President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling is urging Members of Parliament to ensure that the Anti-Money Launder-ing legislation is passed in the National Assembly not only avoid international sanction but also to ensure local transparency and accountability.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Combatt-ing the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 is expected to be debated on Thursday in the opening session of Parliament. It is expected that Chairman of the Select Committee examining its provisions Gail Teixeira will present the committee’s report
for adoption by the House. The Bill needs the blessing of the opposition parties for it to be passed in the National Assembly. A Partnership for National Unity is expected to put forward a number of proposed amendments for the legislation on Thursday.
Speaking to the Stabroek News yesterday, Urling said too that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) should be established “immediately” adding that he could not agree with government having a final no-objection clause as this violates the spirit of the Constitution.
Speaking on the AML/CFT amendments, he said, “APNU’s argument that they have not had sufficient time to review the legislation and offer their own input is disingenuous.
They had at least four months since the first deadline was missed to articulate and draft their own positions for inclusion into the Government’s draft.
“I think it is a missed opportunity [for] APNU to really ensure that their input went into the legislation and thereby ensuring that a stronger and more robust Bill was sent to the Parliament for deliberations. Moreover, it would have tested the government’s commitment to stronger rules, oversight and penalties.”
Urling said in the current design of the Parliament, it is “absolutely essential” that compromise and concessions be the order of the day. “Therefore, I view the AFC’s position that if the PPC is established it would support the money laundering legislation as reasonable,” he said.
“Here I see the government passing up on a great opportunity to avoid all the drastic consequences to Guyana for not adopting the legislation. If the consequences are as dire and pernicious as we in the private sector and government are making it out, then it’s a small concession to move forward with the constitutionally mandated establishment of the PPC.
“This body [the PPC] should be established immediately.”
He added that government’s demand for a final ‘no-objection’ clause is unnecessary.
Urling went on to say that there are many mechanisms in the current legislation to ensure that the government’s interests are served on the PPC. “The government appoints representatives to sit on the PPC and also has a say on who the Chairman of the PPC is. With all this oversight over the functioning of the PPC, it is needless for a government’s no-objection,” he said.
“The government can have its appointed representatives on the PPC query any discrepancy and ensure the full integrity of the procurement process,” said Urling.
Turning his attention to the Local Government Bills, Urling said there should be no excuse or rationale for President Donald Ramotar not to assent to these Bills considering that all sides of the Parliament adopted them unanimously over two months ago.
“I cannot expound enough how urgent the citizens of Guyana need these bills and for local government elections to commence forthwith. Our democracy is at risk, our communities are at risk and the voice of our people is at risk, the longer we take to ensure local government elections,” he said. “Just look at what is going on at the George-town Municipality and the eyesore and health risk it poses to visitors and the citizens of the city,” said Urling.
“The Minister of Local Government and the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment should be pressing the President to assent to these Bills,” said Urling.