Burkina Faso: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix

This Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix paper on Burkina Faso reviews background information and analytical support for key policy issues. This paper extends the results from the debt sustainability analysis for Burkina Faso and develops two alternative debt ratios that are suitable for assessing the impact of discount rate changes on the debt burden of the country. To better understand the implications of discount rate changes on the debt situation, the set of available debt ratios by developing two new measures of debt burden were extended.


This Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix paper on Burkina Faso reviews background information and analytical support for key policy issues. This paper extends the results from the debt sustainability analysis for Burkina Faso and develops two alternative debt ratios that are suitable for assessing the impact of discount rate changes on the debt burden of the country. To better understand the implications of discount rate changes on the debt situation, the set of available debt ratios by developing two new measures of debt burden were extended.

Burkina Faso

Basic Data

Burkina Faso: Basic Data, 1999–2004

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Sources: Burkinabè authorities; and staff estimates.


1. This collection of selected issues papers provides background information and analytical support for key policy issues discussed in the 2005 Article IV consultation discussions with Burkina Faso. The Article IV consultation report identifies three key objectives of the Burkinabè authorities’ poverty reduction strategy: (i) combating corruption; (ii) promoting broad-based growth through economic diversification; and (iii) ensuring that public borrowing to finance fiscal deficits is consistent with debt sustainability.

2. The first of the three papers examines the multifaceted nature of the authorities’ strategy to strengthen their fight against corruption. The fight against corruption brings together reforms to enhance fiscal transparency and accountability, which make public malfeasance harder to undertake and hide, with judicial reform, which makes it easier to prosecute. These synergies are complemented by additional institutional reforms to help root out corruption and expedite the prosecutorial process. Measures to strengthen tax and customs administration are being implemented to make corporate and personal tax fraud easier to detect.

3. The second paper considers the rationale for economic diversification in Burkina Faso, examines the extent to which the authorities’ poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) adequately addresses the challenges of diversification, and assesses the activities that are under way or that will be implemented in the near term to meet the objectives of the PRSP. The paper finds that there is considerable potential for diversifying agricultural production, and that important measures have been implemented to exploit that potential. However, insufficient access to credit, limited physical infrastructure, low mechanization, high factor costs, and the difficulty of reforming the land tenure system are likely to remain significant challenges to diversification in the medium term.

4. The third paper builds on the results from the debt sustainability analysis (DSA) to explore additional topics related to Burkina Faso’s debt outlook. Using different scenarios, the paper finds that ensuring sufficient grant financing, attracting external loans at concessional terms and continuing efforts to improve long-term growth and revenue prospects are all essential to contain the external debt situation within acceptable bounds. Next, the paper analyzes in detail how the country’s debt ratios would be affected when discount rates change, and shows that this crucially on the intertemporal composition (duration) of the external debt. Finally, in order to distinguish more carefully the various channels through which discount rates affect debt ratios, two alternative debt indicators are introduced and their implications are explored.

I. Fighting Corruption in Burkina Faso1

A. Introduction

1. There is widespread agreement that poor governance and corruption hurt a country’s investment and growth performance and that they contribute to poverty.2 Fighting corruption and promoting good governance requires sustained efforts to change the incentives of a culture that rewards bad behavior.

2. The Burkinabè authorities have publicly reiterated their determination to fight corruption on several occasions, for instance during the annual high-level meeting between the prime minister and, recently, the private sector, and recently in the Prime Minister’s State of the Nation speech. The authorities have made the promotion of good governance—political, administrative, economic, and local—one of the four strategic pillars of their PRSP. A key element of this pillar is the fight against corruption, especially as it relates to misuse of public funds, and combines reforms to enhance fiscal transparency and accountability with judicial reform. There are synergies from both types of reforms, with the former making public malfeasance harder to hide and the latter making it easier to prosecute. These synergies are complemented by institutional reforms to help root out corruption and expedite the prosecutorial process.

3. This paper examines the multifaceted nature of the authorities’ strategy to strengthen their fight against corruption. We first give an overview of findings of public perceptions of corruption in Burkina Faso. We continue with a discussion of various initiatives for institutional and legal reform, followed by measures to improve fiscal management and transparency. Next we look at the role of civil society, and the final section concludes.

B. Public Perceptions of Corruption

4. Several studies have attempted to measure the perception of corruption in Burkina Faso. Kaufmann, Kraay and Mastruzzi (2005) construct a governance indicator that varies between -2.5 to 2.5, with higher values corresponding to better governance outcomes. The estimated indicator for Burkina Faso is -0.35 for 2004, which compares favorably with the average of -0.64 for the WAEMU countries and puts Burkina Faso in the second best position after Benin. The study does not find any clear trend in the evolution of the index over the period 1996-2004.

