Working People’s Alliance (WPA) members are criticising main opposition coalition APNU over its reactive stance on the anti-money laundering amendment bill and party co-leader Dr Clive Thomas has proposed that the passage of “effective” legislation should be linked to clear and consistent demands.
In addition to opposition calls for the passage of outstanding bills and the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, Thomas has said APNU’s demands should include a call for a task force on the failing sugar industry, an inquiry into the controversial government holding company NICIL and for the filling of all outstanding appointments on state and parastatal bodies.
Thomas, in an open letter to party members that was circulated last week, also said APNU should call for the holding of public hearings on the amendments even as he pointed out that while the WPA proposal on this initiative had been submitted to the coalition “for some considerable time now,” the government had already adopted a similar initiative for partisan purposes.
The amendment bill has been stalled in the National Assembly for almost a year and the country has been warned of possible countermeasures in lights of its failure to enact and implement recommended reforms.
Thomas’ letter, written in response to the “great worry, alarm, disquiet and even disgust” by members over APNU’s “seeming lack of direction,” suggested that proposals by the WPA—which is one the coalition’s key constituents—were not being acted upon to the detriment of the partnership.
He said since the formation of the coalition WPA has sought to be careful, and has remained reluctant as an organisation, in putting out public statements, which could however unintentionally, impede or discourage APNU cooperation. “There are however, conjunctures, like now, when statements become obligatory, for driving the process forward along principled lines,” he said in the letter, where he validated the concerns of his party’s members but urged that they nevertheless recommit to APNU. “This is shaping up to be an extremely testing time for WPA, as our core beliefs and values are seemingly at stake. Let us fortify the APNU!!! Let us advance the cause of the Rodneyite masses!!! Let us not relent, but plan for the eventualities, which would flow from our principled position!!! Let us not forget we are on the correct side of history in our fight for a better future for all Guyanese!!!” he wrote.
Thomas, who noted his reluctance to write the letter, acknowledged the concerns by members over the perceived widespread loss of APNU political initiative, its continual entrapment in “catch-up” politics on the anti-money laundering amendment and fears and warnings that the coalition appeared to be setting the stage for a “sell-out” of the Guyanese people and capitulation to the administration in the face of the all-out PPP/C political blitz over its money laundering stance.
Thomas further added that WPA members believe that their inputs on the issue did not appear to serve as serious political inputs for APNU decision-making, particularly when judged against what they termed the coalition’s “confused, reactive, and near abject portrayal of its position on this matter, in the public media.”
According to him, the government’s proclivity to “cry wolf” over “unabashedly false, make-believe deadlines,” for passage of the legislation was documented to APNU over the last several months. But he said WPA members have found that there has been no evidence of focused and solid offensive political work over the past several months to establish this pattern of PPP/C behaviour in the public’s consciousness.
“In its absence many of you believe that the limited and weak consultation, discussion, and deliberation with WPA on this matter reveal APNU’s peremptory and unceremonious rejection of our advice. Therefore for APNU to stridently claim now, after all these months have passed, that the government is ‘bluffing’ as yet again another ‘drop-dead’ date was passed earlier this month (February) is not good enough. You correctly, find this too lame, too laggardly, and too reactive, given the many urgings contained in the documentation, which the party has sent for consideration by APNU,” he wrote.
Thomas also said his party members were disgusted at APNU’s failure to launch a political offensive on the massive money laundering in Guyana and the fact that over 90% of its was attributable to the business community, the cabal of ruling politicians and organized criminal groups and state officials in governmental and quasi-government bodies. “Members have therefore, expressed much disgust that this has not been the basis of a solid (not tepid) APNU political offensive over the past several months. As presented your disgust is amplified in that the APNU now finds itself on the ‘back-foot’ accused by the PPP/C cabal, (imagine that, of all groups) for being in consort with money launderers and other criminals to reduce the force of our money laundering laws!” he added.
Thomas sourced his members concerns to the “rapid spread” of two views among the Guyanese public: On the one hand, he said the PPP/C is fighting for the money-laundering amendments but does not really want them and is only seeking to scapegoat and put the blame on the opposition for their defeat; on the other hand, he added, APNU is “fighting up” against the amendments but silently wants to pass them in order to curry-favour with the critics the PPP/C has marshaled against it, including the business community, although it is ironically the main source of money laundering.
In the face of the this situation, he noted the need for the WPA to publicly assert that the passage of effective money laundering legislation remains its primary goal at all costs, in and out of the National Assembly. He added that the party demanded that APNU produce and make widely available a clear, concise, accurate, and easily/grasped document listing the amendments it is proposing. “Remarkably, this was agreed on at the leadership level of APNU weeks ago; the delay in doing so has been of the utmost embarrassment for the APNU. Daily the partnership faces public ridicule and cuss-out,” he noted.
At the same time, Thomas said APNU should consistently and clearly, as a precondition for supporting effective legislation—and not in a piecemeal confused and ad hoc manner) present its calls for the passage of all outstanding APNU bills; the filling of all “outstanding” appointments to boards, commissions, and other state and parastatal bodies; a task force on the sugar industry; a Commission of Inquiry into NICIL [National Industrial & Commercial Investments Ltd]; the establishment of the Procurement Commission; and the holding of public hearings on the amendments.