GTUC Forewarns Citizens of Goverment Pending Hysteria

Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress Press Statement – April 13, 2014
Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, Guyana is awash with money laundering, drug-related crimes and other forms of financial improprieties.

Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana…“Guyana is awash with money laundering, drug-related crimes and other forms of financial improprieties

GTUC forewarns this nation to expect the government and its allies recommencing the hysteria in a few days regarding passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill. Guyana is scheduled to be evaluated by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary Meeting in Miami during 25-29th May. This deadline was given by CFATF in November 2013. The blame for not passing the bill to date must be laid at the feet of the government and those who condemned the effort to arrive at a negotiated settlement between the Executive and Legislature. GTUC condemns the government autocratic behaviour and denial of the rights of citizens in all forms. Given the government track record passage of the Bill without conditions is an abrogation of the opposition responsibility to the society.

Constitutional prescriptions are not considerations for any Member of Parliament (MP), Executive or citizen to determine whether or when they will be upheld. The president, ministers and every MP have sworn to uphold this instrument in its entirety.  The establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC); respect for workers, local government autonomy and management of the Consolidated Fund are prescribed in the Constitution and must be put in place.

When President Ramotar took the Oath of Office in December 2011, he assumed responsibility for the nation’s affairs as Chief Public Servant. The president can no longer escape his continuous poor judgement on the affairs of state by accusing others of being unpatriotic and unreasonable when called upon to discharge his duty.

The hysteria leading up to the 28th February-the date used by the government in misleading the nation to think Guyana faced international sanctions if the bill was not passed- was merely a front to avoid negotiating with the opposition and must not be repeated.  The May deadline is real and given the importance of the bill and the just requirements of the Opposition and Labour there is enough time within the next few weeks to have these accomplished. Demands for the establishment of the PPC, assent to outstanding bills and respect for the 2012 High Court ruling to reissue letters to commence the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) arbitration proceedings are just, fair and within the remit of the rule of law and good governance.

Guyana is awash with money laundering, drug-related crimes and other forms of financial improprieties. The credibility for the buoyancy of this economy is a concern to the law-abiding and the international financial institutions (IFIs). Professor Clive Thomas and the IFIs have estimated Guyana’s informal economy, i.e. drugs/organised crime, represents 47% and higher of the official Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This data and Guyana’s image are disconcerting because they hinder the fostering of a conducive legitimate business climate and threaten national security.  An acceptable business climate is based on legitimacy and citizens are guaranteed their participation is secured.

GTUC notes the Private Sector Commission is scheduled to meet this week to address the AML/CFT consistent with complaints within its community. GTUC further notes the sector’s one-dimensional focus on the AML/CFT passage and urges cognisance be taken that the responsibility of good corporate citizenship requires embracing and honouring laws and acceptable international best practices. And whereas GTUC empathises with businesses claiming they are affected by CFATF, this inconvenience, though necessary, must be laid at the feet of the government. It is the government’s intransigence since 2009 that resulted in Guyana being placed on a watch list/blacklist in 2013. This status will likely remain for a minimum of two years, according to Roger Hernandes, CFATF’s Financial Advisor, with removal contingent on implementation/enforcement of the laws.

The GTUC sees the AML/CFT Bill as a necessity and urges those who gave cover to the government autocracy to commence objective consideration of the demands made by the various groups, with a view to arriving at a law that the government posturing clearly indicates it has no desire to put in place. As individuals and groups we can no longer allow the society to bleed. Civic duty requires we make sure appropriate legislation is put in place to sanitise many clouded areas that are of concern to several interest groups and communities. The opposition is encouraged to remain steadfast and intensify their awareness programme in every community to ensure citizens understand the need for an effective law and the necessity of its demands to complement the bill which is a perquisite for good governance.

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