By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Despite publications by the Government Information Agency (GINA) of widespread rejection of the Opposition’s proposed amendments to the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, the main opposition party is holding tight to its position.
Government Ministers over the past week held consultations on the proposed amendments in Bartica, Linden and Berbice following which it was reported by GINA that the residents had rejected the amendments put forward by the opposition, particularly A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
However, APNU Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon while speaking exclusively to iNews accused the administration of a ‘command performance’, adding that the meetings were staged and persons were paid to attend.
Harmon further stated, “I refuse to trust information coming from GINA, even the photographs which were posted by them show that the attendance was poor and it does not represent adequately the population of those communities.”
He contended that the Administration sought to put a ‘spin’ on what exactly it is he and his colleagues are doing in the Parliamentary Select Committee considering the amendments.
“That is what they have done and they continue to mislead the nation, all as part of their propaganda agenda… I would like them to say how many persons attended those meetings and if it truly represented a widespread rejection.”
The APNU MP also lashed out at the Government for using the Regional Mashramani Flag Raising Ceremonies to serve the Government’s private and partisan agenda.
On a separate note, Harmon informed of a meeting between private sector members and Opposition members for Tuesday, February 25 on the amendments.
He said the Opposition intends to meet with all stakeholders to explain their position, exchange views and encourage buy in. He did inform that as it stands, the Opposition intends to hold tight to the finalization of the amendments which is currently being drafted by the Chief parliamentary Counsel.
He said the amendments to the Act are merely to strengthen it, along with the minimal requirements of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and maintains that they have every right to do same despite objections from the Government.
“We are not taking away, we are adding and it is important to note that even CFATF already said that they will not intervene in National Parliaments.”
Among the amendments are for Police and Customs Officers to have the power to seize currency worth over $2M (US$10,000) and arrest persons if it is suspected that it is the proceeds of or the subject of money laundering.
Additionally, APNU also proposed that the Finance Minister no longer have the power to appoint the Director of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and be placed in a committee of the National Assembly.
They further proposed the establishment of an authority comprising 10 persons nominated by the National Assembly after consulting with stakeholders.