APNU waiting on gov’t for more talks on anti- laundering bill

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) says it is still waiting on government to set a date for a meeting between it and the two opposition parties to discuss the embattled AML/CFT Amendment Bill.

APNU leader David Granger met President Donald Ramotar last week during which Granger suggested the commencement of tripartite efforts aimed at getting the Anti-Money Laundering Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill passed.

Such meetings, Granger said, would likely include sessions between legal representatives from the varying sides.

Granger said that he and Ramotar reaffirmed, and expressed respect for each other’s positions, while committing themselves to setting up a mechanism to facilitate progress on the matter. The opposition leader said he expected meetings between the three sides to commence this week, but to date there has been no communication between the three sides on a date for an initial meeting, or a timetable for further meetings.

Stabroek News contacted Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall yesterday to ascertain government’s position on the matter but he declined to comment. He said that Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon will be pronouncing on the matter during today’s post-Cabinet Briefing.

Stabroek News also spoke with Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira who said that she is aware that overtures were made, but does not know how concrete any of them were. She said that she has not been part of the meeting between government and APNU, and also suggested that Luncheon would be able to better shed light on the government’s position on the matter.

Meantime, Granger says government is aware of the coalition’s proposal, and that he has no intention to press government to agree to a timetable for meetings. During the meeting last week Granger also insisted that the AFC be part of whatever discussions would take place.

AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan told Stabroek News yesterday that he has not been invited to any such meeting. He added that he is not optimistic that government is desirous of having it attend any such meeting. The AFC requires the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) before it supports the passing of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill.

Further, the AFC wants the body set up under existing legislation; which would see Cabinet losing its no-objection powers in the procurement process. Government though, wants to retain its no-objection powers, and has tabled legislation in pursuit of its desire. Both the AFC and APNU has said they will not support government’s bid in this regard.

Ramjattan believes that government’s posture is an indication of its desire to maintain control of its “cash cow” (the procurement process).

Granger had said that APNU would be willing to examine whatever roadblocks stand in the way of the passage of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill. He said that he would have liked to start a mechanism that would see progress before Parliament reconvenes just over a week from now.

Bids to have these meetings come on the heels of a ruling last month by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force that Guyana is insufficiently compliant with international standards and calling on its 34 members to take countermeasures against Guyana.

 

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