5. The REN-LAC (Réseau National de Lutte Anti-Corruption) is an NGO that since 2000 has been conducting annual surveys about public perception of corruption. They find that corruption in Burkina Faso has become worse over time and is prevalent in both the public administration and the private sector.3 According to the results of the 2003 survey, which are broadly consistent with the earlier ones, 90 percent of participants believe that corruption is widespread and 83 percent think that corruption had increased during the previous year. Survey participants indicated that corruption was most serious in the areas of customs, health and public procurement, although public administration, the police, education, and justice were also cited as problem areas. Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they had personal experience with instances of corruption, particularly for services provided by the health sector, the police and the education system. Respondents believe that the police and health sector are affected mainly by petty corruption, while larger amounts are involved in corruption within customs and public procurement. Finally, 67 percent of respondents think that not enough is done to fight corruption, while 25 percent are satisfied with the measures taken by the government.

6. In 2003, the UNDP published a report on corruption and human development that includes results of a survey of 500 individuals. According to the UNDP report, which broadly confirms the results from the REN-LAC studies, 56 percent of the respondents believed that corruption was widespread, though 60 percent thought that corruption in Burkina Faso was less common than in neighboring countries. 4

C. Institutional Reforms to Promote the Fight against Corruption

7. The Burkinabè government has taken a number of initiatives to reduce corruption. A National Plan of Good Governance (PNBG, 1997-2003) was adopted in 1998 with three main objectives: (i) to enhance the role of the state in the socio-economic development of the country; (ii) to create incentives for the promotion and professionalization of the private sector; and (iii) to enhance capacities in the civil society to influence political and economic decisions. The national good governance plan is the government’s framework in the area of governance and provides an umbrella for the elaboration of a comprehensive strategy for fighting corruption. Financial constraints and a difficult socio-economic and political situation in 1998 delayed the start of the PNBG’s operations until 2001. The government has recently updated and adopted the PNBG for 2004-08 and is discussing an action plan with donors. The revised PNGB intends to intensify the fight against corruption by strengthening the General State Inspectorate, the General Inspection of Finances and the High Authority of Coordination of the Fight against Corruption, and by revising and updating their statutes.

8. In 2000, the government adopted an action plan to reform the judiciary over the period 2002-06 (PANRJ, Plan d’Action National pour la Réforme de la Justice). The main objectives of the PANRJ are to improve efficiency in the Justice administration and to expand access to Justice to broader population groups. Specifically, the PANRJ aims at strengthening and modernizing the administration of the justice and the court system, and at developing experienced and well-trained judicial personnel. In the context of the PANRJ, the Supreme Court was substituted by the Cour de Cassation, the Cour des Comptes, the Conseil Constitutionnel, and the Conseil de l’Etat (the Supreme Court for administrative justice). Furthermore, the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature became independent and the Inspection Générale des Services Judiciares was given more autonomy. To improve efficiency in the enforcement of laws, the number of magistrates increased from 160 in 1996 to 235 in 2003, while measures are implemented to train the personnel of the judiciary and to increase the number of high tribunals from 13 to 20. The government is also providing information about the Justice system through television broadcasts.

9. To improve efficiency in the Justice administration, the President of Burkina Faso established in June 2004 a commission to investigate corruption in the justice system. This resulted in a report prepared by the President of the Conseil d’Etat in 2005. The authorities are preparing an action plan to address the findings in the report. Also, in May 2005 the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature, in the presence of the President of Burkina Faso, discussed the issue of the fight against corruption. In March 2005, the National Assembly authorized the government to sign the United Nations convention against corruption and the African Union’s convention against corruption. To date, however, no general law against corruption has been adopted.

10. To coordinate the fight against corruption and assist the government in the prevention, detection and fight against financial delinquency practices and corruption within the administration, a High Authority of Coordination of the Fight against Corruption Haute Autorité de Coordination de la Lutte contre la Corruption (HACLC) was created in December 2001. It started operations in September 2002. The work by the HACLC resulted in a national strategy for the fight against corruption, which was submitted in early 2005 to the Council of Ministers and should be adopted before the end of the year. The HACLC has an investigative role as well (albeit without enforcement power), and submits annual confidential reports to the Prime Minister’s office. Based on the December 2003 report, in which ten possible cases of corruption were identified, the government initiated judicial action in four cases. The other cases have led to disciplinary measures and are under investigation to assess if there is sufficient cause to initiate judicial actions. Apart from the cases identified by the HACLC, the courts have, since March 2003, prosecuted seven people for defrauding the state, sentencing six of them to prison and ordering them to pay restitutions; another seven persons have been indicted, and eleven cases are under investigation. There are also several cases of fraudulent behavior being investigated in different ministries. Recently, the Council of Ministers decided to apply disciplinary sanctions against 7 custom officers suspected of irregular transactions and to start judicial action against some of the suspects and 4 custom operators.

11. The draft national strategy for the fight against corruption that was submitted by the HACLC includes an analysis of the nature of corruption problems in Burkina Faso, and of the opportunities and constraints to address those problems. The draft strategy and action plan also propose activities to increase awareness about the costs and causes of corruption to stimulate demand for change. The HACLC makes several recommendations, such as to revise the Penal Code to include provisions against all forms of corrupt practices; to introduce a general law against corruption; to improve coordination between government agencies; and to strengthen enforcement agencies. The HACLC also proposes to improve and expand the regulations about public disclosure of officials’ finances; create specific jurisdictions for the fight against corruption; establish hotlines to enlist citizens to report corrupt acts; and introduce mechanisms to protect informers.

