“Inefficient” Opposition stymying Govt’s legislative agenda – AG

Attorney General & Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, S.C

As the Guyana Government continues to pursue an aggressive and transformative legislative agenda, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C, has bemoaned the parliamentary Opposition’s role in slowing down that progress.
“Our legislative agenda is constantly being slowed down and stymied because of an incompetent and inefficient Opposition [the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change],” Nandlall stated during his weekly programme – Issues In the News.
He made reference to the Data Protection Bill which addresses, among other things, the public’s criticisms regarding the planned introduction of an electronic ID Card for citizens. Government signed the US$35.4 million contract with German-based company Veridos Identity Solutions back in March for the implementation of the national electronic Identification (ID) Card, which would not only promote the ease of conducting a host of transactions by Guyanese, but also be used by the State to track migrants in the country.
Criticisms had emerged over the absence of the relevant laws in Guyana that would allow for the protection and use of such a card and the data (bio-data of the cardholder) it will contain.
But the Attorney General explained that there are provisions within the contract period for implementation of the card for the legal and the administrative apparatus to be put in place to govern the use of the e-cards.
However, Nandlall pointed out that the Data Protection Bill was released since April 15, inviting feedback from the public, including the Opposition, and, to date, not a single submission has been received. The deadline for feedback is May 6, and it is envisioned that the Bill would then be tabled in the National Assembly next week.

Nandlall believes that when this happens, the Opposition will again employ tactics that would negatively impact the Government’s aggressive legislative agenda.
“Come next week in the Parliament, when we plan to lay the bill, you will hear them asking for more time: that they didn’t get time to study the bill. You will hear that they want the bill to go to a select committee because they haven’t read the bill. I am saying that that constitutes a gross dereliction of duty…
“I don’t want them to agree with the bill. But they have a role, unfortunately, to play. No input from the Opposition nor from the Civil Society commentators, and the timeframe which has been stipulated for receipt of recommendations and inputs is quickly coming to an end,” he posited.
The Attorney General went on to outline that Government is operating on multiple tracks in regard to its legislative agenda, and in some cases there are international deadlines which have to be met, such as the upcoming Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) assessment in September this year.
Once such legislation is the Real Estate Agents Bill. It had been highlighted that there is a gap in Guyana’s AML/CFT structure with the absence of any regulatory framework for the local real estate industry. Government is now trying to fill that vacuum ahead of the September review with the proposed legislation that would govern the operations of real estate agents.
As recently as Tuesday, AG Nandlall met with industry stakeholders and presented them with the draft copy of the bill for them to give their feedback. He underscored the importance of having this bill passed on time in the National Assembly before Parliament goes into a two-month recess in August, which is just one month before AML/CFT assessment.
“I am just giving you a glimpse of the hectic work schedule that we have, and rather than offer constructive criticism and support in the national interest, you have an Opposition, all it does is it obstructs, it opposes, it stymies, and it dilates. And why? Because they have no constructive contribution to make, and that is demonstratively clear by what they say in the press and the way that they conduct themselves in the National Assembly and outside of the National Assembly,” he asserted.
The Real Estate Agents Bill has some 83 provisions and several scheduled that were crafted after consultations were held with the real estate operators in Guyana. Additionally, similar legislation from the Caribbean were also looked at in coming up with a bill that adequately and robustly provides a type of regulatory framework suitable for Guyana, one that would comply with prevailing international standards and obligations.
The bill defines real estate, and it has a system to register operators within the sector. It lists, among other things, the qualifications and disqualifications for registration, and it creates a register of all operators in the sector. It establishes an association, as well as a board to run that association, which would also have rules as to its function. It has provisions dealing with issues of indemnity insurance, and establishes a licensing committee that would licence real estate operators.
The bill, further, speaks to obtaining brokers’ licence as well as to professional misconduct, the duties and obligations of real estate agents, and disciplinary matters, including offenses and penalties. (G8)