AML Bill in shambles as Opposition vote against clauses in Select Committee

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh

[]The relationship between the government and the opposition has taken a turn for the worse as it relates to the work of the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill in the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Monday, February 10.

In an invited comment to iNews, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh said that legal drafters informed the Committee that it was not possible to draft amendments based on the “vague recommendations” made by the Opposition.

The Opposition proposed three major amendments to the Principal Act at the weekend during the Committee meeting.

As a result of the revelation by the legal drafters, Dr. Singh noted that “Government therefore proposed that the committee conclude its work on those aspects of the bill that address CFATF recommendations and on which there is no disagreement and secure passage of those to comply with the CFATF requirements while we continue to examine and consult on the other amendments proposed by the Opposition.”

However, according to Dr. Singh, the Opposition refused to accommodate this suggestion and voted against proceeding with the clauses on which there is agreement and which would have addressed the CFATF recommendations. “Instead the Opposition insisted that the committee be adjourned until the drafters can produce a draft based on their instructions, thereby effectively making it impossible for the bill to be passed by this week’s deadline. This refusal by the opposition to proceed with the amendments on which there is agreement and which would have addressed the CFATF recommendations discloses the true intent of the opposition all along, and that is to frustrate passage of the Bill beyond the deadline, with the aim of causing hardship on the Guyanese economy and the Guyanese people.”

Two of the proposed amendments by the Opposition deal with the Financial Intelligence Unit and how the Director of that Unit is appointed. At the moment, the Principal Act gives the authority to the Finance Minister to appoint the Director; however, the APNU is proposing that the Director be appointed through Parliament.

The other amendment has to do with expanding the power of Police and Customs Department to arrest persons found with over US$10,000 in their possession.



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