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APNU CONDEMNS THE CRIME OF TORTURE AND CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) expresses its alarm at the recurring reports of the crime of torture involving members of the defence and security forces. The Partnership calls for an independent judicial inquiry into all reports of torture over the past seven years. APNU recalls that the Government of Guyana signed and ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 1988. The term “torture,” under Article 1 of the Convention, means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by, or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. APNU recalls that there have been several confirmed reports of torture into which no independent judicial inquiry has been conducted: · Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones were arrested by members of the police and defence forces in September 2007. They were taken to Defence Force headquarters in Camp Ayanganna, Police Force headquarters in Eve Leary then to another military camp where they said they were tortured. · Michael Dunn, Sharth Robertson and Alvin Wilson – three defence force soldiers – complained that they had been tortured by being beaten, cuffed, kicked, shocked, struck with metal objects between November and December 2007 in a military camp.
· David Leander, also called David Zammet and „Biscuit,‟ was arrested in November 2007. He was so badly injured that he was unable to walk and could hardly speak and had to be hoisted into the Magistrates‟ Court to answer charges of attempted murder and possession of narcotics. · Twyon Thomas was arrested in October 2007 on suspicion of involvement in the murder of People‟s Progressive Party stalwart and former Vice-Chairman of the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara Region Ramenauth Bisram. The boy was taken to the La Grange Police station on the West Bank and thence to the Leonora Police Station on the West Coast where he was beaten and burnt. · Colwyn Harding was arrested in November 2013. He accused a policeman at the Timehri Police Station of sodomising him with a baton. Harding suffered severe intestinal injuries. APNU points out that Guyana, as a signatory to the Convention, is obliged to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.” No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture and “An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.” The Convention instructs, further: “States are to ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law, including complicity or participation in torture. International law places an obligation on states to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish torture and other ill-treatment. The obligation to prosecute torture includes those who are complicit as well as to those who directly participate in torture, as well as those responsible in the “chain of command.” APNU asserts that there is abundant evidence that the crime of torture has been committed repeatedly in Guyana. APNU reminds all defence and police force officers that torture is a crime of a “universal jurisdiction.” Those who order, or carry out such acts, can be prosecuted anywhere in the world, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or perpetrator. No one can claim exemption from this because of his or her official capacity. There is no statute of limitations for such crimes under international law. APNU iterates its demand that an independent judicial inquiry be conducted into all reports of torture by officials.
Anti-Money Laundering discussions…A “certain degree of progress” achieved at latest meeting
FEBRUARY 7, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
Though much bickering and the popular “blame game” had tainted most of the discussions on the contentious Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill, there was finally a ray of hope at the conclusion of one of the committee‟s meeting held last evening. This is according to A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)‟s Shadow Minister of Public Works and Telecommunications, Joseph Harmon. There were reports that the Chairperson of the Select Committee, Gail Teixeira, had concluded the works on the Bill in the absence of opposition members, but Harmon informed this publication that this was not the case and that deliberations on the Bill are still continuing. He added that the meeting “went so smoothly” that he is “most pleased with the way it was conducted”. “We have a matrix which we have put together and it will be looked at over the weekend. We have fresh documents that we have to look at as well. The meeting last night went well… We achieved a certain degree of progress.” Prior to this successful engagement, Basil Williams, who serves as the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs of APNU, had expressed his disappointment over the fact that there was no meeting held to review the pertinent presentations made by some stakeholders on the Anti-Money Laundering Bill. Williams informed members of the media corps during a press briefing at APNU‟s Hadfield Street office that some important questions and suggestions on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill were presented to members of the Special Select Committee. Some of these stakeholders included Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram, Professor Clive Thomas and members of the Bankers Association. Williams said that the People‟s Progressive Party had once again shown a laid back attitude in having the works of the Special Select Committee done in a proper manner. “At first we had to fight with them for stakeholders to be heard, which they shut out at the first sitting. The government had to be brought kicking and screaming before those persons could testify before the committee. And I am happy they came.” The politician then made reference to a question raised by members of the Bar Association. The question was based on the privilege of communication between lawyer and client. “The legislation says that the supervising authority can turn up at the lawyer‟s office without a search warrant and seize important and confidential documents, and since it doesn‟t say that it can be taken permissively, it suggests that certain confidential information can be taken with force from lawyers. This raises questions of protection of property and third persons accessing information and the security of the individual.”
While describing the presentations as lively and incisive, Williams opined that the next appropriate thing was for there to be a review of such submissions and for it to be reflected in the Bill. But it was never suggested, more so conducted. “Everything was just rushed,” Williams stated. Further, it was reported that Guyana had topped the list of some 55 countries that are noncompliant and without effective legislation and may therefore be subject to a more serious review process by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) next week. However, in response to this contention, the APNU MP asserted, “We are not too sure about this mid-February review, but we are willing to do the work and ensure that the Chairperson of the Committee, Gail Teixeira, does the work in a manner which serves the people.” Williams then stressed that it is important that the Bill be amended in such a manner that it surpasses the expectations and requirements of FATF. In other words, he explained that Guyana must aim for “super-compliance”.
Anti- money laundering discussions…Stakeholders will attend only when necessary – APNU
FEBRUARY 7, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
“If they come to every meeting it would be like treating us like little boys” – Basil Williams
The Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs of the political faction, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Basil Williams says that members of the media fraternity and the Private Sector Commission will only attend the discussions on the Anti- Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill in the Parliamentary Select Committee when it is necessary. This declaration was made yesterday at APNU‟s Headquarters on Hadfield Street. The Attorney at Law reminded members of the media that when he and his colleagues turned up for the meeting on Monday last at the National Assembly, they were expecting to move forward with the work of the committee in terms of the discussions on each clause. But to their surprise, the Chairperson of the Select Committee, Ms Gail Teixeira, spent nearly over an hour and a half talking about the presence of the media and the private sector at the meetings. Williams said he found this to be very upsetting, as he and other APNU members have made it clear that they are not opposed to the presence of the stakeholders, but when it is appropriate for them to be there, they will be invited. Williams said that this position was spread throughout the media and he could have only deduced that the action by Teixeira was intended to delay effective works on the committee. “We turned up for the next meeting on Monday (last) and we saw on the agenda the topic about the media and other stakeholders being present. We have made our position clear on this and the rules of the Committee don‟t give anyone the right to take part in it.
