Damaging the country’s best interest is not a political strategy –it’s political foolishness


FORMER President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling has described the failure of the National Assembly to pass the critically needed Anti-Money Laundering Bill as “political foolishness”. Noting  that Guyana’s blacklisting is bad news for everyone, and not just the business community, Urling said that the move would have the effect of “increasing cost,  slowing down transaction time, and also creating inflation that would put an increased burden on businesses.”

He said the main group that will be affected is the consumers as businesses will adopt, and will pass on their increased cost to them.
As a businessman, he said too that one of the biggest threats is the shortage of foreign currency, which is already happening, and that whilst not connected to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)’s decision, he expects it to be exacerbated as Guyana has been referred to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Foreign currency would be harder to obtain and the local currency will be devalued. This effect will see import costs increasing and the resultant rise in goods and many commonly used items, noting that the cost of the main import which is fuel, will increase. This will have a knock on effect on fuel prices and even the Guyana Power and Light Inc., which received a $10 billion subsidy in 2013, may have to get an increased subsidy or consumers will pay more for electricity, he added.
International financial services such as remittance providers will also see an increase in the costs to conduct business, and this will be felt by persons using these services, according to Urling.
The banking sector will also be negatively affected as some overseas based banks may opt to sever ties with their local partners or counterparts due to increased pressure from the FATF, according to Urling.
“Some of them just won’t bother as Guyana is a small market for them, and with the extra pressure being placed on them, it’s just not worth the effort,” he said, adding that there is no guarantee that Banks will even want to conduct any business with local counterparts.
The inability of the National Assembly to meet the CFATF deadline is viewed as a great travesty, by the former PSC head, and an outrage for Guyana.
“It is also one of the biggest injustices I have ever seen, perpetuated on our own country by the same people who are custodians of our country”.
Describing the CFATF ruling as one from an international body, he stated that it should not have been about partisan politics, and personal views, “It should have been we an international imposition, we need to meet the requirements, we operate in a global financial architecture and system, so to avoid our country being on the back-foot in this system, let’s pass a bill that is compatible and meets the requirements.”
The fact that even CFATF officials reached out to local politicians and explained technical details was noted. Urling is of the opinion that since the issue was more a political than a technical issue, Caricom should have stepped up to act as a mediator and at least make an attempt to broker a deal to ensure the legislation’s passage.
In closing he reiterated that both sides, politically, need to do what is best for the interest of the country.