WITH the General and Regional Elections now over, and a new government elected, it is time for the Executive to settle down to the task of governance, in accordance with the people’s mandate.
Already, the stage has been set with the official opening of the Eleventh Parliament, with the highlight, of course, being His Excellency David Granger’s address, in which he has outlined aspects of his Government’s agenda for the next five years, the constitutional duration of the government.
It should be emphasised that every government is guided by a legislative agenda, since it is a working guide as to what it hopes to achieve for the nation and people whom it governs.
Immediately, it is evident that there will be a very busy legislative schedule, for the opening stages, given the number of Bills that are expected to be introduced to the Assembly, as announced by the President, during his address to the Parliament. These are:
* The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, for granting financial autonomy to Constitutional agencies.
* The Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly Bill, for independence in the appointment of Parliament staff.
* The Fiscal Management and Accountability Bill, for granting independence to certain institutions, as well as freeing them from executive interference with their budgetary allocations.
* The Former President’s (Benefits and other Facilities) Bill, to cap benefits.
* The Constitutional Offices Commission Bill that will allow for the periodic review of salaries, pensions and conditions for persons who hold constitutional offices
*The Anti-Money-Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.
*The Telecommunications Bill, that will liberalise the telecommunications sector, making it competitive.
*The Public Utilities Commission (Amendment) Bill that will facilitate equal treatment to all investors, and ensure quality service to consumers.
*The Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill, to allow greater independence to the National Broadcasting Authority and to ensure standards of fairness, balance and accuracy on matters of public interest.
*The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, to allow for the setting of the date for local government elections.
For the second sitting of the National Assembly of the first session, on June 25, 2015, the following pieces of legislation by their respective ministers, on behalf of the government, are expected to be introduced:
*The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, by the Attorney General-This Bill is intended to amend the Third Schedule of Article 222 A of the Constitution, thus providing financial autonomy to certain entities.
* The Former Presidents’ (Benefits and other facilities) Bill, by the Minister of Finance, which will provide certain benefits and other facilities for former Presidents.
* The Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Bill, by the Minister of Finance, which will effect amendments to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
* The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, by the Attorney General, for amending the AML/CTF Act and
*The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, by the Minister of Communities.
All of the above stated Bills, are extremely important to the well being of the nation, and perhaps, explain their early tabling in the House.
ALL-IMPORTANT AML BILL
Given its centrality to the country’s credibility when conducting financial business with the international community, and the national economic well being, the AML/CTF Bill will be introduced to the National Assembly, when it convenes on Thursday.
It should be recalled that this important piece of intended legislation, had not been successful during the last Parliament, because of a lack of agreement between the two sides of the House, over proposed amendments. However, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, has underlined the importance of the Bill. He has assured that all the necessary amendments have now been made, in accordance with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) stipulations. These are in addition to such inclusions, as recommended by the Americas Regional Review Group (ARRG) which had conducted a targeted review of Guyana’s financial tapestry, pertaining to its anti-money laundering status, last September. This means that a fully compliant Bill is now ready for legislative passage in the House.
Guyana has a stipulated deadline of legislating its AML/CTF Bill, by September, for submission to FATF before its meeting in October, 2015.
OTHER IMMINENT BILLS
Another Bill that will also engage the Assembly’s attention is the Former Presidents’ Benefits and other facilities Bill, which had previously been approved, but was not assented to, by the former President.
Then there is the Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2015 that will settle the issue of the holding of Local Government elections, last held in 1994. This Bill will seek to amend the Local Government Act.
Parliament is the domain, where the nation’s business is represented, and advanced by the Representatives of the People. Guyanese can look forward to a very busy National Assembly, in this the 11th Parliament.