Statement by Ms. Gail Teixeira, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, No. 12/2013

As chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee I was informed by Mrs. Backer, Deputy Speaker and member of the said Committee this morning, that she had to attend a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition with Mr. Harmon and therefore she was asking that the parliamentary committee meeting scheduled for this afternoon at 4:30 pm be postponed. Mrs. Backer also informed me that Mr. Ramjattan would probably not attend.

I advised her that l would need to consult with the members on the government side on this request. I also asked if in requesting a postponement they were suggesting another day this week for the Committee to meet. To which, Mrs. Backer stated that they were thinking of next Monday, October 28, 2013! I responded that we would not agree to next week as the Committee must meet this week. I asked for their views on meeting Tuesday, October 22 or Wednesday, October 23. I committed to consult the government members as to the request for the postponement and a new date for the committee to meet. Mrs. Backer committed to discuss the dates I proposed with the opposition members.

The public is informed that the quorum of a parliamentary committee is three members and many meetings were held in the 9th Parliament and also in this present Parliament with either side having less than the requisite numbers. The rule of thumb is that the Committees’ work must continue.

The Government members are aware of a private meeting between the President and the Leader of the Opposition at 4 pm today, but are unaware as to the invitation causing any clash with the functioning of the PSSC on the AMLCFT Amendment Bill.

Furthermore, the public needs to be reminded that it is the A.P.N.U. members who set the date of the Committee for today October 21 at the October 14 meeting despite efforts by me as chair to convince them to meet earlier on October 17and October 18.

The Government members have indicated that they remain convinced that today’s Committee meeting could have proceeded with the three government members and the other APNU members, Mr. Basil Williams and Mr. C. Greenidge.

Crucial time was lost at the August 5meeting when the Opposition by majority vote adjourned the Committee meeting to October. The request for the postponement today again indicates that the opposition seems to have scant interest in concluding and or supporting this bill.

The completion of the work of this Committee is critical to the economic and social well-being of Guyana and its citizens. The opposition members, cognizant of the deadlines which have been passed in May and August, 2013, cannot claim to be unaware of the absolute necessity to return this bill to the House for debate by early November and the consequences to Guyana if this deadline is again missed.

I, as chairperson, have therefore decided to postpone the meeting for 24 hours in response to the A.P.N.U’s request, from today to tomorrow Tuesday, October 22 at 5 pm.

I expect that the gravity of the situation will compel all members of the PSSC to attend the rescheduled meeting.

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