The IMF helps its member countries design economic policies and manage their financial affairs more effectively by strengthening their human and institutional capacity through technical assistance and training. The IMF aims to exploit synergies between technical assistance and training—which it calls capacity development—to maximize their effectiveness.
Technical assistance helps countries develop more effective institutions, legal frameworks, and policies to promote economic stability and inclusive growth. Training through practical policy-oriented courses, hands-on workshops, and seminars strengthens officials’ capacity to analyze economic developments and formulate and implement effective policies. Work on technical assistance and training is managed from the IMF’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and from a network of nine regional technical centers and seven regional training centers. The IMF works in close cooperation with other providers of training and technical assistance.
Technical assistance and training are benefiting many member countries
Technical assistance and training—which together the IMF calls capacity development—are important benefits of IMF membership. Building human and institutional capacity within a country helps the government implement more effective policies, leading to better economic outcomes. About two-thirds of technical assistance and half of all training goes to low- and lower-middle income countries.
Further, technical assistance provided to emerging and advanced economies in select cutting-edge areas—for example, in the financial sector—helps provide traction to IMF policy advice, keeps the institution up-to-date on innovations and risks to the international economy, and help address crisis-related challenges and spillovers.
Integrating technical assistance and training with IMF surveillance and lending
Technical assistance and training are important complements to the IMF’s other core functions of surveillance and lending. Specialized technical assistance and training from the IMF help build both institutional and human capacity in countries for effective policymaking. Moreover, the IMF’s surveillance and lending work often helps identify areas for strengthening the IMF’s technical assistance and training in line with international best practices. New training courses have been offered—for example, in the areas of inclusive growth, financial inclusion, and external vulnerabilities. In view of these linkages, achieving greater integration between technical assistance, training, surveillance, and lending operations is a key priority for the IMF.
Technical assistance and training cover core areas of IMF expertise
The IMF provides technical assistance in its areas of core expertise: macroeconomic policy, tax policy and revenue administration, expenditure management, monetary policy, the exchange rate system, financial sector stability, legislative frameworks, and macroeconomic and financial statistics. In particular, efforts in recent years to strengthen the international financial system and fiscal and debt policies have triggered additional demands for IMF technical assistance. For example, countries have asked for help to address financial sector weaknesses identified within the framework of the joint IMF-World Bank Financial Sector Assessment Program and to adopt and adhere to international standards and codes for financial, fiscal, and statistical management.
The IMF delivers technical assistance in various ways. Depending on the nature of the assignment, support is often provided through staff missions of limited duration sent from headquarters, regional centers (RTACs), or the placement of experts and/or resident advisors for periods ranging from a few weeks to a few years.
The IMF provides training courses in a number of disciplines, including macro-financial linkages, monetary and fiscal policy, balance of payment issues, financial markets and institutions, and statistical and legal frameworks in all the areas above. The courses are advertised a year ahead in a catalogue that is available online. Admission to courses may be either by invitation or by application. The published catalogue is supplemented with online course announcements that reflect reprioritization and changing demands.
Training through online courses has increased the IMF’s reach
The IMF has begun a process of providing selected courses and modules online to Fund members, including the launch in late 2013 of the Financial Programming and Policies course to be followed by courses on Debt Sustainability Analysis and Energy Subsidy Reform.
Monitoring of technical assistance and training shows results
The IMF is adopting a results-based management approach that allows for systematic planning and monitoring of technical assistance and training. For example, technical assistance has improved quality of economic statistics, macroeconomic stability, public finance management systems, and financial governance. Training has allowed government officials to do their jobs better, including gaining additional responsibilities upon completing their training and sharpening their ability to analyze economic developments and assess policy effectiveness in their countries.
Evaluation of technical assistance and training strengthens their delivery
The IMF relies on independent external as well as internal evaluations to assess the effectiveness of its technical assistance and training. These are conducted toward the end of each funding cycle and course offering, thus informing effective future delivery.
In a recent survey, for example, 85 percent of technical assistance recipients across RTACs rated the efficacy of IMF technical assistance either “good” or “excellent” in independent evaluations. In a 2012 survey, 92 percent of responding agencies said that their staff values IMF training more than training by other providers on similar topics.