|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
10th Meeting (AM)
Secretary-General Introduces $4.89 Billion 2010-2011 Budget to Fifth Committee,
Says Will Work with Member States ‘in Full Partnership’ on Final Document
Speakers Caution Proposal Incomplete, Total Could Be Considerably Higher;
Many Say Priorities ‘Out of Balance’, with Development Aspects Short-changed
Presented with the Organization’s 2010-2011 budget that approached $5 billion today, numerous members of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) advocated strict financial discipline, close scrutiny of requirements, clear prioritization and redeployment of resources from lower-priority areas, while also insisting on the need to present a full picture of all requirements at the time of the introduction of the budget proposal.
Introduced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning, the $4.89 billion proposed budget reflects an overall real growth of $22.4 million, or 0.5 per cent. After adjustments for inflation and currency exchange fluctuations, the proposals amount to some $5.06 billion.
The Secretary-General said that the proposals took into account the global economic and financial crisis and reflected his full commitment to enforcing strict budgetary discipline, and balancing growth in some areas with reallocation and realignment in others. In formulating the proposals, programme managers had been requested to critically scrutinize all activities, focusing on results and the optimization of resources. The budget reflected the priorities identified by the General Assembly for the next biennium and was broadly in line with the $4.87 billion budget outline, which had been approved last year.
Among other priorities, the Secretary-General also mentioned the need to end micromanagement, stressing the importance of creating an environment of trust, based on a strong system of accountability, both within the Secretariat and between the Secretariat and Member States. It was also necessary to consolidate the number of budget fascicles, which now stood at over 40. That would help to streamline the budget and increase managerial flexibility. Also needed was an alternative funding arrangement for special political missions.
Concluding, the Secretary-General said, “I am committed to working with you in full partnership and through transparent dialogue. I am eager to hear your advice and look forward to continuing our shared efforts to realize the great aims of this Organization.”
Presenting the views of the Rio Group, the representative of Mexico expressed concern that financial requirements for special political missions -- the main cause for the budget’s growth -- had practically doubled in comparison with the previous biennium and could presumably exceed $1 billion. He also noted the importance of meeting the mandates of the Organization in an efficient and balanced way with regard to the three pillars of peace and security; development; and human rights.
Nicaragua’s representative agreed that, while peace and security, development, and human rights were recognized as the three pillars of the Organization’s work, development was still the “Cinderella” of the regular budget. It was inconceivable that the Development Account only represented 0.38 per cent of the incomplete proposed budget.
Many speakers commented on the fact that, with additional requirements to be presented in separate reports for enterprise resource planning, business continuity management safety and security, programme budget implications of various decisions, and revised estimates, the total amount of the budget could reach $5.4 billion.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that it would be a very substantial increase, which the European Union, as the largest contributor, would be unable to resource. A more reasonable budget level must be found.
Expressing regret that the proposed budget was not complete, he said that, at a minimum, estimates of expected additional resources could have been provided, where possible, along with a clear order of priority for the use of resources in the most effective and efficient way.
The representative of the Russian Federation called on the Secretary-General to use all means at his disposal to avoid a piecemeal budget presentation, which hindered adoption of informed decisions. It was imperative to pay attention to the financial and budgetary rules and regulations established by the Assembly and harmonize new initiatives with the budget cycle.
Insisting on the principle of zero budget growth, Japan’s representative said it would encourage international organizations to examine alternative ways to achieve mandated activities in a more cost-effective manner and to be creative in finding ways to revitalize themselves. To achieve that goal, it was necessary to strictly follow established budgetary procedures and methodology; contain additional expenditures within the agreed level of the contingency fund; and meet budgetary requirements through redeployment.
The representative of the United States said that the work of the Fifth Committee should be guided by several fundamental principles, including results-based budgeting and value for money. Too often, expected results were vague and their relationship to the objectives approved by Member States was unclear. To base their decisions on actual results, Member States must require specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound indicators of achievement from the Secretariat. Without that, there would be no accountability. Also, in a budget as large as the United Nations, it was important to search for efficiencies through new technologies and simplified procedures and redeploy resources from lower- to higher-priority areas.
Several speakers, including the representative of the Sudan, who spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, also expressed concern over the high level of extrabudgetary contributions, amounting to $9.3 billion -– about twice the amount of the regular budget. He said that had created a crisis of governance, whereby legislative bodies approved mandates and priorities, while voluntary contributions were often used to bend priorities towards specific mandates. That had created two classes of mandates: a privileged one that benefited from a constant flow of resources; and a neglected one that was constantly underfunded. Rejecting that double standard, he said that all the mandates approved by intergovernmental organs, in particular those related to development activities, must receive predictable and adequate funding.
Also participating in the debate were representatives of Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Angola (on behalf of the African Group), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), China, Senegal, Morocco, Norway, Cuba, Thailand and the Republic of Korea.
The Chairman, Peter Maurer ( Switzerland), made a brief introductory statement. The report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) was introduced by its Chair, Susan McLurg.
The Secretary-General asked for a minute of silence at the opening of the meeting, in honour of the victims of yesterday’s deadly attack on a United Nations guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The Committee will continue its consideration of the proposed budget for 2010-2011 at 10 a.m. Friday, 30 October.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to begin its consideration of the main issue of the current session -- the budget of the United Nations for the coming biennium -- and several related issues.
Forwarding his $4.89 billion budget proposal to the Assembly (documents A/64/6, Introduction and Sections 1-36, Income Sections 1-3), the Secretary-General emphasizes that the focus of the Organization should be on achieving results as opposed to generating outputs. The document also takes into account the complex multiple crises facing humankind, including energy, food, climate change and the global economic recession.
Prepared on the basis of a preliminary $4.87 billion budget outline, the proposals reflect the main priorities of the Organization, as set out in the strategic framework for 2010-2011. The budget reflects a thorough analysis and review of resources and activities, with extensive consultations with programme managers. Consistent with previous bienniums, in setting proposals for 2010-2011, strict budgetary discipline has been followed.
The Organization needs to be stronger and more effective, the Secretary-General writes, expressing his commitment to implementing management reforms to promote greater transparency, accountability and efficiency. The budget also contains requirements for continuing costs of the implementation of an enterprise resource (ERP) planning system and training for the introduction of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Resources will also be allocated to investing in staff to ensure they have the necessary skills and to develop a more productive, flexible and results-oriented Organization. An integrated human resources framework is being implemented to strengthen the human resources capacity of the Organization and encourage mobility, staff training and leadership development.
Budget proposals reflect an overall real growth of $22.4 million, or 0.5 per cent. Adjustments to the staffing table would result in a net decrease of 24 posts. While there will be 53 more Professional posts, there will be 77 fewer posts in the General Service and related categories.
After recosting, which involves adjusting the budget figure to account for inflation and currency exchange fluctuations, proposals amount to some $5.06 billion. The budget will be adjusted again prior to its adoption by the Assembly in December.
