Highlights of this section:
The IMF shares its expertise with member countries by providing technical assistance and training in a wide range of areas, such as central banking, monetary and exchange rate policy, tax policy and administration, and official statistics. The objective is to help improve the design and implementation of members' economic policies, including by strengthening skills in institutions such as finance ministries, central banks, and statistical agencies. The IMF has also given advice to countries that have had to reestablish government institutions following severe civil unrest or war.
In 2008, the IMF embarked on an ambitious reform effort to enhance the impact of its technical assistance. The reforms emphasize better prioritization, enhanced performance measurement, more transparent costing and stronger partnerships with donors.
Technical assistance is one of the IMF's core activities. It is concentrated in critical areas of macroeconomic policy where the Fund has the greatest comparative advantage. Thanks to its near-universal membership, the IMF's technical assistance program is informed by experience and knowledge gained across diverse regions and countries at different levels of development.
About 80 percent of the IMF's technical assistance goes to low- and lower-middle-income countries, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Post-conflict countries are major beneficiaries. The IMF is also providing technical assistance aimed at strengthening the architecture of the international financial system, building capacity to design and implement poverty-reducing and growth programs, and helping heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) in debt reduction and management.
The IMF's technical assistance takes different forms, according to needs, ranging from long-term hands-on capacity building to short-notice policy support in a financial crisis. Technical assistance is delivered in a variety of ways. IMF staff may visit member countries to advise government and central bank officials on specific issues, or the IMF may provide resident specialists on a short- or a long-term basis. Technical assistance is integrated with country reform agendas as well as the IMF's surveillance and lending operations.
The IMF is providing an increasing part of its technical assistance through regional centers located in Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritius, and Tanzania for Africa; in Barbados and Guatemala for Central America and the Caribbean; in Lebanon for the Middle East; and in Fiji for the Pacific Islands. The IMF also offers training courses for government and central bank officials of member countries at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at regional training centers in Austria, Brazil, China, Singapore, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Bilateral and multilateral donors are playing an increasingly important role in enabling the IMF to meet country needs in this area, with their contributions now financing about two thirds of the IMF's field delivery of technical assistance. Strong partnerships between recipient countries and donors enable IMF technical assistance to be developed on the basis of a more inclusive dialogue and within the context of a coherent development framework. The benefits of donor contributions thus go beyond the financial aspect.
The IMF is currently seeking to leverage the comparative advantages of its technical assistance to expand donor financing to meet the needs of recipient countries. As part of this effort, the Fund is strengthening its partnerships with donors by engaging them on a broader, longer-term and more strategic basis.
The idea is to pool donor resources in multi-donor trust funds that would supplement the IMF's own resources for technical assistance while leveraging the Fund's expertise and experience. Expansion of the multi-donor trust fund model is envisaged on a regional and topical basis, offering donors different entry points according to their priorities. To this end, the IMF is establishing a series of topical trust funds, covering such topics as anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism; fragile states; public financial management; management of natural resource wealth, public debt sustainability and management, statistics and data provision; and financial sector stability and development.