- Despite substantial economic growth in Mauritania during recent years, "much remains to be done to alleviate poverty," according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today, the IMF thus approved a loan of US$ 8.8 million for poverty reduction and growth.
The Mauritanian government for years closely has followed the prescriptions of the IMF and the World Bank, leading to massive structural reforms and privatisation. This has led to large-scale economic growth but little poverty reduction.
- In recent years, Mauritania has registered strong economic performance supported by sound policies and a firm commitment to reform, today commented Anne Krueger of the IMF. "As a result, growth has been robust, inflation has remained low, and the external position has strengthened."
She also holds that "substantial progress" had been made in reducing poverty. "Despite these achievements, much remains to be done to alleviate poverty further," Ms Krueger said. The IMF-outlined recipe for poverty reduction however reads as the growth-stimulating policies of recent years.
- In particular, implementation capacity and key public institutions continue to be weak, the IMF comments, "and there is a need to strengthen governance and transparency, and pursue the reform agenda with respect to the public finances and the financial sector." According to Ms Krueger, "addressing those challenges," would set "the stage for sustained growth and poverty reduction."
The new US$8.8 million loan for poverty reduction and growth thus was to finance another programme of structural reforms. However, particular attention would be placed on better targeting of social spending to reach the poor.
The Mauritanian authorities' strategy for growth and poverty reduction places emphasis on "improving access to social services, employment and income-generating activities for the poor," Ms Krueger said.
Again, the means of reaching these social goals are indirect and based on structural reforms. Ms Krueger says one major part of the strategy to target the poor bases on "structural measures" during the first year of the loan's programme, which "will be targeted toward building capacity, reforming the civil service and the judicial system, enhancing transparency, and furthering good governance."
It would however be "essential for the authorities to closely involve civil society and the poor in monitoring and evaluating actions taken by the government to reduce poverty," the IMF official said. "For the success of this strategy, the authorities are encouraged to develop a set of social indicators that could be updated and discussed on a regular and timely basis," she added.
However, encouraging economic growth, as always, is key to the IMF's policy proscriptions. If Mauritanian authorities follow the programme agreed upon, the IMF expects GDP growth to be increase substantially. GDP growth is foreseen to rise from 3.3 percent in 2002 to 5.4 percent this year. In 2004, the IMF even foresees a 6.1 percent growth in Mauritania's GDP, with similar levels for 2005.
This increased growth envisioned under Mauritania's poverty reduction programme was "expected to come from a rebound in the traditional sectors of the economy - agriculture and livestock - continued growth in services, and potentially from oil," an IMF assessment says.
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