The budget proposal includes adjustments in the amount of $136.8 million for the delayed impact of new posts established in 2008-2009, as well as one-time costs approved specifically for that biennium. A total of $829 million is included for special political missions.
The recommendations contained in a related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/64/7) seek to ensure the most efficient use of resources to effectively meet the Organization’s changing requirements. Finding itself, by and large, in agreement with the proposed overall budget level, the Advisory Committee has refrained from providing a total costing for its recommendations, since, if accepted by the Assembly, those will be taken into account in the recalculation prior to the adoption of the budget. The ACABQ has also pointed to areas in which economies can be achieved, without making specific recommendations for a reduction.
The Advisory Committee recalls that it has consistently pointed to the need to go beyond incremental budgeting and to evaluate and consider the entire quantum of resources needed. In this connection, it reiterates its recommendation that, from the biennium 2010-2011, revised estimates in respect of requirements that were foreseeable at the time of budget preparation include an explanation and justification as to why those requirements were not included in the proposal.
The Advisory Committee encourages further development and consolidation of the results-budgeting approach, emphasizing that presentation of the budget should reflect the work programme of departments/offices, which should be formulated around a set of predefined objectives and expected accomplishments, along with activities and outputs required to achieve those accomplishments. It should also provide justification for resource requirements and explanations of structural change. The ACABQ points out that simple enumeration of outputs is not sufficient to illustrate linkages between resources and the achievement of objectives. The list of outputs provided in the context of the logical frameworks may comply with results-based-budgeting procedures, but has not proven to be particularly informative since the introduction of results-based budgeting.
The Organization has been in a state of almost continuous reform since the 1990s, the report states. In this connection, the Advisory Committee reiterates that sufficient time must be allowed for reform measures to be fully implemented in order to provide an opportunity to evaluate whether the intended goals of the reform have been achieved. This year’s budget proposal should have provided more information on major management issues and structural changes affecting the requirements. The ACABQ was disappointed that the proposal does not consistently draw a clear link between recent policy initiatives and resource requirements. The budget for 2012-2013 should provide a clear picture of reform measures taken, their budgetary implications and efficiency gains, as well as an assessment of progress in accomplishing the objectives.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of projects financed from the Development Account (document A/64/89) -- a programme aiming at enhancing capacities of developing countries in the priority areas of the United Nations Development Agenda. Since its establishment in 1997, 138 projects have been or are being implemented under six consecutive tranches, for an overall budget of $92.5 million, and preparations for the launch of the seventh tranche have been made in the context of the 2010-2011 budget proposal.
The Secretary-General reports that management of the Development Account has been further strengthened. Given that substantial growth in the scope and complexity of the Account, the ability to sustain improvements and further enhance the Account will depend on identifying ways to provide further support to the functions of programming, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
The Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC), in its report on the 2010-2011 budget proposal for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (document A/64/86), draws attention to its report regarding vacancies in the OIOS (A/63/737) and reiterates that particular attention should be paid to filling vacant posts expeditiously. On executive management, it supports changes that will facilitate improvements to the efficient and timely recording of the status of the implementation of recommendations.
Among other comments with regard to internal audit, the IAAC expresses its belief that the previous budget determined the extent of coverage, with the audit workplan, rather than the general workplan determining the level of resources required. The Committee, therefore, makes no comment on that item for the period. It further recommends that the OIOS design a plan to complete its risk analysis, taking into account its views on the effect of controls that management has put in place to mitigate risks, so as to move from an incremental budget process to a fully risk-based process in time for the next biennial budget.
The IAAC recommends the approval of the proposed budget for inspection and evaluation, on the basis of the workplan. On investigations, while recognizing the reactive nature of that function, the IAAC still believes it should be possible for the OIOS to prepare a workplan based on its existing caseload, planned projects, and an estimate of cases to be taken on. Given that the budget proposal in this area is based on the revised appropriations for 2008-2009, rather than on the investigations workplan, the IAAC makes no comment on the level of the budget. Finally, the Committee supports the restructure proposed by the OIOS, in principle.
The report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on liaison offices of members of the United Nations system (document A/63/151) notes such offices serve both to gather information for their parent organizations and to represent and promote their interests at headquarters. In recent years, nearly all liaison offices have participated in the inter-agency reform of the United Nations, expending much energy, sometimes at the expense of other functions.
The report contains several recommendations aiming to increase liaison offices’ effectiveness and efficiency, and to enhance their accountability. Among them are providing core funding from parent organizations’ budgets for the offices’ representation function; setting priorities grounded in results-based management; optimizing the use of skills of current staff and staff sent from headquarters without impinging on the director’s authority or the cohesion of the office; ensuring proper succession through competitive and fully transparent processes; providing learning opportunities for staff; using modern technologies; and ensuring adequate audit coverage, based on proper risk assessment.
A related note by the Secretary-General (document A/63/151/Add.1) presents the views of the system organizations on the recommendations contained in the JIU report. Member organizations of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) welcome the detailed survey contained in the report and generally accept its recommendations.
Also before the Committee were: the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) (document A/64/16) and consolidated reports on changes to the biennial programme plan as reflected in the programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009 (documents A/64/73 and Corr.1) and changes to the biennial programme plan as reflected in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/64/74), which were introduced on 13 October. (For summary of the reports, see Press Release GA/AB/3920.)
And finally, the Committee had before it two reports on OIOS audits of human resources management and mandate implementation at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (documents A/64/201 and A/64/203 and Corr.1).
The first of those documents points to the need for additional delegation of authority and notes “sometimes blurred accountability for management decisions” at the Office, but finds that, overall, the recruitment of staff in the Office was fair and competitive. With regard to the recruitment of consultants, however, Office programme managers often relied on informal contacts to source candidates -- a practice that lacked transparency and contributed to perceptions of bias.
The fact that the average number of days taken to fill Office vacancies was 241, compared with the goal of 120 days in the action plan, could be attributed to both internal and external factors, the report states. Those included a large number of applications and cancellation of many vacancy announcements, which were later reissued. Since February 2008, the Deputy High Commissioner has instituted mechanisms to closely monitor the vacancy situation and given top priority to vacancy management.
The report also addresses the issue of geographical distribution at the Office, stating that, of the 220 candidates selected from 2005 to 2008, 21 were recruited from unrepresented and underrepresented countries, 65 from overrepresented countries, and 134 from countries within the desirable range. The OIOS believes that the Office needs to develop a strategy to enhance the recruitment of staff from unrepresented and underrepresented countries.
On the implementation of the Office mandate, the OIOS finds, among other things, that the rapid growth of Office field operations has not been fully coherent and that more explicit terms of engagement would increase its effectiveness. Also recommended is a more coordinated approach to partnerships and strengthened follow-up to the work of human rights bodies. The OIOS also identifies management challenges in the Office, including unclear leadership direction, inefficient coordination, and undocumented processes for some critical tasks.
The OIOS concludes that, despite its considerable achievements, the Office needs to sharpen its strategic focus and better prioritize its work. The impact of the Office will be greatest if it focuses on the areas in which it has greatest comparative advantage in promoting and protecting human rights, including enhanced monitoring and assessment of the human rights situation around the world.
