Minister Coye says NPO Bill is Needed
In related news, Minister Coye also commented on the Non-profit Organization Bill. The purpose of the Non-profit Organizations Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the operation of NGOs in Belize and to prevent them from being used for money laundering, terrorism financing, or other illegal activities. The bill was tabled on March 10 during the Sitting of the House of Representatives. But, the NGO community says that was the first time they saw the bill. Reporters asked Minister Coye about it yesterday.
Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “The NPO Bill I think there’s a context that you need to get an appreciation of. What I can explain will bore you to death but the reality is that there is an existing set of obligations on NPOs that are laid out in the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Act that are at the same level of banks and financial institutions. So they actually have very onerous obligations on them right now that are not being complied with in large part not being complied with by many NPOs. The reality is when those amendments or laws were being put in place they were very reactive and in effect a patch up job and that was being done way back when the third round peer review was going on. At this point in time what’s important in the peer review coming up is two things not one. In the past it used to be on technical compliance now it’s on both technical compliance and effectiveness in enforcement. So if people are being non compliant that will reflect very badly on us, on the country and we expose ourselves, we jeopardize our rating and expose ourselves to being black listed so NPO Bill in reality is an effort to establish a more customized mechanism for MLTPA purposes for NPOs it actually brings down the obligations, it reduces the level of AML obligations and compliance obligations that NPOs need to adhere to but at the same time meets the FATF recommendations so it actually is beneficial for the NPOs.”
According to Coye, the NGO community was involved in the discussions but was not presented with the actual bill.
Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “But as far as I understand the bill was being formulated over the past couple months and only was completed a few weeks ago. So yes there’s a tight timeline that we have to meet because we have to have all these technical compliant issues including the NPO Bill in place by no later than May. So there’s a tight timeline and unfortunately the FIU did not have the time or the opportunity to have a full disclosure on the bill itself. But it was tight for us as Cabinet as well so it’s a process that has been truncated and we have to try and get it done before May. So that’s where we are with the NPO Bill. As far as I understand the NPO Bill as much as it has gone through the House at the Senate level we will hold off on its consideration for a few weeks until the next House meeting and that will allow it more time for consultation with NPOs but that at its essence is what this whole thing is about.”