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President Ramotar appeals to the House to urgently review amendments to Money Laundering Bill – 22nd May 2013

shot0022A message to the National Assembly by the President is rare and hardly can anyone remember it happening before. But today, the President utilized that provision as he sought to simmer a row between the Government and opposition sides of the House in order to get amendments to the country’s law against financial crimes passed.

The Government wanted the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed before it faces the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in Nicaragua next week.

The Special Parliamentary Committee examining the amendments is in a quandary with the largest coalition bloc, APNU, pulling out because the President ducked a letter from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The other Parliamentary Party, the AFC, wants, among other things, a Public Procurement Commission to root out corruption in the award of Government contracts in exchange for its support.

The President, in his message, read by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, urged all sides of the House to put Guyana first despite, whatever differences exist.

The Opposition immediately reacted, saying the President’s message was in bad taste as it sought to suggest that they were being unpatriotic.

We spoke with Alliance for Change Parlaimentarian Moses Nagamootoo.

The President in his message pointed to the grave consequences that could flow if the amendments are not passed by May 28. This position was reinforced by the Attorney General when he addressed the House.

The Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali attempted to have the House debate the matter as one of urgent public importance, but this was ruled out by acting speaker Deborah Backer, who cited a previous ruling by former PPP Speaker Ralph Ramkarran.

Despite the ruling by The acting Speaker, Minister Ali attempted to make what he said was going to be a few comments, but he was promptly told no.

The opposition is adamant that the Government’s recklessness in the management of the country’s national and international affairs is what has led to what is being described as a crisis situation, but the opposition said the blame lies squarely at the feet of the Government for wanting to give the people’s elected representatives dribbles of information.

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