Press Release: IMF to Establish Middle East Regional Technical Assistance Center in Lebanon

May 17, 2004

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced today that it will establish its Middle East Regional Technical Assistance Center (METAC) in Beirut, Lebanon, to provide technical assistance and training to countries in the region.

Modeled broadly on the IMF's other regional technical assistance centers in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, METAC is a collaborative effort between the IMF and a number of bilateral and multilateral donors. The Government of Lebanon will provide significant support for the Center's activities. "The IMF wishes to express its appreciation to the Lebanese Government for hosting and supporting the Center," IMF Deputy Managing Director Agustín Carstens stated.

METAC, which is expected to start operations in late autumn 2004, will provide technical assistance and training services to Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. METAC's main objective will be to help strengthen capacity for effective macroeconomic and financial management. By providing targeted capacity building, METAC will focus particularly on helping the post-conflict countries in the region foster macro-economic stability and develop basic institutions for policy-making. METAC's location within the region, and its close cooperation with regional organizations and other technical assistance providers, is also designed to enhance coordination among donors and to promote effective implementation of economic initiatives within the Middle East region.

Technical assistance provided by METAC will fall largely in the IMF's main areas of expertise, including macroeconomic policy, tax policy and revenue administration, public expenditure management, financial sector issues, and macroeconomic statistics. Technical assistance will be provided by a team of IMF experts assigned to METAC, and supplemented by short-term specialists contracted to provide targeted advice and training. The assistance will mainly take the form of in-country workshops, training assignments to institutions associated with IMF member countries, and regional training courses.

The IMF provides technical assistance to help countries and territories strengthen their human resources and institutional capacity, as a means to improve the quality of policy-making. The Fund also gives advice on how governments can design and implement effective macroeconomic and structural policies. Technical assistance provided by the IMF complements and enhances the IMF's other key activities namely economic surveillance and lending.


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