2022 Index of Economic Freedom

Guyana

OVERALL SCORE59.5
WORLD RANK91
Rule of Law

Property Rights46.9

Judicial Effectiveness47.4

Government Integrity41.5

Government Size

Tax Burden67.5

Government Spending74.8

Fiscal Health67.4

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom63.1

Labor Freedom67.3

Monetary Freedom83.3

Open Markets

Trade Freedom69.4

Investment Freedom55.0

Financial Freedom30.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 0.8 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $15.5 billion
    • 43.4% growth
    • 12.1% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $19,684 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 15.8%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 0.7%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $1.8 billion

Guyana’s economic freedom score is 59.5, making its economy the 91st freest in the 2022 Index. Guyana is ranked 19th among 32 countries in the Americas region, and its overall score is above the regional average but below the world average.

Over the past five years, Guyana’s economic growth accelerated as the offshore oil boom gathered speed and propelled investment and reforms. Economic freedom fluctuated over the same period but began to grow in 2020 and improved again in 2021. Driven by higher scores for rule of law (property rights, judicial effectiveness, and government integrity), Guyana has recorded a 1.0-point overall gain of economic freedom since 2017 and has neared the top of the “Mostly Unfree” category. Monetary freedom and trade freedom are relatively strong, but rule of law and financial freedom remain weak.

IMPACT OF COVID-19: As of December 1, 2021, 997 deaths had been attributed to the pandemic in Guyana, and the government’s response to the crisis ranked 27th among the countries included in this Index in terms of its stringency. The economy grew 43.4 percent in 2020.

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Background

After former slaves in British Guyana settled in urban areas, indentured servants from India were recruited to work on plantations. Guyana’s ethno-cultural divide has led to a history of political turmoil and electoral violence that stretches back to its independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. Irfaan Ali of the leftist People’s Progressive Party/Civic became president in 2020 after months of uncertainty over disputed election results. Ali has pursued an agenda focused on creating local jobs and negotiating with foreign oil companies. Petroleum production from recently discovered offshore oilfields has transformed Guyana’s economy and is expected to raise GDP substantially. Venezuela claims more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory and has pursued annexation unsuccessfully in international courts.

Rule of Law

Property Rights 46.9 Create a Graph using this measurement

Judicial Effectiveness 47.4 Create a Graph using this measurement

Government Integrity 41.5 Create a Graph using this measurement

Protection of property rights is weakened by an overly bureaucratic, opaque, and complex system with overlapping, competing, and nontransparent regulations. Although the judiciary is independent, the understaffed and inadequately resourced judicial system is generally perceived as slow and ineffective in enforcing legal contracts. There are widespread concerns about inefficiencies and corruption in the awarding of contracts.

Government Size

The top individual income tax rate is 33.3 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 40 percent. The overall tax burden equals 23.2 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 29.0 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 4.2 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 43.9 percent of GDP.

Regulatory Efficiency

Guyana’s newfound oil wealth made it the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2020. Being the only English-speaking country in South America creates the potential for call centers and other service industries. New revenue from oil production will permit the government to fund a vast expansion of its state-run enterprises (SOEs); it already subsidizes 10 SOEs in such sectors as electricity, sugar, rice growing, and shipping.

Open Markets

Guyana has four preferential trade agreements in force. The trade-weighted average tariff rate is 5.3 percent, and 32 nontariff measures are in effect. Most new foreign investments are screened. The approval process for investments can be burdensome and nontransparent. The banking sector, characterized by inefficiency and a poor institutional framework, has become more fragile.

Country's Score Over Time

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Regional Ranking

RANK COUNTRY OVERALL CHANGE
1Canada76.6-1.3
2Chile74.4-0.8
3United States72.1-2.7
4Barbados71.36.3
5Uruguay700.7
6The Bahamas68.74.1
7Jamaica67.4-1.6
8Peru66.5-1.2
9Saint Vincent and the Grenadines65.7-0.6
10Costa Rica65.41.2
11Panama65.4-0.8
12Colombia65.1-3.0
13Saint Lucia64.3-3.2
14Mexico63.7-1.8
15Guatemala63.2-0.8
16Dominican Republic630.9
17Paraguay62.90.3
18El Salvador59.6-1.4
19Guyana59.52.1
20Honduras59.5-0.3
21Trinidad and Tobago58.8-0.2
22Belize56.6-0.9
23Nicaragua54.8-1.5
24Dominica54.41.4
25Ecuador54.31.9
26Brazil53.3-0.1
27Argentina50.1-2.6
28Haiti50-0.8
29Suriname48.11.7
30Bolivia430.3
31Cuba29.51.4
32Venezuela24.80.1
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