Country Listing

Guyana Table of Contents




Apart from the Bank of Guyana (the central bank), five commercial banks and two foreign banks operated in Guyana. Three other foreign banks--the Royal Bank of Canada, Chase Manhattan of the United States, and Barclays Bank of Britain--were nationalized in the 1980s. The two remaining foreign-owned banks were Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia and India's Bank of Baroda. The primary activity for commercial banks was lending to the government; private investment opportunities were rare. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the public sector accounted for 97 percent of the financial system's claims at the end of 1986.

In 1987 the banks experienced a shock when the government emphasized bond issues rather than borrowing from commercial banks as a way of financing its deficits. This shift in government policy placed the banks in a difficult position because they could make few loans and thus few profits; there were then almost no private entities seeking financing. But commercial banks benefited from the government's legalization of foreign exchange trading in 1989. Until then, the Bank of Guyana had been the only legal source of foreign currency, forcing local banks to hold Guyanese dollars even when a devaluation was expected. Five banks opened cambios, or exchange houses, in 1990.

Data as of January 1992