On basis of per capita income…World Bank ranks Guyana second poorest in Caricom
With a Gross National Income (GNI) of just US$3, 410 per capita, the World Bank in its 2014 World Development Report rated Guyana among the least wealthy in CARICOM.
This figure is in stark contrast to that of Guyana’s fellow CARICOM country, The Bahamas, whose GNI is recorded as US$21,280 per capita, making it the wealthiest CARICOM country.
According to the World Bank, Guyana is the second poorest country in Caricom but far ahead of Haiti, which has a GNI of US$760 per capita. “For 2012, the economy expanded by 3.7% down from 4.5% in 2011 and 4.4% in 2010.” The Bank however noted the economy’s expansion in 2013 which it attributed to increased activity in rice and gold production, as well as improvement in the manufacturing sector.
The Bahamas’s economic prosperity, on the other hand, is attributed mostly to its vast tourism sector which accounts for over 60% of the Bahamian Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and creates jobs for more than fifty percent of the country’s workforce.
The island’s financial services sector is the second most vibrant and accounts for about 15% of its GDP.
Guyana was also outperformed by Trinidad and Tobago which registered a GNI of US$14,400 per capita. In fact, the twin-island state has been doing so well that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2011 removed it from its list of developing countries.
The country’s economy is driven by its petroleum industry, although its manufacturing and tourism sectors are also very important.
St Kitts and Nevis also did well, registering a GNI of US$13,330 per capita. Tourism and manufacturing are the main drivers behind the twin-island federation’s development, after sugar cultivation, owing to growing production costs and falling world market prices, was reduced. The tourism sector has been doing particularly well, and the island has seen tourist arrivals expand from 379,473 in 2007 to 587,479 in 2009.
It is also tourism which helped Antigua and Barbuda attain its US$12,640 GNI per capita. The country’s tourism sector accounts for more than half of the GDP, although the growing medical schools and its students make very large contributions to the economy.
Guyana’s CARICOM and South American neighbour Suriname achieved a GNI of US$8,480 per capita although its economy fell on hard times during the 1990’s. The country’s ability to beat back economic hardships and register such a relatively high GNI is a result of government initiatives to diversify the economy, and decrease dependence on Dutch financial assistance.
Bauxite mining couple with exploration and exploitation of oil contributes substantially to the country’s GDP, although agriculture and ecotourism are important components.
Ranking closer to Guyana was Jamaica and Dominica with GNIs of US$5,140 and US$6,460 per capita respectively. About 50% of Jamaica’s economy is built on income generated by tourism-related services. At the same time, Jamaica’s economy is a fair mixture of state enterprises and private businesses, while agriculture, financial and insurance services, manufacturing and mining play integral roles in the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, Dominica, whose economy historically depended largely upon gains from its banana and other agricultural endeavours, came back from the brink of a financial crisis in 2003 and 2004 to experience growth levels of 3.5 percent and 4.0 percent in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Growth in 2006 in particular, was said to be the fruit of macroeconomic reforms pursued by government, which saw new ground gained in construction, tourism, offshore services and some sectors of the country’s banana industry.