IMF’s West AFRITAC Steering Committee Welcomes Significant Reforms Achieved in West Africa with the Support of the Center

Press Release No. 14/198
May 5, 2014

The Steering Committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Technical Assistance Center for West Africa (West AFRITAC) welcomed the progress made by the Center and endorsed the work program for 2014-15. The Center increased its technical assistance activities by 6 percent during its 2013-14 financial year. Members of the Steering Committee met in Abidjan on April 30, 2014, with Togo chairing, to review the implementation of the work program for the financial year; and approve the program of work for the next financial year. The meeting was attended by representatives of ten member countries, regional institutions, donors (African Development Bank, Canada, European Investment Bank, European Union, France, and the German cooperation agency), as well as IMF staff.

Members of the Committee also noted that more than two-thirds of the milestones set for the past year were met, and support provided by the center has enabled further modernizing and reforming of member countries' economic and financial administrations. To cope with available funds, the 2014-15 work program maintains a high volume of technical assistance, its core activities, but reduces others such as regional training workshops. Rapid disbursement of the remaining contributions expected during this funding cycle would make it possible to avoid these reductions, open up a new area of intervention in macro-economic analysis and forecasting, and extend the cycle at least up to 2016.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Badawasso Gnaro, representing the Minister of Finance of Togo and Chairperson of the West AFRITAC Steering Committee, and Jean Le Dem, Director of West AFRITAC, made the following joint statement:

“The Steering Committee noted with satisfaction that technical assistance increased by 6 percent in 2013-14 despite contingency measures decided during the course of the year to cope with financial uncertainties. It also welcomed results obtained in member countries over the past twelve months with the assistance of the center, in particular: (i) improved methods for selecting goods for customs inspections in four countries; (ii) the remarkable revenue collection performance of the new center for medium-sized enterprises in Senegal; (iii) Benin and Guinea’s publication of a national accounts series; (iv) countries’ transposition and starting of implementation of several regional directives to harmonize public financial frameworks; (v) progress made in risk-based banking supervision in Guinea and Mauritania; and (vi) development of debt sustainability analysis capacity in seven countries. The committee also welcomed the launch of several regional multi-year assistance projects on: (i) implementing Basel II and III international banking supervision standards at the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest—BCEAO; (ii) developing banking supervision capacity at the regional banking commission; and (iii) operationalizing the new West African Monetary Union—WAMU -securities regional agency.

“The Steering Committee also endorsed the work program for 2014-15, which it considered to be balanced, in line with the strategic orientations, and compatible with the available funding. The volume of technical assistance will ensure the continuation of ongoing multi-year projects and the enhancement of the regional component, with the view to meeting the following results: (i) finalizing automated risk management systems and selective customs controls in Burkina-Faso and Côte d’Ivoire; (ii) launching two pilot medium-sized tax payer units in Abidjan; (iii) strengthening budget preparation framework in Togo; (iv) establishing a Single Treasury Account in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal;(v) publishing quarterly national accounts in Burkina-Faso and Côte d’Ivoire; enhancement of public financial statistics in most countries; (vi) strengthening of banking supervision in Guinea and Mauritania; and (vii) setting up primary dealers in the WAMU securities market. Payment of all expected contributions would make it possible to implement activities that have been set aside, including technical assistance in the area of macro-economic analysis and forecasting.

“Finally, the Steering Committee commended the efforts undertaken by the center and the IMF to implement the recommendations of the external evaluation exercise, in particular with regard to results-based management. Members acknowledged that this was a medium-term process that needs to be monitored regularly. The next meeting of the Committee will be held in November 2014 with Benin chairing.”

Background

The Center is a member of the AFRITAC Initiative, bringing together five regional technical assistance centers in sub-Saharan Africa. That Initiative came into being in 2002, following the request made by African policy makers meeting within the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to the IMF to help strengthen the institutional and human capacities of their states for the design and implementation of economic policies apt to accelerate economic growth and stem poverty. Launched in 2003, West AFRITAC has been based in Abidjan since 2012. It acts in areas of competence of the IMF, namely, customs and tax administrations, expenditure management, macroeconomic and financial statistics, public debt management, and banking supervision and control. The activities of West AFRITAC are carried out essentially in the form of technical assistance missions, national workshops, and regional seminars for the benefit of the member countries and regional organizations.

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