19 March 2009
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

35th Meeting (AM)




$140.7 Million Requested for Mission Expansion,

Following 15 March Transfer of Authority from European Union Force

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the Secretary-General’s request to commit $140.7 million to deploy an estimated 4,000 troops to Chad and to carry out related upgrades to existing military facilities and assets, as part of the transfer of authority between the European Union Force and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) that took place on 15 March.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s note (document A/63/727), Jun Yamazaki, Controller, said the Security Council extended the Mission’s mandate in January to 15 March 2010.  It also authorized the deployment of its military component to follow up the European Union Force in both Chad and the Central African Republic at the end of that Force’s mandate in mid-March.  The Council decided to assign 300 police officers to MINURCAT, along with 25 military liaison officers, 5,200 military personnel and an appropriate number of civilian personnel.

Mr. Yamazaki said the amount of $140.7 million included the nearly $49.9 million previously authorized by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), and came on top of $301.1 million already appropriated for the maintenance of MINURCAT from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Susan McLurg, introduced her Committee’s report (document A/63/768), saying it recommended approval, but also cautioned against the Secretary-General’s increasing tendency to request commitment authority even though a fully detailed budget was still pending -- an action he was authorized to take under General Assembly resolution 49/233, but only as a short-term funding bridge mechanism.

She pointed out cases where assumptions in the MINURCAT budget were likely to change, and recommended that updated information on the Mission’s planning assumptions be provided to the Assembly.  In one instance, around $67.9 million of the total amount requested had been earmarked for rehatting 1,440 existing European Union troops in March, and deploying, in phases, an additional 2,810 troops by the end of June.  But, she and other members of the Advisory Committee were “unconvinced” that MINURCAT would be fully deployed by that date. 

She also noted that plans were in place to use $60 million to repair or upgrade European Union facilities and infrastructure, including airfields, but observed that the United Nations will not have use of all those facilities, as hoped.  New camps would have to be built as a result, which she said was likely to be reflected in the budget submission for 2009-2010.

As for plans to use $12.9 million to reconfigure the Mission’s air fleet, in which 16 helicopters, one small and one medium fixed-wing aircraft would be added, she encouraged the Secretary-General to explore opportunities to share air assets with other United Nations operations in the region, in order to trim down spending.

The representative of Namibia, who was the sole speaker on the issue of MINURCAT, said she noted the Secretary-General’s request for commitment authority, with assessment, and fully agreed with the recommendations and observations of the Advisory Committee.  Speaking on behalf of the African Group, she said she intended to engage constructively during informal consultations on the matter.

On other matters, the representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed disappointment with the late submission of documents for the meetings of the Fifth Committee, and highlighted ACABQ for being behind its proposed schedule for such items as safety and security, information and communication technology and special political missions.

She said there was no excuse for not producing the report on safety and security before the session, for example, as the Secretary-General’s relevant report had been issued in December 2008.  She asked if the Advisory Committee Chairman had taken measures to speed up the Committee’s work and whether it had considered starting meetings earlier or working in the evenings to deliver.  She also said its reports were not always of adequate quality, offering no “real budgetary insights”. 

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, joined the European Union in expressing frustration over the situation with the documentation.

Explaining that the Advisory Committee “did not receive reports six weeks in advance”, Ms. McLurg said she would appreciate if Member States “stopped slamming the ACABQ”.  The complex and controversial issues brought out divergent views that needed time to sort out, or draft reports were wanting of additional information, she explained, adding that the Fifth Committee and the Secretariat, too, might benefit from re-examining their work processes.

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For information media • not an official record