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close this bookThe Courier N 126 - March - April 1991 - Dossier: AIDS - The Big Threat / Country Report: Burkina Faso (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)
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View the document‘Develop the economy’, says the Popular Front
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View the documentA decade to get the better of under-development
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View the documentEEC-Burkina cooperation
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A decade to get the better of under-development

The Plan, ‘a crying need’, as one former French Head of State put it, has had its ups and downs. It has been decried by the ultra-liberals and praised in the centralised economies, but it is still attracting the attention of the developing countries as a way of programming economic and social targets. What is Burkina’s planning aimed at? Frric A. Korsaga, Minister of Planning and Cooperation, said that: ‘At a time when planning tends to have pejorative connotations, it is probably a good idea to point out just how important it actually is in a country like Burkina Faso, where there are weak institutions and a drastic shortage of financial and human resources and the State, as pilot of the national economy, needs a yardstick if it is to remain credible.

Planning an economy is ‘fixing aims according to social ideals... and this set of methods and optimum resource utilisation process’, according to Captain Compaoris what enables the State to produce a better five-year, medium long-term development plan next time. ‘It is the control panel which will bring out the main aspects and priorities of our economic and social targets’, Korsaga said. These aims are to ‘be able to change the quality of the people’s living conditions... and lay sound technical foundations on which a gradual move can be made over to an industrial economy’. But there is more to it than proclaiming intentions and ‘the essential thing is the political will, without which no social plan can succeed’

A proper choice of development schemes

‘Consistent objectives’, the Planning Minister maintained, also meant a ‘proper choice of development schemes’. So the structural adjustment programme signed with the Bretton Woods organisations should ‘harmonise with and complement the public investment programme’ in the five-year Plan-which should try to meet the population’s basic needs in health, education, housing and other socio-economic infrastructure. Important measures would be taken to boost the capacity of agriculture and transport, two essential sectors, Mr Korsaga said, to ensure that enough food was available all over the country. One of these measures -early-growth, high-yield seed selection to cope with the constant, drought-induced shortening of the rainy season- was to be taken in association with a policy of importing fertiliser and combatting erosion so that a coherent series of agricultural productivity schemes could be run, the Minister explained.

If the results of this are good, Mr Korsaga will have no worries about collecting the produce-a stage at which a lot of the harvest is often lost in Africa. ‘We are fairly good at organising this. The National Grain Board collects and markets the cereals’, he told me, although its job will be confined to storage under the structural adjusttnent programme, a change in organisation which should also make for better organisation to cut the cost of collection by peasant cooperatives.

The Government will be completing this agricultural and cereal policy by building ‘priority roads between areas with surpluses and areas with shortfalls to make supply easier and as far as possible avoid pockets of famine being caused by poor services between areas of unequal production’.

Other incentives

There will be further incentives for the producers. Threshold prices on which the farmers can freely negotiate their sales will be fixed, for example, the aim of a basic price being to prevent economic operators who go direct to the producer from taking unfair advantage of him in times of over-production by giving him too little for produce which can then be sold at a very high price in the towns or on export markets in the neighbouring countries. But Korsaga also thinks that ‘there will no longer be any point in fixing prices, even indicative ones’ once the storage policy covers the whole country, since farmers will no longer be forced to sell to avoid losses.

But the success of the policy the Minister described will depend on what is channelled into it in the way of resources, the first of which are the country’s human resources-almost 15 % of the investments, he thinks. He is also very much counting on ‘the external partners... who are by no means disappointed with what we are doing with the funds at our disposal’.

Burkina’s external partners of course include the European Community. ‘The Lomonvention, which governs ACP-EEC relations, fits in with our development aims very well’, Korsaga says, particularly when it comes to rural development and involving the people, women especially, in defining and running projects.

Better aid absorption

Aid absorption capacity is often advanced as the reason for dwindling development contributions, the Minister maintained. But there are wrongs on both sides. ‘The aid disbursement conditions are not made any easier by the contributors. And the fact that the recipient countries do not understand the procedures does nothing to diminish their responsibility for the problems attached to fast and efficient aid utilisation either’.

Progress might be made with this under LomV, he imagined, as ‘we have begun to be familiar with the procedures and we have also asked our European partners to try and be flexible with the terms of disbursal... Both our partners and the ACP States realise that the extra aid we fought for in the negotiations will not have any real meaning unless we improve the degree of utilisation of these resources... Everyone now has to come to terms with that’.

Better management of national and international development resources was reason to view the country’s future with optimism, the Minister felt. ‘Economy-wise, we hope to be able to generate dynamism in sectors where the development potential has been under- or unexploited so far. Over the next 10 years, by the year 2000, we think we should be able to halt the decline of our public finances and our external position, particularly when it comes to the trade balance-which means that the structural adjustment programmes we are setting up have to pave the way for the sort of growth that will enable our country to get the better of underdevelopment by the beginning of the 21st century...’.

L.P.