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EDITORIAL: Guyana’s tragic division over a needed money bill

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Guyana’s tragic division over a needed money bill

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Engergising and creative as it may be, the history of multiparty parliamentary democracy is also littered with examples of bitter, divisive confrontational politics that could result in very harmful consequences for the nation state. When that state is also a member of a regional economic integration movement, then such politicking could also negatively impact on the other innocent partner countries.
This is the regional scenario that has emerged for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member countries as a consequence of an unprecedented political problem in Guyana where the government has failed to secure, for more than a year, parliamentary support from an opposition coalition to approve a crucial Anti-Money Laundering And Countering Of Financing Of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.
The coalition of opposition parties has repeatedly used its one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly to block passage of the legislation. But the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), the regional watchdog body against financial crimes, does not recognise as being intrinsically related to the required provisions of the legislation demands repeatedly being made by the parliamentary opposition. Rather, it has much to do with unrelated local political issues. For instance, the scheduling of local government elections
CFATF representatives have been travelling to Guyana to broker an accord with the government and opposition. The latest such initiative was undertaken just this past weekend when the CFATF’s two-member delegation made clear that a “dark future looms” for Guyana to avoid being fully “blacklisted” by May 29  for “non-compliance as a cooperative jurisdiction” in the global battle against money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other financial crimes.  
For its part, the government of President Donald Ramotar, which has received widespread support from the local private sector, trade unions and civil society organisations, has been lamenting to regional and hemispheric agencies that the Guyanese nation as a whole was being “held to ransom” by the opposition’s unwavering political demands that have nothing to do with the kind of legislation required by the CFATF or the international community’s financial institutions.
Following earlier separate initiatives by both CARICOM and the Organisation of American States to inspire cooperation by the government and opposition for passage of the required legislation before being “blacklisted” as a “non-cooperative jurisdiction”, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller officially communicated her government’s readiness to help broker a cooperation accord between the opposition alliance and President Ramotar’s administration.
However, of last weekend’s departure of CFATF’s mediation delegation, there were no glimmers of hope for Guyana’s escape from the looming “blacklisting”. It’s a tragic financial management division for Guyana with possible related fallouts for CARICOM partners.