Guyana Central Bank Governor Williams Dead at 59

Lawrence T. Williams, the Bank of Guyana governor since 2005, has died. He was 59.

He died yesterday, according to a statement from the central bank. No cause was given. The Jamaica Observer reported that he was admitted yesterday to a hospital in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital, after a long battle with cancer.

In a 2009 interview with the Banker, Williams said the challenge for the Bank of Guyana during the global financial crisis was the opposite of most central banks in the world. In Guyana, the goal was to remove liquidity from the banking system instead of pumping it in, he said.

“The rate of growth in deposits has far outstripped the growth in loans,” Williams said in the interview. “We have had a chronic excess of liquidity in the banking system and we have issued treasury bills to mop it up.”

Bordered by Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela, Guyana’s $3 billion economy produces sugar, rice, bauxite and gold. It is the only English-speaking country in South America and remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations after gaining independence from the U.K. in 1966. The country is due to host the annual meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank on May 28.

Williams started his career at the central bank in 1979 in the exchange control department, where he implemented a system to better monitor exports and the collection of export receipts. In 1992 he was named assistant head of the debt management department and in 1995 was appointed banking manager by the minister of finance.

In addition to his responsibilities at the bank, Williams was also a member of the Guyana Gold Board and the Guyana Rice Export Board, according to the statement.

His survivors include his wife, Valerie Williams; three children, Runda, Lauren and Lawrence Jr., who goes by Gavin; and a grandson, according to the statement.

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