12/12/2001
Press Release
GA/AB/3487



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

35th Meeting (AM)


BUDGET COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF FINANCING FOR MISSIONS

IN EAST TIMOR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO


In a brief meeting this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) began its consideration of the financing of two missions -- the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).


Introducing the reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Chairman of that body, Conrad S.M. Mselle, stressed that, as East Timor was to become independent by 20 May 2002, the Secretary-General had informed the Security Council that UNTAET would be gradually phased out and replaced by a successor mission.  The Security Council had requested that the Secretary-General continue planning and preparation for the successor mission in consultation with the East Timorese people and submit more detailed communications to the Council.


The Advisory Committee felt that the resources requested for the mission ending 30 June 2002 were on the high side, he continued.  For that reason, the ACABQ recommended a 7 per cent reduction from the budget proposed by the Secretary-General, which amounted to an appropriation of $455 million gross for the operations of UNTAET for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, inclusive of the amount already authorized and assessed ($282 million).  The Advisory Committee also recommended an additional assessment totalling $402 million for the period

1 January to 30 June 2002.  The Assembly should also authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments (without assessment) in the amount of

$53 million, should the Council extend the mandate of the mission beyond

31 January 2002.


On the financing of MONUC, Mr. Mselle said that, as the Secretary-General’s proposals had been submitted too late to allow the Advisory Committee to examine them in detail, an interim report on the matter had been prepared.  The Advisory Committee was recommending that the Assembly give the Secretary-General “bridge authority” to assess some $193.24 million gross for the period of 1 January through 31 March 2002.  The Advisory Committee would take up the report of the Secretary-General in February 2002 and report to the Fifth Committee shortly thereafter.


The representative of Norway welcomed the budget proposal for UNTAET and said that it was vitally important to provide UNTAET and its partners with sufficient resources.  Taking note of the proposed downsizing of UNTAET, she also supported the Secretary-General’s suggestions for an integrated successor mission

after independence in May 2002.  The United Nations must remain in East Timor until vital institutions had been put on a solid footing.


In conclusion, she informed the Committee about a two-day donor conference for East Timor, which was concluding its work in Norway.  It was attended by the Secretary-General, his Special Representative in East Timor, the President of the World Bank, as well as the acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of East Timor.  The Prime Minister of Norway also attended.  Bilateral donors continued to be committed to work together with multilateral partners and national authorities of East Timor in ensuring peace and reconstruction.  For its part, Norway was prepared to assist East Timor, both financially and politically, after independence.


The representative of Indonesia said that her country attached great importance to the adequate financing of the mission.  Therefore, she welcomed the proposals for the budget before the Committee.  Regarding the successor mission, Indonesia was open to the proposals for the United Nations presence in East Timor after May 2002, as long as the legitimate needs of the people of East Timor were met.  Her delegation looked forward to receiving detailed information on the successor mission.  In conclusion, she noted the donor conference in Norway, which, she hoped, would be successful.


The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday,

13 December.


Reports


UNTAET


According to the Secretary-General's report on the mission's financing for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 (document A/56/624), the proposed budget amounts to some $490 million gross, inclusive of $282 million gross, already authorized for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2001, and budgeted voluntary in-kind contributions, amounting to $60,000.  An additional amount of $208 million gross would be assessed for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2002, should the Secretary-General decide to continue the mandate of the Transitional Administration. 


Of the total budget, some 42 per cent of resources are for military personnel costs.  Civilian personnel costs account for 35 per cent, and operational costs for 20 per cent of the budget, while staff assessment comprises 3 per cent of the total.  Less than 1 per cent is related to other programmes. 


In its related report (document A/56/685) the ACABQ recalls the mission is going to be downsized from 7,865 as of 31 July 2001 to 5,000 by 30 June 2002, following the elections of the Constituent Assembly in August 2001.  As the requirements for the successor mission and assistance for the new government after independence are going to be submitted in the next report to the Assembly, the ACABQ recommends that the Assembly approve an appropriation of $455 million gross for the operations of UNTAET for the period of 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, inclusive of the amount already authorized and assessed ($282 million).  The recommended amount reflected a 7 per cent reduction from the budget proposed by the Secretary-General.

