IMF's West AFRITAC Steering Committee recognizes the growing role of the Center in pushing for reforms in the region
COTONOU, Benin, November 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Steering Committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Technical Assistance Center for West Africa (West AFRITAC) highlighted the growing role of the Center in supporting members' needs and reforms in the region. Members of the Steering Committee met in Cotonou, Benin on November 17, 2014, with Benin chairing, to review implementation of the work program at mid-year.
The Committee noted that during the first half of the 2015 financial year1, the Center provided 219 weeks of technical assistance and capacity building to the financial and statistical agencies of its member countries as well as to regional institutions, representing an increase from the level of activity in the same period of the year before. The Committee welcomed the recent disbursement of financial contributions, which would help to fund additional activities to better meet members' needs and support reforms in the region through April 2017. The meeting was attended by representatives of nine member countries, regional institutions and donors, including the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, German cooperation agency, and the European Union, as well as IMF staff.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Komi Koutché, Minister of Economy, Finance and Denationalization Programs of Benin, highlighted the quality of AFRITAC West technical assistance and its relevance to meeting the country's strategic capacity building needs. He particularly stressed the contribution of the Center to the ongoing modernization of the customs environment in Benin and the development of a more efficient taxpayer system in the country. The technical support has also contributed to a budget orientation document for a parliamentary debate in June 2014. In the area of statistics, the Center's assistance was instrumental in the production and publication of national accounts from 1999−2011.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Thomas Azandossessi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Denationalization Programs of Benin 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 the results achieved in several member countries during the first half of fiscal year 2015 with the assistance of the Center, notably the establishment of a final system for automated risk analysis management and selectivity of customs control in Côte d'Ivoire; the increased number of taxpayers under the Directorate of medium-size enterprises in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger; the updated national accounts in many countries of the region; as well as progress in regional projects aiming at better compliance with banking supervision international standards as well as development of public security markets. Following the disbursement of a financial contribution from the European Union, the Steering Committee endorsed a scaled-up work program for the second half of fiscal year 2015, notably in the area of macroeconomic analysis and forecasting, and the extension of the Center's financing cycle through April 2017.”
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 NEPAD to the IMF to help strengthen the institutional and human capacities of their states for the design and implementation of economic policies that can help to accelerate economic growth and stem poverty. Launched in 2003, West AFRITAC has been based in Abidjan since 2012. It operates in areas of IMF competence, 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.