Back Matter

Back Matter

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
April 2005
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    This report was prepared by a team headed by Marcelo Selowsky and including Jeffrey Allen Chelsky, Mariano Cortés, and Emilio Pineda, and was approved by David Goldsbrough, Acting Director of the Independent Evaluation Office. Chapters of the report benefited from inputs from Isabelle Mateos y Lago and Daouda Sembene. Research assistance from Patricia Yang-Yang Chen, and administrative support by Arun Bhatnagar, Annette Canizares, and Maria S. Gutierrez are gratefully acknowledged.

    The case studies comprise Cambodia, Honduras, Niger, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zambia, representing countries with regional and institutional diversity. Except for Ukraine, all countries are eligible for loans from the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). About 65 percent of IMF TA is provided to PRGF-eligible countries.

    This evaluation does not assess the role of the new Regional Technical Assistance Centers (RTCs) because their experience is too recent for an effective evaluation. A review of preliminary experiences is currently being undertaken by the Office of Technical Assistance Management (OTM).

    This concept of TA services includes field activities and travel and TA-related activities at headquarters by the IMF departments providing TA. This figure excludes IMF Institute (INS) activities. Including the INS, the total direct costs are about $98 million, or 12 percent of the administrative budget.

    This figure includes INS.

    As reported by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the aggregate level of technical cooperation in areas related to IMF’s technical assistance amounted to about $3.5 billion in 2003. This figure includes assistance to strengthen the administrative apparatus in government planning and to promote good governance, assistance to finance and banking in both formal and informal sectors, and assistance to trade policy and planning. Training is included in these figures.

    Direct cost of TA includes (1) all missions headed by TA departments, except missions in connection with ROSCs, FSAPs, etc.; (2) follow-up TA missions to implement the recommendations of these surveillance activities; (3) resident experts hired by the TA departments; and (4) TA activities undertaken at headquarters by TA departments.

    These evaluations include: “External Evaluation of Technical Assistance Provided by the IMF’s Monetary and Exchange Affairs Department” (1996); “Fiscal and Monetary Management Reform and Statistical Improvement: Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre, Report of the Evaluation Team” (1997); “Review of Technical Assistance Provided by the Revenue Administration Division of the Fiscal Affairs Department in Fiscal Year 2000” (2000); “An Assessment of FAD Technical Assistance in Establishing the Treasuries in the Baltic Countries, Russia, and Other Countries of the Former Soviet Union” (2000); “Review of the Technical Assistance by the Legal Department” (2001); “Report of the Task Force on the Review of the Monetary and Exchange Affairs Department” (2002); “External Evaluation of Technical Assistance in PEM in Francophone African Countries” (2003); “Statistical Capacity Building: Case Studies and Lessons Learned” (2003); “Public Expenditure Management Reform in Anglophone African Countries: An Assessment of FAD Technical Assistance” (2003); “Mid-Term Review of Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre” (2003); and “Internal Assessment of FAD’s TA in Public Expenditure Management: The Mainly Anglophone African Countries” (2003).

    The 1999 TA evaluation was based on 100 randomly selected technical assistance projects implemented during FY1996-97. The study used the implementation record as a measure of impact and employed a questionnaire to measure it. The questionnaires were independently filled out by the functional departments, area departments, and recipient countries. The results showed generally a poor record of implementation, although different respondents had very different answers. While 54 percent of respondents in recipient countries thought that at least a significant number of recommendations had been fully implemented, only 22 percent of IMF respondents shared this view. In contrast, 52 percent of IMF respondents thought that at least a significant number of recommendations had been partially implemented, while only 33 percent of respondents in recipient countries shared this view. When asked to cite an example of a specific technical assistance project that had a major and sustained impact in the recipient country, only 55 percent of all respondents provided that information.

    These filters are described in more detail in Chapter 4.

    Throughout this evaluation, “functional departments” refer to those IMF departments with responsibility for delivering TA, primarily FAD, LEG, MFD, and STA.

    Some of these evaluations were described in Chapter 1, paragraph 11.

    International Monetary Fund, “Supplement to the Review of Technical Assistance,” (2004f).

    Table 3.2 shows the distribution of TA field activities to countries by per capita income groups. If the functional departments’ TA activities in headquarters are distributed to countries in proportion to TA field activities (not an unreasonable assumption), the table would also show the distribution of the direct cost of the TA (or the BRS concept, defined above).

    Asia-Pacific is the region that has benefited the most from the TA financed by the Government of Japan.

