Chapter

Chapter 6. Technical assistance and training

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
September 2005
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besides offering policy advice to member countries in connection with its surveillance of their economies and its lending programs, the IMF provides technical assistance and training for officials, mostly free of charge, to developing countries upon request.

The IMF spends about $80 million annually on technical assistance and training designed to help member countries build knowledge, skills, and stronger institutions in the areas in which the Fund has expertise, such as fiscal, monetary, and foreign exchange policies; central banking; financial regulation and supervision; budgetary management; and economic statistics. Nearly 70 percent of IMF spending on technical assistance goes to countries with annual GDP below $1,000 per capita.

The Fund also cooperates closely with a number of other providers of technical assistance to leverage its own efforts. For example, the FIRST Initiative (Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening), a $53 million multidonor program, has undertaken 23 projects in close partnership with the Fund, to which it has committed over $2.6 million. Most of these projects are aimed at following up on recommendations made under the joint IMF–World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). In total, the FIRST Initiative has undertaken 46 FSAP-related projects at a cost of nearly $8 million.

IMF technical assistance is offered by different departments in the Fund—the Monetary and Financial Systems Department and the Fiscal Affairs Department are the biggest providers—and is coordinated and monitored by the Office of Technical Assistance Management (OTM) in the Office of the Managing Director. Training is provided by the IMF Institute, in collaboration with other departments, at headquarters, in the field, and through regional training institutes.

Technical assistance is delivered in a variety of ways. IMF staff may be sent to member countries to advise government and central bank officials on specific issues, or the Fund may provide specialists on a short- or a long-term basis. Since 1993, the Fund has provided a small but increasing part of its technical assistance through regional centers.

The regional technical assistance centers are guided by steering committees with representatives from participating countries and supporting donor agencies, as well as observers from regional institutions involved in capacity building. Each country appoints a representative and an alternate to the committee. Center coordinators, who are IMF staff members, have responsibility for the day-to-day management of the centers. With the opening of a new center in the Middle East (METAC) in October 2004, five centers have now been established with the Fund's assistance: two in Africa (West AFRITAC, based in Bamako, Mali, and serving western Africa, and East AFRITAC, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and serving eastern Africa), and one each in the Caribbean (CARTAC) and the Pacific (PFTAC) regions, in Barbados and Fiji, respectively. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, METAC serves Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. It focuses on helping post-conflict economies in the region restore macroeconomic stability and develop basic institutions for policymaking. In October 2004, the IMF decided to extend CARTAC's mandate (which was due to expire in early 2005) through 2007. CARTAC, which was established in 2001, provides technical assistance and training to 20 Caribbean island countries and territories. It is supported by the IMF and eight bilateral and multilateral donors.

During FY2005, the Fund expanded its efforts in priority areas, sought to leverage its resources by cooperating with other providers of technical assistance and by mobilizing external funding, and continued to review the effectiveness of its technical assistance.

Technical assistance delivery in FY2005

Technical assistance efforts were expanded and strengthened in FY2005 in a number of priority areas, including trade facilitation, reflecting how critical trade liberalization is to low-income countries' efforts to stimulate growth (Box 6.1).

The IMF–World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program, which is important in informing IMF surveillance, also supports members' efforts to build better institutions in the financial sector (see Chapter 2), in part by providing a timeline and prioritization for technical assistance after an assessment is made. The Fund held a seminar in June 2004 to familiarize country officials with FSAP methodologies and tools.

Slovenia

Against a backdrop of prudent macroeconomic policies, a gradualist approach to structural reform, and political and social cohesiveness, Slovenia has experienced average annual real GDP growth of about 4 percent and macroeconomic stability since 1995. Thanks to a conservative fiscal policy, which has kept the deficit below 1½ percent of GDP, and a high private saving rate, its external position is balanced. Its monetary framework has been unorthodox: interest rates were adjusted in response to inflation dynamics and expectations, while the exchange rate was managed so as to discourage interest-sensitive capital inflows.

Slovenia joined the European Union on May 1, 2004, and entered the ERM2 (exchange rate mechanism) on June 28, 2004. Slovenia is well poised to achieve its goal of adopting the euro in January 2007; it already complies with all of the Maastricht criteria except for the one on inflation. To further reduce inflation, which declined to 3.6 percent in 2004 from 8 percent, the authorities are maintaining a stringent fiscal policy, tight monetary conditions, wage moderation, and restraint in administrative price adjustments.

