[www.inewsguyana.com] – The first meeting of the Special Select Committee considering the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Amendment Bill since the end of the two month recess on October 10 has been postponed.
This is according to Chairperson of the Committee and Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who informed that the postponement resulted from the failure of several opposition members to attend the meeting which was set for today, October 21 at 16:30hrs.
This comes amid accusations that the opposition is dragging its feet on the passage of these critical amendments, without which there could be serious implications for the country’s financial institutions and the private sector.
Teixeira said she was informed by Deputy Speaker and Opposition Member of Parliament Deborah Backer that she could not attend the meeting, along with Alliance for Change Leader Khemraj Ramjattan.
The Government Chief whip in a statement said she consulted with the members on the government side on this request, since Backer indicated that they will be willing to meet next Monday, October 28, 2013.
“I responded that we would not agree to next week as the Committee must meet this week. I asked for their views on meeting Tuesday, October 22 or Wednesday, October 23. I committed to consult the government members as to the request for the postponement and a new date for the committee to meet. Mrs. Backer committed to discuss the dates I proposed with the opposition members,” Teixeira said, adding that “The quorum of a parliamentary committee is three members with many such meetings being held in the 9th Parliament and 10th Parliament. The rule of thumb is that the Committees’ work must continue.”
Teixeira said it was the members of the opposition who set the date of the Committee for today October 21 at the October 14 meeting despite efforts by her as chair to convince them to meet earlier on October 17 and October 18.
The Government members have indicated that they remain convinced that today’s Committee meeting could have carried through with the three government members and the other opposition members – Basil Williams and Carl Greenidge.
The statement noted that crucial time was lost at the August 5 meeting when the Opposition by majority voted to adjourn the Committee meeting to October.
“The request for the postponement today again indicates that the opposition seems to have scant interest in concluding and or supporting this bill.”
The statement added that the completion of the work of the Committee is critical to the economic and social well-being of Guyana and its citizens. “Opposition members, cognizant of the deadlines which have been passed in May and August, 2013, cannot claim to be unaware of the absolute necessity to return this bill to the House for debate by early November and the consequences to Guyana if this deadline is again missed.” The Meeting is set for tomorrow, Tuesday, October 22 at 17:00hrs.