By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister within the Ministry of Finance Juan Edghill has lashed out at A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon for statements which sought to suggest that the recently held Anti – Money Laundering consultations by the Government were coerced.
The APNU MP while speaking to iNews on Tuesday (February 25) had accused the administration of a ‘command performance’, alleging that the meetings were staged and persons were paid to attend.
However, Edghill who was responsible for the organization of the meetings have since rejected these claims.
“I reject as a total fabrication Harmon’s desperate attempts to deflect from the fact that APNU supporters, in APNU strong holds have rejected their amendments,” he told iNews.
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.
It was on these grounds that Harmon in an invited comment 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.”
Edghill maintains however that the meetings were advertised to which all stakeholders, predominantly opposition supporters responded.
“Nothing was coerced, no one was paid or promised any favors and I challenge him to bring one Guyanese that can stand before me and say they were paid or promised any favors,” the Minister said, adding that “I was solely trusted with the responsibility and the organization of the town halls meetings took place from my office… we didn’t go where the PPP had a majority, we went into APNU strongholds.”
He opined that Harmon should see that the Party has lost the faith of its own supporters and be more willing to listen to the voices of the people.
He said some 150 persons attended the Linden meeting, another 300 was in attendance at the meeting in Berbice and just about 100 at Bartica.
Harmon had 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.”
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.