The Advisory Committee also recommends that the Assembly approve an additional assessment of $120 million gross, at a monthly rate of $20 million gross, for a total assessment of $402 million for the period 1 January to 30 June 2002.  It should also authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments (without assessment) in the amount of $53 million, should the Council extend the mandate of the Mission beyond 31 January 2002.  The Advisory Committee also draws attention to the fact that the proposed schedule for troop downsizing is not complemented by a corresponding schedule for the civilian staffing establishment.


The Advisory Committee further states that the report containing the cost estimates and assistance needs for the successor mission should be submitted as soon as the Security Council reviews the situation in East Timor.  That report should contain more accurate information on financial performance for the prior period, as well.  The ACABQ also notes that many aspects of the proposed downsizing, the requirements and the period for the successor mission still require further clarification.


The ACABQ also encourages UNTAET to give priority to the disposition of mission assets and questions the rationale for some of the non-recurrent expenditures, such as $283,000 for communications equipment, $610,000 for data processing, and some $1.06 million for infrastructure repairs.  Reductions are also recommended on the proposed estimates for air and surface freight costs.


MONUC


Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General containing the budget for MONUC for the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 (document A/56/660).  The budget, which amounts to some $537.05 million gross (about

$528.53 million net), is based on an authorized strength of 5,537 military personnel, including 810 observers, as authorized by Security Council resolution 1355 (2001) of June 2001.  Of the total budget, some 13 per cent of the resources are for civilian personnel costs, 59 per cent for operational costs, and 25 per cent for military personnel.


The Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to appropriate some

$337.05 million gross (about $333.71 million net) for the maintenance of the Mission for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, in addition to the amount of some

$200 million gross ($194.82 million net) appropriated under Assembly resolution 55/275 for 1 July to 31 December 2001.  The Assembly is asked to assess some $68.52 million gross (about $69.42 million net) for the maintenance of MONUC from 1 July to 31 December 2001.


In its related report (document A/56/688), the ACABQ recalls that because of the circumstances related to the United Nations involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was no formal budget for the operations of the Mission for the periods ending 30 June 2001 and 30 June 2002.  A report of such size and complexity requires more time than was available to the ACABQ to properly fulfil its function.  As such, the ACABQ has not yet examined many issues concerning MONUC, including those related to the concept and structure of the Mission, posts and operational requirements.  It will revert to the matter in February 2002 when it examines peacekeeping operations.

Regarding the deployment of civilian personnel, the ACABQ was informed that the Mission intended to deploy 1,454 civilian personnel by 31 March 2002, including 13 civilian police, 733 international staff, 623 local staff and

85 United Nations Volunteers.  The ACABQ was informed that as of December 2001, 900 staff were in the Mission area and 140 were travelling.  Pending its examination of the estimates for 2001/2002, the ACABQ recommends that the staffing levels be maintained at the level of 1,040.  The ACABQ is not in a position to pronounce itself on the organizational structure or the grade levels of the related posts.  It will do so when it examines the full budget for 2001/2002 in February 2002.  Pending that examination and subsequent consideration by the Fifth Committee, proposed organizational changes and reclassifications should not be implemented. 


The ACABQ reiterates its view that staff employed against posts that are not eventually approved by the Assembly should be accommodated against vacancies until the expiry of their contracts, if necessary.  As indicated in a previous report, the Advisory Committee recognizes that the Secretary-General should have authority to manage the staffing of the Mission with flexibility.  It should not be assumed, however, that the General Assembly would approve a requested post at the level of an incumbent temporarily placed against a vacant post.


Taking into account its earlier comments that ex-post facto appropriation of amounts already assessed should be avoided, and to provide bridge financing for the Mission's operations, the ACABQ recommends that the Assembly approve the appropriation with assessment of some $193.24 million gross (about $190.72 million net) for 1 January to 31 March 2002.  The ACABQ recommends that the funding be granted without prejudice to recommendations that the Advisory Committee might make to the Assembly in the spring of 2002, and any decision that the Assembly might take thereon regarding budgetary and administrative matters, including posts, concerning the Mission.


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