Guyana economy now about US$17,000 per capita GDP

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Guyana’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is now around US$17,000 according to the country’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo. This is an increase from US$5,577 in 2015, the year oil was first discovered off the country’s coast.

This statistic comes as the government prepares to announce the 2023 national budget, after registering economic growth in excess of 50%.  This growth takes Guyana up several places on global rankings of GDP per capita, among peers such as Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Barbados and Uruguay in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Notably, Trinidad and Tobago’s per capita GDP has increased from US$15,000 in 2020 to US$19,500 last September, Finance Minister Colm Imbert had told the nation then. He said the statistic was expected to move to US$20,000 by the end of 2022. While Trinidad has experienced years of economic decline, the economy grew in 2022 with help from high gas prices. Imbert said the per capita GDP is the highest it has ever been since Trinidad became independent in 1962.

Trinidad struggles to grow economy, as 2021 gas output hits lowest point in 18 years | OilNOW

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects growth for Trinidad over the next five years. However, the staggering growth of Guyana’s oil economy and the quickening non-oil economy just behind, will see Guyana experiencing more growth over the next few years. The IMF expects the Guyanese economy to grow by more than 20% through 2026 on account of planned increase in production. By then, Guyana will be producing about 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd).

Dr. Jagdeo said Guyana is targeting a per capita GDP of US$30,000 but would more likely achieve US$35,000 by 2030. On the way, he said Guyana must create a diversified economy

“If you look at almost all of the countries that have been producing oil and gas, they do well when the prices are high and resources are good, and then they do badly in low periods… We’re focused on this so that our future source of wealth and employment will come from other sectors,” the economist said.

This will be a tremendous task for Guyana. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said last August that it expects oil exports to represent nearly 60% of the Guyana economy in 2022. Dr. Jagdeo said the sector is capital-intensive, but not labour intensive, hence, the importance of creating jobs in the non-oil economy.

Jagdeo has said Trinidad’s economy has been dependent on petroleum revenues for years and, consequently, has been vulnerable to global economic shocks. A third of the GDP of Trinidad, which has been involved in the oil and gas business for over 100 years, comes from the energy sector. Jagdeo has been criticised for saying Trinidad’s economy is “falling apart”. He has noted that Guyana is determined not to follow the same path. 

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