WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The IMF's executive board approved $46.2 million to help bolster economic growth and fight poverty in Mali, with $9.2 million headed immediately to the strife-torn West African nation.
The International Monetary Fund said the money, approved on Wednesday under its Extended Credit Facility, would be used to reduce Mali's balance of payments vulnerabilities and lay the foundation for stronger economic growth.
The economy of Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, has picked up this year after a French-led military intervention to help the government halt advances by Islamist rebels.
The IMF approved two earlier loans for Mali this year - one for $15.1 million and one for $18.4 million - to help stabilize the economy.
"The economy is recovering and the outlook is improving with the resumption of donor support and a gradual return of investor confidence. However, significant challenges remain," Min Zhu, IMF deputy managing director, said in a statement.
He said priorities for economic reform in Mali include strengthened financial development, reducing corruption, streamlined tax procedures, and improved infrastructure.
"Far-reaching reforms will help improve the business environment, promote economic diversification, and boost Mali's growth prospects," he said. (Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)