Teixeira can blow hot or cold on this issue, but APNU will continue to protect the sovereignty of the National Assembly and ensure that its rules will not be treated whimsically or capriciously. We have said we don‟t have a problem with their (media and other stakeholders) presence and we have said that it must be at an appropriate time.” He reminded that APNU‟s financial spokesman, Carl Greenidge had made a motion in this regard and it was put to a vote and the People‟s Progressive Party (PPP) lost the vote. Even in the face of this, Williams said that the Finance Minister proceeded at the meeting to read a letter which said that the Private Sector Commission wanted to come and practically have oversight of the proceedings. “He was suggesting to us that the private sector wanted to come to ensure that we do our work properly. No non-governmental organization, no media or nobody could come into the meeting to act in some supervisory position over us, which would be tantamount to relinquishing our responsibility to the people of Guyana.” Williams said that it was clear that they were not interested in the main item; going through the bill clause by clause. The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, he said, then moved a motion which was in effect to override Greenidge‟s motion. It was intended to have the stakeholders present at the meetings after the one which concluded on Monday last. Williams said that such actions only bring the work of the committee into disrepute and that it was contemptuous of the Minister to do so. Teixeira was then told not to entertain such a motion. Instead, she lashed out saying that she could do anything as Chairperson. Williams then said, “There was no profit in that.” He added, “She must be asked to explain why they were opposed to having the media present at the Special select committee on local government. It is like treating us like little boys if they (stakeholders) are to come to the meeting … They are simply playing with this bill.”
PPP/C failed to enforce money laundering legislation for 13 years – APNU
FEBRUARY 6, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
The People‟s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has deliberately not enforced its own anti-money-laundering legislation for over 13 years. It only attempted to do so when it was threatened with sanctions by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the international financial community. This is according to A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), which yesterday reminded that the Money Laundering Prevention Act of 2000 was introduced by the (PPP/C) administration 13 years ago and it was never enforced and was deemed „ineffective.‟ A missive reminded that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 was then introduced under international pressure and that too was never enforced and was also deemed „ineffective.‟
The coalition charged that the Bank of Guyana never had the capacity to fully execute its mandate to supervise financial institutions for compliance with anti-money laundering requirements. According to APNU, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), established since 2003, was always a weak, understaffed, under equipped and a one-person organization. APNU said that the FIU was completely dependent upon the Ministry of Finance for its budget and office space. “It has never made a single money-laundering prosecution and never reported on its work before November 2013.” The coalition further charged that the Guyana Government does not release statistics on the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) received by the FIU although it is required to make these statistics available as mandated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It reminded also that the CFATF made recommendations to strengthen the relevant legislation as well as the Bank of Guyana and the FIU. It was only in April 2013 when Guyana was threatened with being „blacklisted‟ and deadlines for compliance were set that the Government was forced to introduce amendments to the National Assembly, according to APNU. “APNU is committed to amending the current Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 to ensure that it is effective…APNU is committed to ensuring that the Bank of Guyana and the Financial Intelligence Unit are empowered and equipped to fulfill its functions and achieve the objectives of the Act.” APNU maintains that it is committed to engaging the government, the private sector, civil society, the trade unions and the international community to protect our economy with enforceable AntiMoney Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism laws.
Anti-Money Laundering Bill…Rights of citizens threatened by draconian measures – Harmon
Kaieteur News, February 5, 2014 By merging draconian measures, namely anti money laundering with countering the financing of terrorism, it holds the possibility of whittling away the rights of citizens. This is the opinion of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)‟s Joseph Harmon, who in an invited comment yesterday said that some of the measures in the current law saw the possibility of rights related to search and seizures being violated. Harmon said that the recent meetings of the Special Select Committee tasked with addressing the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation have been very insightful.
He said that a number of amendments have been submitted to the committee from stakeholders, especially from the Bankers Association of Guyana. According to Harmon, there were a number of well-researched presentations made to the body from that Association, the Bar Association, Professor Clive Thomas and Christopher Ram. “These were persons who were prevented from making oral presentations during the life of the previous committee, given that the Chairperson Gail Teixeira had wrapped up the work of the committee and returned the Bill to the House.” Harmon said that the Bankers Association was particularly worried about the pitfalls it would encounter should the law be applied as is. He wondered about how lawmakers in the previous dispensation would have been creating laws without hearing from the people who it would actually have an impact on. Harmon noted that while Attorney General Anil Nandlall would have been bandying the idea that the Amendments were prepared by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) there were no sessions with stakeholders, such as the Bankers, to find out how it would affect them. He said that he was happy to hear the presentations by the stakeholders. Harmon pointed out that in future, the law will be adding another facet to do with weapons, and this too can place even more draconian measures in place that would be a threat to certain liberties. The Select Committee met again Monday evening and according to Harmon, the members would now be looking carefully to see how the recommendations would be added to the current amendments. “We will try to get a proper law and have it done hopefully in time,” Harmon said. According to the APNU MP, when the work of the committee is wrapped up, the fate of the Bill would be up to the full House when it comes up for a vote. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is scheduled to hold its International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) come February 10, when the body meets in Paris, France. Guyana shares the worst rating in the world with Mozambique in the 55 countries in the pool. According to official FATF records seen by this publication, the group includes countries such as Guyana, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Haiti, Cameroon, Aruba, Benin, Fiji and Zambia. Guyana is yet to meet the legislative obligations, namely the passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill. According to the FATF document seen by this publication, as in every subsequent plenary meeting since October 2010, the ICRG should now decide whether it wishes to recommend that any of the jurisdictions in its pool be referred for a prima facie review to be discussed in February 2014. “In practice this could be, for example, the top two jurisdictions ranked in one region or in each region, a certain number of jurisdictions ranked at the top of the entire group, or any particular jurisdiction where the ICRG agrees there are particular risks such that a prima facie review should proceed.”
