Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Government to bring only one Act through ordinance

Due to pressure from within the party, the government is planning to bring only one Bill among the three key Bills that will help fight the flow of dirty money into the country through ordinance to escape from being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
"The government is bringing only one Bill before June 18, the date of the FATF plenary in Italy," according to a high level government source.
Due to the government's delay in bringing the Bills — that will give legal teeth to the UN Conventions to fight the flow of dirty money — since February, no one from the country will participate in the meeting in Italy. But the government is in a mood to bring at least one Bill before the deadline to escape from being blacklisted.
The FATF Plenary — the FATF's decision making body that meets three times a year in February, June and October — will take a decision on Nepal's fate during the June 18-24 meeting, though it had extended the time in February due to international lobbying.
The government had long committed to the FATF to pass the three key Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, Extradition Bill and Bill Against Organised Crime — in the parliament but after May 27, since there is no parliament, the government is planning to bring at least one Bill through ordinance that might stop Financial Action Task Force from downgrading Nepal to the 'high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions to which counter-measures apply' along with Iran and North Korea from the current 'jurisdiction with a high-level political commitment to address the AML/CFT deficiencies.'
"The government's failure like before, will force the FATF's plenary meeting this time to downgrade Nepal to 'high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions to which counter-measures apply' or commonly known as blacklisting," said Financial Information Unit — under the central bank — chief Dharma Raj Sapkota. "The FATF has taken Nepal seriously due to its repeated failure in fulfilling its commitment," he said, adding that the government should fulfill its international commitment.
If it is planning to bring only one Bill, then Mutual Legal Assistance Bill is the key among the three, added Sapkota.
The intra-party feud in the ruling UCPN-Maoist has forced the caretaker Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai to skip the key Bills and bring only one to escape the blacklisting.   
The 'high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions to which counter-measures apply' is a list of 'Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories' that are perceived to be non-cooperative like North Korea and Iran in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Meanwhile, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav today, in a meeting with senior economists at the president's office, also asked about the fate of the three Bills and the impact that it will have on Nepal if the government fails in bringing them.
Nepal had received a time extension — due to international lobbying — in the February meeting that had listed a total of 17 countries under high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions and spared Nepal.
The government's failure to fulfill its commitment to FATF will not only downgrade the country to a high-risk zone, but will also cost the country dearly and the financial sector will be the first casualty, besides the flow of foreign investment. The financial sector will be hit hard as they will not be allowed to make any international transaction, and the country will lose its international market as the cost of exports will go up making Nepal's exports expensive.
Similarly, donors will also include more stringent conditions for aid and grants once the country is blacklisted.


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