Slovenia is the only transition country that has not had a Fund-supported program, although it has received technical assistance. Its financial sector has been assessed under the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) and subsequently updated, and the Fund has also completed a number of Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs) for Slovenia.

Slovenia-IMF activities during FY2005
April–May 2004The Fund provides technical assistance on performance information to support better budgeting
May 2004Completion of 2004 Article IV consultation; publication of Financial Sector Stability Assessment update, with ROSCs on banking and insurance supervision
July 2004Staff visit
November 2004Technical assistance on recording transactions in international trade in services
March 2005Discussions on 2005 Article IV consultation

Following the Executive Board's discussion in July 2004 of the Biennial Review of Surveillance, at which Executive Directors emphasized the need to focus more closely on exchange rate issues, at a seminar in December 2004, the Board discussed a staff paper providing guidance to countries wishing to move from a fixed to a floating exchange rate, drawing on the experience of countries that have successfully made such a transition (see Chapter 2). Follow-up work has begun on developing practical advice in areas highlighted by the Board, such as the speed and sequencing of a move toward floating, measures to avoid disorderly exits from a fixed exchange rate regime, factors that make orderly exits durable, and development of an adequate risk-management system.

Fund staff have held several regional meetings to disseminate key findings of the staff paper “Monetary Policy Implementation at Different Stages of Market Development,” which was discussed by the Board in November 2004 (see Chapter 2), and seek feedback from member countries. In March 2005, a regional outreach meeting for the Pacific Islands was held at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, in cooperation with the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center (PFTAC). A similar event was held in cooperation with the Caribbean Center for Monetary Studies in May 2005. Several other activities are planned for next year, in cooperation with the technical assistance centers in Africa and the Middle East. The events held so far confirmed the key conclusions of the study, while allowing Fund staff to appreciate the specific constraints to monetary policy implementation in countries with shallow markets. They provided useful material for the development of a menu of options for monetary policy implementation in countries at different stages of market development.

The first phase of the assessment of offshore financial sectors, which began in 2000, was virtually complete by the end of FY2005, and Anti-Money-Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) assessments were being complemented with expanded delivery of technical assistance for the areas covered under the revised standard—the 40 + 8 Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) endorsed by the IMF's Board in March 2004. Since 2001, the Fund has conducted numerous awareness-raising seminars, as well as training workshops, around the world to sensitize member country authorities to the international standards on AML/CFT and issues directly affecting their countries. The Fund's work on AML/CFT is undertaken in close collaboration with the FATF, the FATF-style regional bodies, and the United Nations.

Box 6.1Trade-related technical assistance and institution building

The August 2004 World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement setting up the negotiation frameworks and modalities for the Doha Round of trade talks called on the Fund and other international agencies to provide technical assistance for trade facilitation. The Fund and other agencies subsequently set up an information network that enables them to respond efficiently to specific needs for assistance.

The principal source of the Fund's trade-related technical assistance is the Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD), which provides assistance on customs administration modernization and tariff reform. The Fund's technical assistance in customs administration is strategic in nature, aimed at providing the overall framework for reform and continuing oversight, with other donors providing support on specific aspects. In contrast, technical assistance in trade policy usually takes the form of “one-off missions that often have a wider tax focus than tariffs alone, given that countries lowering tariffs must compensate for reduced trade revenues by strengthening domestic tax collection. Overall, FAD has seen a modest increase in trade-related technical assistance missions in recent years. To varying degrees, the Fund's regional technical assistance centers also provide help in this area. With other international partners, the Fund has been engaged in a joint effort to promote the mainstreaming of trade in poverty reduction strategies and trade-related technical assistance and capacity building. At the core of this agenda has been the Fund's involvement in the Integrated Framework (IF), a cooperative effort of six agencies–the IMF, the International Trade Center, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, which is the chair–with the participation of bilateral donors and developing countries. The IF coordinates the preparation of Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies in developing countries, often prepared under the leadership of the World Bank with contributions from the Fund. The studies identify policy and assistance priorities (“action matrix”), which are reviewed in national workshops that include government, the private sector, and civil society, with the objective of integrating them into national development and poverty reduction strategies. The action matrices are presented to donors for funding, as appropriate, but the IF also has a small funding capability of its own for capacity-building projects that require rapid follow-up. (See Box 2.1 for a discussion of the Fund's role in trade policy.)

