[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Parliamentary Special Select Committee considering the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill will be meeting at 15:00hrs today, Saturday February 8, as government rushes to meet a February 13 deadline of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
The committee is also slated to meet on Sunday, February 9. At the moment, it is not clear if the deadline will be met and even if the deadline is met, there is no indication from the majority opposition on whether they will support the Bill.
Commenting on the issue, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh noted that the return of two members of the Opposition to the committee meeting after they stormed out and missed two meetings earlier this week is evidence that the Opposition is finally responding to the outrage of civil society at their callous and irresponsible attitudes towards issues of national importance.
He is urging all stakeholders and social partners to maintain pressure on all Opposition parties until the Bill is passed in the National Assembly.
“The Opposition’s return to the meetings is indicative that the APNU and the AFC are buckling under pressure from Government, stakeholders and the general public to see this Bill to the House on Monday. It would appear that the Joint Opposition has exhausted its delay tactics,” the Finance Minister said in a statement.
On Friday (February 7), Leader of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger could not say if the committee will finish its deliberations in time to meet the proposed deadline for a review by CFATF.
Granger is adamant that President Donald Ramotar should respect and assent to Bills which were presented and passed in the National Assembly by the APNU and only if this is done, then the APNU will support ‘certain’ legislation presented by the government side of the House.
When asked if this includes the Anti – Money Laundering Amendment Bill, Granger said, “Well it will include what we want it to include.”
In shedding some light on what exactly the APNU is ‘cleaning up’ in the Bill, Granger explained that the draft Bill by the government puts too much power in the hands of the Legal Affairs and Finance Ministers, who has the authority to order that someone be arrested.
“The Minister can have you arrested; the Minister can have your house searched. Some of them are outrageous, that’s why we’re taking this amount of time and going through it with a fine tooth comb. It’s not only you, you’re family, people related to you. People are exposed because of some of the provisions. We have to be very careful with how we go ahead,” the APNU Leader said.
He further noted that the APNU is only interested in ensuring that the people of Guyana are protected against draconian legislation which could harm their human rights.