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Open parliamentary hearings on financial crimes bill to public- PSC, opposition

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the two parliamentary opposition parties have agreed that parliamentary hearings to amend the financial crimes bill should be held in public.

PSC Chairman, Ronald Webster told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that taking Special Select Committee hearings on amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) to the public would ensure greater transparency.

“There has been so much to-ing and fro-ing… This body say so, somebody else said something else. Let certain elements, certain aspects of discussion take place in public,” said Webster.

The PSC boss expected that public hearings would ensure “people” attend the meetings. Government had repeatedly accused A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) representatives of not attending meetings of the previous committee or preferring that meetings be held far apart.

“You have situations where either the government doesn’t turn up or one of the political parties turn up for meetings or there is some problem over scheduling of meetings. This is a very, very important thing for the country at large. This goes beyond politics,” he added.

The PSC said both APNU and Alliance For Change (AFC) supported the business community’s proposal that the Special Select Committee meetings be open to the public.

Webster reiterated the PSC’s long-held position that it wants strong enforceable AML/CFT legislation and a well-equipped Bank of Guyana and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)- a view that has been repeatedly stressed by APNU. “APNU pointed out to the PSC that, even though the Bill presented to Parliament in its present form may satisfy the minimum standards of the CFATF, it did not meet the conditions considered by APNU to be essential for the implementation of the Legislation,” the PSC said.

Government MPs last Thursday accused APNU of failing to propose changes or additions to the AML/CFT amendment bill for several months now.

In the meeting between the PSC and APNU held on December 10, the business community restated that “failure to enact the legislation to prohibit money laundering and the financing of terrorism to comply with the requirements of the Caribbean Financing Action Task Force (CFATF) with the consequential referral of Guyana to the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would do considerable harm to the legitimate private sector of the country and cause severe hardships for the ordinary citizens of Guyana.”