Guyana: experience of economic reform under World Bank and IMF direction

Guyana: experience of economic reform under World Bank and IMF direction

An unhappy relationship: Guyana and the International Finance Institutions

This paper reviews Guyana's experience with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in drafting and implementing Guyana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and with reforms in three major areas of the economy in which the World Bank and IMF have been substantially involved: sugar production, bauxite mining and water services.

The review reveals that the relationship between the World Bank and the Guyana government is one of tension and mutual distrust, and policy decisions are not taken in a context of mutual respect, shared perspective, and agreement on objectives. In addition, this defensive environment has led to the exclusion of civil society organisations from decision-making processes. The paper argues that this isolation weakens key programmes like the Poverty Reduction Strategy, and depriving it of legitimacy in the eyes of civil society.

The paper concludes that the country has not moved to "ownership" of economic policies, but continues to be dependent on the financial support and policy guidance of donors. It recommends that:

  • Guyana needs a better-informed civil society to engage in policy formation
  • IFIs need to conduct better assessments of the areas where they are implementing PRSPs, to ensure they are as relevant and effective as possible
  • above all, Guyana has to move beyond its dependency on outside funding and find its own path if it is to move forward.