Ramotar apologies to Guyana opposition leader

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday May 22, 2013 – President Donald Ramotar has apologised to Opposition Leader David Granger following disagreement during a meeting to discuss amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.

Members of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), walked out of a meeting convened to discuss the amendments after they were instructed not to take part in any further discussions after not being privy to a letter in possession of the head of state.

Presidential Adviser on Governance Gail Teixeira said that President Ramotar has since issued an apology to Granger.

Teixeira, in reading a part of the President’s correspondence to. Granger, stated that, “I received that correspondence on April 12, 2013, at which time, the Office of the President was pressing for the resumption of budget talks with the parliamentary opposition and preparing for same. Importantly, I was made aware of the situation surrounding Guyana’s compliance to the CFATF obligations derived from the outcome of the CFATF/ICRG assessments.

“I was equally aware of the planned intervention in collaboration with local, regional and international stakeholders in organizing a workshop on the same matter on Wednesday, April 17.”

The letter further stated that, “It is in that context that the omission took place during which I may have committed the imagined slight as your May 20, 2013 correspondence intimates.

I can assure you that no such slight was ever intended as your participation was expected at the workshop where the status of Guyana’s situation was the key agenda item.”

Teixeira said that while she appreciates that, “Mr. Granger may have felt some type of slight, it must be recognised that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) encouraged the Head of State, and it was the president’s discretion, to invite who he wanted to, to a workshop where the issues surrounding the critical piece of legislation and recommendations by the oversight group of the CFATF, would be discussed.

“The president in a generous way, quickly responded to a letter that he received the same day and tried to reach Mr. Granger, and also submitted a copy of this letter, both electronically and  hard copy. We have received no response and further attempts to reach Mr. Granger have been unsuccessful”.

Ultimately, Ms. Teixeira, said, the possibility of meeting the internationally stipulated deadline for passing the critical piece of legislation is “very slim”.

Initially tabled on April 22, the Parliamentary opposition voted however, to defer the bill after its reading in the National Assembly on May 7 to the Special Select Committee for consideration. That committee was expected to conclude its work by May 22.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog against financial crimes, will meet in Nicaragua from May 27-30 and will examine how Guyana and other countries in the Caribbean are meeting international obligations.

A government statement said if Guyana does not pass the amendments within the given timeframe -May 27 – “then it shall  be placed on a list with other delinquent countries, and would be visited with a regime of sanctions which will include restrictions in the manner that Guyana does business internationally especially involving wire transfers of funds.

“Once placed on that list, it takes an average of approximately seven years to come off,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, the two opposition parties that have a one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly said they would be voting  against the amendments to the anti-money laundering legislation should the matter be brought before the National Assembly on Wednesday as scheduled. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)