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Bank Group Strategy

The current Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for M a l i was approved by the Board inApril 1998. I t s focus i s on stable economic growth, and sustainable human development. The next CAS currently being finalized, will be presented to the Board at the beginning o f FY04. The new CAS supports elements o f the country’s PRSP, and the government’s desire to enter into new relationships with its development partners based on a gradually-phased transition from projects to programmatic lending underpinned by more effective and efficient use o f aid resources. It i s envisioned that by the end o f the CAS period inFY06programmatic lending would comprise about a third o f the portfolio.

The Bank’s Third Structural Adjustment Credit (SACIII; US$70 million) to M a l i has as objectives, the following: (ito help M a l i restore the basis for stable economic growth by restructuring the all-important cotton sector to make it more efficient and capable o f adjusting smoothly to changing international economic conditions; and (iito improve the tools for planning and managing public expenditures for more effective poverty reduction.

IDA support since FY99 has included lendingfor two projects aimed at strengtheningthe basis for stable growth (a rural infrastructure project and a financial sector project); three others focused on human development (a health sector project supporting the country’s decadal program - PRODESS; a project to improve learning inprimary schools; and a long- t e r m education sector project supporting the country’s decadal program - PRODEC) and three in infrastructure.

The active portfolio comprises ten projects: three inrural development, three in infrastructure and energy, two inhealth and education, one on financial sector and one on Structural Adjustment. The performance o f the portfolio i s satisfactory overall, both interms o f development objectives and implementationprogress. Non-lending analytical services under the assistance program have comprised an irrigation strategy, a poverty and household survey, a poverty profile update, and technical assistance on public expenditure reviews. It has also included monitoring o f economic developments together with the IMF and other development partners inresponse to evolving domestic, regional and international economic conditions. This activity has included assessing the impact o f the CBte d’Ivoire crisis on Mali’s economy, inview o f Mali’s landlocked status and consequent dependence on neighboring countries (particularly CBte d’Ivoire) for the handling o f i t s trade flows. The Bank i s also supporting capacity buildingon analytical skills for macroeconomic and poverty analysis, as well as on sectoral medium-termexpenditure frameworks.

An important element o f the Bank’s support to M a l i i s assisting the authorities to strengthen governance and improve accountability inthe use o f public resources. Inthis context, work i s under way with the Malian authorities on capacity building for managing public financial accountability. These efforts also extendto encouraging greater openness inthe Malian administration. An important step inthat direction has beenrecently the willingness to share the contents o f the forthcoming CAS with the population and interested donors. The strengthening o f the knowledge base and the support for buildingcapacity to handle fiduciary imperatives should positionM a l i for assistance through a Poverty Reduction Strategy Credit inthe new CAS period (FY04-06).

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