Reflected in the report is the extensive mandate of the Office, which is facing a complex political environment and increasing, occasionally conflicting expectations from the United Nations system and the international community. Entering a period of consolidation after rapid growth in recent years, the Office has a recently appointed High Commissioner, committed staff and the goodwill of its partners. The OIOS regards this as an opportunity for the Office to refocus and build on its unique assets and considerable achievements.
Contained in an addendum to the report (document A/64/203/Add.1) are the Secretary-General’s comments on the recommendations and observations of the OIOS.
Introduction of Budget
As he welcomed the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the opening of the meeting, the Chair of the Committee, PETER MAURER ( Switzerland), said that the Fifth Committee had a reputation of a body that brought together “difficult personalities” dealing with difficult questions that often entailed difficult procedures. Based on his initial experience as the Chairman of the Committee, he had a more nuanced view of what “difficult” meant. It was well known that budgetary difficulties grew out of the growing needs of the international community as it sought to respond to the challenges of today’s world, worsened by the current global crisis, in the face of limited means. Difficulties also arose from the need to adapt in innovative ways to new world realities. A particular effort was needed to reach a compromise acceptable to all.
Difficulties also arose because of the particularly challenging agenda of the Fifth Committee, which was dealing with such complex issues as the budget of the Organization and the scale of assessments simultaneously. Administrative and budgetary issues were complex in their nature. However, difficulties should not discourage the delegates. He had found that the delegates of the Committee were far less “difficult” than their reputation would have one believe. The Committee had begun its work and was working in an atmosphere of collegiality. The Bureau and coordinators of negotiations on particular issues were making a serious and committed effort to achieve consensus. That effort was facilitated by the Committee’s Secretariat.
Presenting his 2010-2011 budget proposal, Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that it had been prepared with his full involvement -- from the strategic framework to the budget outline, culminating in the finalization of the proposals. The proposals took into account the global economic and financial crisis and reflected his full commitment to enforcing strict budgetary discipline, balancing growth in some areas with reallocation and realignment in others.
In formulating the proposals, programme managers had been requested to critically scrutinize all activities and their related resources, to focus on results and the optimization of those resources, he said. The proposed budget of about $4.89 billion, before recosting, reflected the priorities identified by the General Assembly for the next biennium and was broadly in line with the level of the outline approved in General Assembly resolution 63/266.
“As you know, the United Nations faces increasing demands for its services”, he continued, stressing his commitment, as chief administrative officer, to management reform and to greater transparency, accountability and efficiency. Towards that end, the proposed programme budget reflected continuing costs of implementing an ERP system, as well as training related to IPSAS. Resources had also been allocated to ensure that staff had the skills necessary to meet the evolving needs of the Organization. An integrated human resources framework was being implemented to strengthen the Organization’s capacity and to support mobility and leadership development.
Regarding the inclusion in the budget of $829 million for special political missions that were expected to be extended or approved in the course of the biennium, he said that the Committee would soon receive detailed proposals to allocate that provision for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and 27 other areas.
In keeping with established practice, a number of significant requirements had not been included in the proposals and would be presented in separate reports, as necessary, he continued. Those included administrative and financial implications arising from the report of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board; business continuity management; implementation of ERP above the amount already included, Enterprise Content Management and Customer Relationship Management Systems, a proposal for a unified Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan; proposed funding for after-service health insurance benefits; requirements that might arise from the follow-up to the Durban Review Conference and the upcoming Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change; matters which could arise from the Main Committees during the sixty-fourth session; mandatory technical adjustments to account for changes in inflation and exchange rates; and finally, the strengthened and unified security management system.
The latter should be of paramount importance to everybody, he said, pointing out that his proposals would enable the Organization to strengthen security for its staff, their dependants and United Nations premises. He urged Member States to consider those proposals favourably. “After all, our people are your people”, he said.
In addition, the Main Committees and the General Assembly were concurrently considering various other proposals, making it even more challenging to provide Member States with a fully funded budget proposal. The Secretariat would also revert to the Fifth Committee on any funding requirements that might arise. The Secretary-General looked forward to the Committee’s advice and thanked it for the guidance provided to date. He also looked forward to the Committee’s recommendations on ways to improve the budget process.
Advocating an increase in budget flexibility, he recalled that, towards that end, the Assembly had authorized, on an experimental basis, limited discretion for the past two bienniums. That experience had been positive, but it was possible to go further still. Drawing on the lessons learned, the Secretary-General intended to propose the continuation of the limited budgetary discretion mechanism and any amendments to the conditions, as deemed necessary. Over the past 10 months, participants in informal consultations between the Secretariat and some Member States had generally agreed that the existing process no longer met the needs of the Organization, and that the matter should addressed at three levels: within the Secretariat, between Member States and the Secretariat, and between Member States.
Elaborating on his top three priorities, he said that, first of all, there was a need to end micromanagement, whether real or perceived. It was important to create an environment of trust, based on a strong system of accountability, both within the Secretariat and between the Secretariat and Member States. Second, it was necessary to consolidate the number of budget fascicles. At the moment, there were more than 40, when half that number would suffice. That would help to streamline the budget and increase managerial flexibility. Third, there was a need for an alternative funding arrangement for special political missions. Those three issues would be addressed in a report that he was planning to submit during the main part of this session. The report would provide information on the findings of the budgetary review process, and would offer a preview of forthcoming initiatives.
“I am committed to working with you in full partnership and through transparent dialogue”, he said in conclusion. “I am eager to hear your advice and look forward to continuing our shared efforts to realize the great aims of this Organization.”
Introducing the report of the ACABQ, its Chair, SUSAN MCLURG, said that, while it appeared that the Secretary-General had made an effort to exercise a degree of budgetary restraint, the proposed budget did not provide for a number of requirements that had been or would be addressed in separate reports. It, therefore, did not give a full picture of the Organization’s requirements for the biennium. The Advisory Committee intended to deal with those additional matters as they arose during the current session. In the meantime, it had considered the estimates placed before it on their own merits.
The Advisory Committee had been disappointed that the proposed budget did not provide more information on major management initiatives and structural changes affecting the resource requirements. It had pointed out that the Organization had been in a state of almost continuous reform since the 1990s and emphasized that sufficient time must be allowed for reform measures to be fully implemented and consolidated in order to provide an opportunity to evaluate whether the intended goals of the reform had been achieved.
During its consideration of the budget proposal, it had come to the Advisory Committee’s attention that no entity in the United Nations had a true picture of actual vacancies. For budgetary purposes, a post was defined as vacant only if no person was charged against it, while, for the purposes of human resources management, a vacancy was understood to constitute a post available for recruitment or placement. However, the ACABQ had been informed that information on posts available for recruitment or placement could not be provided, since it would require a manual analysis of data from two disparate systems, Galaxy and the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS). In order to support effective workforce and succession planning, it was imperative that that was based on such information. The Committee had been informed that a total of 518 staff, or 5 per cent, were projected to retire during the coming biennium. The Secretary-General should, as part of normal practice, use the opportunity of vacancies due to retirements to examine the continuing need for a post.
