International Monetary Fund (Washington, DC)

Mali at the Dawn of the New Year: From Crisis to Recovery

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Let me give you one example that struck me. In Mali, only about 10 percent of the population has a bank account. If banks collected more deposits, they would have more stable resources to provide credit to the economy.

And if contract enforcement were stronger, banks would be more willing to provide credit. A more developed land titling system could also offer greater opportunity to use land as collateral for financing the development of agriculture.

These and other steps toward financial inclusion will not only improve the business environment but also the overall economic environment from which everyone will benefit.

3.3 Unlocking Mali's Economic Potential—Participation of All

This brings me to my last "P"—participation of all.

I am reminded here of a saying by Albert Einstein: "All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual."

We need to ensure that overall growth is more equitable and inclusive; that everyone gets to participate in the benefits of growth.

The IMF's global experience indicates that a more balanced distribution of income generates more sustained growth and greater economic stability. So while Mali's agricultural expansion over the past few years has helped lift the incomes of many rural households, urban incomes seem to have lagged. Going forward, the benefits of economic growth need to be more broadly shared.

This is also true in terms of gender. According to a recent IMF study, countries where women are held back by outdated obstacles and attitudes tend to have lower per capita income—by as much as 27 percent. This is not good for women, or for men, or for Mali. Removing obstacles to female participation in economic activity must rank high on the policy agenda. Again, let me frank: women are key to unlocking Mali's potential.

Conclusion

This all adds up to an ambitious agenda of reforms. Malian wisdom says that "You cannot pick up a pebble with one finger." [Bolokoni kélé tè bèlè ta : on ne peut pas prendre un caillou avec un seul doigt de la main.]

The stakeholders in Mali's development are diverse, as is the composition of your Council, with representatives from all walks of life. Yet, like the fingers of one hand, they are all working together toward a common goal—that of unleashing Mali's potential.

Your development partners, including the IMF, stand ready to help Mali unlock its growth potential.

Together, let us pick up all the pebbles on the way that will lead to a better life for all in Mali.

Thank you.

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