CHAPTER XI Technical Assistance and Training

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
September 1998
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Member countries’ demand for IMF technical assistance and training remained strong in 1997/98. Technical assistance continued to focus on the monetary and fiscal aspects of macroeconomic management, but also addressed statistics, financial law, IMF financial organization and operations, and information technology (Figure 5). A large number of departments in the IMF provided assistance, and the Technical Assistance Committee—composed of senior staff from each of the IMF’s functional, area, and support departments—advised IMF management on priorities and policies and coordinated assistance activities among IMF departments. In the field, assistance was delivered by IMF staff and the assignment of short- and long-term advisors.

Figure 5Composition of Technical Assistance, 1997/98

(As a percentage of total resources in effective person-years)1

1 An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days. For the IMF Institute, figure excludes training provided or coordinated by the institute at headquarters.

At headquarters and abroad, training courses and seminars on a variety of topics were given by the IMF Institute and other departments providing technical assistance and training. In 1997/98, the Institute’s program at headquarters included basic, intermediate, and advanced courses on financial programming and policies, shorter courses on such specialized topics as exchange rate policies and monetary and inflation targeting, and a high-level seminar on trade reform and regional integration in Africa. In addition, other functional departments—including Fiscal Affairs, Monetary and Exchange Affairs, Policy Development and Review, and Statistics—conducted seminars and courses in their areas of expertise in collaboration with the Institute. The Institute’s overseas training program continued to focus on issues related to the formulation and implementation of economic adjustment programs.

Technical assistance has been described as forming the third leg of the IMF stool—the other two legs being its surveillance work and its financial assistance under IMF-supported adjustment programs. Member countries and the IMF have become increasingly convinced that the timely provision of effective technical assistance is a key ingredient in supporting governments’ efforts to sustain policy and institutional reform. In 1997/98, technical assistance activity represented about 17 percent of total IMF administrative expenditures.

The increased attention being placed on the promotion of better governance and on creating or maintaining conditions for sustainable and equitable growth have highlighted the need for more attention to strengthening governments’ human resource and institutional capacities for effective economic management. Without such improvements, the IMF’s surveillance and program financing activities would likely have a less durable impact. The IMF’s technical assistance and training are specifically aimed at strengthening economic management capacity so that, in the long run, members will have less need for IMF financing and a greater ability to engage in a productive dialogue with the IMF during surveillance operations. This can be described as the preventive aspect of IMF technical assistance and training. Given available resources, much of the IMF’s technical assistance was inevitably remedial in nature—directed toward immediate problem solving or helping governments implement economic and financial reforms within the context of an IMF-supported program.

The IMF quantifies the technical assistance it delivers in units of “person-years of services provided,” both by its staff as well as by the experts it recruits. Using this measurement, the annual volume of IMF technical assistance in the past few years has been about 300 person-years (see Table 9). The cost in U.S. dollar terms per unit of input increased over the period owing to increases in compensation for outside experts and greater use of short-term experts.

Table 9Technical Assistance Delivery

(Effective person-years)1

Fund technical assistance resources220.0211.4172.7189.6
Headquarters-based consultants22.123.520.120.8
External technical assistance resources80.597.5104.296.2
United Nations Development
Total technical assistance resources300.6309.0277.0285.7
Total resources by department
Monetary and Exchange Affairs
Fiscal Affairs Department95.199.896.298.8
Statistics Department37.939.236.639.0
IMF Institute14.614.011.012.1
Legal Department7.911.09.310.3
Total regional use by department271.1280.1251.0258.7
African Department60.662.454.565.8
Asia and Pacific Department4n.a.n.a.49.042.5
Central Asia Department27.727.5n.a.n.a.
Southeast Asia and Pacific
European I Department27.824.422.523.8
European II Department79.373.557.652.6
Middle Eastern Department16.923.426.529.5
Western Hemisphere Department27.432.331.235.2
Nonregional use29.628.926.126.9
Total technical assistance use300.6309.0277.0285.6

An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days.


“Other” includes the Policy Development and Review Department, Bureau of Computing Services, and Technical Assistance Secretariat.

Effective January 1, 1997, the Central Asia and Southeast Asia and Pacific Departments were merged into a single Asia and Pacific Department.

An effective person-year of technical assistance is 260 days.


“Other” includes the Policy Development and Review Department, Bureau of Computing Services, and Technical Assistance Secretariat.

Effective January 1, 1997, the Central Asia and Southeast Asia and Pacific Departments were merged into a single Asia and Pacific Department.

The regional distribution of IMF technical assistance and training has shifted markedly since 1995, when the countries of the two IMF European Departments absorbed 40 percent of technical assistance resources. This proportion dropped back to 30 percent in 1997/98, while the share of countries in the African and the Middle Eastern Departments, taken together, rose to 37 percent from 28 percent over the same period.