On information and communications technology (ICT), she said that effective leadership of the Chief Information Technology Officer and the Office of Information and Communications Technology would be required to ensure successful integration of central ICT functions across the Secretariat. Equally important, in the view of the Advisory Committee, was the commitment by heads of departments and offices to cooperate with the Office of Information and Communications Technology in order to maximize the benefits derived from the Member States’ significant investments in information technology. The Advisory Committee was in the process of finalizing its report on the Secretary-General’s proposals regarding the ERP project and other information technology initiatives. The proposed resource requirements for those initiatives for 2010-2011 would total some $35 million.
Turning to construction and major maintenance, she said that the ACABQ continued to believe that the arrangements for planning, managing and monitoring projects for the development of new facilities and major maintenance, as well as procedures for approval of such projects, required a thorough review. The time had come for the Organization to put together a forward-looking plan for regular preventive maintenance of the Organization’s properties.
On the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, she said that, over the next five years, the Department would experience the retirement of some 45 per cent of its language staff. The ACABQ had repeatedly urged the Secretariat to increase the number of competitive examinations, which, it should be recalled, were the only means of recruitment for language staff. The Committee, therefore, called once again upon the Department and the Office of Human Resources Management to agree, as a matter of urgency, on adequate measures to ensure prompt organization and scheduling of the necessary examinations. The ACABQ noted the workload placed on the Conference Services Division at the United Nations Office at Geneva, as a result of the activities of the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies. It had recommended that the Secretary-General monitor the situation closely and had urged the Department to explore, within the framework of its integrated global management initiative, opportunities for sharing the additional documentation workload among all four conference-servicing duty stations and to pursue its efforts to achieve the most efficient use of its resources.
With respect to the Department of Political Affairs, the ACABQ had only just received the bulk of the budgets for the special political missions, totalling some $599 million for 2010, and would be reporting separately on those missions. Within the context of the budget proposal, the Secretary-General had proposed to integrate most of United Nations Truce Supervision Organization’s (UNTSO)’s administrative and logistical support and related assets for the Observer Group Lebanon and Observer Group Golan into the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIL) and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The Advisory Committee had been unable to ascertain whether that proposal constituted a transfer of resources from one programme to another, or a real reduction resulting from more efficient use of resources. As a result, the ACABQ had not been in position to endorse the proposal on the basis of the information provided.
As with the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, the proposed sections under international and regional cooperation for development had recently been the subject of significant reform measures, which needed to be given time to take effect. The ACABQ had, therefore, taken recent reforms into account when reviewing those parts of the budget. The Advisory Committee was concerned about the current arrangements, whereby the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States was responsible for three separate functions. The Committee was concerned that current arrangements could undermine the dedicated high-level attention necessary to ensure adequate advocacy and mobilization of international support to address the special needs of those groups of Member States. It was necessary to fill the post of Special Adviser for Africa expeditiously, as called for by the General Assembly.
The Assembly had recently approved a number of human resources management reform measures that would have far-reaching effects. In its report, the Advisory Committee had, therefore, limited its discussion on personnel matters and would revert to them in the context of its report on human resources management to the sixty-fifth session.
She added that the Advisory Committee was still expecting to receive the Secretary-General’s budget proposals for the Department for Safety and Security, and that it had just completed its review of the proposals on business continuity, submitted in the amount of some $9.7 million.
MAGID YOUIF (Sudan), speaking on behalf or the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the budget document should reflect the strategic vision of the Secretary-General in delivering the mandates and priorities decided upon by the Member States. He expressed concern that efforts to restrain the budget’s growth, including the 2 per cent cut requested of programme managers last year without the endorsement of the General Assembly, might jeopardize the effective implementation of mandates. Using the financial and economic crisis as a reason to control the Organization’s budget was a flawed argument.
Trillions of dollars in stimulus packages had been spent over the last year to save the banking system and the international financial architecture, as well as the overall world economy, he noted. The United Nations, as an organization that assisted the poorest and most vulnerable countries, should provide them with additional resources to cope with the global economic crisis that had been initiated in the North, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Instead, the Organization seemed to be moving in the opposite direction. There was a tendency to cut funds, rather than enhancing development strategy in a time of crisis.
The Group believed that the budget document presented today needed improvement, so that it would adequately reflect the priorities decided upon by the General Assembly. The proposed budget was unbalanced in its substance, to the detriment of the developing world. That negatively affected the Organization’s capacity to deliver on mandates for all three main pillars: peace and security; human rights; and development. He further emphasized the link between development and peace and security. The regular budget should provide a more ambitious role for development in the Secretariat, alongside the necessary resources from assessed contributions.
The role of the regional commissions should also be strengthened in implementing the development agenda. Efficient management of the Development Account had proven to be an appropriate tool for coping with the evolving needs of the development agenda, yet amounted to only 0.38 per cent of the budget, with a proportional decrease vis-à-vis the previous two bienniums. That fell short of the General Assembly’s original intent to establish a dividend for development of $200 million. The Group strongly supported establishing a funding mechanism through the regular budget.
Given the Organization’s indispensable role in world affairs, the Group was concerned at the growing imbalance between assessed and voluntary contributions. Extrabudgetary resources had reached a level nearly twice that of the regular budget. That had a created a crisis of governance, whereby legislative bodies approved mandates and priorities, while voluntary contributions were often used to bend priorities towards specific mandates. That had created two classes of mandates: a privileged one that benefited from a constant flow of resources; and a neglected one that was constantly underfunded. The Group firmly rejected that double standard, he said. “[A]ll mandates approved by all intergovernmental organs, in particular those related to development activities, must receive predictable and adequate funding”, he said.
The Group also demanded greater transparency and accountability over extrabudgetary resources, he said, joining ACABQ’s recommendation that all such resources should be administered and managed with the same rigour as regular budget funds. “[P]riorities decided by the General Assembly must be taken with the same seriousness as the decisions of the Security Council”, he said. “The voices of the majority of the Member States must be heard and listened to.” As long as there was continued imbalance, and a lack of transparency and accountability, the Group would take a cautious approach towards requests to provide the Secretariat with greater flexibility than it already enjoyed.
The budget of the special political missions had grown from $100 million to an estimated $1 billion between 2000 and 2010, he said. That represented 20 per cent of the regular budget, and distorted the real increase in the latter. The Group would not allow priority activities funded by the regular budget to be jeopardized by the increase in expenses for special political missions.
He expressed concern that the ACABQ had infringed on the prerogatives of the Committee on Programme and Coordination, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, in that it had made recommendations on issues related to the logical framework of the proposed budget. Further, he called on the Secretary-General to abide by the mandates approved by the Assembly in resolutions 62/236 and 63/260, and urged him to urgently fill the post of Special Adviser for Africa.
