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PSC petitions MPs for passage on anti-money laundering legislation

royo eleThe Private Sector Commission has presented a formal petition to the National Assembly, appealing for passage of legislation against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Private Sector Commission has made its concerns known before, but now, it has tabled a formal petition for consideration on Thursday as a matter of a national and economic priority. Government Parliamentarian and former Minister, Manzoor Nadir, is slated to present the petition on behalf of the Commission. The Commission could find itself being ignored by the opposition, which has a deciding vote in the House. The Commission, which represents 17 business organisations across, said that while it has noted the concerns of the opposition, there have been no written submissions regarding changes the opposition wants to make to the legislation. The main opposition APNU has said it sees the need for “massive” tidying up of the legislation, but wants that work done in the Special Parliamentary Committee that was set up – government Parliamentarians however chose to close off the work of that Committee in the absence of the opposition. And so come Thursday, APNU is not prepared to support the passage of the legislation in the House, it wants a restart to the negotiations in the Special Select Committee. The Opposition Leader David Granger has accused the government to stalling the process, especially since a sitting of the National Assembly has not been called for almost a month now since the end of the Parliamentary recess.

Guyana needs to enact the anti-money laundering legislation in keeping with guidelines set out by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, or what is called the CFATF, which would declare which countries are not compliant with international guidelines. This in turn can move other countries to take the necessary action to protect themselves.

The opposition has been arguing that the government is trying to scare citizens about the implications if the legislation is not enacted.

The Private Sector Commission said it was concerned that any blacklisting of Guyana would mean hardship for the business community and ordinary citizens. For example, it said correspondent banks will increase their queries regarding customer transaction thus increasing the cost of doing business; in fact, the Commission said that that has already started happening.

The Opposition has argued that it is only those who are involved in illegal activities would be affected, that law-abiding citizens need not worry about having to some extra paper work.

The Private Sector said too that poorer citizens will see a reduction of their remittances, and that there will be an escalation of the cost to do such transactions. The opposition has argued that this is simply not true – that strict measures have already been put in place by money transfer companies. For example, since January 3 of this year, Western Union has demanding the unique transfer code before handing out remittances. This is in addition to the other information it requires, such as addresses and telephone numbers of customers.

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