opposition.

Similar events unfolded with regards to the Linden electricity issue, when the Opposition Leader, David Granger agreed to the increased tariff and subsequently backed down on it. The Opposition’s reactions to the Linden Commission of Inquiry, which they themselves called for, can also attest to the fact that tripartite talks have yielded little success.

“This is very disappointing, not only in the Parliament, but also in our relationship with the Opposition…the result of our dialogue could have been much better if the interest of the country was given paramountcy,” President Ramotar said.

The Head of State also expressed his disappointment with the way the Opposition has been dealing with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCT) Bill.

He reminded of the importance of this Bill to the country, the private sector and for people to conduct business generally with the international community. He emphasised that if this Bill is not passed, the country could face great difficulties with can do irreparable damage to national development, and the country’s image internationally.

“… if there is anything that is harming the national interest, then all of us, regardless of our position in society, should try to ensure that our national interest is protected at all times,” he stated. Their refusal to deal with the Bill before the recess is another disappointment, the President lamented.

The amendments to the Bill are necessary if Guyana is to comply with certain international recommendations made by the Caribbean Task Force on Anti Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. From the onset, Government has made a full disclosure of all the relevant information on the AMLCFT Bill in terms of its importance to Guyana, the time frame within which it must be enacted, and the consequences which are likely to ensue if it is not publicised.

If the deadline for the passage of this Bill is missed then Guyana will be labelled as non-compliant by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and countries, organisations and businesses internationally will be invited to consider what sanctions they may wish to impose on Guyana for not correcting the deficiencies in its current law.


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