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5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Guyana ranks 128 out of 190 countries in the 2020 World Bank ranking for Ease of Business registering property. Guyana has a dual registry system of property rights with distinct requirements, processes, and enforcement mechanisms.  The two types of registry systems are deeds (Deeds and Commercial Registry) and title (Land Registry) registries that operate in separate jurisdictions, which in theory helps avoid the problem of double entry and dual registration.   Companies have complained about Guyana’s property rights being overly bureaucratic and complex, with opaque regulations that overlap and compete. Some report that this affects the proper allocation, enforcement, and effectiveness of property rights, as well as the efficiency of property-based markets, such real estate and financial markets (especially primary ones, such as mortgage markets).  The judicial system is generally perceived to be slow and ineffective in enforcing legal contracts. The World Bank’s Doing Business report 2020 reports it takes 581 days to enforce such contracts. 

Intellectual Property Rights

Upon independence in 1966, Guyana adopted British law on intellectual property rights (IPR). Guyana’s Copyright Act is dated 1956, and its Trademark Act and Patents and Design Act are dated 1973.  Local contacts report that numerous attempts to pass comprehensive legislative updates to this legislation have been unsuccessful. Piecemeal modernization amendments contained in the Geographic Indication Act of 2005, the Competition and Fair Trading Act 2006, the Business Names Registration Act 2000, and the Deeds Registry Authority Act 1999 have offered additional protection to local products and companies.

No modern legislation exists to protect the foreign-registered rights of investors. Guyana joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and acceded to the Berne and Paris Conventions in late 1994. Guyana has not ratified a bilateral intellectual property rights agreement with the United States. The Granger administration has drafted intellectual property rights legislation which has yet to be tabled in Parliament.

Many businesses reported registration time for a patent or trademark may take in excess of six months. However, there is a lack of effective enforcement to protect intellectual property rights. Patent and trademark infringement are common, as is evident among local television broadcasts of pirated and rebroadcasted TV satellite signals. Media sources reported that piracy of foreign academic textbooks is common. Guyana’s laws have not been amended to fully conform to the requirements of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

Guyana is not listed on USTR’s Special 301 Report to congress or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Guyana has its own stock market, which is supervised by the Guyana Association of Securities Companies and Intermediaries (GASCI).   Guyana’s local stock market has performed well in 2019 with a year on year increase of 20 percent market capitalization.  Guyana’s financial services sector is estimated to have grown by 4.1 percent at mid-year 2019. Credit is available on market terms. The prime lending rate as at half year was 10.5 percent.  There continues to be significant interest in Guyana’s financial sector. 

Money and Banking System

Monetary policy remains accommodative, aimed at achieving price stability and controlling liquidity within the economy.  The financial sector is regulated by the Bank of Guyana (BOG), the country’s central bank.  The BOG is empowered under the Financial Institutions Act 1995 and Bank of Guyana Act to regulate the financial sector.   Regulation highlights include high levels of liquidity, a strong deposit and asset base, and profitable financial institutions.  Liquidity in the banking system increased by 16.8 percent on account of higher excess reserves and higher balances due from banks abroad.  Net domestic credit of the banking system expanded by 12.8 percent to $1.33M from the December 2018 level of $1.2M on account of higher credit to both the public and private sectors.

Nevertheless,  private sector contacts report that access to finance remains an issue for conducting business.  The prime lending rate contracted by 2.5 percent to 10.5 percent from 13.0 percent as of the third quarter 2019.  The BOG maintains a floating exchange rate.  According to the BoG half-year report, monetary aggregates of broad money expanded by 3.3% while that of reserve money contracted by 1.6%.

Guyana has six commercial banks.  Foreign banks provide domestic services or enter the market with the applicable license from the BoG.  Foreigners may establish a bank account without restrictions.

Guyana continues to strengthen its financial system through implementation of its Anti Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) program and the passage of the National Payments Act 2018.  

