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Private Sector begins insisting on full observer status at AML Select Committee

Even as the Executive Council of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) was Tuesday afternoon discussing its response to A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) refusal to grant the business organisation full-time observer status at the parliamentary select committee on the financial crimes bill, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) called on that party to reconsider its stance.

“The GCCI believes that public access to parliamentary committees is an important part of government transparency and is hopeful that the APNU would rethink its position and re-engage in the deliberations and allow for a vote on public access by the Committee members,” states the GCCI which is a PSC member.

APNU late Monday night confirmed that it walked out of the parliamentary select committee set up to consider amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act because it opposed government’s insistence that the PSC should be allowed to observe all of the committee meetings. That opposition coalition said to do so would amount to a violation of a previous motion and violation of the Standing Orders governing the presence of the press in select committees.

Calling on all parliamentary representatives to leave political grandstanding out the negotiations of the AML/CFT Bill, the city chamber expressed “deep disappointment” with APNU’s position  to withdraw and not allow outside observers.

The Private Sector Commission is the second civil society stakeholder, after the media, to have been refused access to the Committee’s meetings.

The PSC had hoped that its observer status would have helped to minimize the bickering and blame-casting between the government and opposition committee members about absence fro meetings and appropriate procedures of the committee.

The GCCI lamented that it was surprising and discouraging that APNU “has deviated from this position.”

“The AML/CFT Bill is too important to our nation’s economy and development to have partisan and petty political tactics and grandstanding affect its consideration, augmentation and eventual passage,” added the GCCI.