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Gov’t/Opposition trade blame on non-passage of anti-money laundering legislation

royo eleThe ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is once against seeking to defend why it closed the door on negotiations with the opposition and effectively killed legislation to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

In not so surprising tone, the ruling PPP came out swinging at the opposition today for the non-passage of legislation against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit Mr Paul Geer travel to the Bahamas this weekend to face a review by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the legal body which dictates what measures a country needs to take in order to avoid sanctions. Passage of the legislation against money-laundering and financing of terrorism was among the requirements they set out.

Last Thursday, the government failed to get the support of the opposition to pass the legislation. It was the PPP that put an end to the negotiations on October 22. Talks were ongoing in a special parliamentary select committee to fine-tune the legislation. But the PPP said it was fed up with the opposition not attending meetings and so chairperson Gail Teixeira decided to bring an end to the work of the committee.

In the National Assembly, the opposition said it could not support the legislation and wanted it back in the select committee; the government said no, because it could not get a definite word on when the work in the committee would be wrapped up and it has a deadline to meet.

The main opposition APNU has accused the government of not being sincere. Deborah Backer said on the very day that the work of the special Select Committee was closed off, the PPP members knew she was absent because she was in a meeting with the President on the border controversy with Venezuela. In any case, she said that the last meeting was on October 22, but yet the government took two weeks after that to call the sitting of the National Assembly, but was yet still quarrelling about delays by the opposition. She said all that time could have been spent to continue the negotiations and then vote on a legislation that could do the job it is intended to do. What is more Opposition Leader David Granger said that the government has shown that it is not capable to take strong measures against various crimes, including money laundering. President Donald Ramotar has said that he will re-examine his relationship with the Opposition because of their non-support for the passage of the anti-money laundering legislation.

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