In conclusion, he emphasized that budget negotiations must be open, transparent and inclusive. Mistakes of the past, such as working out deals in small groups or linking different Fifth Committee agenda issues to the budget, must be avoided, as they disrupted the budget negotiation process and contributed to mistrust and polarization among Member States.
ANDERS LIDEN ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that all resources of the Organization must be used in the most efficient and effective way, and with the same strict budgetary discipline that Member States must apply.
The initial budget proposal for the biennium 2010-2011 amounted to $4.89 billion, an increase of $22.4 million, or 0.5 per cent above the revised appropriation for the current biennium and of $16.4 million above the budget outline decided in December last year. Further, it was an increase by $700 million, or 17 per cent, over the initial appropriation for the current biennium, as decided in December 2007. In addition, the amount did not represent full expected costs for proposals that would be considered during the main session, such as the preliminary estimates for recosting, additional requirements for ERP, business continuity management and safety and security, programme budget implications, and revised estimates. The total amount was more likely to be $5.3 billion to $5.4 billion.
That would be a very substantial increase, which, the European Union, as the largest contributor, would be unable to resource, he continued. A more reasonable budget level must be found. Further, the Union believed that a fair and more balanced way to share budgetary responsibilities was essential to the Organization’s effective functioning.
He expressed regret that the proposed budget was not complete and stressed that, at minimum, estimates of expected additional resources could have been provided, where possible, along with a clear order of priority for the use of resources in the most effective and efficient way. General Assembly resolution 62/236 had requested the Secretary-General to avoid a piecemeal approach to the budget process to ensure the fullest possible picture of the Organization’s requirements for future bienniums. He trusted that future budget submissions would comply with the established budget process set out in Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211.
Strict budgetary discipline and consideration of additional requirements implied a need to carefully study possibilities for the redeployment of resources and cross-cutting of savings, including with regard to recurrent expenditures, and going beyond incremental budgeting, he said, concurring with ACABQ. In the current financial climate, the Secretariat must set clear priorities. That would help Member States when considering proposals and deciding how to prioritize and use the Organization’s resources in the most effective and efficient way. A clearer results-oriented approach and more effective use of results-based budgeting was a management tool also critical to that end, he said.
JULIO CAMARENA VILLASEÑOR ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, noted that the budget being presented for consideration had reached $4.887 billion, which represented a 0.5 per cent increase. Obligations, in addition to the needs for financing peacekeeping operations, International Tribunals, and other activities dependent on the budget, required very responsible management of resources, as well as efficient accountability mechanisms.
The Group, noting the importance of meeting the priorities and mandates of the Organization in an efficient and balanced way, with regard to the three pillars of peace and security; development; and human rights, was concerned by the considerable increase in financial requirements for special political missions, which were the main cause for the budget’s growth, he said. Their financial requirement had practically doubled, in comparison with the previous biennium, and presumably exceeded $1 billion.
Further, he noted with concern that the budget proposal did not represent the total of requested resources, which would be completed with a series of additional requests at a later time, notably to strengthen the Department of Safety and Security and for Enterprise Resource Planning. That did not accord with sound budgetary practice. Future budget proposals must be comprehensive, he said. The Group disagreed with the selective approach to analysis of proposals not included in the budget. Proposed reforms must not hamper priorities already approved by intergovernmental bodies.
The Group would pay particular attention, during budget negotiations, to political affairs, disarmament -- including the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean -- peacekeeping operations, economic and social affairs -- including the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues -- the fight against hunger and poverty, the environment, the work of the regional commissions, human rights and humanitarian assistance, he said.
The Group consisted entirely of developing countries, he continued. The reality in which those countries lived urgently demanded proper financing for programmes aimed at achieving better living conditions for their people. He highlighted the importance of development issues in the budget, including international and regional cooperation for development, and particularly of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Efficient resource management was as important to human resource management as resources allocated for that purpose, he said, and urged the continued promotion of equitable geographical distribution and gender balance, particularly at the higher levels and in professional categories.
In his national capacity, Mr. Camarena Villaseñor said that the budget was again being presented in a piecemeal manner, contravening resolution 62/236. He regretted that the budget exclusively justified new requirements and took the budgetary base for granted. That approach would definitely lead to a constant increase of budgetary requirements and hindered a thorough analysis of financial resources as a whole.
It was unacceptable to Mexico that, if the proposals that had not been formally introduced to the Fifth Committee were taken into account, the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011 would exceed $5.3 billion. He regretted that the budget proposal did not reflect the budgetary austerity forced upon Member States by the world financial and economic crisis.
As one of the Organization’s main contributors, Mexico demanded that the Secretariat identify managerial improvements, savings, efficiency gains, and rationalize posts and structures with the Secretariat. A thorough study of the principles that applied to salaries and allowances of locally recruited staff, that would attach more importance to the conditions of local service in each duty station, was urgently needed. He proposed deferring consideration, without prejudice, of the so-called “add-ons” to the next biennium, unless the Assembly were able to find saving in other sections of the budget.
He urged the Assembly to find a more transparent and fair way to finance the special political missions. Mexico favoured a separate account for them, which should follow the scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said that this budget coincided with the most significant financial and economic crisis since the 1930s. As one would expect, therefore, Member States would be looking closely at the Organization’s finances, and the delegations he was speaking for were no exception. They would take a pragmatic approach to forthcoming negotiations and would carefully assess the reasonableness of the Secretariat’s estimates and recommendations of the ACABQ, focusing their efforts on areas where they could legitimately promote effectiveness, efficiency and overall financial discipline, while still providing for the necessary reforms and for the resources to ensure that the United Nations could meet its mandates.
He was disappointed that, despite the Secretariat’s efforts to provide Member States with the requisite documentation, the Committee had been presented with an incomplete budget. The so-called “add-ons” included additional, and in some cases significant, provisions for such important items as the ERP and safety and security. Irrespective of the merit of those individual proposals, he was concerned about the piecemeal nature of that approach, which undermined budget discipline, obscured full budget requirements, and put Member States in a difficult position of making important financial decisions without knowing the overall effect on the budget.
He said that late provision of detail on items that would form part of the additional budget envelope was of particular concern, because a number of those items had important implications for the future of the Organization and its people. The ERP project, for example, should be a fundamental piece of organizational modernization. If Member States were to hold the Secretariat accountable at the highest levels for effective and efficient implementation of mandates, they should give it the appropriate tools to do so. Although late documentation would make it difficult to engage in the timely debate on the project of that magnitude, he would examine closely the proposal with a view to reaching a timely outcome. Likewise, he was committed to an effective security management system. He was only all too aware that there had been nearly 40 deaths of United Nations staff in the field since June 2008. Attacks on United Nations staff were an attack on the very purposes of the United Nations. He expected the safety and security management review and associated budgetary proposal to offer a comprehensive picture of the improvements required and the means to ensure their timely and effective implementation.