In the area of data quality and governance practices, in December 2004, the IMF posted a Draft Guide on Resource Revenue Transparency on its website, seeking comments from the general public. The Guide is intended to help countries address the governance and transparency issues that arise in managing resource revenues from extractive industries such as oil, gas, and mining (see Chapter 2).

In February 2005, the Executive Board held a seminar on IMF technical assistance to post-conflict countries in the monetary and fiscal areas. Directors noted that the Fund had an important role to play, in collaboration with country authorities and other donors, in rebuilding key institutions to help restore macroeconomic stability and lay the basis for sustainable growth in such countries. (See Chapter 3 for a description of Fund emergency lending in post-conflict countries.)

One way the IMF measures its technical assistance is by tracking the time spent helping countries. In FY2005 the IMF provided the equialent of almost 381 person-years of technical assistance. This was 4 percent higher than in FY2004 and over 80 person-years higher than a decade ago (300.5 person-years in FY1995).

Reflecting new needs within program areas, technical assistance in FY2005 increased for policy reform and capacity building, including efforts by countries aiming to meet international standards and codes and to achieve financial sector improvements. Technical assistance for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative declined, reflecting the maturing of the program (Table 6.1).

Table 6.1Technical assistance program areas, FY2003–05
(Field delivery in person-years)1
FY2003FY2004FY2005
Main program areas
Crisis prevention34.934.827.7
Poverty reduction60.857.058.5
Crisis resolution and management26.325.223.6
Post-conflict/isolation30.427.228.1
Regional41.257.063.8
Total193.6201.1201.6
Key policy initiatives and concerns
Assistance on standards and codes, excluding FSAP18.121.714.8
FSAP-related6.09.915.4
HIPC-associated16.811.55.7
Offshore financial centers and AML/CFT10.48.611.3
Policy reform/capacity building142.3147.4154.4
Other1.9
Total193.6201.1201.6
Sources: Country authorities: and IMF staff estimates.Note: FSAP = Financial Sector Assessment Program; HIPC = Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative; AML/CFT = Anti-Money-Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

Excludes headquarters-based activities related to technical assistance. An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days.

Sources: Country authorities: and IMF staff estimates.Note: FSAP = Financial Sector Assessment Program; HIPC = Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative; AML/CFT = Anti-Money-Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

Excludes headquarters-based activities related to technical assistance. An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days.

Of all the regions, sub-Saharan Africa continued to receive the largest, and an increasing, share of IMF technical assistance. Technical assistance also increased, and has remained high, in the Asia-Pacific region, in part because of the assistance provided to post-conflict countries such as Cambodia and Timor-Leste, and support for reforms in China, Indonesia, and Mongolia. Technical assistance to other geographical regions, as well as for interregional projects, remained broadly the same as over the past three years (see Table 6.2 and Figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1Technical assistance by region, FY2005

(As a percent of total regional delivery, in effective person-years)
Table 6.2Technical assistance resources and delivery, FY2001–05
(In effective person-years)1
FY2001FY2002FY2003FY2004FY2005
IMF technical assistance budget265.5268.8262.1262.1283.4
Staff171.8172.2174.1186.1195.6
Headquarters-based consultants22.723.220.120.627.4
Field experts71.073.468.055.460.4
External technical assistance resources77.777.893.5105.397.1
United Nations Development Program8.49.69.68.15.8
Japan59.556.261.961.652.5
Other cofinanciers9.812.022.035.638.9
Total technical assistance resources343.3346.6355.7367.4380.6
Technical assistance regional delivery2275.8280.0286.5291.1301.4
Africa68.271.972.183.886.9
Asia and Pacific57.063.167.569.068.2
Europe I30.230.327.7
Europe II40.832.625.1
Europe35.534.5
Middle East27.822.426.5
Middle East and Central Asia40.145.1
Western Hemisphere23.728.032.626.632.7
Regional and interregional28.031.735.136.033.9
Technical assistance nonregional delivery367.566.669.276.479.2
Total technical assistance delivery343.3346.6355.7367.4380.6
Technical assistance delivery by Fund department
Fiscal Affairs Department111.997.594.395.699.5
Monetary and Financial Systems Department101.2115.5120.0122.0127.0
Statistics Department48.249.255.759.053.1
IMF Institute54.456.055.453.657.0
Legal Department15.415.519.623.923.5
Other412.212.910.713.320.4
Source: IMF Office of Technical Assistance Management.

An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days. New definition used since 2001; data adjusted retroactively.

