OAS renews calls for Guyana to pass AML/CFT Bill
As the May 29th deadline for the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill draws near, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has issued another call for the Parliament of Guyana to approve the legislation.
The Bill is currently before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee, which is led by Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira but dominated by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC).
Over the weekend, OAS General Secretary Jose Miguel Insulza underscored the importance of enacting the Bill, noting that its passage will bring Guyana on par with the standards laid out by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
In a press statement, the OAS General Secretary pointed out that Guyana’s Caricom partners have already adopted the required legislation in compliance with CFATF’s standards. Any delay in the passage of the legislation would result in “unnecessary damage” to the country’s gradually growing economy. As a result, he is renewing calls for the three leading political parties in the country to demonstrate responsible leadership by endorsing the Bill at the level of the National Assembly.
Insulza offered the cooperation and support of the OAS through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), noting that Guyana’s draft law is fully consistent with the most recent recommendations of CICAD’s expert group on money laundering, which were in turn endorsed by CICAD commissioners at their 55th Regular Session in Washington, DC this week.
Last week, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission’s Trade, Intelligence and Investment Sub-committee Ramesh Dookhoo told Guyana Times that regional and international financial institutions have been implementing stringent systems to safeguard themselves against Guyana. Since November 2013, the private sector has been feeling the impact of the country’s blacklisting at the level of CFATF.
Dookhoo linked the non-passage of the AML/CFT Bill to the drop in remittances. In 2013, the new current transfers decreased by 15.7 per cent to US$353.2 million due to lower receipts of workers’ remittances which declined by US$141.1 million. The AML/CFT Bill is being scrutinised and amended at the Select Committee level. Currently, the Opposition-proposed amendments are being formatted by the Chief Parliament Counsel Cecil Dhurjon.
Would the Opposition endorse the Bill when it is placed before the House? This is the question that lingers in the minds of Guyanese. Both the APNU and the AFC have made their positions clear that they will not support the Bill in the National Assembly until the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is functional. They are also pushing for President Donald Ramotar to assent to key Opposition bills that were passed in the National Assembly but were rejected by the President.
Based on the advice of Attorney General Anil Nandlall, President Ramotar said he would not buckle under pressure, explaining that the Opposition-initiated bills are unconstitutional.
Recently, CFATF Chairperson Allison Maynard-Gibson and Executive Director Calvin Wilson met with the Government, Opposition and private sector and indicated that Guyana will face draconian measures if it fails to pass the AML/CFT Bill by May 29. From May 25 to 29, there will be the staging of the XXXIX CFATF Plenary Meeting in Miami before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary from June 15 to 20.