The Secretary-General had been very active in recent months, seeking Member States’ opinion on budget process reform and urging the extension of the limited budgetary discretion, he continued. He looked forward to a specific proposal in that respect and was also keen to ensure that debate around broader budget process reform and reform of the working methods of the Fifth Committee and the ACABQ took place. He would look closely at the request from the ACABQ for additional resources, in that context. On the separate, yet related, matter of budget presentation, he believed that work needed to be done of results-based budgeting. An important breakthrough had been achieved some nine years ago, and he awaited application of better costing, measuring and benchmarking tools that could provide more useful information on performance and resource implications.
ELSA DE JESUS PATACA (Angola), speaking for the African Group, said the budget reflected the priorities the Assembly had identified for the 2010-2011 biennium and enabled the Secretary-General to reflect on the priorities and chart a strategic vision for implementation of mandates. The level of resource increase for that biennium over the previous was 0.5 per cent, which, in real terms, was insignificant. The application of measures leading to zero-nominal growth in the budget did not augur well and could impede implementation of mandates, especially those related to development. Measures to engender effectiveness should not be confused with the indiscriminate cost cutting that could bleed the Organization to ineffectiveness. Member States must study proposals to ensure the Organization’s vibrancy and relevance were not compromised.
The 2005 World Summit had reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations in promoting development, he recalled. The 2009 Conference on the Global Economic Crisis had achieved consensus on a number of issues, including the need to reform the international financial institutions. It was, therefore, disappointing to note that the proposed budget was manifestly skewed. Over 90 per cent of resources were dedicated to the two pillars of peace and security along with human rights, while only 10 per cent was proposed for development. No resource growth was even proposed for the Development Account. It was imperative that the level of activities of the Development Account be enhanced. Additional measures to enhance financing must be explored.
Moreover, he said the Secretary-General should report on the status of recruitment for the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa. Proposals for strengthening regional offices should be given further consideration to determine the extent to which concerns and priorities of Member States could be met. The allocation of resources among duty stations and offices in both developing and developed countries must be equitable, including the United Nations Office in Nairobi. Recruitment and placement within the Organization was of concern. The National Competitive Exam should be enhanced and bottlenecks addressed as a matter of priority.
Noting that extrabudgetary resources were expected to range near $9.33 billion in the 2010-1211 biennium, he said those funds were critical to operational activities, since 80 per cent of the regular budget was earmarked for personnel and common staff costs. However, there should not be undue reliance on those funds, since they had intergovernmental implications. Transparency and accountability in the approval, utilization and reporting process with regard to those resources must be enhanced to ensure they did not provide a secondary inlet for donors to facilitate recruitment of their own candidates.
Finally, he said he supported the development of a comprehensive long-term strategy with regard to facilities maintenance and called for an intensification of efforts to bring back on track the construction project at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa. Affirming the role of the General Assembly and of relevant intergovernmental and expert bodies, he emphasized the role of the Fifth Committee as the main body dealing with administrative, financial and budgetary questions.
HEIDI GRAU (Switzerland), also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, said that, with a revised appropriation of about $4.87 billion, the regular budget had grown by 17 per cent in real terms, compared with the budget of $4.17 billion approved by the Assembly roughly two years ago, rather than by the 0.5 per cent initially proposed by the Secretary-General. It was not difficult to predict that, at the end of the budget cycle 2010-2011, the Organization would face, once again, a budget growth that was well above the 0.5 per cent suggested by the Secretary-General today.
That was not the fault of the Secretariat or any other organ of the United Nations, she said. Rather, it was due to a flawed budget process that no longer met the needs of an Organization that was considerably larger, more decentralized and operational than 20 years ago. At present, budget negotiations were still predominantly input-driven, rather than results-driven, and reform and strengthening proposals were often disconnected from the regular budget process, which resulted in piecemeal budgeting and recurrent add-ons to the budget.
The United Nations budget process should be improved and streamlined, she said, welcoming the joint initiative by the Secretariat and Member States in that regard. The ultimate responsibility for a meaningful budget process lay with Member States, not the Secretariat. Even under current rules and regulations, a better budget process would be possible, for example, by not micromanaging the Secretariat by deciding whether a specific unit needs an additional General Service post or not.
She said she appreciated the guidance provided by the ACABQ with regard to cross-cutting issues. However, she would have liked more specific resource-related recommendations. In financial terms, the impact of the Advisory Committee on the proposed budget remained modest. The roles of the Fifth and Advisory Committees were distinct and complementary. The recommendations of the ACABQ should form a solid ground for the negotiations, allowing Member States to focus on strategic, overarching issues. Bearing in mind that division of labour, the delegations she represented were ready to endorse all economies recommended by the ACABQ. She invited all delegations to do likewise and to refrain from demanding the initial resource level, despite ACABQ recommendations. At the same time, that did not exclude further cost reductions that went beyond those of the Advisory Committee.
The regular budget of the United Nations had doubled in 10 years, she said. Today, in the face of an economic and financial crisis that seriously affected many countries’ capacity to pay, it was ever more necessary to strike a balance between living up to Member States’ own mandates and restricting excessive and unsustainable growth. However, radical budget cuts were very difficult to achieve and would probably weaken the Organization. Following considerable strengthening of different parts of the Secretariat, the medium-term objective was to let recent reform steps unfold their benefits, thereby moderating future budget growth.
In conclusion, she said administration of justice reform was among her priorities. Sufficient funding must be provided to ensure the smooth transition on that important function of the Secretariat. She also noted with satisfaction that the doubling of resources for the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be achieved in the coming biennium and welcomed the proposals aiming to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations Office at Geneva to support the work of the newly created mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. Also of the highest priority was internal and external oversight. It was essential to continue to support and strengthen the OIOS, and she concurred with the comments by the ACABQ and the IAAC, in that regard.
She added that many of the budget proposals to be presented to the Assembly later this year deserved full attention and should not be put aside for merely financial reasons. For example, the Organization desperately needed a state-of-the-art ERP system in order to effectively manage its human, financial and physical resources. It also needed an effective strategy for modern information and communications technology.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said the efficiency of resource utilization should be improved and that resources should be equitably distributed around the three pillars of peace and security, development and human rights. Administrative costs should be reduced to a minimum and efficiency should be steadily improved, so more resources can be allocated to development activities. Further, budget growth should be rational and appropriate, so as to guarantee the smooth functioning of the Organization in strengthening its role in international affairs. The principle to implement was the matching of practical needs with available resources, taking into full consideration the capacity of Member States to pay, especially developing Members. The budget should be formulated in the spirit of practising economy to avoid excessive growth.
In addition, he said budgets should be formulated for completeness. Recent biennial budgets had been open-ended and they had not provided for all needed resources. The need to add to the budget during the implementation period led to situations where revised biennial allocations far surpassed the approved budgets. For the 2010-2011 period, for example, there were no resources allocated for items that would be addressed in separate reports, such as a safety and security, business continuity management or ERP. The Secretariat had been requested to avoid a piecemeal approach to the budgetary process. The Secretariat should provide answers to the questions posed by the ACABQ on the budget.
