Leader of the Opposition David Granger has thrown out an offer by President Donald Ramotar to allow the Opposition’s amendments in the Anti Money Laundering Bill, while continuing to refuse to assent to other Bills that were sent to him by the National Assembly.
With the country facing possible sanctions by the Financial Action Task Force for its failure to put in place the updated Anti Money Laundering Legislation, President Ramotar made an attempt to buckle to one of the Opposition demands.
The Opposition parties have been facing opposition from the Government over their amendments that they want included in the updated Bill. The Government has been refusing to allow such a move until now.
In an Address to the Nation on Thursday, President Donald Ramotar said “I met with the Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 and I proposed to him that the Government was willing to pass the Bill with the Opposition’s amendments, even though we felt it was non compliant, and even though we did not agree with it that we would vote for it so that we can have a Bill before the FATF meeting later in June, 2014”.
“I also proposed to him that if CFATF and FATF were to find that the Bill had non-compliant provisions, that the Opposition would support amending the Bill accordingly”, the President told the Nation.
But his offer to the Opposition came with conditions and that may be the reason behind Granger’s decision to back away from the offer.
The President wanted to meet the Opposition demand to include their amendments, while at the same time sidestepping all of their other demands, including the need for a Procurement Commission.
“I also proposed that because of the urgency of the matter, that the Opposition would not link my offer to pass their Bill to their other demands: (1) My assent of all Bills passed by National Assembly and (2) My support for the Public Procurement Commission being established without Cabinet retaining its role in granting no-objection to awards above $15M (GYD). The Opposition Leader declined my offer”, Mr. Ramotar said.
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force has been pressing Guyana to pass the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering Bill. The International community has also been doing the same. But even as there are those calls, the Government is also being pushed to use the current legislation that is already in place to prosecute persons suspected in money laundering. The legislation has been in place since 2009. No one has faced money laundering charges locally.