The Guyana Association of Bankers (GAB) is the latest group to appeal for all sides to ensure passage of the anti-money laundering amendment bill which is the source of a dispute between the government and the opposition.
It has been argued by the government and civil society groups that if the amended Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act is not approved by next month, Guyana would be blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and a host of financial transactions will be jeopardized.
The key opposition coalition, APNU says it has a series of amendments to the bill to make the infrastructure under the Act more effective. However, following disagreements between government and opposition representatives on the scheduling of meetings for discussion of the bill, the government members on the select committee went ahead and completed deliberations. That report will then be tabled in the National Assembly but it is likely to be opposed by the opposition. Since the opposition has a one-seat majority in Parliament, the government will then have to decide if it will accept further amendments to the bill.
The GAB said the transactions likely to be affected by the absence of the amended law include bank to bank relationships, access to foreign exchange in a timely manner and the jeopardizing of letters of credit.
GAB said it remained “concerned with the potential consequences of being blacklisted should Guyana fail to adequately demonstrate progress in implementation of recommendations of the CFATF “ including the amendment of the bill prior to the review of Guyana in November. The GAB called on all stakeholders to take urgent action to implement the CFATF recommendations.
In recent days, the Private Sector Commission, the Insurance Association and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association have called on all stakeholders to work urgently to agree on the bill.
The opposition has argued that the government had been warned over a number of years by the CFATF about the jeopardy that the country faced over non-compliance and did nothing about it.