Initiative is helping development of small countries

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The Small Countries Financial Management Centre is set to welcome representatives from 29 different nations on Sunday (July 11, 2010) for the start of its second annual international capacity-building programme.
The Centre, located at the Isle of Man International Business School, aims to build on the success of the inaugural event in 2009 which helped small countries from around the world to respond to the global economic downturn.

The Small Countries Financial Management Programme is a major initiative developed through a partnership between the Isle of Man Government, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Small States Network for Economic Development, and the University of Oxford.

The aim is to promote the sustainable development of the economies of small states and give them a more powerful voice within the international community. With its major emphasis on financial integrity and improved regulation, the programme is also intended to help these countries respond to increasingly challenging requirements of international standard-setting bodies.

World Bank President, Robert B. Zoellick, told delegates at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in October 2009: ‘The new Small Countries Financial Management Programme, developed with the support of the government of the Isle of Man, is a great opportunity to try to deal with some of the particular challenges of financial management and learn from one another, but also draw on the quality and experience of a global university.’

Participants will have access to some of the best practitioners and professors in the world, along with an opportunity to share their own countries’ challenges and ambitions, during an innovative two-week learning experience.

The programme will take place over nine days at the Isle of Man International Business School and four days at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and cover key issues such as risk assessment, management and regulation, debt and cash management, and regulatory collaboration.

Executive Director Tim Cullen, who has been instrumental in conceiving the initiative and bringing together the various partners and sponsors, said: ‘The financial sector is the heart, the lungs and the circulatory system of any economy. Improving the capacity of small countries to manage their own financial sectors constitutes one of the best systemic uses of development assistance.

‘We are grateful to the Isle of Man Government and all our partner organisations for their valuable input and to our private sector supporters. These include KPMG, which has been handling the financial side of the Centre, since its inception. Barclays Wealth is generously sponsoring a major reception for the participants to meet members of the Island’s business community and key people in government. Capital International has also been very supportive as has Mann Link Travel.’

Programme Director Ron Emerson added: ‘A big part of this programme is helping decision-makers from small countries to reframe the problems they face in their work or that, more broadly, their governments face. Looking at a challenge from a different perspective can help throw light on the various ways of tackling it. Above all, we want to ensure that what is taught is related directly to people’s working lives and is operationally useful after they return home.’

The feedback from last year’s event was very positive, with participants praising the interactive teaching methods, the use of real life case studies, the exchange of ideas and common experiences, and the opportunity to develop key negotiating skills.
Sharda Sinanan-Bollers, Executive Director of the International Financial Services Authority, St Vincent and The Grenadines, commented: ‘What I found to be particularly instructive and wholly inspiring was the “Isle of Man experience”.

‘Despite certain differences in circumstances, the challenges which the Isle of Man has faced and overcome are challenges currently faced by my country. This gives real and meaningful hope and confidence that we can one day overcome our own challenges.’

Cointha Thomas, St Lucia’s Budget Director, said: ‘The Small Countries Financial Management Programme has helped us to make the best use of limited resources by thinking “outside the box” of traditional government structures.’
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