Guyana is atop the list for the Americas Region and is on par with the African Region, as it holds the same rating with Mozambique which heads the list for that region. There currently exists three methods by which a jurisdiction could enter the ICRG process: nomination; referral based on mutual evaluation results; and referral based on non-participation in an FATF-style regional body (FSRB) and non-publication of mutual evaluation reports.
Opposition walks out of anti-money laundering forum
Kaieteur News, February 4, 2014 Opposition Parliamentarians yesterday walked out of the Anti-Money Laundering Special Select Committee, in response to Government‟s support for the Private Sector Commission (PSC) attendance of meetings of the Committee in an observer capacity. According to a Finance Ministry statement, the PSC had submitted a letter to the sub-committee last month requesting, as stakeholders, to observe the meetings. “Tonight (yesterday), Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh moved the motion to have the PSC attend the meetings but the Opposition, after objecting strenuously to the PSC being allowed to attend all meetings of the committee, walked out of the meeting in an attempt to avoid voting on the matter,” the release said. “Minister Singh maintains Government‟s position that the private sector of Guyana has a legitimate interest in the timely passage of the legislation, given the grave consequences that would devolve on Guyana‟s economy should Parliament fail to enact the amendments,” it added. According to the release, the Finance Minister described the Opposition‟s stance as “a most unfortunate development,” which “reflects yet another attempt by the Opposition to frustrate the timely passage of this bill.” “Their refusal to allow the PSC to observe the committee‟s proceedings reflects the fact that they are unwilling to be unmasked and have revealed to the world at large the blatant delay tactics they have been attempting in frustrating the work of the committee. “ According to the statement, the Finance Minister said that that Government members of the committee emphasized that they would have “absolutely no objection” to the PSC attending and observing the proceedings of the committee. “In contrast, the Opposition clearly and persistently objected to the PSC being permitted to attend and observe all of the meetings of the committee. They attempted to evade and contort the matter and, eventually, when the Chairperson of the committee attempted to put to the committee the specific matter of whether the PSC should be permitted to attend all meetings of the committee in an observer capacity, the Opposition walked out,” the release stated. According to the Finance Ministry, this is the second incident where the Opposition has moved to muzzle the PSC in Parliament. “On November 6, last year, the combined Opposition voted down the motion for the reading of the PSC petition on the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill prior to its debate in the National Assembly. “The petition represented 17 private sector groups which sought to urge Members of Parliament to recognize the damage to the private sector, local economy and the citizens of Guyana if the legislature failed to enact the bill.According to FATF, jurisdictions that have not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies or have not committed to an action plan developed with the FATF to address AML/CFT will be penalized. If Guyana does not comply, it will join countries such as Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen as a blacklisted country by FATF.”
Government inciting physical violence against opposition – Harmon
FEBRUARY 6, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
A misuse of state funds to launch an attack on its own citizens by inciting violence, were the words used to describe the fact that Office of the President, has been funding full page advertisements in the daily newspapers calling on Guyanese to “Let us stop the opposition from destroying Guyana now.” A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon, yesterday said that it has been brought to the attention of the Opposition that it is in fact Office of the President that is funding the campaign against them. The advertisement calls on citizens to “stop the opposition from holding Guyana at ransom! Stop the opposition from protecting money launderers, criminals, and terrorists.” According to Harmon, the amendments to the Bill have not even been voted on as yet and the Opposition Leader, David Granger, has already signaled to the President that support for the Bill is conditional, in that he would have to support the Opposition Bills already approved. Harmon said that for the Office of the President to call on citizens to stop the Opposition not by the ballot; can only mean a provocation of violence. He said that Opposition members are now insecure.“They are inciting violence against the Opposition; this is a clear provocation.” According to Harmon, the statements being paid for using state funds to attack the opposition are akin to calling on the army to go and attack citizens. Harmon said that this act by Office of the President must be condemned by all right thinking Guyanese. It might also be condemned internationally. “State funds are being used to attack its own citizens…Government is inciting a certain level of violence” The advertisement seeks to denigrate the Opposition, according to Harmon, and seeks to insinuate that the Opposition is supportive of money launderers and drug lords. He suggested that it is those in government who have a vested interest in supporting drug lords and money launderers and pointed to the extravagant lifestyles, mansions being built and vehicles owned by people way above their pay grade. He said that when the Opposition reacts to such provocations they are deemed to be terrorists when it is in fact the Government which is using terrorist tactics by the state calling for attacks on its own citizens. Harmon posited that the posture by the Government is reminiscent of the Stalinist era. The advertisement suggests that the Opposition has refused to pass the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill “although these amendments are recognised globally as the global anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards.” The advert suggests that “the Opposition has not been attending meetings to discuss and flesh out the issues they are concerned about so that the amendments could be passed within the time frame.”
It says, too, that the Opposition is using all forms of delaying tactics to ensure that these amendments are not passed within the extended time frame so that Guyana would have to face the devastating implications. “What are they trying so desperately to hide…why are they+ afraid to deliberate on these amendments in the view of the public,” questioned Office of the President through the paid advertisement.
CJ’S ruling failed to observe parliamentary procedure – Granger
FEBRUARY 6, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
Opposition Leader Brigadier (retired) David Granger has said that Opposition members in the House of Assembly will not be stifled by the ruling of the Chief Justice, which in his view seeks to restrict the functions of the Parliamentary Opposition. Yesterday, Granger indicated that Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang failed to acknowledge the existence of parliamentary procedures when he ruled that the Opposition cannot reduce budget estimates forwarded in the House by the government‟s Finance Minister. Granger warned that a “car crash” may be the best description of the scenario that lies ahead in relation to the upcoming budget. He said, “We feel that if there was no consensus on the budget or, prior to its presentation or if the government went ahead to deliver a budget to the National Assembly which did not incorporate some concerns of the Opposition, it will be a car crash.” Granger said that no budget consultations were held for the 2014 budget, which by now would have already been completed. Coupled with that, the ruling by the CJ has failed to acknowledge the presence of parliamentary procedures. Granger explained that like any other Bill that goes through the parliament there is a process that must be followed. He said that the Minister would lay the budget and the Speaker would dissolve the House to the Committee of Supply, where the budget is debated, sometimes for weeks. He continued that each line item is scrutinized and voted on. However throughout the process the Opposition would indicate its approval/ disapproval before the final reading of the budget and its subsequent passing or refusal. He emphasized however, that this is the procedure with every Bill that is presented in the House and it should be no different when it comes to the budget. The Opposition Leader added that the CJ cannot change or alter the parliamentary procedures, and suggested that disapprovals will continue once the Opposition is not satisfied or convinced about the sums presented. Granger has added also that the CJ‟s ruling will not deter the Opposition from taking action against the Finance Minister for the spending of unapproved sums used in the 2012 budget. The Opposition and the government had engaged in a blame game relating to the budget consultations. Both sides have been stating that no earnest effort was made to discuss the financial future for this year. While the Opposition has stated that they have not been invited to budget talks, the People‟s Progressive Party (PPP), through its General Secretary Clement Rohee stated that it is not the job of the party to call on the PPP-led Administration to initiate budget talks.
Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, had previously stated when asked, that the CJ ruled that to use monies from the treasury, a majority legal authorization is needed from Parliament. Ramjattan stated also that while there will be an appeal of the CJ‟s ruling, they are prepared to suggest the necessary adjustments to the budget where deemed necessary.
Justice Chang’s ruling can trigger a constitutional crisis – Granger
Guyana Times, February 2, 2014 Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang‟s ruling in the budget cut case, could trigger a major constitutional crisis, Opposition Leader David Granger contended on Friday. Approximately two years after the Donald Ramotar administration moved to the High Court to challenge the move by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) to cut the 2012 national budget, the acting chief justice on Wednesday ruled that the National Assembly does not have the power to cut the national estimates presented by the finance minister. The chief justice also ruled that the opposition can only approve or disapprove the budget in its entirety or sections within. Speaking at his Hadfield Street, Georgetown office, Granger registered his coalition‟s dissatisfaction with the ruling, contending that it can have unintended consequences. “The opposition, if it is dissatisfied with any item in the 2014 budget, according to a rational interpretation of the decision, must refuse to approve the entire budget in order to give effect to their disapproval.” He added: “The government in this situation, if it refuses to amend the budget to the satisfaction of the opposition, would precipitate a major constitutional crisis and trigger a consequent general elections.” The opposition leader further opined that Justice Chang‟s decision seems to suggest that the APNU cannot defend the decision of the National Assembly in the courts of law, if taken there by the government side. “The chief justice‟s decision coming after 18 months of litigation, but just before the presentation of the 2014 budget, seems intended to neutralise the opposition‟s vital oversight role in the National Assembly.” Granger also accused Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh of ignoring the decision of the National Assembly, as reflected in the approved 2013 Appropriations Act, by spending monies that were not approved by the House.
As a result, Granger lamented that Dr Singh should be censured by the House. It was noted that the opposition is already taking the necessary steps to censure the finance minister. Despite a July 1, 2013 pledge by President Donald Ramotar, the opposition leader said there will be likely a “crisis” because APNU and the People‟s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) budget negotiations have not been fruitful. “It is very likely, therefore, that the concerns of the A Partnership of the National Unity have not been taken on board, and if the People‟s Progressive Party brings a budget to the National Assembly which is contrary to the public‟s interest, we are going to exercise our constitutional right to amendment the budget and the courts cannot intervene, the courts cannot intrude in the rights of the National Assembly,” he declared. Asked whether APNU is ready to take on a challenge, if the country is forced to hold snap elections due to failure to agree on the 2014 national budget, Granger told reporters that the coalition is focusing on local government elections. Implications Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman has also signalled his disapproval of the decision of the acting chief justice, arguing that the ruling will have far-reaching implications for the Commonwealth parliamentary system. Contrary to Chang‟s ruling, Trotman said the National Assembly has the power to approve and amend budgetary estimates, noting that this is a longestablished right. “The principle of comity dictates that the three branches of government – the executive, the legislative and the judicial – are all separate and equal and are to respect the right and authority of each other,” he said. Trotman said while the High Court‟s ruling will be respected, the National Assembly has the right to appeal the decision.
How can any constitution allow a minority of the people to rule the majority?
Stabroek News, February 5, 2014 [Letter] Dear Editor, On January 29 our Chief Justice (CJ) acting ruled that the majority in the National Assembly has no power to cut the budget estimates made by the government‟s Finance Minister. It was a sad day for jurisprudence in Guyana. The reaction was immediate with the Parliament Office questioning the CJ‟s interpretation of the constitution, and the opposition saying the ruling would be challenged in the appeal court since it has the potential to cause a constitutional crisis in Guyana. Mr Eusi Kwayana co-leader of the WPA was no less critical and in a letter to the Stabroek News published on February 1 labelled the ruling by CJ Chang as one which “leaves us to conclude that the Committee of Supply process is high farce.”
