Attorney General, others to pay “no tax whatsoever” under amendment to AML/CFT law
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams and a number of other office holders will be exempt from paying a slew of taxes under new Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Finance of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws.
In what he says is a move to strengthen legislation to fight against money laundering, Williams proposed the establishment of a Committee to replace a 25-member AML/CFT Authority.
Chaired by the Attorney General, the Committee will comprise Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), General Manager of the Gold Board, Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council, Chairperson of Gaming Authority, and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officer.
All these individuals will be exempt, under Section 7G of the Bill, from all taxations “including customs duty, consumption tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, property tax and purchase tax, and the Committee shall be exempt from payment of any tax or duty whatsoever”.
“Who is this Committee?” Opposition Parliamentarian, Juan Edghill asked when he rose in the National Assembly to share his views on the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill 2018.
The Attorney General and several other officer holders are already exempt from paying income taxes. A Tax Reform Committee that was established by the coalition administration had recommended the removal of these exemptions.
Apart from the tax exemptions, Edghill raised concerns about the powers granted to the Attorney General, as Chairperson of the Committee, to pay salaries of persons on the Committee.
Edghill believes this creates opportunities for political interference.
Further, the Opposition Parliamentarian questioned why key players in the fight against money laundering like the Commissioner of Police, the country’s narcotics fighting arm – Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) – and the Deeds and Lands Registry are not on the Committee.
The Opposition Parliamentarian lamented, however, that highlighting of all these flaws will fall on deaf ears as the government side of the House will use their majority to vote in favour of the amendment.