One of the features of IMF technical assistance and training over the past few years has been its involvement in postconflict countries. In such situations the traditional “request-and-response” mode of operation has been considered inadequate to address the urgent need to rehabilitate these countries’ basic economic and financial management capacities. This has given rise to the practice of preparing large-scale, integrated, multiyear technical assistance programs cofinanced with other donors. Such technical assistance programs have now been implemented—or are being implemented—in such postconflict countries as Angola, Cambodia, Haiti, Lebanon, Namibia, Rwanda, and Yemen; plans are under way for a similar approach for Liberia. These programs are usually closely coordinated with, and cofinanced by, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and often involve a number of bilateral donors. In addition, where appropriate, the IMF is developing a regional approach to the delivery of technical assistance and training services. Examples include the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre in Fiji, which channels technical assistance to 15 countries in the Pacific area with financing from UNDP, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Forum, and the Asian Development Bank; the Joint Vienna Institute; the Harare Center; the Cairo Information Center; and the IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute, which is cofinanced by the IMF and the Government of Singapore (see Box 14).

Box 14IMF Institute and Regional Institutions

Europe. The IMF, in collaboration with the World Bank and certain other international institutions, has established the Joint Vienna Institute (JVI) to provide training to officials of former centrally planned economies that are in transition to market-based systems. In addition to a comprehensive course in applied market economies jointly presented by all sponsoring organizations, the IMF Institute and other IMF departments offer an extensive seminar program covering macro-economic analysis and policy, banking supervision, payment systems, monetary and exchange operations, fiscal policy, public expenditure management, value-added taxes, social safety nets, financial sector law, and macro-economic statistics. Recently the Board extended the IMF’s support for the JVI for another five years.

Capacity building in Africa. The Institute has a long-standing cooperative relationship with the regional training institutions in Francophone Africa, namely, the training centers of the Central Bank of West African States (West African Training Center for Banking Studies—COFEB) and the Bank of Central African States. The Institute offers a yearly regional course on Financial Programming and Policies or External Sector Policies, as well as periodic lecturing assistance to the centers. The regional courses benefit from cofinancing from the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union. In collaborating with these centers, the Institute continues to place emphasis on “capacity building” by training trainers, both in financial macroeconomics and in managerial fields linked to teaching.

To respond to the growing need for training in Africa, the Institute helped establish in 1997 the nine-member Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) in Zimbabwe and the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) in Nigeria.

Asia. Effective May 4, 1998, the IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute (STI) commenced the offering of training on policy-related economics to selected government officials, mainly from developing countries in the Asia and the Pacific region. In 1998/99, 13 courses and seminars are scheduled on macroeconomic adjustment and reform policies, financial programming, the problems of transition economies, monetary and exchange operations, public finance, banking supervision, and macroeconomic statistics. The STI is viewed as a precursor to similar regional training centers in other parts of the world.

South-East Asian Central Banks Research and Training Center (SEACEN). Relations between the IMF Institute and SEACEN (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) developed in the 1970s when the Institute began to send senior staff to assist SEACEN in the formulation of its training program. Since the early 1980s, the Institute has also provided lecturing assistance to SEACEN and coordinated lecturing assistance from other IMF departments, and in the early 1990s began to conduct joint courses.

The Arab Monetary Fund. The IMF Institute has maintained a close relationship with the training branch of the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), since its inception in 1988. Since then, it has regularly provided the EPI with lecturing assistance in connection with the AMF course on Macroeconomic Management and also participated in the AMF course on External Sector Management, first offered in March 1995. Cooperation between the IMF Institute and the AMF includes joint courses and seminars and participation by Institute staff in AMF-sponsored seminars.

In addition, the Institute has been providing lecturing assistance for courses organized by the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies for several years; has been cooperating with the Islamic Development Bank on regional training courses since 1994; and conducted its first cooperative training venture with the Asian Development Bank in 1995.

Japan was the single largest source of external financing for IMF-provided technical assistance and responded with great flexibility during 1997/98 in seeking to ensure that its funding was readily available to help address the new demands for technical assistance that arose from the Asian crisis. The Framework Administered Account for Technical Assistance Activities—established by the IMF in 1995—attracted contributions from Australia, France, Japan (for a scholarship program), and Switzerland. A few countries, such as Sweden and Norway, financed UNDP projects for which the IMF was the executing agency. Others, such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the Inter-American Development Bank, agreed to coordinate technical assistance cofinancing arrangements with the IMF. Several developing country members used the proceeds from World Bank credits to finance IMF-provided technical assistance. In 1996/97, 30 percent of the IMF’s total technical assistance and training activities were financed from external sources, and two-thirds of the experts that it recruited to serve in its member countries were also externally financed. This ratio of internal to external financing is likely to remain fairly stable in the immediate future.

During 1997/98, joint evaluations of country technical assistance projects were conducted with the UNDP in China, Haiti, the Pacific, and Yemen. The IMF’s Office of Internal Audit and Inspection is currently evaluating the IMF’s technical assistance and training operations.

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