The President said that he was shocked this morning, when he read in one of the newspapers, one of the Leaders of the Opposition saying that Government should be criticised for frightening Guyana, with regards to the country suffering a February 13 blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) because of the National Assembly not passing the Anti-Money Laundeering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill.
“Our success, our diplomacy, and our hard work to try to prevent Guyana and Guyanese people having to experience what would have been if we were blacklisted, is now trying to be turned against us by the spin doctors to say that we are crying wolf. That is not the case at all, the fact is that we have been working hard, pleading with people to show them that we have a unique situation here unlike another country where the government wants to pass this bill, but it has been rejected.” He made these statements during the commissioning of the Hope Canal bridge.
Guyana has to file a report with CFATF by February 28, 2014 for their review and report to plenary members in May 2014. This report will include Guyana’s plan of action to correct its deficiencies as part of the ongoing process. Guyana is expected to attach to that report the conclusions on the AMLCFT Amendment Bill No. 22, 2013 which is before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee and a copy of the said enacted Bill to be analysed, correlated to the deficiencies to provide the report to Plenary in May, 2014, a Government statement issued on Friday stated.
Between February and May it is expected that there will be dialogue and discussions with CFATF with regards to the preparation of the report for CFATF Plenary.
President Ramotar said that he was deeply disturbed by the Opposition’s continued stance on the bill, noting their unpatriotic manner compared to that of Belize, where the Opposition joined with the Government in passing six pieces of legislation in order to meet CFTAF’s demand, in spite of the fact “they do not like the bill”.
“Here we see for 10 months this bill was in the Parliament and the Opposition claimed they wanted it to go to the Select Committee because they have extensive changes to make. They did not make a single amendment to the bill that was before them but at 9 o’ clock on Sunday night they made proposals to amend the main act which is not before them,” the President noted.
He pointed out that “what they are doing is not right, it violates parliamentary democracy, because what they want to amend is not the bill that is before them, but the act that was passed unanimously in parliament in 2009.”
The Head of state reminded that the bill came about after the international community decided as far as possible all the countries should have one type of legislation so that criminals who launder money would not have loopholes.