Gov’t briefs Lusignan residents on anti-laundering bill

-members of audience call for protest

Residents of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, yesterday pledged to “hit the streets” of Georgetown to protest their dissatisfaction with the stances taken by APNU and the AFC with regards to the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill.

The commitments were made to Minister within the Ministry of Finance Juan Edghill during a town hall-style meeting by the fifty or so villagers who attended the meeting at the Lusignan Community Centre.

The meeting was one of two held yesterday – another was held in Mahai-ca – and part of a series of meetings organized by government to raise awareness on, and support for the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill.

For about thirty minutes each, the residents listened to Edghill and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall replay the arguments they have been offering since the passage of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill became an issue i.e.  the Caribbean Financial Action Force (CFATF) required Guyana to pass the bill by several deadlines which were missed because of the opposition’s refusal give their support; Guyana has been blacklisted which, among other things, can affect the ability of citizens to send and receive money; some of the amendments to the bill put forward by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will criminalize large quantities of money and make it easier for vested officers to seize such if they suspect it was laundered or intended for laundering.

Aside from thanking Edghill and the rest of the government for explaining the existing situation to them, the residents noted that serious actions much be taken to show A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) that the citizens who they claim to represent are against their decisions, at least where the bill is concerned.

Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to chastise his National Assembly counterparts, Edghill implored the residents, specifically those who supported to the AFC, to go to their leaders and ask them why they have sided with  APNU with regards to the passage of the bill.

He also told the residents that the opposition parties are aware of the fact that not passing the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill will impact the country badly. He said that the opposition parties are intentionally opposing the bill for Guyana to be penalized, and for its citizens to blame government for all of their woes which would stem from such a development.

Edghill suggested to the residents that the opposition parties believe the government to be direly desperate to pass the bill, and have therefore resorted to making exorbitant demands – that the President give his assent to bills which he has refused to sign into law; that government cede its bid to retain its no-objection powers in the procurement process and set up the Public Procurement Com-mission; and that the amendments proposed by APNU be imposed on the AML/CFT principal Act.

Urged on by the presentations made by the two ministers, one man stood and suggested that a small town hall meeting, such as the one held yesterday, is not enough. He told Edghill that other members of the community need to be sensitized, and asked that a larger meeting be held so that more members of the community can be presented with the information made available last evening.

Another man suggested that the community turn out to the streets of Georgetown and protest to show the opposition “that the people mean business.”

Yet another rose and agreed with the idea to take to the streets. He however, suggested that the entire community be mobilized, so that the community can take to the streets in massive numbers. As these suggestion were being made other members offered applause, signalling their support for the ideas.

Satisfied that government’s message had been received, Edghill thanked the residents for their support, and assured them that he would inform government of the position they have taken.

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