Finally, he said result-based budgeting should be improved. Currently, it focused mainly on establishing the mechanism and meeting the budgetary process, but it did not reflect the managerial plans of the entities involved. The mechanism also did not apply itself as an effective managerial tool. Quantifying the resources devoted to outputs was key in result-based budgeting. The relationship between resources, output and performance was a key component. Instead of an exhaustive list of outputs in the budget report, there should be rationalizations to explain the relationship of outputs and resource requirements.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) expressed appreciation for the statements of the Group of 77 and China and of the African Group. Member States had an obligation to contribute to the activities of the Organization. Peace and security were major poles of Senegal’s foreign policy, but to attain those goals there must be adequate resources to put an end to poverty and underdevelopment. In that regard, he called on the Secretary-General to provide the resources for posts in trade and development and economic and social development in Africa, approved in General Assembly resolution 63/260, and also called attention to the need to support the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
He confirmed Senegal’s commitment for respecting human rights and welcomed the Assembly’s decision to double the budget of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights over five years, starting with the 2004-2005 budget. That had allowed the High Commissioner to set up an office for West Africa in Dakar, strengthening services to the region, which was important to development. Strengthening the human rights pillar required adequate resources for the Human Rights Council to carry out its Universal Periodic Reviews, which was essential to implementation of legal instruments on human rights.
Senegal commended actions taken to strengthen multilingualism and called for the staffing of all conference centres, especially the Centre in Nairobi. He called on the Secretary-General to create a strategy to fill vacant posts and those that might become vacant due to retirement. He urged Member States to find new modalities to fund the Development Account and proposed using consultants less frequently and the systematic use of videoconferencing to replace travel, to reduce expenditures.
SUSAN RICE (United States) recalled that, at the opening of the sixty-fourth General Assembly just a few weeks ago, President Obama had expressed the United States’ readiness to begin a new chapter of international cooperation -– one that recognized the rights and responsibilities of all nations. The programme budget of the United Nations provided an important opportunity for Member States to both clearly outline shared priorities for the Organization and to meet their financial responsibilities to provide the resources needed to meet those priorities. The United States had already shown its commitment to opening a new chapter of international cooperation. As a first step, it had recently made payments of over $1.2 billion to the Organization, dramatically reducing its arrears to the regular and peacekeeping budgets for the past decade. The United States had also paid its current peacekeeping dues.
Continuing, she stressed the importance of budgetary discipline, especially during the ongoing global financial crisis. The work of the Fifth Committee should be guided by several fundamental principles, including results-based budgeting and value for money. Too often, expected results were vague and their relationship to the objectives approved by Member States was unclear. A report issued by the OIOS last year concluded that “results actually produced do not guide General Assembly decision-making”. To base their decisions on actual results, Member States must require greatly improved indicators of achievement from the Secretariat that were specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Without that, they would not have the accountability they sought. Also, in a budget as large as the United Nations’, Member States must search, together with the Secretariat, to find efficiencies through new technologies and simplified procedures in all areas.
New requirements for resources must be closely scrutinized and weighed against existing commitments to determine appropriate priorities for today, she said. The Committee needed to identify resources -– including posts -– from lower-priority areas that should be redeployed to higher-priority ones. Resources related to programme activities based on earlier priorities must be deleted or reduced –- unless their continuing relevance could be clearly demonstrated through rigorous programme evaluations.
While continuing to review the details of the proposal, her delegation was pleased to see the priorities it gave to Part II, Political Affairs, Part IV, International Cooperation for Development, and Part V, Regional Cooperation for Development, she continued. That was appropriate, since special political missions and peacekeeping operations were critical priorities. The international and regional development activities also were central to the core mission of the United Nations and deserved strong support. The significant increase for Part VI, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, reflected a mutually recognized need for increased activity on those vital issues.
The United States joined with other Member States in seeking to ensure that the United Nations had the resources to effectively carry out its activities. It was critical that the Secretary-General present as soon as possible a comprehensive and transparent budget for the entire biennium that presented the full picture of anticipated requirements. Her Government shared the concern that the budget continued to be received in a piecemeal manner. That undermined the ability of Member States, at the outset, to make rational decisions about competing demands among important priorities. Member States must make sure that the budget reflected priorities and was based on sound programme planning, results-based budgeting, and a robust and effective system of independent oversight and evaluation. In the end, Member States must decide on a budget sufficient to implement the Organization’s priorities in the most efficient and effective way.
NOR DINE SADOUK ( Morocco) noted that the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011 reflected a modest 0.5 per cent increase. As all Member States were aware, United Nations activities in areas such as peace and security, development and human rights were steadily expanding. Yet, the resources allocated, namely in the area of development, fell short of expectations. In addition, resources were allocated in an imbalanced manner, rather than being tailored to meet the agenda, mandates and evolving needs of the Organization. Capabilities and capacities must be improved to fully implement mandates and ensure effective delivery in the areas of economic and social development, including by strengthening ECA through adequate resources.
In addition, he said the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa should be strengthened in terms of both human and financial resources. The process of appointing a Special Advisor for Africa should be expedited, as should that for the new Assistant Secretary-General to head the peacebuilding support office charged with supporting the Peacebuilding Commission.
Expressing support for the management reform process, he said the principles of transparency and accountability should be strengthened, both within the Secretariat and between the Secretariat and Member States. Achieving equitable geographical representation and gender balance should be priorities. Candidates from national competitive examinations should be placed expeditiously. Finally, in response to the significant increase in the workload of the ACABQ, he supported increasing its meeting time by four weeks per biennium.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) said that the United Nations was an imperfect, yet indispensable, institution, which should be further developed and strengthened. Only with a sufficient level of predictable funding would the Organization be able to implement its mandates effectively. Member States should not expect more from the United Nations than they were willing to invest in it, and they should honour their previous commitments. The outcome of the 2010-2011 budget negotiations was of fundamental importance for the operations of the United Nations and should reflect the collective priorities of its Member States. The budget should be fiscally sound and resources must be used effectively and efficiently.
Deeply concerned over the struggle many countries faced with handling the consequences of the financial crisis, Norway believed, however, that in the midst of such a crisis it was even more important to invest in the United Nations. Norway was the third largest contributor to the United Nations humanitarian and development efforts. Its overall development budget, including its contribution to the United Nations, continued to increase.
Recent tragic attacks on the United Nations in the field gave clear signals that the security environment for the United Nations had never been more challenging, she continued. An attack on the United Nations could be seen as an attack on all Member States and on the core values of the United Nations. It was vital to continue reform efforts in order to make the United Nations better equipped to meet clearly defined targets. Reform was not a cost-cutting exercise, but would ensure that Member States got better results from their financial contributions.
JORGE CUMBERBATCH ( Cuba) endorsed the statements by the Group of 77 and China and the Rio Group and said that the proposed budget should reflect how the mandates of intergovernmental bodies were being carried out. In that context, it was unacceptable for the Secretariat to make decisions that went against those of the General Assembly. There was a clear imbalance in the proposed budget. Social and economic development, which would help people, was being sacrificed.
