Private sector lobbies opposition over anti-money laundering bill, proposes that select committee holds hearings in public

The private sector earlier this month held separate meetings with APNU and the AFC to urge support for the anti-money laundering bill and proposed that the parliamentary select committee holds its hearings in public and it also forwarded a compromise on the procurement commission.

Its press release issued today follows:

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) met on Tuesday, 10th December, 2013, with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and on Wednesday, 18th December, 2013, with the Alliance for Change (AFC), to exchange views and share information with regard to the passing by Parliament of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill.

The PSC, at the meeting with APNU reiterated its concerns previously expressed in its petition to Parliament, submitted on 5th November, 2013, that failure to enact the legislation to prohibit money laundering and the financing of terrorism to comply with the requirements of the Caribbean Financing Action Task Force (CFATF) with the consequential referral of Guyana to the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would do considerable harm to the legitimate private sector of the country and cause severe hardships for the ordinary citizens of Guyana.

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) informed the PSC that the Party strongly supports AML/CFT Legislation, provided that the Legislation includes the institutional strengthening of the Bank of Guyana and the Financial Intelligence Unity (FIU) sufficient to achieve the objectives set out in the Legislation and to ensure enforcement under the law. APNU pointed out to the PSC that, even though the Bill presented to Parliament in its present form may satisfy the minimum standards of the CFATF, it did not meet the conditions considered by APNU to be essential for the implementation of the Legislation.

The Private Sector Commission expressed its support for the position of APNU with regard to the strengthening of the Legislation to provide the necessary institutional and enforcement requirements.

The PSC further urged APNU to support the referral of the Bill to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee and that APNU should make every possible effort to find consensus and complete the work of the Select Committee in time for the Bill to be returned to Parliament.

The PSC proposed to APNU, that the meetings of the Special Select Committee be held in public and APNU stated that they would support such a proposal.

In its meeting with the AFC, the AFC informed the PSC that its support for the AML/CFT Amendment Bill being passed in Parliament is conditioned on the government agreeing to the appointment of the Procurement Commission as is currently legislated for by Parliament without any further amendment to provide the Cabinet with the right of a “no objection”.

The PSC acknowledged the position of the AFC and pointed out that the PSC, has on more than one occasion, urged the government in writing to appoint the Procurement Commission as is required by the Constitution.

The PSC, however, proposed that the AFC consider reaching a consensus with government along the following lines:

The Procurement Act should be amended to give the Cabinet the right to a no objection for contracts proposed by the National Tender Board even after the Procurement Commission has been set up.

An objection can only be made if Cabinet believes that the procedures laid out in the Procurement Act were not adhered to. This is in the existing Act already.

Cabinet’s objection should be made to the Procurement Commission as an oversight and appellate body, who will then review the reasons for the objection and make a ruling.

If the Procurement Commission disagrees with the grounds for objection and finds that the law was adhered to as per the Procurement Act, then permission will be granted to the National Tender Board to proceed with the awarding of the contract as recommended by them without referral back to the Cabinet.

If the procurement Commission agrees with the objection, then the matter is sent to the National Tender Board to remedy the short comings and sent back to the Cabinet for their no objection.

Once the Act is amended by parliament and assented by the President, the Procurement Commission should be installed with a level of urgency.

Adequate funding should be provided to ensure that the Procurement Commission can carry out its function effectively.

The PSC informed the AFC that the Commission is willing to represent this position to the government in an effort to persuade consensus.

The PSC urged the AFC that, in the meantime, the AFC join with APNU in the Special Select Committee to find consensus on the AML/CFT Legislation.

The AFC agreed with the proposal of the PSC that the Special Select Committee meetings should be held in public and confirmed that they would support such a proposal.

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