The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) report on the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) describes the programme as a “distinct improvement” in the Fund’s ability to conduct financial sector surveillance. The report was discussed by the IMF board 27 January.
The FSAP is a joint IMF-World Bank initiative launched in 1999 to provide member countries with a comprehensive assessment of their financial systems. This can include assessments of banking systems, small and medium enterprise access to finance, housing finance, insurance industry, financial markets and the legal and regulatory framework governing the financial sector. Participation in the programme is voluntary and updates are conducted ad-hoc.
Strengthening financial sector surveillance is a key priority identified in the Fund’s medium-term strategic review. This evaluation, the work of the small group of senior staff currently examining ways of enhancing the effectiveness of surveillance, and reflection on the report of the Review Group on the Organization of Financial Sector and Capital Markets Work (the “McDonough report”), will be other key inputs in this regard.
The Review Group was formed in June 2005 to provide the IMF with an “independent perspective on how the Fund should organise its financial sector analysis and surveillance activities”. The group, which reported to IMF management at the end of 2005, was led by William McDonough, US Public Company Accounting Oversight board chairman and former president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
Other members of the group included Jaime Caruana (governor, Bank of Spain, and chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision), Terrence Checki (executive vice president, New York Federal Reserve), Mohamed El-Erian (managing director, Pacific Investment Management Co.), Paulo Leme (managing director, Goldman Sachs), Toshiro Muto (deputy governor, Bank of Japan), and Joseph Yam (chief executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority). Andrew Tweedie, a senior advisor in the IMF’s Finance Department, acted as the secretary of the Review Group.
The key recommendations of the evaluation, which were broadly welcomed by Fund management, include:
- Broaden coverage of assessments by providing incentives for non-participating countries where strengthening of the financial sector is most needed. Some 20 to 25 per cent of “systemically important” countries have not been assessed.
- Improve the quality of the assessments through a better prioritisation of recommendations, more attention to cross-border issues, and better coordination with a country’s own action plans.
- Mainstream the output in IMF work by strengthening links between the assessments and follow-up surveillance, Article IV reports and technical assistance priorities.
Despite support from several executive directors on the IMF board of a move to presumed disclosure, the publication of the assessments will remain voluntary.
An IEO evaluation of multilateral surveillance is expected imminently.