Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Bamako at the conclusion of her visit to Mali:
"I am very pleased to have been able to make my first visit to Mali as Managing Director of the IMF. I want to thank President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéïta, Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly, and Finance Minister Bouare Filly Sissoko for their generous hospitality.
"It was an honor to address the Economic, Social and Cultural Council where President Bittar and his colleagues welcomed us with great warmth. I had the opportunity to hear directly from the women's leaders about their vision for Mali, and from the urban vegetable growers' cooperative of Samanko who shared with me their concerns and aspirations. I also had the pleasure to visit the school of Torokorobougou where I was heartened by the talent and passion of young students who are the future of Mali.
"The Malian authorities have skillfully managed the economy in difficult circumstances. The government's fiscal prudence has helped maintain broad economic stability during the transition. Consequently, the economy is on the mend and donor assistance and business confidence are gradually returning. The IMF projects that real GDP will increase by 6.6 percent in 2014, supported by the rebound in agricultural output, recovery in the service sector, and the restarting of construction projects.
"At the same time, formidable challenges remain. In addition to the key issue of dealing with reconciliation, Mali needs to ensure macroeconomic stability. Unlocking Mali's economic potential will require large investments, both in the public and private sector, and a policy agenda with a clear focus on inclusive growth. Action is needed on three fronts. First, stepping up public investment will hinge on the ability to mobilize more revenues and better use of existing resources, including through the gradual reduction of energy subsidies. This also requires improving governance and public financial management reforms. Second, strengthening the business environment and promoting financial sector development are necessary to catalyze private sector activity and investment. Finally, the benefits of growth need to be broadly shared, both across sectors and across gender.
"I am deeply impressed by all that I have seen and heard during my visit--especially the determination of all stakeholders to lay the foundations for robust and inclusive growth and win the fight against poverty. The IMF will continue to support these efforts--including through our recently approved loan of CFAF 23 billion ($46 million).
"Once again, I would like to express my profound appreciation to the government and people of Mali for welcoming me so warmly in their wonderful country."