By Andrew Kanyegirire
For a long time now, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been criticised by African countries for instructing them on how to use donor funds.
But this could all change with the Fundâ€™s recent set up of regional capacity building centres.
To prioritise technical assistance towards the development programmes that are considered crucial by African countries, the Fund has set up two â€˜African Regional Technical Assistance Centresâ€™ (AFRITAC), in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania andBamako, Mali.
The Dar es Salaam centre which was opened last October serves, the English-speaking countries in East Africa.
The countries include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Speaking at the third East AFRITAC meeting yesterday at the Bank of Uganda, John Crotty, the East Africa AFRITAC coordinator, said: â€œThe IMF has established capacity-building technical assistance centres in Africa to help countries enact policies that promote growth and reduce poverty.â€
â€œThis is a very different way for the IMF to be providing assistance to countries. Many of you know, there has been the complaint that the Fund kind of dictates to countries where it is that they should be undertaking reforms and setting the priorities for their coun
tries,â€ Crotty said, adding, â€œSo the whole idea of this operation has been to give the countries the control and leadership over these resources, for them to say that this is where we want to be going with our workâ€, Crotty said.
The six countries are part of a steering committee, which with support from donor representatives and a representative of the IMF makes decisions about the work and priorities of East AFRITAC.
The meeting, which was chaired by Daudi Ballali, the Governor, Bank of Tanzania as the current chairman of the steering committee, was attended by Emmanuel Tumusime Mutebile, Governor Bank of Uganda, representatives from other regional Central Banks, regional finance ministry officials, donors and the IMF officials.
â€œThe main areas of work that we are involved in are in public expenditure management, revenue mobilisations, monetary mobilisation, monetary policy and statistics. We can also call upon short term resources to supplement our work,â€ said Crotty.
â€œAt this particular meeting, we are in the process of reviewing the work program that we have undertaken to ensure that it is in accordance with the country priorities for the Poverty Reduction and growth strategies,â€ Crotty added during the mid afternoon meeting.