The economy is based on agriculture and mining, notably of gold and bauxite; the main cash crops are sugar and rice. After near collapse in 1982, the economy was resuscitated by strict implementation of IMF-backed economic reforms. The reforms included extensive privatisation of state-owned operations, some of which – for example, the Sugar Corporation and Guyana Airways Corporation – are now under private management and/or ownership. Privatisation led to new investment and creation of new jobs.
By the mid-1990s, these reforms had had success in stabilising the currency, controlling inflation and increasing output and trade, and the economy was growing at an annual rate of more than six per cent in 1996 and 1997. Inflation peaked at 83 per cent in 1991, following substantial devaluations of the Guyana dollar, but was in single figures from the mid-1990s, though it remained relatively high until the late 2000s.
The combination of drought, falling commodity prices and political uncertainty in 1998 caused growth to stall. The economy then grew very little during 1998–2005. From 2006 there were signs that the economic policies supported by the international financial institutions were beginning to bear fruit, until 2008 when collapsing world demand caused the economy to moderate, before returning to growth of 3.0–5.5 per cent p.a. in 2009–15.