In FY2004 the former European II Department was dissolved, and its countries were absorbed by the new European Department and Middle East and Central Asia Department.

Indirect technical assistance, including technical assistance policy management, evaluation, and other related activities.

Includes the Fund's Policy Development and Review Department, the Technology and General Services Department, and the Office of Technical Assistance Management.

Source: IMF Office of Technical Assistance Management.

An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days. New definition used since 2001; data adjusted retroactively.

In FY2004 the former European II Department was dissolved, and its countries were absorbed by the new European Department and Middle East and Central Asia Department.

Indirect technical assistance, including technical assistance policy management, evaluation, and other related activities.

Includes the Fund's Policy Development and Review Department, the Technology and General Services Department, and the Office of Technical Assistance Management.

The Monetary and Financial Systems Department remained the largest technical assistance provider among Fund departments, delivering some 127 person-years of assistance, reflecting the Fund's financial sector initiatives. The Fiscal Affairs Department, the IMF's second-largest technical assistance provider, increased its delivery level to 99.5 person-years. While the Statistics Department's technical assistance delivery was a little lower than in the previous year, the Legal Department maintained its level of technical assistance with its continuing involvement in activities to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism (see Table 6.2 and Figure 6.2). During FY2005, the International Capital Markets Department began to provide technical assistance in the areas of investor relations programs, certain aspects of liability management, and development of local capital markets.

Figure 6.2Technical assistance by department, FY2005

(As a percent of total resources, in effective person-years)

IMF Institute

The IMF Institute trains officials from member countries through courses and seminars focused on four core areas—macroeconomic management, and financial, fiscal, and external sector policies. Courses and seminars are delivered by Institute staff and by staff from other IMF departments, occasionally assisted by outside academics and experts, at IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at various overseas locations. Some preference in acceptance is given to officials from developing and transition countries.

In FY2005, the IMF Institute, with the assistance of other IMF departments, delivered 124 courses for officials, attended by about 3,900 participants (see Table 6.3). About two-thirds of this training in terms of the number of courses, and about one-half in terms of participant-weeks, were provided through the IMF's six regional training institutes, which are located in Austria, Brazil, China, Singapore, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates (see Table 6.4). Training in Washington, D.C., where courses are longer, continued to play an important role, accounting for about a third of participant-weeks. The remainder of the training was at overseas locations outside of the IMF regional network, largely as part of ongoing collaboration between the IMF Institute and national or regional training programs, and in the form of distance-learning courses, the latter including residential segments held in Washington, D.C.

Table 6.3IMF Institute training programs for officials, FY2001–05
FY2001FY2001FY2003FY2004FY2005
Headquarters training
Courses and seminars2118201820
Participants760695698614713
Participant-weeks3,5842,7183,0092,7642,900
Regional training institutes and programs1
Courses and seminars6473738285
Participants1,9982,2912,3022,6072,572
Participant-weeks3,6914,2613,9694,4494,509
Other overseas training
Courses and seminars1916171816
Participants569439496551507
Participant-weeks1,050828899949857
Distance learning2
Courses13323
Participants4012011072112
Participant-weeks166551490344607
Total courses and seminars1201110113120124
Total participants3,3673,5453,6063,8443,904
Total participant-weeks8,4918,3588,3678,5068,872
Source: IMF Institute.

Includes Joint Vienna Institute (established in 1992), IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute (1998), IMF-AMF (Arab Monetary Fund) Regional Training Program in the United Arab Emirates (1999), Joint Africa Institute in Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia (1999), Joint China-IMF Training Program (2000), and Joint Regional Training Center for Latin America in Brazil (2001). Data do not include courses offered by the African Development Bank and the World Bank at the Joint Africa Institute, or those offered by the Austrian authorities at the Joint Vienna Institute.

To avoid double counting, only the residential segment is counted in the number of courses and seminars and the number of participants. Participant-weeks include both the distance and the residential segments. In FY2005, four distance segments were completed. The residential segment for one of these courses will take place in FY2006.

Source: IMF Institute.

Includes Joint Vienna Institute (established in 1992), IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute (1998), IMF-AMF (Arab Monetary Fund) Regional Training Program in the United Arab Emirates (1999), Joint Africa Institute in Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia (1999), Joint China-IMF Training Program (2000), and Joint Regional Training Center for Latin America in Brazil (2001). Data do not include courses offered by the African Development Bank and the World Bank at the Joint Africa Institute, or those offered by the Austrian authorities at the Joint Vienna Institute.

