By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee considering the amendments to the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill moments ago issued a statement defending its ‘walkout’ from a session on Monday, February 3.
The statement said the session ended in disorder just after 20:00hrs when opposition members walked out in protest over the attitude and behavior of the Chairperson of the Committee, Gail Teixeira.
“The meeting which started on friendly enough terms even to the extent of glossing over passages of the minutes which had led to some tense moments during the last meeting, came to a sudden and abrupt halt over a ruling by the Chair regarding her powers in relation to voting on a motion proposed by Dr. Ashni Singh.”
According to the Opposition, the first substantive item on the agenda was a request from the Private Sector Commission to participate as observers at the session.
The Opposition said they had no objection to the participation of stakeholders in the Select Committee’s deliberations on an ad hoc basis and as the need arose to which a motion was passed.
The Opposition added that the contention arose when Dr. Singh who had been trying to persuade the meeting to support full attendance on grounds of their importance, proposed that an additional motion be adopted authorizing the PSC to be invited as observers to all future meetings of the Select Committee.
Dr Singh’s motion was regarded by the majority of members (opposition members) at the meeting as contradictory to the motion which had been already approved.
“They therefore considered it improper and decided that it should not be put to a vote. The Chairperson contended that she was not bound to be guided by the meeting and put the matter to the vote. Her Government colleagues invited the Opposition to oppose the motion, if they dared. When a majority of members called for the matter to be resolved by way of a vote Ms. Teixeira refused. The Opposition members therefore refused to participate in the vote and walked out of the meeting” the statement explained.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the PSC Ronald Webster told iNews during an interview that he was very disappointed upon learning of the news and knows of other private sector members who are also disgusted at the unfolding of the events.
According to Webster, meetings were held with members of both Opposition parties where they indicated their willingness to allow the PSC to attend the meetings as observers. He said it was on this ground that the proposal was made by Dr. Singh.
He said they have received no explanation from the Opposition directly on this “change of heart” as he called it. He reminded of the importance of passing the amendments to the business community and the economy as a whole.