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November 14, 2007

Better Meeting Country Needs -- IMF Regional PFM Technical Assistance Centers

Posted by Christian Schiller

Country PFM technical assistance needs range from strategic advice on feasible PFM reform paths to very short-term advice solving specific, practical PFM problems. To meet these differing needs, the IMF has multiple ways of delivering technical assistance (for an overview, see the blog post of November 7). One specific development is the regional technical assistance center (RTAC), of which there are six at present.

RTAC's provide rapid, very short-term advice and training on selected PFM topics of interest to regional member countries. For example, improving cash management and commitment control, reviewing the chart of accounts, or assessing the expenditure execution monitoring system, But it can also have a much more long-term, strategic orientation and occasionally help countries implement a PFM reform strategy. And it often has. For example, helping to move the annual budget to a medium term public finance framework or modernizing the Ministry of Finance. Generally, when RTACS are involved in long-term strategic aspects of reform, the focus tends to be on capacity building. Here, training seminars play an important role. RTACS also finance attachments to other countries in the region where reforms are successful to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and best practices.

RTAC governance arrangements typically include a steering committee made up of donors and regional member countries, assuring a close fit between country PFM assistance requirements and the products and services of the RTAC's. RTACS are typically co-financed by the regional member countries, the Fund and donors with an interest in the region. The RTACs staff generally consist of a coordinator and number of resident experts working in areas of the Fund’s core expertise. One or two of them cover PFM, while others may the financial sector or tax administration.

There are currently six RTACs around the globe: one in the Pacific, one in the Caribbean, three in Africa and one in the Middle East.

Pacific: The Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center (PFTAC) was the first one, established in 1993 in Suva, Fiji, to serve the particular needs of the Pacific island countries (the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu). PFTAC has one PFM advisor, Mr. Suhas Joshi. Suhas can be contacted under Sjoshi@imf.org.

Caribbean: The Caribbean Regional Technical Center (CARTAC) was established in Bridgetown, Barbados in 2001, to serve twenty Caribbean island countries (Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos). CARTAC has just officially accepted a new member, Bermuda. CARTAC  has one PFM advisor, Mr. Denis Lepage. His e-mail address is dlepage@imf.org.

Africa: As part of the Africa Capacity-Building Initiative launched by the IMF in 2002, three African Regional Assistance Centers (AFRITACs) have been established in Africa. The Initiative’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of African countries to design and implement their poverty-reducing strategies.

East AFRITAC opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2002, and serves seven countries in East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). East AFRITAC has two PFM advisors, Mr. Vijay Ramachandran, who is about to leave, and Ms. Florence Kuteesa (Fkuteesa@imf.org).

West AFRITAC was opened in Bamako, Mali, in 2003, to serve ten countries in West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo). West AFRITAC also has two PFM advisors. Ms Felicienne Guinikoukou Padonou has been around for some time and can be reached under Fpadonou@imf.org. She was joined by  Mr. Nicolas Doukou Nganze (Nnganze@imf.org) a few weeks ago.

Central AFRITAC was opened in Libreville, Gabon, in 2007 to serve eight countries in Central Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon). Central AFRITAC is still in the process of setting up its web-site, but the two PFM advisors are already very active: Mr. Gustave Sanon (Gsanon@imf.org) and Mr. Nicolas Lokpe (Nlokpe@imf.org).

Middle East: The Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC) was established in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2004, to serve ten countries/territories in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen). METAC had to temporarily be relocated because of the conflict in Lebanon, but is now back to full operation. Mr. Mark Ahern, the METAC PFM advisor, can be reached under Mahern@imf.org.

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