“The opportunity came at exactly the right time, “said Angela Vasovska, from the Treasury of Republic of North Macedonia. Vasovska joined the Macedonian Treasury department in June 2018. Despite her seven-year background with the Ministry of Finance, she had a lot to learn on the new job as a Senior Associate for Cash Flow Forecasting and Liquidity Management. Only after a brief time of on-the-job training however, her supervisor had to leave for a sabbatical, leaving her alone with the monumental task of forecasting the cash flow of the Republic of North Macedonia’s government.
The scarcity of expert resources is quite common in emerging markets. As their economies grow, the governments face new fiscal challenges for debt and risk management. Consequently, they need to build new skills and strengthen institutions. For public servants facing the challenge of developing their capacity with limited resources however, the need for technical assistance is real.
For practitioners such as Vasovska the Cash Flow Forecasting and Cash Management Workshop presented an opportunity to access the very specific training she needed. Delivered by a team of experts of the Government Debt and Risk Management (GDRM) Program, the training alternated between theory and practice. The participants came from countries that were at the same level of development concerning the cash management process with similar (regional) processes. “The workshop was very helpful because we exchanged experience and practices among us. We learned about different approaches and techniques that the others used or applied in their daily work, in their strategy. We also understood that we have very similar procedures and challenges, so it was amazing and encouraging to know that ‘It is not only you who wants to improve your internal procedure and cash management practice’” said Vasovska.
In addition to peer learning, the participants spent the majority of workshop with hands-on exercises using the Excel-based toolkit, explicitly designed by World Bank Treasury’s practitioners. “We are all coming from the same background with the participants, and we dealt with similar challenges” said Leandro Secunho, Senior Financial Officer at the World Bank Treasury, who was the faculty in the workshop together with M. Coskun Cangoz and Sebastien Boitreaud, “therefore we specifically designed the training with emphasis on hands-on exercises and international experience sharing. That way, we can create the maximum impact when our participants go home to their daily work.”
One month after the workshop, Vasovska and her director started improving the cash flow forecasting procedure in Macedonia, with a redesign on the forecasting procedure. Compiling the revenues and expenditures they implemented some pivot tables to run scenarios. They also started the forecasting procedure for each category of expenditure and revenue with the plan to implement it entirely with a more appropriate statistical programming language (RStudio). By implementing these new procedures, they were able to have forecasts for the upcoming year on a monthly basis, with a break down into weekly forecasts and subsequently daily forecasts. “We are still in the process, and we have a lot more to do, so we are taking it step by step,” said Vasovska.
After this inaugural edition of the cash flow workshop, the World Bank Treasury team is already in the process of preparing for the next one in the series. Another step on their all-embracing program of on-site technical assistance, workshops & webinars, in person and virtual peer-to-peer events to strengthen their capacity to manage debt.