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Press Release No. 04/224
October 25, 2004
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

Inauguration of the Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC)

The Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC) was officially inaugurated on October 25, 2004 in Beirut, Lebanon.

His Excellency Fouad Siniora, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Lebanon, delivered the inaugural address, and Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), gave a keynote address on behalf of the IMF. Senior officials from participating and donor countries and organizations attended the inauguration ceremony.The METAC will serve Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

Mr. de Rato expressed his appreciation to the Lebanese authorities for hosting the center and providing strong support and assistance for its functioning, as well as to all the other donors and participating governments. Mr. de Rato was pleased to note that the major share of donor financing for METAC is being provided by countries in the region. "With the opening of METAC, our involvement in providing technical assistance to the region will deepen," Mr. de Rato noted. "The key role of IMF technical assistance is to transfer knowledge and experience that helps countries in the region strengthen their own ability to design and implement economic policies, promote financial sector stability and modernize institutions." The ultimate objective is to raise economic growth to "levels sufficient to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding labor force and to achieve real and sustained improvements in the standards of living."

The idea of setting up a Middle East Technical Assistance Center was launched in October 2003 at the International Donors' Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq in Madrid. By providing targeted capacity building, the Center will assist post-conflict countries to restore macroeconomic stability and develop basic institutions for policy-making. METAC's location within the region and its close collaboration with regional organizations and other technical assistance providers are expected to improve coordination among donors and existing economic initiatives within the Middle East region.

The Center will be staffed by an IMF coordinator and a number of resident experts. The center coordinator will have responsibility for leadership and management of the Center's activities and staff. The resident advisors will deliver training and advice in a range of areas, including public expenditure management, revenue administration, bank restructuring, banking supervision, and multi-sector statistics. METAC's experts will also be available for "on the spot" advice and will coordinate closely with other technical assistance providers in the donor community. METAC's activities will be leveraged with the assistance of additional short-term experts hired for specific tasks.




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