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IMF Opens Fourth African Technical Assistance Centre

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

18 October 2011

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has officially opened its fourth Africa regional technical assistance centre (AFRITAC) in Mauritius, offering capacity building services to 13 countries across Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

“This is a bright day for capacity building in Africa,” IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu said at an opening ceremony in Mauritius. Zhu added, at the opening of the centre known as “AFRITAC South”, that it was a critical milestone in the IMF’s Africa Capacity Building Initiative, which was launched in 2002. The initiative seeks to strengthen the capacity of African governments and institutions to design and implement sound policies consistent with their poverty-reducing strategies.

The new centre serves Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It complements three existing AFRITACs: AFRITAC East opened in 2002 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; AFRITAC West opened in 2003 in Bamako, Mali; and AFRITAC Central, opened in 2007 in Libreville, Gabon. The four centres cover 38 sub-Saharan African countries, and a fifth and final AFRITAC is planned to open in Accra, Ghana, in the future.

Like its sister offices, AFRITAC South will provide capacity-building assistance through a team of international resident experts, supplemented by short-term specialists, who will deliver assistance in the IMF’s core areas of expertise. Those areas include financial sector supervision, monetary policy and operations, tax and customs administration, public financial management, and macroeconomic statistics.

From May this year, assistance is provided, for example, on tax policy and administration, contributing to the development of appropriate tax systems. Such help will address perceived weaknesses underlying low revenue collection rates, including fragmented administrative structures, poorly designed operational processes, and unclear accountability.

The beneficiary countries are selected according to their need for revenue mobilization, commitment to reforming their tax administrations, and their absorptive capacity. Nemat Shafik, IMF Deputy Managing Director, confirmed, in a recent address, that “improving revenue mobilization is an important area for the IMF’s technical assistance programme, as it will enhance beneficiaries’ capacity to fund their development needs, which is increasingly important as donor resources come under pressure.”

TAGS: South Africa | tax | Mauritius | Swaziland | Zimbabwe | International Monetary Fund (IMF) | Angola | Comoros | Lesotho | Madagascar | Mozambique | Botswana | Namibia | Zambia | tax reform | Seychelles | Africa

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