By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – “There is simply no excuse for the Bill being in limbo, it should have never been in limbo… this government has done all it can” said Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira as she chided members of the opposition sitting in the Parliamentary Select Committee considering amendments to the anti – money Laundering and countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill.
According to Teixeira who is also the chair of the committee, the APNU – A Partnership for National Unity – members’ behavior is inconsistent and perplexing.
In making her point, she recalled a meeting held on Saturday, February 8 where there was a proposal by the APNU members to have a bilateral committee established that will review Bills which did not receive the assent of the President. She added that the government members responded in the affirmative under the conditions that the amendments as they were would be approved by both sides and returned to the House for passage at the Monday, February 10 Sitting.
According to Teixeira on Sunday, President Donald Ramotar received a letter from Opposition Leader David Granger which basically called for the work of the committee to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion and urged that a mutual agreed statement be issued in relation to the bilateral committee. She said on Sunday the Bill was also approved by both sides in the committee.
She explained however that on Saturday the Opposition had proposed amendments to the Principle Act to which the government asked that it be made in writing. She told reporters that on Monday, before a committee meeting set for noon and a Sitting of the House which was also scheduled for 14:00hrs, the President mailed the Opposition Leader asking him for their support in passing the Bill during the Monday Sitting where the Prime Minister Samuel Hinds would have also announced that a joint committee would be set up to look at the Bills as was requested by the opposition.
She said the President further asked that the amendments proposed to the Act would be sent to CFATF – Caribbean Financial Task Force – to see if it meets their requirement to which there has been no response. She said on Monday all the efforts at the weekend basically ‘fell flat on its face’.
The committee is now set to meet again on February 19 where it is expected that their amendments will be drafted and if not, a later date is to be set.
She explained that the Financial Action Task Force is currently meeting in Paris where they will decide if to give Guyana more time or select Guyana for review, particularly in light of the country’s unique situation.
Meanwhile, Teixeira also lashed out at Alliance for Change Leader Khemraj for what she said was a callous disregard for the work of the committee. She said the member is very tardy in his attendance as he holds tight to his position that unless a Public Procurement Commission is established there will be no support from the AFC for the passage of the Bill.
She explained that the process for the setting up of the Commission has begun but posited that it will not be completed overnight.
The Presidential Advisor also upheld positions by her other colleagues that some of the amendments proposed by the opposition could be dangerous, particularly the proposal that Senior Police/Customs Officers be provided with the ability to stop and search persons, and if such persons are found with $2M worth of currency or more it can be seized if the police has reasonable suspicion that it is the proceeds of or the subject of money laundering.