On October 25, IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato and outgoing Minister of Finance of Lebanon Fouad Siniora inaugurated the Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC) in Beirut, Lebanon. The office—the IMF’s fifth regional technical assistance center—will serve Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. The center is being established to help countries in the Middle East strengthen their capacity for effective macroeco-nomic management and to support the region’s integration in the world economy. Targeted capacity building will be provided in areas such as public expenditure management, revenue administration, bank restructuring, banking supervision, and multisector statistics. The center will also help postconflict countries restore macroeconomic stability and develop basic institutions for policymaking.
At the METAC opening, Siniora said that he saw the center as an opportunity for member countries to share successful experiences on macroeconomic and financial reforms and to work together to benefit from these experiences. De Rato noted that “the key role of IMF technical assistance is to transfer knowledge and experience that helps countries in the region strengthen their own ability to design and implement economic policies, promote financial sector stability, and modernize institutions.” The ultimate objective is to raise economic growth to “levels sufficient to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding labor force and to achieve real and sustained improvements in the standards of living,” he added.
At its first meeting on October 26, METAC’s Steering Committee reviewed the center’s preliminary work program. That program will be finalized in the coming months as assessments are made of country needs.