By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The meeting between Guyanese politicians and representatives of the Caribbean Financial Task Force (CFATF), which was expected to iron out issues surrounding the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill, has failed to resolve the political gridlock.
What is clear however is that the Bill will not be passed in the National Assembly unless that hurdle is resolved by all the parties involved; amid warnings by CFATF that the consequences for failing to pass the legislation before May 29 could be harsh.
The ruling People’s Progressive Party and opposition parties – the Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – both met with the visiting team on Saturday, April 26.
Following the meeting, the government reported that at one point Guyana completed a Bill that was examined by CFAFT, and deemed to be compliant.
Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said that the proposed draft amendments made by the Parliamentary opposition do not address the completed Bill on which there is agreement, observing that it seeks to amend the Principal Act.
The AG also stated that the CFATF Chairperson Maynard-Gibson has indicated that Guyana is the only country yet to implement all of the body’s recommendations.
“She made it very clear that the consequences are going to be devastating,” AG Nandlall said.
Following a joint meeting with the combined opposition; it was noted that while technical advice was rendered by the team, the political stalemate which currently exist remains a hinder to the passage of the Bill.
The APNU is insisting on the passage of their amendments to the Principal Act, simultaneous with the amendment Bill, as it stressed that its only intention is to ensure there is a strong and enforceable Act.
On the other hand, the AFC is insisting on the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission before it lends its support to the passage of the Bill.
The combined Opposition holds a one seat majority in the House and without the support of one or both opposition parties, passing the Bill is impossible.
No political party appears to be hinging on its position and already the Opposition is accusing the administration of not being serious in passing the Bill. The government on the other hand has accused the Opposition of making unreasonable and unconstitutional demands hence bullying the executive.
Despite the political ramblings, the task force maintains that Guyana must pass the relevant legislation and implement all the outstanding issues within its Action Plan, fully criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing offences, address all the requirements on beneficial ownership, strengthen the requirements for suspicious transaction reporting, improve international cooperation and ensure the freezing and confiscation of all terrorist assets, and implement fully, the Conventions of the United Nations.