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

The Guyana dollar (GYD) is fully convertible and transferable.  The Guyanese dollar is also generally stable and its value against the U.S. dollar. The Guyana dollar weighted mid-rate, relevant for official transactions, remained constant at GYD208.50. The un-weighted average mid-rate was GYD214.04 compared with GYD215.78 for the corresponding period in 2018. Foreign exchange transactions increased by 23.0 percent to $4,646.5 million on account of higher turnovers at banks, private trading houses known as cambios, foreign currency accounts, and hard currency transactions. Aggregate purchases were higher than sales, resulting in a net purchase of $4.9M.

No limits exist on inflows or repatriation of funds. However, regulations require that all persons entering and exiting Guyana declare all currency in excess of $10,000 to customs authorities at the port of entry. It is common practice for foreign investors to use subsidiaries outside of Guyana to handle earnings generated by exports.

Remittance Policies 

There is no limit on the acquisition of foreign currency, although the government limits the amount that several state-owned firms may keep for their own purchases.  Regulations on foreign currency denominated bank accounts in Guyana allow funds to be wired in and out of the country electronically without having to go through cumbersome exchange procedures.  Foreign companies operating in Guyana have not reported experiencing government-induced difficulties in repatriating earnings in recent years.

Sovereign Wealth Fund

The Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Act was passed in the National Assembly in January 2019, providing the framework for the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund.  Shortly after the enactment of the NRF,  Guyana became an associate member of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF).  The Bank of Guyana manages the NRF, which is held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The opposition party has signalled its intent to repeal the NRF Act based on concerns that the bill was passed after the government was defeated by a vote of no confidence without sufficient input from the political opposition.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Guyana has ten state-owned enterprises (SOEs) including: National Industrial and Commercial Investments Ltd. (NICIL), Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), MARDS Rice Complex Ltd., National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Guyana Power and Light (GPL), Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Guyana National Newspapers Ltd.(GNNL), Guyana National Shipping Corporation (GNSC), and Guyana National Printers Ltd. (GNPL).

The private sector competes with (SOEs) for market share, credit, and business opportunities.  It is common for (SOEs) in Guyana to have political interventions.  This is driven through the board of directors which are filled with political appointees.  Furthermore, procurement on behalf of SOEs may be passed through the National Procurement and Tender Administration.

The Public Corporation Act requires public corporations to publish an annual report no later than six months after the end of the calendar year. These reports must be audited by an independent auditor.

Privatization Program

In the 1990s, Guyana underwent significant privatization with the divestment of many sectors.  In 1993, the Privatisation Policy Framework Paper known as the “Privatisation White Paper” was tabled in Parliament and made way for the creation of the Privatisation Unit (PU). Its function was to co-ordinate the implementation of the Government of Guyana’s (GoG’s) privatization program. The Privatisation Unit was tasked with:

  • Combining the functions of the Public Corporations Secretariat (PCS) and the National Industrial & Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL);
  • Preparing for Cabinet’s approval, the programme strategy and annual programme targets for privatization or liquidation;
  • Implementing the privatization of State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) and assets selected for inclusion in the program;
  • Participating in negotiations for the privatization of SOEs;
  • Reviewing offers and make recommendations to Cabinet on the terms and conditions for the sale of SOEs;
  • Preparing financial and administrative audits of SOEs not selected for privatization;
  • Developing a strategy to build public understanding and support for privatization;
  • Ensuring that transparency of the privatization programm is strictly respected and followed;
  • Monitoring operations of privatised entities in accordance with the terms and conditions of each respective contract;
  • Preparing for Cabinet, broad guidelines on operating policies for privatization, develop action plans for implementation, conduct a public relations campaign and help to build national consensus in support of government’s program.

Foreign investors have an equal access to privatization opportunities. However, there are many reports that the process lacks transparency. Currently, the government is seeking to divest from the sugar industry.

U.S. firms are generally given equal access to these projects through a public bidding process. In some cases, allegations have been made that this bidding process has been less than transparent.  In cases where international financial institution (IFI) funding has been involved in the project, such allegations have been credibly addressed. In cases where the project relied solely on GoG funds, redress has been more problematic to achieve.

Investment Climate Statements
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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future