No immediate need for Data protection laws – Finance Minister

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By Jomo Paul

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan

[www.inewsguyana.com] – While Guyana’s Private Sector is calling for Data Protection laws simultaneous with the passing of new laws that gives the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) access to banking information – the government says there is no immediate need for emphasis on such legislation.

The Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2015 seeks to amend Section 63 of the Financial Institutions Act to permit disclosure of customer information by a financial institution to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The existing law requires the revenue authority makes a lawful request or demand for the information.

The Private Sector Commission – uneasy over the tabling of the Bill without due consultation had made some recommendations for it to be amended.

The Commission said it researched the issue and found examples in the United Kingdom which has a Data Protection Act and in the US where the protection is built into the same Act which provides for access, along with Regulations governing the criteria for federal revenue authority’s access to and usage of the data.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan however does not have this view. He told reporters on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 that there was no immediate need for such legislation.

“There will be need for stronger data protection but I don’t know about the need for it immediately,” Jordan stated.

According to the Minister, contrary to some of the concerns being promulgated in local media, the new law is not for political gains. According to the Minister, Guyana has international treaty obligations to which it must adhere.

This particular law is in response to US treaty regulations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

The legislation is a United States federal law requiring United States persons (including those living outside the U.S.) to have yearly reported themselves and their non – U.S. financial accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN).

This requires “the identification of the provider of each information and in Guyana’s case it is GRA…We have to look at all the laws and stuff and where they may have loop holes we have to deal with that,” he stated.

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