Central Banking Technical Assistance to Countries in Transition

Statement of the Austrian National Bank

Susana Almuina, Ian McCarthy, Gabriel Sensenbrenner, and Justin Zulu
Published Date:
December 1995
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Having heard what you as the recipients of our technical assistance have to say about your problems, I would like to convey to you an idea of what we hear from the members of our staff who are supplying this technical assistance to your banks.

Of course, the people we send to you expect their job to be difficult. They know of the differences in training, experience, and culture between your societies and ours. They should be aware of the fact that, try as they and you might, agreeing on what should be done and implementing these agreements will not be easy. Nevertheless, there are suggestions that we hear time and again and I would like to take the opportunity to repeat these suggestions to you here.

One of the main problems is language. We understand that the vast majority of your staff have never had any adequate training in a foreign language and that the training they did receive was not geared to really using a foreign language as a means of communication at work. But what you are trying is to become part of the international financial system, to make your banks fully compatible with those in the rest of the world. In doing this, you must realize that the international language of banking is English. In most of our countries everybody on the staff has to be able to use English for work, even in those departments that do not conduct international business.

I can therefore only suggest to you and urge you to do everything in your power to set up English language schooling for your staff. The more staff members who participate in this the better. With English language capability your staff members will not only be able to communicate with their counterparts in the rest of the banking world but they also will have a wealth of helpful literature at their disposal. They will be able to resort to countless books and other publications if they have questions they want to ask and have answered. Knowing English is absolutely essential for a central banker in any department of his bank anywhere in the world.

The second issue I would like to address is the training of staff in the various technical skills of central banking. I think a lot is being done in this respect already. But one can never do enough. If a bank is to be run well, there must be a sufficient number of people (more than just a bare minimum) who know the technical skills they need for their jobs. Many courses are being offered in the West, some are now being organized by yourselves in your banks. I can only urge you to intensify these efforts.

Last but not least I would like to mention a somewhat touchy subject. We are often told by the advisors we send to your banks that there is a very large turnover of staff and assignments in these banks. The person they talked to on one trip has already been replaced when they return a few weeks later. Then discussions have to begin all over again. And this can even be repeated several times.

Of course, we cannot tell you whom to put in which position, and we do not want to do that. But we would like to stress that a certain stability of staff in critical assignments is of utmost importance. For optimal use of our assistance, you would be well-advised to ensure a certain continuity of staff and their assignments. This will not only help us but will also and above all help you.

Please forgive me for having been so direct. But I feel that only if we address the issues openly and honestly will we come up with solutions. And solutions are necessary to make our assistance to you as effective as possible.

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