IMF Inaugurates Technical Assistance Center for Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic

Press Release No. 09/236
June 24, 2009

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) launched today its Technical Assistance Center for Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic (CAPTAC-DR) in Guatemala City. CAPTAC-DR is the seventh IMF regional technical assistance center (RTAC) worldwide and the second in the Western Hemisphere. The latest regional technical assistance center will serve Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

“This center is an example of strong regional cooperation in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic” IMF Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato said. “A region with almost 40 million people has significant economic potential. The Fund is proud to be a partner in the effort to promote regional economic growth and development, and hopes that CAPTAC-DR will serve as an engine to push forward the objective of a more economically cohesive region.”

CAPTAC-DR, with a projected 5-year budget of US$35 million, will be supported with donations from Spain, Mexico, Canada, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, beneficiary countries, and the IMF. The European Commission, Germany, and the Interamerican Development Bank have expressed their support for this initiative and are examining contributions.

CAPTAC-DR’s staff will consist of a Center Coordinator who will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Center; and resident advisors and short-term experts recruited and supervised by the IMF. The Center’s technical assistance, which will emphasize institutions building, will complement policy-oriented technical assistance provided directly from IMF headquarters. Mr. Ugo Fasano, an IMF economist with more than 17 years of experience in several departments across the Fund, will be the Center’s first coordinator.

Guatemala’s president Alvaro Colom, IMF Deputy Managing Director Kato, Mexico’s Secretary of Finance and Public Credit Agustín Carstens, other representatives from the donor community, and officials from the seven beneficiary counties participated in the official inauguration at the Bank of Guatemala.

The Center will be a key element in the capacity building efforts that the Fund has been providing to countries in the region. The Center will focus on the following three core capacity-building areas: public finances (tax and customs administration and public financial management); money and banking sector (financial sector supervision and regulation, monetary policy, and debt management); and macroeconomic statistics.

“The Fund’s current Technical Assistance strategy already has a regional focus, aiming to address policy issues that are common across countries in this region,” said Mr. Kato. “The CAPTAC-DR center will complement and strengthen these ongoing capacity building efforts.”

Background

Demand for the IMF’s technical assistance is rising in light of the current global economic and financial crisis, but also because countries are seeking to strengthen their institutions. To meet this rising demand as well as better coordinate assistance delivery, the Fund seeks to strengthen its partnerships with donors by engaging them on a broader, longer-term, and more strategic basis. The opening of the CAPTAC-DR center is part of this effort, and the Fund intends to open three additional RTACs in Central Asia, and Southern and Western Africa.

Complementing the regional perspective of the RTACs, a menu of Topical Trust Funds (TTFs) will provide a global geographical coverage and a specialized topical scope. The IMF launched its first TTF on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in May 2009 (see Press Release No. 09/108). The roll-out of other TTFs is planned over the next year in the areas of natural resource management, revenue administration, public expenditure management, development of sustainable debt strategies, and compilation of statistics relevant to financial crisis.



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