Parties at odds over meeting of committee on anti-money laundering bill

The PPP/C and APNU are at odds over a date for the meeting of the parliamentary committee on the anti-money laundering bill.

The bill which the government and the private sector have argued puts the country at the risk of punishing financial sanctions remains stuck in the committee. A meeting was to be convened today to thrash out differences but this was not to be after the two sides clashed over a request for a postponement.

The following statement was issued this evening by the Chair of the Committee, Gail Teixeira, PPP/C MP

*Statement by Ms. Gail Teixeira, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Special
Select Committee on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing
of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, No. 12/2013*

As chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee I was informed
by Mrs. Backer, Deputy Speaker and member of the said Committee this
morning, that she had to attend a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition
with Mr. Harmon and therefore she was asking that the parliamentary
committee meeting scheduled for this afternoon at 4:30 pm be postponed.
Mrs. Backer also informed me that Mr. Ramjattan would probably not attend.

I advised her that l would need to consult with the members on the
government side on this request. I also asked if in requesting a
postponement they were suggesting another day this week for the Committee
to meet. To which, Mrs. Backer stated that they were thinking of next *Monday,
October 28, 2013!* I responded that we would not agree to next week as the
Committee must meet this week. I asked for their views on meeting Tuesday,
October 22 or Wednesday, October 23. I committed to consult the government
members as to the request for the postponement and a new date for the
committee to meet. Mrs. Backer committed to discuss the dates I proposed
with the opposition members.

The public is informed that the quorum of a parliamentary committee is
three members and many meetings were held in the 9th Parliament and also in
this present Parliament with either side having less than the requisite
numbers. The rule of thumb is that the Committees’ work must continue.

The Government members are aware of a private meeting between the President
and the Leader of the Opposition at 4 pm today, but are unaware as to the
invitation causing any clash with the functioning of the PSSC on the AMLCFT
Amendment Bill.

Furthermore, the public needs to be reminded that it is the A.P.N.U.
members who set the date of the Committee for today October 21 at the
October 14 meeting despite efforts by me as chair to convince them to meet
earlier on October 17 and October 18.

The Government members have indicated that they remain convinced that
today’s Committee meeting could have proceeded with the three government
members and the other APNU members, Mr. Basil Williams and Mr. C.

Crucial time was lost at the August 5 meeting when the Opposition by
majority vote adjourned the Committee meeting to October. The request for
the postponement today again indicates that the opposition seems to have
scant interest in concluding and or supporting this bill.

The completion of the work of this Committee is critical to the economic
and social well-being of Guyana and its citizens. The opposition members,
cognizant of the deadlines which have been passed in May and August, 2013,
cannot claim to be unaware of the absolute necessity to return this bill to
the House for debate by early November and the consequences to Guyana if
this deadline is again missed.

1, as chairperson, have therefore decided to postpone the meeting for 24
hours in response to the A.P.N.U’s request, from today to tomorrow *Tuesday,
October 22 at 5 pm. *

I expect that the gravity of the situation will compel all members of the
PSSC to attend the rescheduled meeting.

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