Central Banking Technical Assistance to Countries in Transition

Statement of the National Bank of Belgium1

Susana Almuina, Ian McCarthy, Gabriel Sensenbrenner, and Justin Zulu
Published Date:
December 1995
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Right from the beginning the National Bank of Belgium has been involved in technical assistance missions to countries in transition from centrally planned to market economies. Baron Jean Godeaux, former President of the Bank for International Settlements and also former Governor of the National Bank of Belgium, headed the so-called pre-diagnostic mission of December 1991, organized by the IMF in concert with cooperating central banks and international organizations. Since then Governor Godeaux has been advising the Baltic countries, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union. His broad financial experience certainly adds to the functioning of the central banks of these countries. The National Bank of Belgium has always favored technical assistance on central bank matters provided in the context of multilateral cooperation and organized by the IMF.

Staff members of the Bank have been participating in the missions to Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic, thus contributing to the necessary reform of the central banks concerned to develop their capabilities. On the basis of the distribution of tasks between the cooperating central banks, this technical assistance granted by Belgium has been limited to questions concerning foreign exchange markets and the related management of foreign exchange reserves.

The Bank has involved its staff members who are familiar not only with the theoretical knowledge of the matters concerned but also with the practical experience of central banking operations. This was deemed necessary to allow a smooth transition to practical improvements and administrative reorganization. Back home again, the expert made mention of the outspoken interest of the recipient central bank’s staff members and of their desire to improve their knowledge. However, lack of practical knowledge of spoken English was frequently considered to be a serious problem.

Qualified personnel in the area of foreign exchange and in other specific tasks of central banking is in fairly short supply, especially in a small central bank. That is the most important reason why the Bank has been active, immediately after the first mission to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz Republic, to organize training programs.

Apart from formal lectures, practical workshops were organized and participants were granted the opportunity to visit commercial banks, the European Union headquarters, and the Swift headquarters in Brussels. It was felt that this would allow the participants to see the real activities of the central bank, and at the same time watch the daily management.

Up to now nine seminars have been held in the head office, including specific courses on foreign exchange, recruitment and training policies, bank accounting, and major functions of central banks. Although we felt that the courses were from time to time probably somewhat too sophisticated, participants were very positive and most of them seemed to have enjoyed their stay in our country.

The Bank has decided on the necessity to continue those programs in order to keep the cooperation between the donor institution and the recipient institutions as close and as continued as possible. Interested staff members in the recipient countries are asked for possible suggestions that could improve the efficiency of the seminars. The Bank will also take into consideration specific demands from certain countries to provide specific training programs.

Finally, the National Bank of Belgium believes that the cooperation between our institutions will highly add to the smooth transition of the Baltic countries, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union, and that it will surely contribute to the real understanding of our mutual interests.

This statement was submitted after the St. Petersburg meetings.

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