    On November 1, 2003, the European Department (EUR) was created by merging the former European I Department (EUI) with seven countries of the dissolved European II Department (EU2).

    This panel does not include TA delivered by regional centers since information on the country allocation of this TA was not available.

    Since population is a variable that changes slowly across time, its impact in the fixed-effect specification is absorbed by the inclusion of country dummy variables. Hence, the impact of population is assessed making use of robust ordinary least squares.

    While some donors have demonstrated a preference for delivering much of their TA through the IMF (e.g., Japan), others have tended to provide their TA directly. In this regard, we would expect to see an emphasis on IMF TA to countries of greater interest to the former group. This does not, in itself, imply that other countries are neglected as TA recipients.

    There is also evidence that IMF-financed TA is positively correlated with externally financed TA, although the regression results suggest the effects are small.

    This is an indicative figure and is calculated as follows: about 46 percent of TA is accounted for by regional and resident experts providing TA; this can be classified as being predominantly institution building. About 18 percent of TA is short-term missions, which we classify as providing policy advice. There are two budgetary items that must be allocated, namely, peripatetic experts (a set of several visits by a particular expert), and TA work at headquarters. Each of these amounts to 10 percent and 27 percent of TA activities, respectively. If we allocate half of the total to short-term TA and half to long-term capacity-building TA, we arrive at an estimate of 36 percent of total TA being associated with short-term and policy advice activities.

    Fiscal strategy briefs have been completed for about 50 countries.

    These countries were chosen to reflect a wide spectrum of consumers of IMF TA, including with respect to region, size, level of economic development, amount of TA provided by the IMF, and program experience.

    An exercise of this nature involves considerable subjectivity. We adopted a simple three-point scale with “1 representing the absence of an apparent link between policy priorities identified in Article IV consultations and TA” and “3 representing a significant link.” A score of “2 was given to intermediate situations where a link existed but it was not considered to be very strong (long delays in delivering TA after the identification of a need for TA).” “Significant link” refers to situations where the identification of major policy challenges for which TA could make a meaningful contribution (e.g., a call to tighten monetary policy would not likely require TA unless it called for the development of instruments of monetary management) was followed in a timely manner by an increase in TA delivered by the IMF. It also refers to situations where few or no TA resources were allocated to areas in which no serious problems were identified by surveillance. “Weak or no link” refers to situations where large amounts of TA were allocated to areas not identified by Article IV surveillance as policy priorities or to situations in which areas of major policy concern (and for which TA could have made a meaningful contribution) received little or no TA from the IMF.

    It should be acknowledged at the outset that our sample was small (only 18 countries). That said, sample composition reflected broad country diversity and experience with the IMF.

    Among the HIPCs in our case studies, this tendency was clearly evident in Niger and Zambia but not in Honduras, which received only modest amounts of TA in budget and PEM.

    This was not the case, for example, in Niger where despite real sector data quality concerns raised in Article IV reports over a prolonged period beginning in the mid-1990s, no direct TA was provided by the IMF between 1996 and 2003. The IMF did engage the services of a regional TA provider (Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa (AFRISTAT)), but this was not until FY2003. Possible explanations for the weak link are discussed in the country case study report prepared as background to this evaluation. They include competing resource demands in STA and a lack of priority given by the area department to rectifying problems with real sector data in Niger.

    Diamond and others (2004).

    PRSPs place particular emphasis on mobilizing both domestic and external resources for poverty-reduction efforts and on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of such spending. We would, therefore, expect to see a greater link between PRSPs and the volume of TA provided in the fiscal area.

    In Cambodia, the launch of the TCAP preceded the PRSP by about one and a half years. However, there is no evidence that the preparation of the PRSP at the end of 2002 influenced changes in the TCAP.

    The closest link between the PRSP and TA is reflected in one of five subcomponents of the second of nine allocation “filters” calling for TA to be clearly directed toward, among other things, “implementing sustainable debt relief and poverty reduction programs for low-income countries.”

    A list of completed ROSC modules, as of March 2004, is available at http://www.int.imf.org/depts/pdr/Strengthening/Standards/ROSCmodTBL.pdf.

    For budgetary classification purposes, activities to prepare and discuss these documents with authorities are considered to be surveillance activities, while “follow-up” work is classified as TA.

    The classification follows what is called Key Policy Initiatives and Concerns (KPICs), in the language of the 2001 Policy Statement.

    Prior to the establishment of these new surveillance tools, TA in related areas would have been subsumed by policy reform or capacity building. Therefore, not all of the activities associated with the new surveillance initiatives are additional and could instead represent reclassification from earlier reporting systems.

