[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling has described the failure of the National Assembly to pass the critically needed Anti-Money Laundering Amendment Bill as “political foolishness”.
Noting that Guyana’s blacklisting is bad news for everyone, not just the business community, Urling said that the move would have the effect of, “increasing cost, slowing down transaction time, and also creating inflation that would put an increased burden on businesses.”
He said the main group that will be affected is the consumers as businesses will adopt and will pass on their increased cost to them.
As a businessman, he noted that one of the biggest threats is the shortage of foreign currency, which is ongoing and whilst not connected to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) decision, he expects it to be exacerbated as Guyana has been referred to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“Foreign currency would be harder to obtain and the local currency will be devalued. This effect will see import costs increasing and the resultant rise in goods and many commonly used items, noting that the cost of the main import which is fuel, will increase. This will have a knock on effect on fuel prices and even the Guyana Power and Light Inc., which received a $10 billion subsidy in 2013, may have to get an increased subsidy or consumers will pay more for electricity,” Urling said.
International financial services such as remittance providers will also see an increase in the costs to conduct business, and this will be felt by persons using these services, according to Urling.
He further noted that the banking sector will also be negatively affected as some overseas based banks may opt to sever ties with their local partners or counterparts due to increased pressure from the FATF.
“Some of them just won’t bother as Guyana is a small market for them, and with the extra pressure being placed on them, it’s just not worth the effort.”
The fact that even CFATF officials reached out to local politicians and explained technical details was noted. Urling is of the opinion that since the issue was more a political than a technical issue, Caricom should have stepped up to act as a mediator and at least make an attempt to broker a deal to ensure the legislation’s passage.
The government and the political Opposition are in a deadlock, as both sides cannot seem to arrive at a compromise to pass the amended legislation.
[Extracted and Modified from GINA]