To avoid double counting, only the residential segment is counted in the number of courses and seminars and the number of participants. Participant-weeks include both the distance and the residential segments. In FY2005, four distance segments were completed. The residential segment for one of these courses will take place in FY2006.

Table 6.4IMF Institute regional training programs
Date establishedLocationCosponsorsIntended participant countries
Joint Vienna Institute1992AustriaAustrian authorities, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Bank, and World Trade Organization1Transition countries in Europe and Asia
IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute1998SingaporeGovernment of SingaporeDeveloping and transition countries in Asia and the Pacific
IMF-AMF Regional Training Program1999United Arab EmiratesArab Monetary FundMember countries of the Arab Monetary Fund
Joint Africa Institute21999TunisiaAfrican Development Bank, World BankAfrican countries
Joint China-IMF Training Program2000ChinaPeople's Bank of ChinaChina
Joint Regional Training Center for Latin America2001BrazilGovernment of BrazilLatin American countries

A number of other European countries and the European Union, although not formal sponsors of the Joint Vienna Institute, provide financial support.

In 2003, the Joint Africa Institute shifted its operations temporarily from Cöte d'Ivoire to Tunisia, owing to the security situation in Cöte d'Ivoire.

A number of other European countries and the European Union, although not formal sponsors of the Joint Vienna Institute, provide financial support.

In 2003, the Joint Africa Institute shifted its operations temporarily from Cöte d'Ivoire to Tunisia, owing to the security situation in Cöte d'Ivoire.

The number of training courses and seminars rose by over 3 percent in FY2005 and the number of participant-weeks rose by over 4 percent. Almost two-thirds of the increase in participant-weeks of training reflected an expansion of the distance-learning program. Two distance-learning courses were added for African officials, with funding from the French and U.K. governments. Training delivery in FY2005 was also facilitated by a full year of training at the Joint Africa Institute following its move from Côte d'Ivoire to Tunisia in FY2004.

The IMF Institute has continued to pay close attention to developing its curriculum and adapting its program to the needs of member countries. In FY2005, new courses were delivered on such topics as Fiscal Decentralization, and Macroeconomic Management and Debt Issues. The Institute also delivered its first French-language distance-learning course, on Financial Programming and Policies, and also delivered for the first time an Arabic version of the course on Macroeconomic Management and Financial Sector Issues. There was increased training in the area of anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, in support of IMF initiatives in this area. The Institute has also continued to provide, both in Washington, D.C., and through the regional institutes and programs, short seminars tailored to the needs of high-level officials on key current issues. In FY2005, the seminars covered topics such as Arab Economic Integration, Asset Securitization and Structured Finance, Challenges of Reforming Tax and Customs Administrations, China's Foreign Exchange System, and Foreign Aid and Macroeconomic Management.

External financing

The IMF finances its technical assistance and training mainly from its own resources, but external financing provides an important complement. External financing is provided in the form of grants, mainly under the IMF's Framework Administered Account for Technical Assistance Activities but also through cost-sharing arrangements with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and, in a small number of cases, direct reimbursement arrangements. In FY2005, three new subaccounts were established under the umbrella Framework Administered Account, for a total of 19 subaccounts. The three new subaccounts were the Middle East Regional Technical Assistance Center Sub-account, the Technical Assistance Subaccount to Support Macroeconomic and Financial Policy Formulation and Management, and the Spain Technical Assistance Sub-account. These subaccounts now include five multidonor subaccounts to support the PFTAC, the AFRITACs, METAC, technical assistance to Iraq, and technical assistance for macroeconomic and financial policy formulation and management.

In FY2005, external financing accounted for 26 percent of total assistance delivered by the IMF. Japan remained the largest single donor, providing some 54 percent of all external finance for technical assistance. Other bilateral donors were Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Multilateral donors were the African Development Bank, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, the UNDP, and the World Bank.

Reviewing and enhancing effectiveness

In FY2005, the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) completed a report on the Fund's technical assistance program (see Chapter 7 for a more detailed description of IEO's responsibilities and activities), and OTM commissioned an independent evaluation of the AFRITACs as part of its formal evaluation program, which was launched in April 2003 (see Table 6.5 for other evaluations planned during FY2006–07).

