The opposition People’s Progressive Party is pleading with the new APNU+AFC government to ensure Guyana enacts, earliest, amended Anti – Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing legislation, lest the country is exposed to more international pressure.
The call comes at a time when the PPP continues to reject its demotion to opposition status, after 23 years in government and continues to refuse to take up its seats in the National Assembly where the amended Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill is to be debated and passed.
At a Thursday morning press briefing, PPP Executive Anil Nandlall said the PPP’s absence in the Assembly should not affect the passage of the Bill and urged the government to do what is necessary to ensure compliance with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) under which Guyana was tasked with strengthening deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime. Nandlall does not believe the PPP’s absence or presence will jeopardize Guyana’s ability to comply with its obligations.
“We only have 32 seats, so even if we go there and vote against the Bill our absence there cannot be construed as a basis for exposing Guyana to the perils to which Guyana has been exposed or continues to be exposed,” he reasoned. The amended AML/CFT Bill was presented before the10th Parliament but remained in a Parliamentary Specialty Select Committee where the government and opposition, which held a majority in the House, could not reach a consensus on the changes that should take effect.
The APNU+AFC which now forms the government has committed to its passage as the Bill is listed as one of the priority items to be addressed in the 11th Parliament which was convened on June 10th. Nandlall disclosed however that several meetings were being held currently at the level of CFATF that Guyana should have representatives attending. Guyana is to update the Task Force on its compliance to the obligations it has committed itself to among which is the enactment of the new legislation.
Nandlall said the longer the government takes to pass the Bill, makes it more difficult for Guyana, especially when doing cross border transactions. In November 2011 the CFATF brought to the attention of its Members certain jurisdictions including Guyana with significant strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regime.
With a view to encouraging expeditious rectification of the identified strategic deficiencies Guyana and the CFATF developed an Action Plan with identified target dates to address the strategic deficiencies that exist in Guyana’s national architecture to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The CFATF issued a public statement in May 2013 recommending that Guyana took steps to ensure that it addressed its AML/CFT deficiencies. Additionally, in November 2013 CFATF issued a further public statement calling upon its Members to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana.