Posted by Christian Josz
This is the second article on the blog in a series about
the views of IMF area department staff on PFM reforms in “their” country. In
this article Fiscal Affairs Department technical assistance advisor, Benoit
Taiclet, speaks with IMF mission chief for Mali, Christian Josz, about the
importance of PFM technical assistance in keeping the IMF program on track.
What are the challenges
of working in Mali at the present time?
How resilient has the country been in the face of the recent political
and economic crisis?
Mali ranks among the poorest countries in the world, and has
been under a succession of IMF programs for more than two decades. External
funding has always played a significant role in the country’s development with
grants reaching more than three percent of GDP. More recently, in 2011 the economy
traversed a very difficult period when the country was hit by a drought and terrorist
attacks. Following the 2012 military coup, fueled by military defeats, persistent
corruption and failing institutions, donors suspended or dramatically reduced their
support. By the end of 2012, despite the
fiscal austerity measures taken by the government, including the cutting of
almost all capital spending, substantial arrears had accumulated, and the
country’s debt rose markedly.
Faced with such concerns, the Fund seized the opportunity of
last year’s slight recovery to re-settle in the country, with the reinstatement
of our Resident Representative’s office in late 2012. We stepped up our
involvement in early 2013 when the military situation was resolved with the
fielding of an international coalition against rebel separatists and
In the first quarter of 2013, the recommitment of IMF support
through a rapid credit facility helped trigger the return of a number of donors
whose pledges for funding reached US$ 4 billion in May. Now we hope the economy will
rebound, as the authorities move to overcome the challenges ahead, and the production
of gold and agricultural products increases. But political and security risks still
cast a cloud over the nascent recovery.