AML Bill still most important issue facing the country– President Ramotar

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Head of State, Donald Ramotar. [iNews' Photo]
Head of State, Donald Ramotar. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – With the negative effects of the Guyana’s blacklisting by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) due to Guyana’s failure to pass the Amended Anti-money laundering bill, already being felt, President Ramotar described it as the “most important issue facing our country”.

Briefing the media at State House today, the president said that this and more was anticipated and predicted by government despite the views of the political opposition who refused to support the bill’s passage. He recalled some of the statements made that sought to downplay the effects of its non-passage.

“The government is crying wolf was one statement appearing in the Stabroek News, Clive Thomas’s article. You had some other comments, “Even if Guyana is found wanting in its assessment, he argued, “There is absolutely no automaticity to sanctions…this was in the Kaieteur News by Dominic Gaskin”. The fact that the bill resulted from an international process was reiterated by President Ramotar.

 “This is extremely important and it calls for patriotism, it calls for love of people, love of country to avoid the worst form of this”.

The president explained that even if the bill was passed and consented to almost immediately, it would not automatically make everything ok. “There are still some hoops that we would have to go through”. He posed this question to opposition political leaders, “Why as national leaders do you want to expose people to the hardship and harshness that this can bring about? It is beyond me sometimes”. He recalled that government, which was once in opposition, supported the then PNC administration in the passage of nationally important bill without conditions, but this is not obtaining now, “It seems to me that people are putting narrow party agendas above our national agendas”.

He appealed for a sense of patriotism to prevail and let the bill be passed in the National Assembly. “This is a bill that calls for patriotism, it doesn’t call for any kind of linkages, and we should pass this bill as early as possible so that we can minimise the length of time that Guyana will be hurting as a result of this”.

Asked about the possibility of local government and general elections, to break the impasse, the president cited some uncertainty about the next move, particularly if the impact of Guyana’s blacklisting really starts to “hit home” very hard on the local economy. He stated that there is a possibility that government may have to return to the polls, but it is something that he is not desirous of, at present.

 “I would prefer to go to the local government elections, but I can’t shut my eyes to the political reality that exists and make a bland promise that I will go to local government elections tomorrow, as I would have done if we had the majority in the parliament.”

CFATF has blacklisted Guyana, following its inability to pass legislation, approved by the financial group. This move follows a high level Plenary Meeting held from May 26-29, 2014 in Miami, USA.

The CFATF is now calling on its members to consider implementing further counter measures to protect their financial systems from the possible ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana and has referred the country to its parent body the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

[extracted and modified from GINA] 

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