Attorney General of Guyana, Senior Counsel Basil Williams, has described as erroneous statements made by Opposition Member of Parliament, Bishop Juan Edghill that under the new Anti Money Laundering Committee being set up by Government, its members will enjoy several exemption from various taxes.
In wrapping up the debate on the Amendment Bill, which has since been passed, Mr. Williams explained that it is the committee and not its members that will be exempted from taxes.
He told the Assembly that if one were to read Section 7G (1), one would see that it is the Committee and not individuals that will benefit, as against Edghill’s “erroneous” contentions.
Section 7G (1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Finance of Terrorism Bill states that “The Committee, its assets, property, income and its operations and transactions authorised by this Act, shall be exempt from all taxation including customs duty, consumption tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, property tax and purchase tax, and the Committee shall be exempt from payment of any tax or duty whatsoever.”
“That is the problem I have. I have to come here and give lessons all the time. All the time I have to be teaching and the ingratitude”, the Attorney General scolded as he pressed Members of the House to ensure they read and understand the Bills that appear before the House before they offer comments and statements.
He later explained to News Source that it is the finances of the Committee as an organisation that will not attract the taxes, and not the members of the Committee.
Funding for the new Committee will come through the National Assembly and grants or donations.
Under the new legislation, “The Committee shall cause to be kept proper books of accounts and other records relating to the affairs of the Committee, and shall prepare annually a statement of accounts in a form satisfactory to the Minister responsible for Finance, being a form which shall conform to established accounting principles”. It’s accounts will be audited by the Auditor General.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing National Co-ordination Committee will have the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs as its Chairperson with the other members being the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Governor of the Bank of Guyana; the Commissioner General of the Revenue Authority; the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit; the Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit;the General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board; the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; the Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council; the Chairperson of the Gaming Authority; and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officer.
The Committee will be responsible for developing anti-money laundering policies and coordinating national action plans among other objectives.
During Friday’s debate on the Amendment Bill which cleared the way for the setting up of the Committee, the Opposition lambasted the Government for many of the changes and additions to the Act.
The Attorney General said the changes were necessary and “those who do nothing, shall fear nothing”.
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