Mali: Supporting Growth in the Face of Security Challenges
September 5, 2019
Mali faces an intense security crisis dating back to 2012 that has long-lasting economic and humanitarian impacts. To help strengthen the resiliency of the economy, the IMF has just approved financial assistance to the country under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
The financial assistance approved for Mali amounts to about $200 million to
be disbursed over three years in support of the government’s efforts to
achieve higher and more inclusive growth, economic diversification, and
In an interview with Boriana Yontcheva, the IMF’s mission chief for Mali
discusses some details of the program.
Mali is a fragile, low-income country facing a difficult security
situation. How can the IMF-supported program help?
The difficult security situation impacts millions of Malians, weighing on
economic activity and development prospects. Security spending is consuming
an increasing share of overall public spending, making the preservation of
much needed spending on social services and development investment a key
challenge for the government.
Broadly speaking, the program will support the government’s new,
medium-term development strategy (CREDD) for strong and inclusive growth
through inclusive job creation, economic diversification, and greater
What are the main objectives of the just-approved economic program?
The program focuses on three key areas to address immediate challenges:
• creating fiscal space to safeguard priority social and infrastructure
spending, while accommodating necessary security expenditures and
preserving macroeconomic stability;
• reforming the energy sector; and
• supporting reforms to improve governance and transparency.
Creating fiscal space is critical to allow investment, security, and social
spending. The immediate priority is to improve domestic revenue
mobilization. The government’s program supported by the ECF includes
corrective measures to address the sharp decline in tax revenue collection
experienced in 2018, modernize the tax administration, enforce taxpayer
compliance, improve the effectiveness of mining sector taxation, and
further streamline tax exemptions. Performance during the first half of the
year indicates that the government’s efforts are already beginning to bear
fruit and that collections are broadly as targeted, but the reforms need
to be continued.
Reinforcing public financial management will also help by ensuring that the
public purse gets the biggest bang for each buck spent.
Another urgent matter is putting the country’s electricity company (EDM) on
a sound financial footing so that it can provide electricity, a crucial
ingredient of economic development, to Malian businesses and households in
an efficient and cost-effective manner.
How can the Malian government lessen the security threat and ease
These are difficult questions for which there are no easy answers. A
comprehensive peace plan, involving fiscal transfers to regions, was
reached in 2015 but its implementation has been challenging. The
implementation of the ECF-supported policies will allow Mali to create
fiscal space for restoring the state presence over the entire country. The
government has already allocated resources to improve the delivery of
social services, notably in health care and education, to the center and
What about corruption?
Governance, including corruption, is a critical issue that many countries
are grappling with. The government recognizes the importance of reforms in
this area to help anchor macroeconomic stability and support inclusive
growth. In this regard, strengthening tax and customs administration is a
key measure toward improved governance.
In addition, further improvement in public financial management and a
better follow-up of governance issues flagged by the Office of the Auditor
General, as well as pursuing the revision of the law against unlawful
enrichment to widen the scope of officials that are subject to the asset
declaration obligation are important future steps.