New business plan for Algeria to focus on fighting poverty
The World Bank’s board of directors voiced their support for a three-year business plan for the government of Algeria aimed at supporting the broad spectrum of reform undertaken by Algerian leadership to foster growth, create jobs and fight poverty.
Designed in close consultations with the government and civil society organizations, the country assistance strategy (CAS) for Algeria seeks to bolster the country’s ambitious reform program through a mix of analytical and advisory services, institutional strengthening and lending for the fiscal years 2004 to 2006.
Still in its early stage of transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven economy, Algeria has achieved a remarkable turnaround since the mid-1990s. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4.1 percent in 2002. Inflation dropped from a high of 20 percent in 1994 to 1.4 percent in 2002. And at $23 billion in 2002, reserves reached their highest levels since independence in 1962.
Violence related to extremist fundamentalist movement which emerged in the early 1990s, has receded and the security situation has dramatically improved despite persistent pockets of violence.
However extensive dialogue with government representatives and members of civil society underscored three key development challenges which continues to face the country―using oil and gas reserves for the long term benefit of the Algerian people; creating growth and employment in the non-oil economy to benefit from the expanding labor force and avoid the social tensions provoked by unemployment; and providing better public services so that all Algerians can participate in the 21st century market economy.
Algeria’s development challenges are further compounded by poverty, a predominantly rural phenomenon and strongly linked to unemployment. Lack of opportunity, empowerment and access to social services have also exacerbated poverty. The rural poor, particularly women, continue to face limited access to social services such as health and secondary education.
In response to these challenges, the Bank’s role over the 2004-06 period will focus on responding to Algeria’s development challenges along three fronts. It will help the government develop and implement a better strategy for service delivery in the area of water supply, housing, environmental services, and human development to meet the needs of the population.
It will promote growth through fiscal stabilization and effective oil revenue management. And it will support the Government in removing obstacles to private sector led growth, particularly those affecting the business environment, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), the financial sector and infrastructure development.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank, will complement the Bank’s support through financial sector development, SME support, promoting private investments in infrastructure and supporting the Government’s privatization effort.
“This assistance strategy is about deepening our partnership with the Algerian Government and civil society to create opportunities for jobs and improve the standards of living of the Algerian population," says Theodore Ahlers, World Bank country director for Algeria.
The last CAS for Algeria was discussed at the Board in 1996 and designed as a transitional one-year strategy to support the massive stabilization program of the newly elected government. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)