The dollar is the official currency of Guyana. Although it was implemented as a temporary currency in 1839, it is still in use today. The dollar is a decimal currency divisible into 100 cents, but due to its low buying power, no currency is issued in denominations under $1. The Guyanese dollar is issued by the Bank of Guyana, the nation’s central bank.
The history of the Guyanese dollar is closely linked to that of currency in the larger British West Indies. However, the currency of Guyana remains unique in that it has used the dollar in both the public and private sectors for such a long period of time. Many Eastern Caribbean territories had continued to use pound sterling-based monetary systems until as recently as 1951. When the dollar was introduced, it was only done so because it was easily exchangeable with pound sterling coinage at the time. One dollar exchanged for exactly 4 shillings and 2 pence at introduction. Another unique feature of Guyanese currency was the use of a 4-pence coin called the groat within the dollar system. When the groat ceased circulation in Britain, it had to continue to be produced exclusively for Guyana because of the great demand.
The Bank of Guyana was established in October 1965, seven months before the nation gained its independence. It was created as an autonomous national institution with the objective of providing for the stability of the Guyanese dollar, the promotion of favourable credit conditions and fair foreign exchange. The duties of the bank include the issuance of coins and banknotes, acting as banker to the government and commercial banks and administrating government payment agreements. The power of the bank was substantially elevated by economic reform occurring in 1995, 1998 and 2004. Coins issued by the Bank of Guyana are in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 dollars. Banknotes are circulated in denominations of 20, 100, 500 and 1000 dollars.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the economy of Guyana has grown significantly, especially in the agricultural and mining industries. Investors have been attracted to the more favourable business atmosphere of the country, which is experiencing relatively low inflation, an agreeable foreign exchange rate and the support of several international organizations. However, several conditions in Guyana continue to hold back further economic growth, such as a lack of skilled labour, a large external debt and little public infrastructure.