Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing2125 07 Nov, 2013
ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AND COUNTERING THE FINANCING
Mr. Greenidge: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise to explain or to seek to urge the House to take into consideration what has given rise to this Report being placed before us at this point in time. If I might say that the Select Committee had been looking at the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and at the last meeting at which the Opposition Members were present, that is a meeting at which discussions were held as to how to move forward, it was decided that there would be two or three other meetings required in order to complete the exercise. If I might refer you to the Minutes of the meeting of the 14th October, 2013, which was apparently the penultimate meeting, the record reads:
“The Chairperson proposed that the Committee meet at least twice weekly to conclude its work so that its report could be presented to the National Assembly during the first week of November.”
Instead of that meeting being held, the President met on a matter of urgency with the Leader of the Opposition and so this meeting that was scheduled for 21st October could not be held and it followed, therefore, that the two sides, the Government and the others, would have agreed to an alternative date. The day initially proposed to our side was Wednesday or the day we initially proposed was the Wednesday. The Clerk for the Committee, together with an associate of the Clerk, called me, because I was called twice, to suggest that the meeting would be held on Tuesday. Now, we normally would not hold meetings or agree to meetings on Tuesdays because the Cabinet meets on Tuesdays and the shadow Cabinet meets also on Tuesday. [Ms. Teixeira: Oh, shadow Cabinet] I said the Cabinet meets on Tuesday and the shadow cabinet meets on Tuesday; I said both Cabinets. That is what we were told that that is the norm. Consequently, we met on the 21st October... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, may I hear Mr. Greenidge please?
Mr. Greenidge: At the time, it appeared that this Report, Mr. Speaker, emanated from a meeting held, not only held on a day where it was clear that Opposition Members would not be available, but the meeting then proceeded to overturn decisions taken when the earlier meeting had been held, decisions concerning the number of additional meetings to be held. The meeting also had considered on the 14th October the question of whether the Principal Act should be considered for amendment and the majority decision was that it should be amended. Also, the question of whether additional amendments were to have been considered and we did indicate that there were some additional amendments pertaining to the issue of governance.
At the same time, the question of whether adequate time had been made available for public submissions and whilst the meeting agreed that the deadline that had been established had been passed, the meeting also agreed, given the import of the stakeholders who had either signalled or were in the process of sending in submissions after that deadline, that those submissions should be taken into account. Amongst those who submitted late, I believe, were the Bar Association and some individual presentations...Professor Thomas, together with even the female lawyers. The point is that we had agreed to take on board those presentations and also to make arrangements for the oral presentations.
Mr. Speaker, these are a number of different issues that had been agreed. It had also been certainly agreed that two or more meetings per week before the report was submitted, and that is in the record. As at this point in time, therefore, we are not in a position to entertain consideration of this Report. We would urge that the Report be sent back to the Committee for proper deliberations to... [Interruption]
May I take the opportunity also, Mr. Speaker, just so that there is no confusion over what it is that the Opposition has in mind as regards the Bill, some people have called on us to pass the proposed amendments as they came from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), notwithstanding concerns we may have and some of these urgings came from the strangest quarters, most surprising of quarters. But I would like to say that whilst one can say that one appreciates and values the contribution of a regional entity such as CFATF, as someone who has worked in international agencies, I happen to know that they are not omniscient. They consist of persons, some of whom have worked in national jurisdictions, some of whom have been successful and others who have not been successful in those jurisdictions. There is nothing magical; it is not the tablets that Moses received up on the mountain that comes when you get a report from an international agency. What one can say about CFATF is that whilst the presentation finds favour with many of us, it is also the case that we are duty bound to pursue what we call constructive improvements to the proposals. We have utmost regard for their expertise but our local knowledge...
Mr. Speaker: Yes, please.
Ms. Teixeira: Point of Order: Mr. Speaker, could you guide us please? I thought I heard the Attorney General move the third reading of the Bill and, therefore, I am not quite sure because Standing Order No. 65(1) says that having put the question, “without amendment or debate”. If you are going to entertain a debate, the Hon. Member is raising a number of issues...if we are sticking to the Standing Orders, as far as I understand, the Bill has been moved, the Report with the amendments have been moved and, therefore, could you guide us on what we are doing at this point?
Mr. Greenidge: May I just explain, Mr. Speaker...
Mr. Speaker: One second, Mr. Greenidge. Hon. Member, I am quite aware of Standing Order No. 63(1) and No. 65, but I was, in fact, wishing to hear from Mr. Greenidge because he does raise some interesting points. In fact, before the Member rises to move the third reading, what I anticipate Mr. Greenidge is going to do, should have been done because it should have be done before the Minister rises to ask for the third reading. I was going to ask for some guidance on that later on. I think what is being said here is needed to be said and I certainly find it very interesting.
Mr. Nandlall: As interesting as it is...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Attorney General, I have ruled that I wish to hear from Mr. Greenidge.
Mr. Nandlall: Very well, Sir.
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, may I just ask a question? Will you be as interested in hearing from some of us on the Committee on this matter too?
Mr. Speaker: We have cleared away our agenda to get to this Bill and, I believe, that this matter has engaged the attention of the nation for the last two months. There has been debate in the press and at every street corner, and I believe it is only right and fair that if a Member wishes to speak to some aspects of this Bill this evening, he or she should be allowed to. If Members of the Government wish to have a say, of course...
Mr. Greenidge: For your understanding, Mr. Speaker, I responded after the Minister had laid it perhaps informed by what happened when we were doing the previous Bill. The point I am trying to draw to the House’s attention, the essential point of the presentation, was that process that had been in place and agreed has actually, in my view, been not honoured. Let me put it that way, the kindest way in which I can word it. It is rather shocking, I think, to find the Report submitted to the House when we had agreed that certain things should be done prior to the submission. [Ms. Teixeira: Read the Minutes.] Yes, this is 7th November, but we did agree to certain things and I happen to be able to read. My capacity in reading English is quite good and I can refer you, for example, as regards the question to two to three more meetings per week to the Minutes of 14th October which, page eight, item 10.1.1 states:
“The Chairperson [Mdm. Teixeira] proposed that the Committee meet at least twice weekly to conclude its work.”
That is what is here and now we are told that one should read the Minutes. I do not know what other Minutes are to be read. You cannot overturn the Minutes after this would have been established.
Mr. Speaker, I am trying to explain the context in which we are calling for the matter to be sent back to the Select Committee and I am saying to you, Mr. Speaker - since I am going to be heckled, I will see if I can do a little bit more with my voice - that as regards the CFATF, we are saying that their technical competence may not be at issue but they are unaware as we are of the way in which our organisations and institutions in Guyana operate, how this polity functions given the present executive environment we have and that not every model that CFATF or the persons associated with anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorism fashion will secure effective implementation in Guyana and, indeed, one of the reasons why such effective implementation cannot be experienced is that far-reaching institutional changes are required. We have seen some evidence of this from the way the Local Government Bills, which have been properly through this House ended up on the desk of the President... First of all, we were told he does not have them, and then he signed them long after the deadline.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Greenidge, sorry, I need some clarification because you have made the request for the Bill to be recommitted.
Mr. Greenidge: Yes.
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