World Bank Releases Policy Notes for Economic Recovery in Madagascar

June 18, 2010

ANTANANARIVO, June 18, 2010 –On June 17, 2010 the World Bank office in Madagascar released a collection of 31 policy notes aimed at fostering an agenda of economic recovery on the island. Under the direction of Jacques Morisset, Lead Economist, 31 authors produced about 400 pages of analytic notes, divided into 20 topics, which address different areas, including economic growth, governance, infrastructure, social services, and sustainable development.

World Bank Africa Region Chief Economist Shanta Devarajan noted that the aim of the policy notes is to facilitate policy dialogue, a key ingredient for success in development. “Reform no longer happens by simply whispering in the finance minister’s ear. It happens when there is domestic consensus that emerges from a debate among the stakeholders. And the more evidence-based the debate is, the more likely it will lead to pro-poor reforms,” Devarajan wrote in the preface of the publication.

The collection is based on an observation― Madagascar is far from realizing its potential despite the wealth of its human and natural resources. There are many causes for this: poor governance and the lack of capacity – of successive governments - to make relevant decisions, most often, for political reasons, leading the country to a path of slow growth, and disproportionate poverty with acute disparities.

The policy notes do not dwell on mistakes made at the policy level, but focuses rather on highlighting Madagascar’s strengths, with practical suggestions on ways these strengths can be leveraged for maximum impact in terms of development. The notes also identify the weaknesses that need to be corrected for the country to achieve its growth potential.

“We do not pretend that this collection of policy notes is exhaustive, complete, and covers all sectors and aspects of the Malagasy economy. It mainly reflects a collective effort to update and analyze the knowledge accumulated in different areas where the Bank has worked in the island over the last decade,” said Adolfo Brizzi, the World Bank Country Manager for Madagascar. “We often forget that financing is not the only parameter to be considered in the development process. Knowledge and the analyses of experiences are also critical elements.”

Although the initiative to publish these policy notes came from the World Bank, their elaboration and formulation was the result of a process of sharing and interaction that involved various technical and financial partners, in line with the spirit of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Issued in 2005, the declaration called for enhanced collaboration with agencies of the United Nations System, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, as well as the German, American, and French cooperation agencies, whose engagement in the process was particularly commendable.

The preparation of the notes went beyond the framework of technical and financial partners. Thematic conferences and discussions were organized under the generic name of “Development Dialogue,” which helped enrich the work through the contribution of civil society organizations, ministries’ technical level, the private sector, faculty members, the media, and development partners. Inclusion, diversity, improvement and the ownership of analyses and conclusions by stakeholders were highlighted throughout the process.

The collection of policy notes aims, above all, to encourage and stimulate discussions on the economic development of Madagascar, with the hope that it will contribute to the decision-making process and to economic revival. It may also be used as a basis for discussions between the different Malagasy parties themselves, and as an analytical framework that would facilitate the future re-engagement of Madagascar's development partners.

A political crisis that started in February 2009 has negatively impacted the country’s economy, in particular the tourism and industry sectors.