President Ramotar floats early elections if blacklisting takes toll

Last Updated on Saturday, 7 June 2014, 16:31 by GxMedia

President Donald Ramotar on Saturday hinted that he might be forced to call early general and regional elections if Guyana’s eventual blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) begins biting the country hard.

“I don’t know what will happen if the impact of this anti money laundering bill hits home very, very hard on our economy and whether we might have to go back and have another mandate,” he told a news conference held at his official residence, State House, on Main Street.

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has recommended that Guyana be sent to the global financial crimes watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), because of the country’s failure to pass  CFATF/FATF-compliant amendments to the 2009 Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing Terrorism Act.

Local, regional and hemispheric stakeholders fear that doing business with Guyana  can become more expensive and restrictive if the AML/CFT amendments are not passed and the country is blacklisted.

The Guyanese said he would have preferred to go to Local Government Elections but the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) does not have a simple majority in the National Assembly. The combined opposition- A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC)- have teamed up to block budgetary expenditures and government bills.

“I would prefer to go to Local Government Elections but I can’t shut my eyes to the political reality that exists and make a bland promise that I would  go to Local Government Elections tomorrow as I would have done had we had the majority in the parliament at this point in time and we would not have been in the position that we are in today,” he said.

CFATF has said that as as a result of not meeting the agreed timelines in its Action Plan, the CFATF recognises Guyana as a jurisdiction with significant AML/CFT deficiencies, which has failed to make significant progress in addressing those deficiencies and the CFATF considers Guyana to be a risk to the international financial system. “Members are therefore called upon to implement further counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana. Also, the CFATF has referred Guyana to the FATF,”  the Trinidad-headquartered CFATF said in a statement.

Countermeasures could entail, among others, the requirement of enhanced due diligence measures; introducing enhanced reporting mechanisms or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refusing the establishment of subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in the country concerned, or otherwise taking into account the fact that the relevant financial institution is from a country that does not have adequate AML/CFT systems and limiting the business relationships or financial transactions with the identified country or persons in that country.