By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Member of Parliament Basil Williams on Thursday (February 6) refused to give a yes or no answer when asked about the opposition’s likely support of the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, if returned to the Full House at a Sitting set for Monday, February 10.
This Bill currently sits in a Parliamentary Select Committee. Williams, who called a special press conference to make public A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) position on the AML/CFT Bill did make it pellucid however, that his party does not support the Bill in its current form.
There is much talk that the report of the Committee will be presented on Monday by its Chair Gail Teixeira to the House, who will then have to vote on its passage; a move the combined opposition may not support.
A source said the country may very well experience Déjà vu; reminding of November 2013, where a previous committee which was made up of the same members was ended by Teixeira prematurely as the opposition called it then, and a report presented to the House which later saw the Bill being defeated by a majority opposition vote.
According to Williams, the Government is filibustering with the issue and is looking for ways to blame the opposition for its non-passage. He maintains that the Bill is incomplete and will not garner the support of the APNU in its current form.
“The ball is in the Government’s court,” Williams said adding that the administration is not prepared to amend the Act in a manner that will ‘break the back’ of money launderers.
In explaining the Oppositions recent walkout from a committee meeting, the APNU MP said that what is being achieved in this second committee seems to be a replica of what was done in the first.
“The PPP have again shown palpable indifference to have the work of the committee properly completed.”
He said the Opposition has no problem with the private sector or any other stakeholder making presentations before the committee or being present but must do so at the appropriate time as was done when the Bankers and Bar Association along with Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram and Professor Thomas made their presentation.
Williams says what the Government was trying to do was to move a motion that will allow the private sector to have oversight over the work of the committee’s proceeding and to ensure that they do the work properly, which the opposition will not accept.
“No private sector could come into a parliamentary committee and act in a supervisory role… the motion was simply to bring disrepute and is contentious and we are protecting the sovereignty of the Parliament.”
He said the APNU is prepared to work ‘day and night’ to complete the amendments while also rejecting claims that the opposition is trying to protect money launderers.
The Government is pushing for the completion of the amendments for a possible mid-February review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after its latest ranking of countries in terms of its level of delinquency for implementing measuring to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has ranked Guyana as the highest.