The West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and IMF as well as The African Capacity Building Foundation Monday began a five-day regional workshop on 'Public sector debt statistics: guide for compilers and users', at Paradise Suites Hotel, in Kololi.
The training is designed to provide participants with a better understanding of the conceptual framework including the compilation principles and practices of public sector debt statistics. It is also meant to provide participants with a comprehensive guidance for the measurement of quality assessment and presentation of public sector debt statistics.
In her opening statement on behalf of the governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), Oumie Samba, the second deputy governor of the CBG, highlighted the importance of the workshop, describing it is timely. She said it is coming against the background of the recent global economic developments especially the global economic crisis and the challenges in the public debt management in the Euro areas. She further stated that the course would go a long way in strengthening overall debt management capacity in the sub-region.
"The economic and financial crises of the 1990s and that of 2009 have amply demonstrated that inadequate statistics on public sector debts looms large among the panoply of facilitators inhibiting a country's ability to address vulnerabilities arising from solvency and liquidity problems," she said. She further noted that experience from the recent debt crisis in the Euro areas has again dramatised that these vulnerability can be costly and widespread in the globalized macro-economic interrelatedness.
Samba reminded the participants that the compilation of public debt statistics fosters consistencies and comparability among public debt statistics of countries, while noting that it also allows for monitoring of the evolution of the public debt and its debt service obligations over time. "It fosters monitoring of cross-border private sector capital flows especially cross-border financial borrowing activities of the non-bank private sector public debt statistics," she stated.
The Central Bank second deputy governor also told the gathering that compilation of public debt statistics enhances comparability of balance of payments, international investment position and other macro-economic aggregates, which rely on public debt statistics as inputs. She said this provides an early warning signal of possible debt servicing problems over time. She also noted that public debt statistics provides the necessary platform for the analysis of fiscal sustainability.
Samba informed participants that The Gambia government has moved consistently and decisively to up-scale general economic and financial data quality by strengthening data information flows both in CBG and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and at The Gambia Bureau of Statistics. She used the opportunity to congratulate and commend the efforts of some international institutions for their contributions to the evolution of the sound standards for public debt statistics.
On his part, Baba Musa, who spoke on behalf of WAIFEM's director general, gave a brief historical background of WAIFEM, saying the institute was established as a collaborative sub-regional capacity building organisation in July 1996 by the central banks of the Anglophone countries of West African such as The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria Sierra Leone and Liberia. He revealed that the board admitted the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea into WAIFEM on January 19th 2012.
He explained that the mandate of the institute is to develop on a suitable basis, expertise in the field of macroeconomic, debt and financial management among others. "The institute also has the mandate to conduct research and consultancy in the area of macroeconomic policy management and to promote best practices," he added.
Musa further stated that the institution is also empowered to conduct research and consultancy services in the area of macro-economic policy management. "To this end, WAIFEM has up-scaled its delivery methodology from emphasis on short-term courses to a holistic and integrated approach to capacity building encompassing the human and institutional dimensions," he remarked.
He said that for programmes to have a competitive edge, they have to establish a collective technical partnership with recognised institutions involved in capacity building for economic and financial management. "These include the IMF, the World Bank, African Development Bank, Bank of England, Commonwealth Secretariat, United Nation Institute for Training and Research," he added.
Phebby Fambiremwo Kufa, the IMF representative, underscored the significance of data and noted that the training is a very important dimension for the IMF.