Guyana’s Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon believes that recent pronouncements and concerns by the Opposition parties over the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and their decision not to support some Government legislation, may be nothing more than an indication that the Opposition parties want to head back to General Elections and want to use the clashes in the National Assembly as “a backdoor” to those elections.
He is convinced that the Opposition wants “Guyana to be seen in a bad light” in the name of removing the Peoples Progressive Party from Government, but he warns that “Guyana is no longer a kanta country”.
The combined Opposition Parties, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) hold a slim majority in the National Assembly and the AFC has indicated that it intends to withhold support some Government legislation until the President signs into law Opposition Bills which were passed by the National Assembly.
Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Bill has taken centre stage as the Bill is expected to come up for debate just days before an international deadline for Guyana to have in place comprehensive anti money laundering legislation in keeping with international norms. The AFC does not intend to support the Bill until the President assents to the Opposition Bills. A more cautious APNU has indicated that it has not been given enough time to study the amendments. APNU Officials have indicated that they are now being provided with documents and information related to the amendments as the deadline looms.
On Friday, Government Chief Spokesman Dr. Roger Luncheon described the Opposition’s arguments and positions as worrying and “reprehensible”. He said although the Government may be running late with the legislation, the Opposition should still “rise above the political fray” and give the legislation the support it needs to move through the National Assembly and become law.
“Linking the support for an enactment of the amended Bill to the President’s withholding of assent has taken the nation into an extreme parlous state and condition”, Dr Luncheon said. The Cabinet Secretary added that the Opposition parties cannot be unaware of the likely consequences of the legislation not being passed in the National Assembly. He said Guyana could find itself in the company of states that it should not be.
APNU Member of Parliament Joe Harmon has explained that the Government appears in a rush to get the National Assembly to hurry the legislation through without giving it the attention and scrutiny it deserves. Harmon has stated that documents which should have been provided to the Opposition months ago are now being handed over. He said the APNU does not intend to “shirk” its responsibility to go through the amendments and ensure proper legislation is laid before the house.
Dr. Luncheon on the other hand is of the view that the Opposition parties are making excuses but he is still hopeful that they’ll be able to settle their differences when the Bill comes up for debate in the National Assembly.
Guyana has been criticised in the past by the International Community for not enforcing anti money laundering laws. The United States believes that there is a major problem with money laundering in Guyana and money laundering is linked to the drug trade.