Compromise on anti-money laundering bill must ensure structures to achieve compliance on international principles of accountable behaviour

Dear Editor,

The citizens/workers of this country do not want to see passing of the Amendment to the  Anti- Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill and the President’s assent, just so it can be said that  Guyana has honoured the said November 2013 Caribbean Financial Action Task Force deadline. The Guyana Trades Union Congress’ (GTUC) apprehension, grounded in precedents, is that after this bill becomes law the government will find ways to circumventing it.  So, while on one hand it can be said Guyana has complied through legislation, such legislation becomes meaningless of its intent if it is not activated.  And any bill or law that seeks to address money-laundering and terroristic activities must ensure structures are put in place to achieve compliance built on international principles of accountable and legitimate behaviour by government and the people, and realisable through  implementation, proper oversight and sanction.  These remain the GTUC’s concerns.

This is what we, the people, must strive for and to this end the GTUC is encouraged by the voices of civil society, the opposition and notably Mr. David Granger’s statement in July that the APNU’s “concern is to introduce amendments that are capable of making the Act more effective…[and] will listen to stakeholders before crystallizing any amendments.” As Leader of the Opposition, a constitutional office, and representing the interests of the majority, the GTUC calls on Mr. Granger to work with his side of the House to impress the importance of Guyana’s reputation, trade relations and development in not only debating and passing a bill, but ensuring that it is iron-clad and would see implementation.

At the same time the GTUC reminds Mr. Samuel Hinds, Leader of Government Business in the House to impress upon his colleagues, that Guyana cannot continue business as usual and it is time to join the fight to restore legitimacy to financial practices or take the responsibility for having the country face isolation, sanctions and escalating erosion that spills from crimes, unemployment, poverty and other violations.

Stakeholders have been raising their voices and it is expected their input will be valued and factored into the legislative process. The workers of this country need activist legislators, more particularly coming from the opposition, whose political role is not only to vie for Executive office but more importantly to use their position to hold the Executive accountable and agitate on the people’s behalf in ensuring a better society.  And while it requires political will to do right by this country and its people, the voices being raised should also be taken by the politicians as signs that the people are taking day-to-day vested interest in their welfare and no longer want to be taken for granted.  Important questions have been raised about the intent of this act, appropriate personnel, questionable assigned oversight responsibilities, office location and adherence to the laws. The GTUC demands these concerns be addressed.

The Congress also joins the calls and reiterates its interest in having the outstanding local government bills assented, Public Procurement Commission and Integrity Commission activated, and bills the President denied assent be revisited since all are tied to good governance.

Fully understanding in every relationship there is need for compromise in order to get things done, the GTUC would like to expressly state that compromise when dealing with the people’s business does not mean one party gives something and the other party gives another- this is horse-trading. Compromise means that all parties work towards arriving at the best agreement based on intent and existing circumstances.  Further, when dealing with the people’s business you do not compromise universal principles, such as rights, rule of law, accountability and transparency.

Yours faithfully,
Lincoln Lewis
General Secretary
GTUC

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