Table 6.5Technical assistance (TA) evaluation program—FY2006-07
Subject of evaluation reportFinancial year
TA on tax policy in countries facing a loss of revenue as a result of trade and tariff reform2006
Capacity-building TA in four selected countries in the monetary and financial systems area
TA in anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism2007
Revenue administration–TA to Middle Eastern countries
Revenue administration–TA to Southeast Asia
General Data Dissemination System (GDDS)–Regional technical assistance projects

IEO evaluation of technical assistance

In February 2005, the Executive Board reviewed the IEO's report on the Fund's technical assistance (TA) program. Directors highlighted the increasingly important role that Fund technical assistance plays in responding to the diverse needs of member countries, particularly in the areas of policy design and implementation, and capacity building. They concurred that the Fund's key strengths in providing technical assistance were its ability to respond quickly, to tailor advice to members' circumstances, and to produce high-quality analysis based on effective quality control. As for areas for improvement, there was a need to introduce a more medium-term perspective for setting technical assistance strategy and priorities; strengthen the tracking and evaluation of technical assistance implementation and results; enhance country ownership; and revisit the need for prioritization filters.

As recognized in the IEO report, the Fund has been taking steps in these areas, for instance with the introduction of departmental technical assistance strategy notes, a planned pilot to provide technical assistance summaries in selected Article IV reports, the launch of the technical assistance evaluation program in 2003, and the development of the Fund-wide Technical Assistance Information Management System (TAIMS—see Box 6.2). At the same time, however, improving the effectiveness of technical assistance remains a challenge, and Directors considered how the IEO's six major recommendations could advance this effort:

  • Recommendation 1. The IMF should develop a medium-term country policy framework for setting TA priorities, incorporating country-specific strategic directions and linked to more systematic assessments of factors underlying past performance.
  • Recommendation 2. The IMF should develop more systematic approaches to track progress on major TA activities and to identify reasons behind major shortfalls.
  • Recommendations 3 and 4. Greater involvement by the authorities and counterparts in the design of TA activities and arrangements for follow-up should be emphasized as a signal of ownership and commitment. Stronger efforts should be made by TA experts to identify options and discuss alternatives with local officials prior to drafting TA recommendations.
  • Recommendation 5. The program of ex post evaluations of TA should be widened and more systematic procedures of disseminating lessons put in place, thereby strengthening recent trends, including through periodic stocktaking exercises and regular reviews.
  • Recommendation 6. The prioritization filters should be discontinued or replaced by ones that would more effectively guide TA allocation.

Directors agreed with the recommendation that the IMF should develop a medium-term country policy framework for setting technical assistance priorities that incorporates country-specific strategic directions and is linked to the more systematic assessment of factors underlying past performance. In particular, most Directors agreed that the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers drawn up by low-income countries (see Chapter 4) should serve as a vehicle for identifying medium-term technical assistance needs and improving coordination among various agencies. Directors also saw value in the evolution of annual Resource Allocation Plans (RAPs) toward a multiyear framework, consistent with the IMF's move to a three-year budget framework; in area departments taking a central role in developing country frameworks that would help prioritize technical assistance needs; and in the Fund's resident representatives in member countries also contributing to the identification of technical assistance needs and the monitoring of delivery. Such a framework would allow a comparison of needs for technical assistance across sectors and countries, and enhance the Fund's ability to meet them. It would also provide a means of identifying emerging pressure points that might call for a reallocation of resources across the Fund's departments that provide technical assistance. Prioritization of the uses of resources should flow from a shared vision of the Fund's overall medium-term objectives, while the Fund should retain the flexibility to respond to members' urgent needs. Functional departments should remain responsible for ensuring the quality of technical assistance and for devising technical assistance strategies in their sectors, as well as for the choice of the most effective way of delivery. In this context, Directors generally supported the view that country authorities should ultimately be responsible for coordinating technical assistance, although the Fund might need to work more closely with other agencies and donors in cases of weak capacity in member countries.

Directors also supported the recommendation that IMF staff and the authorities agree at the outset of major technical assistance projects on measurable indicators of progress. They noted that TAIMS could become the vehicle through which enhanced, transparent, and standardized monitoring practices are implemented across the institution.

Greater involvement by the authorities and counterparts in the design of technical assistance activities and arrangements for follow-up should be emphasized as a signal of ownership and commitment. Stronger efforts should be made by technical assistance experts to identify options and discuss alternatives with local officials prior to drafting technical assistance recommendations. Directors concurred that greater involvement and ownership by the recipient authorities and discussion of options were crucial to greater technical assistance effectiveness and to enhancement of local capacity.