Pro-PPP elements have hailed the decision, notably Mr Sultan Mohamed, if he exists, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Stabroek News which was printed in its February 1 issue. His letter contains such drivel that I will not dwell on it. I will however dwell on what Mr Kwayana has written since it is the correct interpretation in this matter according to legal advice I was given by very competent lawyers, although it does not go far enough. Mr Kwayana tells us that we must always be vigilant to ensure that the three branches of the state ‒ the executive, the legislative and the judicial ‒ remain separate, and that no one arm should seek to control either of the other two. In this case the judicial arm has sought to intrude on the legislative arm in violation of the concept of the separation of powers. Such an action, if our interpretation of what Justice Chang has ruled is correct, constitutes a violation of Article 9 of the Guyana Constitution which says that “sovereignty belongs to the people and they exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this constitution.” It then follows that laws made by the parliament can be challenged after they are passed, but the standing orders of the Parliament are the law governing the operation of the lawmakers of this country, who are speaking on behalf of the people, and cannot be changed by the judiciary. Our constitution is very clear: there are those like the PPP and its spokesman Sultan Mohamed who would like us to think that this ruling is in keeping with our constitution, but it is not. Our constitution expressly confers on our parliament the right to tax and to spend “under their own rules” since only the people have the right to tax and to spend, and they express their opinions through their elected representatives who are acting on their behalf in the National Assembly. (It would clearly be ludicrous for over 400,000 voters to assemble anywhere to do so; they do it through their elected representatives.) In this case the majority of the parliament representing the majority of the voters had instituted cuts to the 2012 and 2013 budgets as they were legally authorised to do by virtue of the fact that they represent the majority of the people in this country; no one man sitting in the high court, can seek to remove those rights from the citizens of this country. It is as simple as that. But it raises a very fundamental problem and it is this: how can any constitution allow the minority of the people in this country to rule the majority? How can an opposition be in the majority ‒ it‟s nonsense! I am informed that the 1980 constitution did not change the concept that the government cannot be in the minority and the opposition in the majority. I am also informed that if the constitution creates an impossible situation such as this current conundrum we are experiencing since 2011, then it must be changed and corrected now, to avoid it happening in future. This is where the judicial system must get involved. To form the government you must have the majority of the peoples‟ mandate to do so. What has happened here is essentially a direct assault on the constitutional rights of the people in this country who voted in a national election to select their representatives to say how much is to be earned as taxes and spent in the national budget, and no judge can change what the representatives of the people do in the parliament once they are not violating the Standing Orders of the house. And in this case they are not.
What Mr Kwayana has sought successfully to do is to point out that the annual exercise whereby the budget is examined item by item by the National Assembly and then voted on by the majority as acceptable is a farcical exercise, if they do not have the absolute right to change or vary it, and the majority of the people in this country are denied the right to say that they don‟t agree with how their taxes are being spent. There is one important element which must be sought forcefully in the appeal; it is to stay Justice Chang‟s decision until the appeals have gone through all of the stages. In addition this ridiculous situation of the minority ruling the majority must be resolved once and for all. And I urge the opposition to make it clear that this matter is of immense national significance and they must get good lawyers to take this case all the way to the CCJ. The excuse that it‟s expensive is wearing thin now; the majority of the people who voted against the PPP must be prepared to stand behind the opposition and help to finance this matter for a resolution before March. Yours faithfully, Tony Vieira
The Demerara Harbour Bridge project should first be brought before the National Assembly for scrutiny
Stabroek News, February 5, 2014 [Letter] Dear Editor, As reported, there can be no doubt that the rickety 36-year-old bridge crossing the Demerara River has long passed its 10 years of useful life and needs urgent replacement before disaster strikes. However, its replacement should not be based on a sketchy, hurriedly prepared pre-feasibility study with negotiation for financing entrusted to the beleaguered National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) under the dubious management of Mr Brassington. Minister Benn was forthright when he stated that the government does not have the resources to build this bridge replacement, and neither does Mr Brassington have the skills and capability to negotiate international financing for such a multi-million dollar project. In any case NICIL does not have the legitimacy to negotiate any loan on the financial market or offer guarantees on any international loan. It is just a front for the government which has to underwrite any loan for such a project and is ultimately responsible for its repayment. Therefore, all such matters should in the first instance be brought before the National Assembly for scrutiny. In order to have the confidence and trust of the public and investors Minister Benn has to ensure that this project is not opaque, shrouded in secrecy and that its deliberations are transparent. If not, its fate will be similar to that of the Amaila Falls and Marriott Hotel projects. Investors/ entrepreneurs do not put their money on a platter for investment on high risk projects in developing countries unless they are assured that they will be handsomely repaid. To assist them determine their exposure they rely on many sophisticated financial determinants, least among which is a feasibility study carried out to determine the project‟s economic, financial, environmental and technical viability.
It should be recalled that the Inter-American Development Bank was not prepared to consider the government‟s loan application for the Amaila Falls project unless a feasibility study was carried out for its consideration. Such a study should be conducted by a firm with proven engineering bridge experience and not by those „fly by night firms‟ which rely on PPP/C favour for survival and are the cause for so many of the problems being experienced by projects throughout Guyana because of their incompetence. Construction proposals should not be entertained until such time that the project is properly defined and finance assured. Mr Brassington‟s record as Chairman of GPL and so many other projects under his responsibility indicate his lack of managerial, technical and leadership skills. Therefore to entrust NICIL with the authority to manage all aspects of the proposed new Demerara River bridge in order to have some sort of political control will be a disaster of enormous proportions. The Ministry of Public Works also may not have the personnel required to form a bridge authority to manage all aspects of the proposed project, but Minister Benn with a bipartisan approach could no doubt find Guyanese to take up the challenge with distinction. Yours faithfully, Charles Sohan
Granger leads outreach to Linden
Kaieteur News, February 4, 2014 On Friday 31st January and Saturday 1st February 2014, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Members of Parliament led by Opposition Leader Brigadier David Granger conducted an out-reach exercise in Linden- Upper Demerara- Berbice Region. During the two day exercise the Parliamentarians, party leaders and local activists fanned-out into several communities in Wismar and McKenzie with over 10 communities being visited. House to house visits were conducted and leaders got an opportunity not only to bring APNU‟s message to members of the community, but also to listen to and see first-hand, the challenges facing the residents. The Opposition Leader and his team were given a warm welcome by residents. On November 28th 2013 APNU launched its Local Government campaign and have since conducted several public meetings and out-reach exercises all across the country. APNU Local Government Elections Campaign Director, Mr. Winston Felix, said the Linden out-reach was just the first of many such exercises that will be conducted nation-wide in the coming weeks and month. At a Press Conference on Friday 31st January at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier David Granger said that APNU was preparing for Local Government elections this year (2014). The Campaign Director said that the exercise was a great opportunity for APNU to understand what is happening at the level of the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), and for national and regional leaders to get familiar with the problems facing NDC‟s so that they can better understand what will be needed to mount successful campaigns in individual local government areas and constituencies. Some of the issues that were of concern to residents were – marketing of their farm produce, high costs of living, poor roads, inadequate water supply, unemployment and the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) administration failing to fulfill agreements that were signed between the government and the representatives of the people of Linden in August 2012.
