A dialog on structural adjustment in Senegal

From the Senegal List (Senega-L), Feburary, 1995.

Date: Tue, 7 Feb 1995 17:44:00 -0500
Sender: Discussion on Senegal Topics <SENEGA-L@vm.cnuce.cnr.it>
From: Moussa Samb <MOUSAM@MACC.WISC.EDU>
Subject: proposal

[Text slighly edited by publisher]

Since 1978 several structural adjustment programs have been implemented in Senegal by the multiple agreements signed between the government and the Bretton Woods institutions.

A general and true statement can be made in 1995, that most of these programs have failed. Moreover, one year after the Franc CFA devaluation the inflation rate is about 50 percent and the country is still in a profound crisis. President Abdou DIOUF has, himself, in his recent new year's address to the Senegalese, recognized that the economy could have collapsed. Thus he announced that he will meet in the next weeks all the opposition leaders in order to discuss the future of the country.

The Senegalese economy is characterized by a lack of natural and financial resources.The balance of payments and budgetary deficits remain important even though the government has undertaken some efforts to reduce its expenditures. While the agriculture has almost collapsed under the combinated effects of droughts and low product prices, the industrial sector is still characterized by a lack of competitiveness. As long as the fiscal policy and the high production cost will not be reduced, the foreign investors will remain non-attracted to the country. For instance, few investments have been made in the "Zone franche Industrielle" in spite of a lot of advantages conceded and the devaluation.

At the political level, one of the first African democracies has had its credentials damaged during the last years. The same political party remaining in power since 1960, a government low standing on human rights, increasing violence after Babacar Seye's assasination and killing of six policemen in February 1994. All these facts, among others, have poisoned the political atmosphere and, then, tarnished Senegal's democratic profile

Today, the government and opposition leaders are going to make up a new coalition. After the January meeting of Abdou Diouf, elected until 2000, and the opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade, the only contradiction is by which process the new government of coalition will be made up: consultation by the elected president or "national concertation". My concern is that will be the third government of coalition and economic problems still remain unsolved. Are the politicians unable to mobilize the Senegalese people in the development process?

Fortunately, the country has registered, in 1994, many successes in art and particularly by musicians. Youssou NDOUR (should he run in the 2000's elections?) won worldwide recognition, Baba Maal and Iso LO are appreciated almost everywhere and a dozen of new bands are emerging.

What are the real solutions to Senegal's crisis? This discussion may open news tracks and going, beyond the Senegalese case re-think the development policy brought outside. JEREJEFF.

Moussa Samb

Date: Tue, 7 Feb 1995 18:47:12 -0800
From: Tony Loum <tloum@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list SENEGA-L <SENEGA-L@vm.cnuce.cnr.it>

First of all, I have to commend Moussa Samb for initiating a discussion of substantive issues in this list which has been very dormant. I hope that others will be contributing also to make it more enriching.

I strongly concurred with Moussa on all the points he raised, being from The Gambia, I am very familiar with the economic and political situation in Senegal. I will also point out that the conditions in Senegal are mycrosyms of the depressing economic conditions in Africa. The structural adjustment programs, in my opinion has not worked anywhere in Africa since they have been implemented. Instead, some of the effects resulted in the retrenchment of government with massive lay-offs of workers. The private sector in Africa is not developed and in a way can be classified as being in its embryonic stages contrary to the western economies.

Government is still the primary employer and that exists in Senegal and the other countries too. It will be helpful if the African rulers engage in more democratic practices, engage and tolerate dissention and diverse points of view, becoming less interested in staying in power for lifetime and discouraged corrupt practices.


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