Directors recommended that the program of ex post evaluations of technical assistance be widened, and more systematic procedures of disseminating lessons put in place, thereby strengthening recent trends at the Fund, including through periodic stocktaking exercises and regular reviews. Directors agreed that external evaluations were a useful tool to enhance accountability and provide a fresh perspective.

Box 6.2Technical Assistance Information Management System (TAIMS)

During FY2005, the IMF launched the first phase of TAIMS, a multiyear information technology project that will bring industry best practices to the Fund in the delivery and management of technical assistance. It will also provide the Fund with the tool it needs for the effective management of resources, projects, and donor relations; medium-term planning; and integrated monitoring and evaluation.

A standard Fund-wide system, TAIMS is being deployed in three phases to provide a consistent, easily accessible, and integrated view of the Fund's technical assistance activities across departments. It will provide the basis for reporting to management and the Executive Board on technical assistance activities and, eventually, outcomes.

TAIMS Phase I deploys a Fund-wide, standard, computer-supported technical assistance information and monitoring system that consolidates information on technical assistance projects from existing databases. Additional information (such as a general definition of projects, their objectives and outputs, activities, and scheduled monitoring events) is also collected during this phase. The system provides both a narrative description of projects and data on resource use and costs.

TAIMS Phase II will focus on improving the medium-term planning of technical assistance to better incorporate policy and management prioritization in the planning process. The goal is to enable the Fund to forecast its future resource needs. Tools will be created to facilitate the Resource Allocation Planning (RAP) process.

TAIMS Phase III, subject to management's approval, will aim at creating tools and supporting work practices to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fund's technical assistance over the medium term. It will build on the monitoring and planning tools created in Phases I and II to improve the effectiveness of the Fund's technical assistance, as well as on the TAIMS database.

It was also stressed that, given the low-income countries' pressing needs for technical assistance in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, implementation of the report's recommendations should not involve any reduction in the volume of technical assistance delivered to these members.

Evaluation of the AFRITACs

The IMF's regional technical assistance centers in eastern and western Africa were established in 2002 and 2003, respectively, for the purpose of strengthening the capacity of sub-Saharan countries to design and implement poverty reduction policies and to improve the coordination of capacity-building technical assistance in the PRSP process. The AFRITACs have provided technical assistance and training in a range of subjects, including banking and microfinance supervision, customs administration, debt and financial markets, monetary operations, public expenditure management, revenue administration, statistics, and tax administration. They were evaluated in FY2005, at the behest of OTM, by a three-person team of independent consultants specializing in public economics, financial management, and evaluation techniques.

The evaluation found that the AFRITACs provided an effective delivery vehicle for capacity building. They distinguish themselves from other delivery modes by superiority in responsiveness to client needs, proximity to member countries, quick response time, familiarity with local context and issues, and relevant leadership. For the most part, the two centers, which have a demand-driven approach based on in-depth consultations with member countries, have achieved their objectives. Respondents to a questionnaire noted that the AFRITAC model enhanced country ownership, increased regional solidarity, kept donors better informed about country circumstances and needs, enhanced staff accountability, and increased the use of African experts. The AFRITACs' delivery approach also seems to be relatively cost effective and the centers are well managed. Member governments have supported the centers. The main area for improvement is in monitoring and evaluation, where there is a lack of performance indicators. The AFRITACs have worked closely with such regional organizations as the African Capacity Building Foundation and AFRISTAT (Economic and Statistical Observatory for sub-Saharan Africa), and aim at developing further their relationships with the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Joint Africa Institute.

The evaluation made a number of recommendations, including the following: beneficiary countries should adopt comprehensive capacity-building programs as part of their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers; beneficiary agencies should prepare plans, with help from the IMF, for developing staff resources and institutional capacity; countries' representation on the Steering Committee should reflect their technical assistance needs; workshop participants should be carefully selected and required to share the knowledge acquired with colleagues from their own and related agencies; the IMF should engage a short-term expert to assist in the elaboration of performance indicators and of a logical framework approach for evaluating AFRITAC outputs yearly, at a minimum; and the AFRITACs should continue to promote African expertise by recruiting resident and short-term experts on the continent, preparing local individuals to provide training, and intensifying their cooperation with regional institutions. In April 2005, the Steering Committees of the two AFRITACs endorsed the independent evaluation report and decided to develop an action plan to implement its major recommendations.

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