    The fact that for FAD the volume of TA associated with these surveillance activities appears low and constant over time is due to classification issues. These activities are classified as TA associated with specific subjects included under the policy reform or capacity-building category. This means that the total level of TA associated with these surveillance activities shown in Table 4.4 and Figure 4.1 is probably strongly underestimated.

    This is probably an underestimate because a large part of the IMF resources complementing externally financed TA are backstopping activities in headquarters and are not included in the field data. These results are based on the regressions used in Chapter 3.

    A particularly good illustration of this is Niger where resident experts had a clear and positive impact on capacity building in their respective areas (PEM and tax administration) while short term missions (for example, in statistics and customs administration)—which were not seen to have a sufficiently deep understanding of country-specific capacity constraints—were less successful.

    Whatever the process is, eventually all TA requests have to be formally requested by the authorities.

    The IMF’s Managing Director recently indicated his intention to adopt a medium-term budget framework in an effort to enhance the IMF’s efficiency and financial integrity.

    An interesting and (very) recent example is the review by FAD and MFD on their experience in providing TA in post-conflict countries. An important part of the review is to derive lessons on sequencing TA activities in the respective areas of responsibility. (IMF, 2004j and 2004K).

    Clearly, such expressions of preferences are not based on specific cost comparisons and should not be regarded as providing a definitive conclusion on cost-benefit comparisons. Many authorities would probably opt for a more expensive LTE. However, in many cases, those interviewed pointed to specific contributions that could not have been made easily by short-term missions, whatever the cost.

    Yemen presents one such example. It was found after three years that the first budget expert had deviated significantly from his terms of reference. Similarly, the failure to adequately supervise AFRISTAT’s assistance to Niger likely resulted in inadequate coordination with the area department and inadequate attention from the regional expert to particular capacity-building priorities.

    It is the responsibility of the respective government, not the IMF, to decide on the appropriate distribution of a TA report.

    STA has been particularly proactive in this regard, routinely requesting the authorities to agree to the dissemination of TA reports to other relevant government agencies and TA providers. This approach could be adopted as a “best practice.”

    TA in PEM in Yemen provides a particularly good example of this phenomenon. Here, IMF and Bank approaches and objectives were not well integrated at the outset. This led IMF staff to express concern with the Bank approach in internal communications and resulted in each institution working relatively independently of each other.

    The question of alignment between IMF activities and the PRSP is discussed more extensively in IEO (2004).

    For example, a common argument we heard from some functional departments was that, since the PRSP is meant to be a country-authored document and many authorities lack the necessary technical expertise to articulate a specific TA strategy in support of their policy priorities, it is not realistic to expect the PRSP to play such a coordinating role. In our view, these arguments miss one of the central points of the PRS initiative—namely that it was designed precisely to improve the effectiveness of aid delivery by putting a country-driven process at the center of decisions on priorities, with the expectation that donors would align on those priorities. Technical expertise from the BWIs or other donors was meant to help inform, but not substitute for, that domestic process.

    IMF involvement in these TA activities was often welcomed by government officials who saw the IMF as playing more of an honest broker during the operationalization of overall reform agendas.

    For example, we can easily measure the number of officials who have been trained or information systems that have been deployed, but these outputs say little about final outcomes.

    A good example of the need to consider carefully any quantitative indicator of impact is that these indicators may be heavily influenced by better transparency and information systems resulting from the TA itself. For example, TA may increase the ability of the respective agencies to document and measure tax evasion, tax arrears, or the volume of problem assets in banks. In these cases, a “deterioration” in indicators may be welcomed, and it should not automatically be interpreted as arising from ineffective TA.

    The 2003 HIPC Assessment and Action Plan (April 2004 draft report) concluded that “Overall, Zambia’s PEM system still requires substantial upgrading in the areas of budget formulation and execution in order to make the budget a functioning tool for implementing fiscal policy.”

    There are no good measures of unmet demand for IMF TA. The only indicator available is the share of formal TA requests by the authorities (submitted to the functional departments) that were not met. In both, FY2002 and FY2003, this excess demand was about 20 percent and 8 percent for FAD and MFD, respectively.

    Excludes the INS and OTM, which accounted for 67 person-years on average during this period.

    Field work TA for different countries financed by the IMF is readily available. Headquarters TA resources of the functional departments were allocated in proportion to the total field work (IMF and externally financed) in the different countries (Appendix 2).

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