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Sunday, July 13, 2003

Wear and Tear at the Central Bank

A short note from Joerg, with a piece which comes from god knows where (this internet pass-on thing)about technological change and the central bank in Ghana.

A Lean Machine

While in some cases the larger central banks ought to be setting a good example for others to follow, it can work the other way around too. Certain Eurosystem central banks might be dripping with envy out at what the central bank in Ghana has managed to achieve, unlike them. Some of the more bloated ones - which to their credit, such as the Banque de France, are mostly attempting to remedy their obesity - would love to be able casually to shave off 1,000 workers as has just happened in Ghana.

The central bank there has just got itself a brand new, million-dollar note sorting machine which will do the work of 500 people, and ten times as quickly. With 2,600 workers, the bank is one of the most highly staffed on the continent relative to its population, and wants to become “a lean, more focused and responsive central bank” - although it promises to go about this in “a humane manner” by offering “generous and attractive early retirement package for staff that may wish to retire voluntarily”. To be sure, there has been some discontent among workers and unions at this rather abrupt measure, but probably not to the same extent as in France where workers have delighted in taking to the streets on what is becoming an all-too regular basis, even though the proposals for change are substantially less radical. In some respects European central bankers don’t have it so easy.

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