President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling says that following Thursday’s defeat of the anti-money laundering bill, the Chamber together with the Private Sector Commission (PSC) will meet to craft a joint strategy aimed at capturing the impacts of the sanctions to be imposed on Guyana.
However, he said that that those sanctions will have to be handed down by the CFATF before their impacts on the business and other sectors could be assessed.
Speaking on the possible consequences of the defeat of the Bill, he said that no empirical study can be done at the moment to gauge the quantitative impact of the non-passage of the CFATF-directed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013. The private sector bodies have been vocal in their call for the legislation to be passed and in the condemnation of the parliamentary Opposition for their non-support of the measures contained in the legislation.
“The PSC and GCCI will have to meet and decide on a strategy to capture and assess the impacts as they become evident.
“That can only be done when the actual causal effects have materialised now that the bill has not been passed. Moreover, we would have to await the sanctions handed down by the CFATF authorities,” said Urling in an invited comment.
“What we saw by our private sector over the past months was an attempt at pre-emptive compliance to fulfil Guyana’s obligations as outlined in the 4th follow up report,” said Urling. “Now, with the non-passage of the Bill, we have to sit back and see what the actual damage would be. I guess if it’s severe enough, as we in the PS are anticipating, then [maybe] our opposition policy makers will be open to reactive compliance,” he said.
“One thing is for sure; blacklisting will effectively damage Guyana’s reputation as an investment destination and definitely create a barrier and hurdle for our businesses when engaging in international transactions. How severe this will be, we will have to await the actual evidence,” he said.
The Private Sector Commission had tendered a petition to the members of the National Assembly “in recognition of the potential for great harm to the done to the economy and citizens of Guyana if Guyana fails to enact legislation to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism and of the fact that the future of the country lies in the hands of the honourable Members of the National Assembly.”
The PSC as the petitioner represented the interests of 17 business organisations across Guyana. The petition contended that jobs would be put at risk, insurance companies may be forced out of business, all transactions involving payments to foreign suppliers will become difficult if not impossible, importers will face delays and therefore increased costs, foreign currency would become scarce and the Guyana dollar would be devalued. The petition in its recital clauses noted that foreign banks have already severed ties with Guyanese banks and branches.
At Thursday’s session of Parliament, the majority opposition voted against the reading of the petition.