By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Many had expected stronger arguments against the re – committal of the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee by the Government and a voting style in the National Assembly that would have seen the Opposition forcing the Bill back into a Committee against the will of Government.
Surprisingly, it was quite the opposite. Government, despite registering its preference to have the Bill not returned to the committee and remain on the floor for speedy considerations voted after close to three hours of debate for the Bill to be resubmitted to a Special Select Committee for consideration.
The AML/CFT Amendment Bill had spent close to five months in a similar committee earlier in the year which was chaired by Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira.
The Government Chief Whip in November had concluded the work of the committee without input from the Opposition and returned the Bill to the Full House where it was defeated by a majority opposition vote.
The opposition had claimed then that the amendments were incomplete and that the wok of the committee was prematurely ended and had called for the Bill to be resubmitted. These calls were not heeded by the Government which led the Opposition to vote in a manner that did not see the Bill being passed.
This later saw Guyana being blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), who under the convention to which Guyana had signed onto had indicated that such legislation needed to be enacted.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall argued on Thursday (December 19) in the House that stakeholders are already seeing effects of the blacklisting and expressed the belief that the importance of Bill and it being passed in timely manner cannot be denied.
Nandlall made it clear that Government’s preference was for the Bill not to be returned to a select committee but said in the face of the fact that the Bill must be passed as a matter of national imperative was prepared to ‘flex’.
He urged however, that with a move in that direction, members must ensure that the work is proceeded with expeditiously.
“Any additions or amendments to be made I ask that members be cognizant that the Bill had already be approved by CFATF as satisfying provisions”
Meanwhile, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Carl Greenidge maintained that the Bill should have never been removed from the committee and told the Government that he hopes a lesson would have been learnt.
He said nothing has changed and the process has to be completed while debunking claims that diminishing of remittances is already occurring as a result of the blacklisting.
He accused the Government of exaggerating the real situation and scaring Guyanese. He warned that if the Government does not consider appeals of the Opposition this time round it will not get the support that side of the House.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Change maintained a position it has had on the Bill which states that without the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, the AFC members will not support the AML/CFT Amendment Bill.
Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman reminded the House that the life of the previous committee that considered the Bill had elapsed and as such, a new committee would have to be set up.