Multi-billion-dollar drug purchases…Former auditor chief calls for hold on suppliers’ prequalification system
Kaieteur News, February 4, 2014 A system that would have virtually shut out a number of local suppliers from being part of Government‟s lucrative contract for purchases of drugs is continuing to raise unease. This time, former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, has called on the Ministry to put a hold on the process, meet with suppliers in a bid to revisit the process. “It is evident that the application of the evaluation criteria in the prequalification exercise for the supply of drugs and medical supplies are likely to result in manufacturers and distributors being unable to achieve prequalification status. “They will therefore be excluded from supplying the Ministry with these essential items, or given orders for minimal quantities, with possible adverse effects on their operations,” Goolsarran wrote in his weekly column yesterday in Stabroek News. The topic was “Revisiting the Purchases of Drugs and Medical Supplies”. The issue is a sore one for lawmakers and drug suppliers who have claimed that they are being sidelined in favour on one company, New GPC. That company is controlled is Dr. Ranjisinghi „Bobby‟ Ramroop, a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo. There have been burning questions over the costs of drugs and timely deliveries. Last year, the Ministry of Health issued new instructions, based on a reworked points system, how it would shortlist the prequalified suppliers. Goolsarran, too, believed the new guidelines will definitely give New GPC an unfair edge. “This will leave the local organization in question, which did not have a good track record in meeting its contractual obligations, with a virtual monopoly over such supplies. It would be advisable for the Ministry of Health to revisit the evaluation criteria set out in the prequalification documents in consultation with all potential suppliers.” The former Auditor General believed that while previous experience, ability to perform, infrastructure, storage and laboratory facilities are important considerations, “one hopes that the assignment of points to each criterion will be reworked to create as much of a level playing as possible to enable organizations interested in supplying the Ministry with drugs and medical supplies to be able to do so. ”It is not in the best public interest to have one supplier having a virtual monopoly in the supply of drugs and medical supplies to the government. New GPC, Gooslarran found, had become the government‟s main supplier since 2005, delivering over 75 per cent of the government‟s requirements and virtually displacing specialized overseas agencies that had previously supplied over 90 per cent of the government‟s requirements. Monopoly Between 2005 and 2012, the government‟s expenditure on drugs and medical supplies more than tripled, increasing from $1.357 billion to $4.393 billion. In particular, 2007 and 2011 recorded increases of 50 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. No figures are available for 2008 because of the fire that destroyed the Ministry of Health building in July 2009.
“These are extraordinary increases considering that for the corresponding seven years earlier, i.e. from 1998 to 2004, procurement increased from $651 million to $1.165 billion or by 79 per cent. It is not clear what was the rationale for such increases in budgetary allocations and hence expenditure. “Correspondingly, procurement from the local organization also tripled, increasing from $973 million to $3.033 billion.” Goolsarran noted that since 1997, the Ministry undertook the procurement of drugs and medical supplies by selective tendering, as authorised by Cabinet. Such authorisation continued until 2010 through two successive renewals in 2003 and 2008. “This is despite the fact that the Procurement Act 2003 restricted Cabinet‟s role in the procurement process to one of offering “no objection” to contracts valued at $15 million or over.” With the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, Cabinet‟s role was to have been progressively phased out or ceased altogether. Regrettably, the Commission is yet to be established, Goolsarran said. Under the selective tendering arrangement, the Ministry would contact the pre-selected suppliers and request them to quote for the items to be supplied. “On this basis, contracts were awarded. There was no independent review to ensure that the best prices were obtained for the various items supplied as the relevant tender boards, in particular, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), were not involved.” For the period 2011-2013, prequalification proceedings were applied for the identification to suppliers. “The same procedures as those of selective tendering were used, except that Cabinet was not involved. However, the various tender boards, including the NPTAB, were again not involved in the prequalification exercise nor were they involved in the selection of suppliers based on their quotations.” Scrapping For the period 2014 -2016, the Ministry has advertised for interested suppliers to apply for prequalification. However, New GPC may likely not have to be a part of the process as it has already been previously granted prequalification status. A review of the evaluation criteria to be used revealed that manufacturers are to be evaluated on a score of 190 while for distributors the score is 180. At least 80 per cent is required for prequalification in addition to meeting the criteria dealing with financial and infrastructure capacity as well as the ability to supply 75 per cent of GMA certified items. Preference is given to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Guyana as certified by the Guyana Food and Drugs Analyst Department. They automatically qualify and are eligible for 10 per cent price advantage compared to imported items. Companies with appropriate warehousing facilities are also given preference. “Manufacturers will therefore have to score at least 152 points. This is very unlikely, considering the above requirements. In addition, they must have facilities for laboratory testing and quality testing, including full-fledged quality control department with qualified, trained and experienced personnel, all of which carry a maximum of 50 points.” Goolsarran pointed out that the Auditor General‟s reports over the years, however, revealed a number of unsatisfactory features in respect of the performance of the main supplier of drugs and medical supplies. “For example, as at September 30, 2013, medical supplies valued at $58.583 million had not been delivered to the Georgetown Public Hospital and the related bank guarantee had expired in April 2013.
As regards the Ministry of Health, as at September 30, last, medical supplies valued at $164.603 million had not been delivered, and there were no bank guarantees in force to cover this amount. There were also outstanding deliveries for 2011 totalling $59.835 million while for 2008 there was no evidence of the delivery of supplies valued at $79.262 million. Despite these shortcomings, no action was taken against the organisation for non-compliance with its contractual obligations.” As regards the government‟s storage facilities, there was evidence of significant amounts of pilferage, damaged and expired drugs; poor recordkeeping in respect of receipts, issues and balances on hand; and high levels of discrepancies between physical balances and the recorded amounts. “Given this situation, and the fact that manufacturers and distributors are required to have 30,000 square feet of storage with three separate temperature zones, would it not be more cost-effective to have an arrangement whereby deliveries are staggered, for example, every quarter, instead of bulk deliveries? If this happens, the requirement the Government‟s warehousing and storage facilities can be significantly reduced.” According to industry experts, the cost savings are likely to be between 16 per cent and 20 per cent. Using the figure of $4.393 billion, representing the purchase of drugs and medical supplies in 2012, these savings could be at least $700 million annually.
