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Private Sector petitions National Assembly to vote for financial crimes bill

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Friday petitioned the National Assembly to pass amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act (AML/CFT), as a stand off between the opposition and governnment looms for the November 7 sitting.

“Your Petitioner, mindful of the severe economic consequences of failure to enact the aforesaid Bill, respectfully requests that the National Assembly be pleased to pass the aforesaid Bill as a matter of national and economic priority,” states the PSC in its petition.

Fearing that Guyana will be virtually cut off from conducting international financial transactions at the individual, business and government levels if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) imposes sanctions later this month, the PSC hopes that the opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) will back down from their rigid positions and support the amendments.

APNU has contended that it has not been given adequate opportunity to submit its position to the Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the amendments and make proposals. APNU also wants an overhaul of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). On the other hand, the Alliance For Change (AFC) has been demanding that government establishes the Public Procurement Commission as a pre-requisite for supporting the AML/CFT. That party believes that the Commission would itself curb money laundering through what it says are many questionable contracts under the present system. That,however, is in a log-jam because neither opposition party will support an amendment to the Public Procurement Commission Act to allow Cabinet to offer its no-objection to contracts.

Following is the full text of the PSC’s petition:

GUYANA

COUNTY OF DEMERARA

Petition by the Private Sector Commission Guyana Ltd of 57 Waterloo Street Georgetown, Guyana

Whereas The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) is an umbrella body with supervisory jurisdiction over 26 countries within our hemisphere and has the role of examining legal and policy infrastructure of member countries to ensure that mechanisms are in place to minimize the risk of money laundering and financing of terrorism.

And whereas the Task Force is mandated to work with member countries to ensure compliance, and after unsuccessfully exhausting this option, can declare member countries as being non-compliant with International Guidelines and can invite other member countries to take the necessary action to protect against any risk that the delinquent country poses to them and their businesses.

And consequently, In light of the need for Guyana to comply with the recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and enact and/or amend legislation to prohibit money laundering and the financing of terrorism the necessary Bill of Parliament as required to ensure compliance has been reviewed by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and has been deemed acceptable, and whereas such Bill has been with the appropriate Select Committee of Parliament for approximately six months;

And whereas the Private Sector Commission notes the concerns expressed by the Opposition Parties and also notes that no written submissions have been forthcoming as it relates to adjustments to the Bill as deemed amendable by the Opposition Parties;

And in recognition of the fact that failure to enact such legislation will result in the blacklisting of Guyana by other countries and that such blacklisting will result in severe hardship for the business community and the ordinary citizens of Guyana;

Whereas correspondent banks will increase their queries regarding customer transactions thus increasing the cost of doing business and whereas this process has already begun;

Whereas foreign banks have already begun to sever their ties with local banks and branches;

Whereas the cost of remittances will escalate and whereas remittances which now make up forty percent of the Gross Domestic Product of Guyana will be reduced to the detriment of her poorer citizens;

Whereas the conduct of everyday business and the retention of jobs are at stake;

Whereas Guyanese will be faced with difficulty in obtaining insurance and insurers may be forced out of business;

Whereas all transactions involving payments to foreign suppliers will become difficult if not impossible;

Whereas all essential imports will be affected and delayed with associated increases in costs;

Whereas foreign currency will become scarce with a concomitant devaluation of the Guyana dollar;

Whereas Guyana will experience capital flight as persons remove their money from the country;

Whereas investors will leave Guyana and whereas growth of the economy of Guyana will grind to a halt:

PETITION

TO THE HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF GUYANA.

THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR COMMISSION OF GUYANA LTD
           

(1)Your Petitioner is a body corporate incorporated under the Companies Act Chapter 89:01 on the 27th day of January in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety-two.

(2)Your Petitioner represents the interests of seventeen business organisations across Guyana. These are the:

–   Aircraft Owners of Guyana

         Forest Products Association of Guyana

         Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry

         Guyana Association of Bankers

         Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association

         Guyana Association of Private Security Organisations

         Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association

         Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors

         Institute of Private Enterprise Development

         Linden Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Development

         National Aquaculture Association of Guyana

         Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry

         Shipping Association of Guyana

         Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry Ltd

         Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana

         Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry

         Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce.

(3)Your Petitioner also represents the interests of twenty-one Corporate Entities, including all traded manufacturing companies.

(4)Your Petitioner, on behalf of its members, is desirous of petitioning the Honourable Members of the National Assembly to consider, make any necessary adjustments and pass the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill of 2013 which seeks to amend the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009.

Your Petitioner, mindful of the severe economic consequences of failure to enact the aforesaid Bill, respectfully requests that the National Assembly be pleased to pass the aforesaid Bill as a matter of national and economic priority.