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September 23, 2013

Training the Trainers Program Builds Capacity in Bangladesh

Posted by Chita Marzan

With the objective of building capacity in macro-fiscal analysis and cash management in Bangladesh, a training program was conducted by the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) and the Bangladesh Ministry of Finance from July 27 to August 5, 2013 in Dhaka. Two training modules were delivered. The module on Macro-fiscal Analysis included topics such as budget and revenue forecasting, fiscal balance and stabilization, debt dynamics, and the use of a statistical software called Econometric Views (E-Views). The Cash Management module included concepts of cash forecasting and the treasury single account, and their application to debt management and budget management.

The course was the second to take place in the country since 2012. A year ago, a first batch of Bangladesh officials mainly from the Ministry of Finance were trained jointly by FAD and the Singapore Training Institute (STI) on similar topics. Following the success of this initiative, the authorities expressed enthusiasm to train more staff in the Ministry, the Bangladesh Central Bank and the Planning Commission.

The first part of the recent program was based on a training of trainers approach. Four staff working in each area were selected by the authorities from the graduates of the 2012 program and coached by two FAD experts, Mr. Stephen Vajs (on cash management) and Mr. Alexandru Minea (on macro-fiscal forecasting/analysis), using “train the trainers” techniques. Immediately after this training, the FAD experts and the trainers jointly developed materials for the training course itself. Most of the course materials were delivered by the local trainers, but the FAD experts were available to help clarify questions raised by the participants.

The last day of the course was used for discussion of possible follow-up activities and future areas of cooperation between FAD and the Ministry of Finance on macro-fiscal forecasting and cash management. This discussion was facilitated by the local trainers. In the macro area, it was agreed that one important topic to follow up was the economic consequences of fiscal-monetary policies interaction. It was also agreed that TA would be required to improve cash balance forecasting and a more advanced topic- the development of banking services to improve cash management.

Prior to this latest training initiative, a cash management mission from FAD visited Dhaka in March, 2013, and recommended strengthening the government’s capacity in cash flow forecasting. Likewise, in 2008, FAD’s TA on macro-fiscal capacity-building started with the provision of a short-term expert to train the staff of the then newly established macrofiscal unit.

In conclusion, this new training the trainers approach was seen by both the FAD experts and the authorities as less theoretical and more effective than conventional training methods. It provided a hands-on, practical approach to presenting real issues that challenge the government in Bangladesh, with inputs coming from the staff themselves. Likewise, it was felt that the local trainers were better placed than external experts to make practical suggestions for the organization of the training course, for example by grouping the participants according to their level of knowledge and experience. The use and sharing of the knowledge acquired from the course is expected to prove more sustainable since local staff not only participated as trainers but also in the process became strong advocates of reform.

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