Government should not compete with the private sector – Granger
Kaieteur News, February 3, 2014 “It is my view that much of the development of this country has to be done by the private sector,” said Leader of the opposition coalition, A Partnership of National Unity (APNU) David Granger. Granger was at the time commenting on the statements made by the Central Executive Officer (CEO) of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) Radha Krishna Sharma when he articulated in a previous Kaieteur News article that Government has no business in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector. Rather, it is an area that should be spearheaded with capital from the private sector, Granger added. Sharma said that with respect to Government being involved with the ICT sector (by way of its EGovernance project where the government has begun stringing a fiber optic cable from Brazil to Georgetown), that based on the global market and dynamics of the industry and the success rate with respect to Government‟s engagement in the private sector it can be “unequivocally” stated that ICT sector should be “spearheaded by private capital.” The company said that Guyana has lost four years since its initial request to facilitate 3G/4G technology in the country. “To this end, we intend to intensify our efforts in discussions with the government to allow for this, which is an everyday usage in other Caribbean territories” Sharma said. This particular issue has been a sensitive one. Currently, a number of companies, including Global Technology and Quark Communications, have been earmarked for telecoms license, once the new laws are passed. Both companies have linkages to Dr. Ranjisinghi „Bobby‟ Ramroop, a close friend of former President Bharrat Jagdeo. Other countries, because of how lucrative the telecommunication business is, have been moving to ensure that they receive big bucks for the licenses.
Granger said that APNU believes that the regulatory environment must be preserved. “We must make the country safe for business persons for investors, for ordinary citizens. We do not feel its government‟s job to compete with the private sector.” He said that there are certain things that the government must do such as provide security, and provide infrastructure, “the government must provide certain public services such as health and education but once you get beyond that and start to compete in profit making enterprises, like running newspapers and running gas stations we feel the government should pull out. “I made this statement three years ago about GuySuco [Guyana Sugar Corporation] and I was seriously criticized because I said the government has no place growing sugar, that the government should provide an environment within which citizens could function; go about their business and set up enterprises” said the APNU Leader. Granger said that the government has a lot of work to do to provide public services and should stick to defense, security, infrastructure, education and health and stay out of the ICT sector. The opposition coalition leader contended that the government should be a facilitator by providing ICT laboratories in schools. He said that the government could produce a large class of people who are literate and competent in various techniques and technologies “but I think the government has gone beyond that now and has started to become a competitor and I feel that is dangerous because the government is very powerful and it can use the weight of the state to secure advantages over its competitors, that‟s one of the reasons why they should come out of the traditional media such as Chronicle and GINA [Government Information Agency]” said Granger.
Dr Karen Cummings the likely successor to Backer in Parliament…decision still to be taken on nomination for Deputy Speaker – Granger
Kaieteur News, February 4, 2014 Dr Karen Cummings, wife of Peoples Progressive Party candidate, Dr Emmanuel Cummings, has all but been confirmed as the replacement in the National Assembly for A Partnership for National Unity‟s (APNU), Deborah Backer. While a number of party sources have confirmed that Dr Cummings is the pick, APNU Leader David Granger, would only confirm that she is being considered among other persons. He said that a final decision has not been made as yet. According to Granger, following a formal announcement by Backer the party‟s executives would have to meet and take a decision. He explained that while APNU is a coalition in Parliament and since Backer comes from the People‟s National Congress Reform (PNCR), that party will be making the decision. Former Chairman of the PNCR Bishwaiswar “Cammie” Ramsaroop, is currently the representative of the list of candidates for the coalition and will ultimately have the final say in who will be named as the successor. Granger said yesterday that as had been the case when determining who would be seated in parliament following the 2011 election; there is a formula that will be used. He spoke to the gender balance and geographic representation among other criteria. Dr Cummings in an invited comment yesterday said that while it was not in an official capacity, she has been asked if she would be willing to fill the void left by Backer. She however did not deny her willingness to serve as a Member of Parliament in the APNU benches As it relates to who the party will be nominating to be elected as Deputy Speaker, a position currently held by Backer, the APNU leader said that this too will be subject to discussion when the executives meet.
He said that a final decision has not been made as yet but given the challenges of the portfolio they are going to be looking for a competent enough person. He lauded Backer competency to hold the position pointing to her knowledge of the Parliamentary Standing Orders, her legal training, and her knack for research before handing down decisions. Backer missed a number of sittings of the National Assembly after she fell ill late last year and had to be hospitalized. She was subsequently flown to a Florida Hospital for further treatment. Granger had previously told this publication that she was expected back in Guyana for the January 16, sitting of the National Assembly but this did not happen. Parliament met on January 23, last, and she was again absent from the House. Since Backer was first hospitalized in Guyana the family and party members have been tightlipped on her condition and even the visitors to the Hospital had been kept to a minimum. Backer, who is currently the serving Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, is also a well known Attorney-at-Law. Backer is a member of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and ViceChairman of the Peoples National Congress Reform. She has been a Parliamentarian since 1997 and had also served on the Georgetown City Council in 1994. Backer is also a serving member of a number of important organisations such as the Lions Club International and is currently an organising member of the Women‟s Millennium Caucus.
No way could police have been involved in No.48 robbery – Felix
Stabroek News, February 3, 2014 Former police commissioner Winston Felix says there were no way ranks in Corentyne, Berbice could have been involved in an armed robbery as is being claimed as the only working vehicle they had at the time was at the No. 51 station where a vehicular accident was being investigated. Felix, while describing the situation in Berbice as “one big mess”, said too that the ranks in this area lack the basic resources but are still expected to perform their duties efficiently. Several attempts on Saturday to contact Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell for an update on the robbery allegation and the apparent lack of resources in that section of Berbice were futile. Felix made these statements in wake of the recent incident where all the ranks from the No. 51 Police Station were transferred after residents accused them of being involved in an armed robbery at Number 48 Village two Sundays ago. Residents had claimed that the police car – an AT 192 Toyota Carina, PJJ 6872 with “siren lights” at the top – that the police arrived in later to investigate the robbery was used to transport the bandits. According to them, during the robbery the car was driving slowly on the road without lights. However Felix, who is now the shadow Home Affairs Minister for APNU had a different version of events and said that an investigation would have found that the police vehicle was nowhere close to Number 48 Village when the armed robbery occurred. He explained that the police on the Corentyne have one “old vehicle” that is based at Number 62 and which according to one resident is only working at 30% of its capacity.
