The stance taken by the political opposition and their failure to pass the critically needed Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Amendment Bill is not only a disappointment to government, but also to the region as a whole, President Ramotar said.
Speaking on ‘The Conversation’ on the National Communications Network on Friday evening, before departing for the 25th Intersessional Caricom Heads of Government Meeting this weekend, the president said that the failure of the National Assembly to pass the bill has been noted by countries in the region.
The case of Belize, which faced a similar situation, was cited by President Ramotar who noted that when the time came for the passage of that nation’s anti-money laundering legislation, the political opposition supported its passage. This was done because they all understood the need to put the interest of the country and its people first, said the president.
This is clearly not the case in Guyana, he noted, “The stance taken by the opposition is clearly not patriotic.” Their ever changing stance towards the bill remains an issue of concern for government. It was noted that initially, no amendments were put forward for consideration until the ninth hour by the political opposition. This action, the president opined, indicates a possible alternative agenda. “Maybe they don’t want to see economic development, but they want the country to regress,” he said.
The move to invite an official of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to meet with stakeholders was done at the insistence of the political opposition and even this decision has not borne any tangible results, according to the president.
It was made clear to all stakeholders that the amendments proposed at the last minute by the political opposition would be in contravention of CFATF regulations and possibly even infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens, he added but all of this was to no avail.
The Bill as currently before the House is in compliance with the standards and recommendations of the CFATF. As such, the passage of the Bill should be supported rather than exposing the country to the perils of international blacklisting, according to the Head of State. To date numerous stakeholders, including the business sector, various organisations and diplomatic missions have called on the political opposition to support the amended anti-money bill.