12. Other public institutions have prerogatives in the fight against corruption. For example, the National Assembly can request any document at any time to verify budget implementation by ministries and departments. However, these institutions rarely make use of these powers.

D. Fiscal Reforms

13. The creation of an Auditor General Office (Cour des Comptes) in 2000 was an important step to improve the transparency of fiscal management and public affairs. The Cour des Comptes, which became operational in 2002, is the body authorized to audit the accounts of the government. It is independent of both the legislative and executive branches of government, and has extensive responsibilities covering regularity and management audits, and assisting the government in overseeing and applying the laws governing public finances. The Cour is the judge of accounts kept by public accountants and verifies the regularity of all income and expenditure recorded in public accounts. It is therefore responsible for verifying whether revenues have been collected and expenditures have been paid in accordance with applicable accounting rules. The Cour prepares an annual report on the draft budget act, which it submits to the National Assembly. As such, the Cour is an ex post control mechanism whose role is to identify and point out errors and transgressions. Its findings do not only contain criticisms of past action, but also make recommendations to improve the delivery of public services, which in turn lead to reforms.

14. To fight tax evasion and custom fraud, the government is undertaking fiscal reforms in the context of an action plan to enhance budget management (PRGB, Plan d’Action pour le Renforcement de la Gestion Budgétaire). The main objectives of the PRGB are to improve the legal and operational framework for budget procedures, and to enhance transparency and decentralization in budget management. Several donors have made progress in the implementation of the PRGB a condition for budget support, and the Ministry of Finance produces quarterly progress reports. The action plan includes provisions for the regular submission of balance sheets to the Cour des Comptes, and contains measures to improve tax compliance and revenue collection. Specifically, some of the measures implemented are the introduction of a revised single tax identification number; the acceleration of the auditing activities of the recently created Large Taxpayer Division (DGE); the launch of a census of taxpayers; the upgrade of the custom computerization system; improved coordination between the Tax and Custom Directorates; and the creation of a special unit to monitor the final destination of imports benefiting from customs and tax exemptions.

15. The authorities’ fiscal reform efforts have been supported by the Fund’s conditionality in important ways. Structural conditionality has focused on reforms to strengthen revenue performance and remove various sources of drain on the budget, by improving tax and customs administration, public expenditure management, and transparency in fiscal management. Several measures implemented in the context of the PRGB have been part of the structural conditionality of Fund-supported programs. During the last 15 years, the Fund has also provided support in capacity building via technical assistance. On the fiscal side, such assistance has focused on improving the effectiveness of the tax system and custom administration, including training in the fight against tax evasion.

E. The Role of Civil Society

16. Civil society, including human rights associations, the press, and the trade unions participate actively in the debate about corruption, denouncing cases of petty corruption and requesting action against cases identified in audits and reports. The REN-LAC regularly organizes workshops and seminars to discuss corruption, such as in the health sector and in the police. The national television recently broadcast a series of programs to discuss corruption in customs with the participation of senior custom officers.

17. In the PRSP, the government points out that civil society has a role in monitoring corruption, financial crime, and tax evasion; and welcomes the initiatives taken by civil society organizations. Since 2000, several consultative institutions have been established to promote the dialogue between the government and the civil society. These include: the Ombudsman of Faso, who is appointed to receive, investigate and resolve complaints about unfairness in the administration of public services; the Economic and Social Council, a forum for consultation that issues non-binding opinions on major economic and social questions; the National Ethics Committee, charged with monitoring public life and suggesting measures to moralize government activities; and the High Council of Information, that is responsible for the elaboration of media-related policies.

F. Concluding Remarks

18. The efforts undertaken by the Burkinabè authorities are welcome. Public perceptions are, however, that limited results have been achieved. Looking ahead, the government’s major challenge is to demonstrate its resolute determination to fight corruption, which it can do by successfully prosecuting individuals and companies involved in corrupt practices. Other efforts should focus on improving the coordination between government agencies, reinforcing the ministerial inspection offices, strengthening the judicial sector, and giving the HACLC more independence. The division of responsibilities between the HACLC and the General State Inspectorate (IGE) should be clarified. The Cour des Comptes would need to be strengthened to improve its auditing and diagnostic capacity. Public dissemination of audit findings could improve transparency and accountability, and promote public scrutiny by the civil society.


  • Abed, George and Sanjeev, Gupta, eds. 2002, “Governance, Corruption, & Economic Performance,” (Washington: International Monetary Fund) pp. 564.

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  • Kaufmann, Kraay and Mastruzzi 2005, “Governance Matters IV: Governance Indicators for 1996–2004,” available in www.worldbank.org.

  • Mauro, Paulo 1995, “Corruption and growth,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1995, pp. 681712.

  • REN-LAC 2004, “Etat de la Corruption au Burkina Faso. Rapport 2003,” April 2004.

  • UNDP 2003, Rapport sur le Développement Humain 2003: Corruption et Développement Humain.


Prepared by Mario Carlos Zejan.


Useful references are Mauro (1995) and Abed and Gupta (2002).