Felix, who took a trip to the area to get a firsthand look at the situation after the allegations surfaced and the residents protested, said that there is no vehicle at Springlands, a main area in the Upper Corentyne. He added too that here is no vehicle at Number 51. He explained that based on what the residents told him, in the night the police at Number 51 would call Number 62 where an outpost is located for the white police car with nonfunctional flashing lights to do their regular patrols. According to Felix, this vehicle is tasked with patrolling between Number 51 and Number 45 villages. Felix said that according to what he had gathered the ranks were on patrol last Sunday night when they came upon an accident scene somewhere along the patrol route. As a result of the accident he said that they went to the Number 51 Police Station and while there they got a call about the robbery at Number 48 village. He said that the ranks left their post and travelled to the scene “as soon as practically possible after they got the information”. He said that as soon as the four ranks arrived at the scene, the residents began to accuse the police of being involved in the robbery. “My understanding is that not even the victim told the police about any police rank or any white car. That is the residents. Those people were out of control. They stopped the police, literally preventing them from investigating the crime and accused them”, he said noting that during the meeting with the commissioner of police about three persons stood up and said that the police were not involved in the robbery. He said that he had not seen this bit of information reported anywhere in the media. Felix said that he was moved to make comments on the matter since he was once stationed in Berbice and knows what ranks there have to endure. “The police is heavily starved of resources by this government. Why the government does not have vehicles allocated to the police at the main stations in Berbice?” he asked noting that one should not expect top performance from a police force that is starved of resources. He said that in spite of these shortfalls the police continue to work. “On top of all of that the entire station is being accused of armed robbery”, he said. Felix said too that there are three vehicles in good condition in the possession of persons who are being paid as much as $30, 000 per month to do nothing with them. He questioned why these vehicles are not given to the police so that they can adequately patrol the Corentyne area. “The public security situation in the country is not well served with Mr. Clement Rohee‟s continued blunderings as Minister of Home Affairs. Instead of transferring ranks wrongfully accused of committing crime, he should do this country good service by demitting office”, he charged. Reports are that on Sunday night four masked bandits invaded the home and shop belonging to Vimlawatie „Dato‟ Ramdeen and her husband, Lilman Ramdeen.The bandits beat the Ramdeens, fired several shots to apparently scare persons away and carted off about $600,000 in cash, jewellery and cell phone cards. Residents said the same car – an AT 192 Toyota Carina, PJJ 6872 with “siren lights” at the top – that the police arrived in later to investigate the robbery was used to transport the bandits. According to them, during the robbery the car was driving slowly on the road without lights. Agitated, residents who had gathered at the scene prevented the police from moving the car and also blocked the road, disrupting traffic. Brumell met with residents last week and after announcing the transfer of the ranks listened to their concerns.
Opposition’s clandestine connections…Rohee must explain his failings before he smears others- Felix
FEBRUARY 6, 2014 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
A Partnership for National Unity‟s (APNU) shadow Minister of Home Affairs and former Top Cop Winston Felix says Minister Clement Rohee should do some introspection instead of smearing the Opposition. He was referring to the recent comments made by the Home Affairs Minister linking the Opposition with drugs and criminal elements because of what he (Rohee) stated is their non support of the passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) legislation and the Opposition‟s actions of walking out of the Parliamentary Select Committee that was tasked with reviewing the said legislation. According to Felix, Rohee must look at his own role as Minister of Home Affairs against the backdrop of the burdening drug problem that exists locally and the fact that not “one drug arrest has been convicted since he became Minister of Home Affairs from August 2006 to now… and that is one of the reasons why a no confidence motion was passed against the Minister.” Felix questioned “if he knows that the Opposition is involved with drug dealers then how is he leading his Ministry to unmask those who are really and truly involved, rather than paint brush it? His Ministry, through intelligence gathering and through information sharing should have been able to unmask all Opposition people who he claims is involved in crime or drug trafficking, so Rohee‟s statement is useless and is more in support of the inefficiencies of the Ministry of Home Affairs.” The APNU shadow Minister said that Rohee is jumping to conclusions by saying that they (APNU) are not supportive of the AML CFT legislation. He is adamant that although his party is supportive of the legislation, they have found deficiencies that they want corrected in the old Bill such as the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) not properly established. Felix said that more input in necessary to make our own Bills effective because even “if you pass the current AML legislation that is being “imposed” by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) you still don‟t have the financial institutions to deal with all of those issues and that is what we want ;a proper functioning FIU, properly staffed, properly resourced, with proper Parliamentary oversight. Those are the things we are looking for… we are not against AML, as a matter of fact we see it as complementary to the drug fight.” He called on Rohee to explain his failings “before he calls names and smear other people or other political opponents without any proper evidence to support these vicious allegations” said Felix. The former Top Cop stressed that Rohee has a lot to do to make inroads into drug trafficking in Guyana, “we have had last year a large quantity of cocaine found in a sawmill operating out of the interior and the East Bank. They arrested a large number of people but you know what, everybody went free because nobody has been charged, all they have is the cocaine and they have not dealt with the problem. These are issues Rohee must focus on and he needs to build credible narcotic sections both in the police force and CANU [Customs Anti Narcotics Unit] to deal effectively with these matters whenever they are uncovered.”
Felix stressed that the fact that a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is absent in Guyana is another typical indicator “that the government is not interested in adding muscle to the local drug enforcement agency.” With respect to the Opposition walking out of this hearing of the Committee, he said the action was taken because of the position taken by the Chairperson of the Committee Gail Teixeira. “One position was passed and she was coming with a motion to counter that motion… what are you intending to create?” He questioned. He stressed that the decision had nothing to do with what Rohee said about the private sector and media being present at the hearing of the Committee.
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