Impasse over anti-laundering bill increases prospect of early election – Ramkarran

In the aftermath of the impasse over the anti-money laundering bill, commentator Ralph Ramkarran says it is “not possible” to see how the government can continue in this manner without resorting to the electorate.

Writing in today’s Sunday Stabroek, Ramkarran said “The consequences of failing to compromise resulting in the legislation not being passed cannot be anything but …dire. It is not possible to see how the government can continue in this way without resorting to the electorate. Continued governance in a state of parliamentary impasse is not an option for the way forward. The skirmishing will continue and inevitably, another major issue will emerge which will defy compromise. The budget is soon to be presented.”

Ramkarran, who spent nearly 50 years in the party before quitting in 2012, says the government will obviously be thinking of the future and the “certainly unwelcome but perhaps inevitable option, will be elections in the hope that it will recapture its majority.”

The former two-term Speaker of the National Assembly, said that the government would think that it is too early for general elections as it needs more time for achievements to present to the electorate and restore its organizational capacity.

For the opposition, Ramkarran said it would be “absolutely a bad time” to go to polls because it needs more time to raise funds and develop a message.

“And if the AML/CFT legislation is the occasion for the elections, it will be on the back foot in the campaign, being accused of sabotaging the country.  Already accusations of blackmail are being hurled. It would have been preferable if elections were not held in these circumstances but no one can see any way out of this gridlock”,  Ramkarran contended.

Ramkarran, who fell out with the PPP after criticizing the government over corruption, lamented the gridlock over the anti-money laundering bill and said that it would the people of Guyana who will be affected as a result.

Noting that the major issues of contention in the bill were the appointment of the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, Ramkarran, offered his view on possible solutions.

For the Director, he said that a fair compromise would have been his/her appointment by the President after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. He said that consultation today means ‘meaningful’ consultation. The word ‘meaningful’ was added to the word ‘consultation’ in the constitution by the 2001-02 constitutional reforms because of the perfunctory process which took place in the Burnham era. He said that it is hardly possible today under this new formulation of ‘meaningful’ consultation for the President to appoint someone if the Leader of the Opposition disagrees. The present director of the FIU has been in place for many years and the opposition have argued that there was no sign of any serious work done by the FIU.

Ramkarran added that the government lost an opportunity for a reasonable compromise on the question of the no-objection to the award of contracts. He pointed out that the right of no objection for the cabinet of awards of contracts by the Procurement Committee under the Procurement Act, demanded by the government, is already justiciable. He said that an awardee whose contract is objected to by the cabinet has the right to challenge that decision in court. In recent years he said that the reach of public law has extended to all decisions by state authorities, and is likely to extend to a cabinet objection.

“The government therefore might well have been advised to seek or to accept a compromise by which an approach to the court by an awardee is regulated in such a way as to preserve some protection or advantage for the government. As it is, its insistence on the no objection, without more, in the belief that it would bring an end to the award that is objected to, is misplaced.  By failing to explore options, many of which are available but beyond the capacity of this article, the government has lost an opportunity for a compromise solution which may well have been in its interest and acceptable to the opposition. All parties stood to gain”, Ramkarran said.



More in Local News

Bisham Kuppen

Despite higher revenue, city still faces deficit

City Hall amassed a whopping $1.29 billion in revenue for the first six months of the year but continues to operate at a deficit and some city councillors are frustrated at their inability to access detailed information on the city’s expenditure.

default placeholder

Gov’t condemns Jagdeo for race baiting

The Government of Guyana (GoG) yesterday condemned Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo for “race baiting,” after he claimed that there is “an assault on people of Indian origin” during a speech at an event in New York recently.

Commander of ‘B’ Division Ian Amsterdam (second, right) meeting with Pawan Chandradeo’s wife and children

City detectives to assist in Berbice triple murder probe

The police are continuing to work all angles and a number of theories in order to solve last week’s triple murder at Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder and Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum said yesterday that a team from the force’s Major Crimes Unit (MCU) was expected to head to the area to lend assistance in the investigation.

default placeholder

Appointment of new foreign envoys based on merit, not patronage – Granger

The appointment of new foreign mission heads was based on merit and was not a form of reward, President David Granger said last evening even as he called on them to put the border controversy with Venezuela on the front burner.

The roof of Nand Persaud International Communications Inc at Tain covered with solar panels

Nand Persaud Company set to unveil huge solar project in Berbice

Local business group Nand Persaud and Company Limited will shortly unveil what is said to be the largest solar energy project in the country to date with 220 kilowatts of energy expected to be generated to power the group’s call centre at Tain, Corentyne.

default placeholder

Probe launched into maternity death

An investigation has been launched into the death of a Matthews Ridge woman who succumbed one week after giving birth via caesarean section (C-section) at the Georgetown Public Hospital, Minister of Public Health Dr George Norton has said.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: