Mr. Eric Sidgwick; Home Country: France; Position: Resident Representative

Name: Mr. Eric Sidgwick
Home Country: France
Position: Resident Representative

Bonjour! Hello! I'm Eric Sidgwick, the Fund's Resident Representative in the Lao Republic. The thing I like most about my work is actually making a contribution, no matter how small, to the economic development of a country, and helping to improve the quality of life of people there.

Who is the IMF? The Faces behind IMF Functions
The faces behind IMF functions    


My main responsibility is to foster the relationship between the IMF and the Lao PDR government. It's my job to explain very clearly the IMF point of view and the reasoning behind our recommendations. Just as importantly, I also must listen very carefully to what the Government is telling me and then advise IMF Headquarters on what is feasible and what is not. This is one of the main mechanisms that the IMF has to ensure that we really understand those we are seeking to help and to develop country ownership of the required solutions. It also helps us avoid recommending a "one-size-fits-all" approach to solving macroeconomic imbalances.

I have to keep on top of what is going on economically in the country, to advise the government early on if things are slipping, and to recommend corrective measures.

How do I do I spend my time? I arrive at work at 8 a.m. and check all the e-mails from IMF Headquarters in Washington, DC, that have arrived during the night. I try to do all my "hard thinking" in the morning. Getting answers for Washington may mean arranging a meeting with the Director of the Research Department of the central bank to find out why credit to state enterprises jumped by 10 percent in the last month.

Photo of Eric Sidgwick
"I have to keep on top of what is going on economically in the country, to advise the government early on if things are slipping, and to recommend corrective measures."

After that, I may have to pop in to see the Deputy Director of Budget over at the Ministry of Finance, to say hello, and to ask why the latest monthly revenue figures are so low. I may incidentally find out that revenue receipts are low because imports are lower than expected and hence customs duties are running lower than projected. At the same time, the government has reduced subsidies to a few large state enterprises to compensate for the lower revenue so as not to increase the overall fiscal deficit. I then realize that the reduction in subsidies may be why credit to state owned enterprises increased. I go back to the central bank, and my hunch turns out to be true. Now I can relate this back to Washington.

Feeling pleased with my morning's detective work, I arrange to have lunch with the local representative of the World Bank to find out what is going on in their neck of the woods. Have they made a decision on whether or not to help finance a new dam? Yes. How much? I must remember to e-mail the economist in Washington responsible for the balance of payments because she will need to factor in some more capital inflows and higher imports as a result.

In the afternoon, I receive one or two guests at the office and perform routine administrative work. I reply to all the morning's e-mails so that by the time my colleagues in Washington get to work, the answers are waiting for them. Finally, at least two or three times a week, there is a social function to attend during which other tidbits of information may reach me.

By the time I get to bed and think back on my day, I realize that though I have been trained as a macroeconomist, I spent only 20 percent of my day as an economist analyzing data. I spent 20 percent as a detective putting a coherent story together, 20 percent as an advisor making recommendations to Washington or to government officials, 20 percent as an administrator running the IMF office, and 20 percent as a diplomat explaining to all who will listen what the IMF's view of the economy is. Quite a day! And tomorrow will be similar, but not quite…

Au revoir! Goodbye!


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