President speaks out on efforts to sabotage financial crimes legislation at crucial juncture – during 7th GLU Triennial Delegates meeting

Georgetown, GINA, October 25, 2013

 

The Guyana Labour Union (GLU) is holding firm to its position that cuts to budgetary allocations aimed at improving conditions of the working class are unconscionable and that legislators behind this act cannot be considered friends of workers.

At the opening of the Union’s 7th Triennial Delegates Congress, on Thursday, there was much doubt about whether the political opposition has the interest of the workers at heart, considering the transformative projects that were rejected in the parliament over the last two years.

President Donald Ramotar was in attendance and received the Critchlow Medal from GLU’s Assistant General Secretary Camille Reid. He argued strongly against what he described as political blackmail unfolding before the nation.

“I don’t think that we are going down the right road in many of these areas. What is being produced in our politics now is blackmail politics and I think that will have far reaching consequences for this country… while it might look immediately to satisfy some immediate demands, in the long- term it will go to undermining out democracy,” President Ramotar argued.

The political opposition, since the onset of their one seat majority in the Parliament after the November 2011 general elections, has clearly demonstrated an unwillingness to support any government crafted legislation.

Among them is the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill which requires legislative approval to avoid the international community blacklisting Guyana for failing to confirm to financial crimes’ regulations.

After suffering defeat with the opposition voting it down, the bill is to be re-tabled and already there is talk about the political opposition holding a similar posture on the legislation.

President Ramotar, who told workers that their welfare too depends on the passage of the legislation, is still perturbed by the political horse-trading to which the financial crimes legislation has been subjected.

“The anti money laundering bill should stand alone. It is so vital and so important that it should stand alone. All we are doing is bringing our legislation up on par with other jurisdictions in our hemisphere. If it is not passed, it will do immeasurable harm to this country, for business… for ordinary people,” President Ramotar opined.

Guyana’s financial institutions and systems could become vulnerable, foreign investments may be lost and international capital flows could be stymied without an Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation.

President Ramotar explained that the remittance which many look for from their relatives overseas could be hampered and that the effects can trickle down to every Guyanese.

Following the furor over the bill, and the political opposition demanding the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) before acceding to the anti-money laundering bill, Guyana missed the deadline in which it was required to strengthen its legislation in this regard.

Guyana had to plea for an extension after a delegation from the country led by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall met with officials of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). The extension was granted and Guyana now has until November to pass the legislation.

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