Dec 21, 2021

Our Strong Partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Finance Continues to Evolve

The Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands has been one of the CEF’s most important partners since our early days. Today, the ministry still contributes to the CEF by providing expertise and participation grants for our learning and networking program in the areas of tax policy and administration and auditing. Angelique van Haasteren is representing the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands in the CEF Advisory Board.

Having the opportunity to observe the CEF both from the outside and by closely working with us for a number of years, how do you see the CEF’s development in the past years? 

I had the pleasure to witness the transformation of the CEF from a Slovenian public finance school into a professional international organization and full swing knowledge hub for the region. It’s good to see the CEF did not turn into a huge bureaucratic organization in the process. It managed to maintain its small scale character, flexibility, openness and cosyness. Our experts and colleagues from the region feel very much at home at the CEF. I want to applaud the CEF for their valuable work over the years and for staying true to itself.

Your ministry has a lot of experience in the SEE region where the Netherland’s IMF/World Bank/EBRD constituency partly overlaps with the CEF’s constituency. Which are the most crucial areas that your ministry is addressing in these countries through technical assistance?

We have strong ties with the countries that share our constituencies at the IMF, World Bank and EBRD. That’s why our ministry established the Constituency Program. This program enables us to support public finance management reform in the countries, in particular in areas where our experts can provide genuine added value. In our program with the CEF, we focus on auditing and taxation. We make sure that our work with the CEF is aligned with our bilateral efforts in the countries. What I like most about the Constituency Program of the Dutch Ministry of Finance is the peer-to-peer angle. Our colleagues are more than willing to work with their constituency counterparts. Once I talked with an IMF resident representative in one of our countries, who thought that colleagues working together could add a lot to the work of international institutions. I think he is right. 

Could you share with us how have you coped with the challenges that the pandemic has caused.

I personally miss face-to-face contact with our constituency colleagues very much. I see them on my screen every day, we talk about the pandemic, our work, families and the weather, but it’s not the same. Nevertheless, our team (besides myself also Philippe and Annemiek) have managed to continue the support to our countries online. We get a lot of requests for technical assistance. And yes, we have also received some typical COVID-related requests and questions. For instance about our sectoral support during the lockdowns, the change management in our tax administration, and about human resources and internal processes on how to organize online and hybrid working within the Ministry. 

We are glad that we have been able to continue our work in these challenging times. Online and hybrid trainings offer new opportunities and we will integrate them into our program permanently. But I hope we can return to the new (or old) normal again soon. I can’t wait to visit my constituency colleagues again, or to invite them to the Netherlands. That is what it is all about.