The National Parliament yesterday passed legislations that could rescue Vanuatu from the ‘grey list’.
The government was racing against time, to avoid the risk of being moved on to the ‘Black List’ if the legislation failed to pass.
The bills passed were, Bill for the Financial Institutions Amendment Act No. of 2017, Bill for the Charitable Associations (incorporation) Amendment Act No. of 2017, and bill for the Foundation Amendment Act No. of 2017.
The bills will give effect to Vanuatu’s FATF (Financial Action Task Force) action plan to meet FATF recommendations and to strengthen regulatory controls to protect the financial sector from abuse by criminals.
The first bill tabled yesterday was Bill for the Financial Institution.
A strong debate between opposition and the government side threw a lot of discussions before 37 on the government side voted in favour and 4 on the opposition against.
A concerned Opposition Leader, Ismael Kalsakau, yesterday asked the Prime Minister to justify reasons on how the bills will benefit the people of Vanuatu in immediate and long term.
“Where are the bills that we need to discuss for the interest of the people of this country?” he asked after a number of bills were withdrawn.
Mr. Kalsakau told the members of Parliament yesterday that he is afraid the Bill for Financial Institution is for the interest of outsiders and not the people of Vanuatu, thus he said the opposition will not vote in favour.
Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, said before the passing of the bills that the whole country will face serious financial and economic impacts if Parliament failed to pass them.
“This will put back confidence because we depend on global economy.”
Member of Parliament for Tanna Andrew Napuat, although had reservations, supported the Bill saying it is an important commitment by the government to remove the country from the grey list.
The Amendment passed yesterday saw an increase on penalties for those who are implicated against the various regulations.
The FATF is an independent inter-government body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The FATF recommendations are recognised as the global anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing standard.
FATF reported on its website the risk and deficiencies Vanuatu will face after failing to implement all of FATF’s global standards.
“The most important technical compliance deficiencies include, inadequate criminalization of money laundering and terrorist financing, inadequate customer due diligence (CDD); and inadequate supervisory frameworks for financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions.”