He said that, according to expert Jeffrey Sachs, one of the principal barriers to development was the lack of a source of neutral multilateral funds to help developing countries obtain funding for specific projects without having to subject themselves to capricious conditions. The Development Account offered such a possibility. However, the Secretariat had not been able to create the initiatives to help finance that account, which now showed only $18.6 million, while the agreed-upon level had been $200 million. Instead of reinforcing the Account, the Secretariat was virtually proposing to get rid of it.
The insistence on presenting a budget of zero nominal growth, apparently to placate certain delegations, was difficult to understand, he added. Resource appropriations must respond to the necessities generated by mandates adopted by intergovernmental bodies. He expressed concern at ACABQ’s response to a number of important questions that must be addressed during deliberations on the draft budget. He was opposed to any approach that would detract from implementing development mandates. Any other way of tackling the problem would be selective and politicized and would only draw out the process.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said the United Nations must strengthen its role in international cooperation for development to respond to the challenges and opportunities emanating from globalization. In that connection, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was crucial in implementing development mandates, particularly in the least developed countries. Its capacity-building and technical assistance programmes in the areas of trade, investment and development helped manage challenges in affected developing countries in such areas as the global financial crisis, climate change, migration and food and energy security. Its work included the development of creative economies that generated new sources of income for developing countries. Its resources must not be curtailed or reduced. Further, the recommendations of the Working Party on UNCTAD’s budget had not been adequately taken into account in the programme budget report. The Assembly should reflect them in the 2010-2011 UNCTAD budget.
Moving on, he said the proposed Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) budget had undergone a thorough intergovernmental review and had been endorsed by the Commission in April. The proposed programme budget for Section 18: Economic and social development for Asia and Africa, merited endorsement. Further, the Assembly must approve a level of expenditures commensurate with mandated programmes and activities, to ensure that the Organization’s capabilities and capacities were fully utilized in implementing mandates and delivering programmes. In drawing up the budget, a crucial determinant was to allocate sufficient resources to the effective and timely delivery of programmes and activities according to their requirements and merits. And, while much remained to be done, efforts to incorporate a results-based-budgeting approach for enhanced effectiveness, transparency and accountability were appreciated.
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) noted with concern that the 2010-2011 budget, after preliminary recosting, amounted to $5.1 billion, exceeding the initial $4.4 billion budget for 2008-2009 by some 16 per cent. Moreover, if all potential add-ons were included, the cumulative budget was forecast to be far greater. In the face of the global economic slowdown, an increase in the biennium budget was likely to place a considerable burden on Member States. Many countries were currently experiencing fiscal deficits, resulting from expansionary microeconomic policies to revitalize the economy, stabilize financial markets and provide support to low-income groups.
Mindful of those economic difficulties, his delegation advocated appropriate financial discipline, improved budget processes and diversified financial resources, beyond the regular budget, he said. Existing programme expenditures needed to be restructured and justified. That could be achieved through an extensive zero-base review of expenditures and by curbing unessential or lower priority spending. While adhering to strict financial discipline, the Secretary-General must also be selective and focused in fulfilling the current mandates set by Member States, as well as in addressing issues of climate change and the Millennium Development Goals as investments for the future.
Reiterating his concern over the piecemeal approach to budget preparation, he said the budget system should be altered to effectively and comprehensively accommodate current and future needs. In that connection, he suggested that the Secretariat develop a more comprehensive and forward-looking mid-term financial management plan, forecasting potential budget needs over the next four to six fiscal years. Along with the existing biennium budget proposal, that plan would provide Member States and the Secretariat with a fuller and clearer landscape of future financial needs and areas of policy priorities. Additionally, the budget process should be further reviewed to strengthen the Secretariat’s responsiveness to unforeseen and urgent issues. A more streamlined budget system would allow the Secretariat to benefit from ensuing efficiency gains.
He welcomed the Secretariat’s efforts to enhance its financial situation through extrabudgetary resources. It was also encouraging that the Secretary-General was actively engaging with both new and existing donors to diversify the financial resources of the Secretariat. As one of the major financial contributors to the United Nations, his country stood ready to continue to support the efforts to streamline the Secretariat’s fiscal discipline and budgetary process to improve the financial situation of the United Nations. Fiscal discipline, restructuring of expenditures, streamlining the budget process and diversifying financial resources were critical issues that needed to be fully taken into account in the review of the proposed budget for 2010-2011.
IGOR N. SHCHERBAK (Russian Federation) said that the United Nations budget should reflect progress made in achieving development goals, prioritizing how best to cooperate in realizing decisions taken at major international conferences and meetings, as well as in organizational reform to ensure effective implementation of the decisions of intergovernmental bodies.
The $4.88 billion figure, proposed by the Secretary-General, for the regular budget for 2010-2011, which appeared to be only a 0.5 per cent increase over the previous budget, did not include a series of expected expenditures. Initial recosting for inflation and currency fluctuation, alone, would bring the budget total to some $5.6 billion, he said, which was cause for alarm in current economic circumstances.
With that in mind, he called on the Secretary-General to use all means at his disposal to avoid a piecemeal budget presentation, which hindered the making of informed decisions. It was imperative to pay attention to the financial and budgetary rules and regulations established by the General Assembly. New initiatives must be harmonized with the budget cycle. Further, he concurred with ACABQ’s assessment that result-based budgeting was not suitable to all areas and missions of the Organization. Priority must be given to clarification of that method’s aims and improvement at the implementation level.
Almost $3 billion of the $4.8 billion proposed for the regular budget was for staff remuneration, he noted. The main goal of human resources policy reform was to enhance efficiency and flexibility. He noted small scale efforts to contain the costs of outside consultants and travel expenses, and said that current circumstances required greater use of in-house experts. He further noted inconsistencies between requests for Capital Master Plan expenditures and the separate $2 billion budget for reconstruction work at Headquarters. He said that ACABQ’s related recommendations, which would not deliver much in savings, might be taken by some delegations as inappropriate to current economic realities.
He would always call for strengthening budgetary discipline, he said, but no measures of economy or changes to the budget format should prevent adherence to the Organization’s principles, including multilingualism, implementation of mandates and the central role of intergovernmental bodies in determining the Organization’s priorities.
DANILO ROSALES DIAZ ( Nicaragua) supported the position of the Group of 77 and Rio Group and said that never in the history of humanity had the United Nations had such a fundamental role in addressing the challenges faced by the world. Everybody recognized that peace and security, development and human rights were the three pillars upholding the work of the Organization. Accordingly, he was surprised over the imbalance, where development was still the “Cinderella” of the regular budget. Year after year, leaders of the world reiterated the need to join efforts for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Yet, as those years went by, there seemed to be a total disconnect between talk and deed, as expressed in the availability of financial resources for development. Developing countries –- the ultimate victims of the economic crisis -– continued to pay doubly for its consequences. That was even more unacceptable, with an astronomical amount of $18 trillion being spent to salvage an unfair and criminal economic model that led to the silent death of thousands of people every year. Compare that sum to the regular budget of the United Nations.
It was inconceivable that the Development Account only represented 0.38 per cent of the incomplete proposed budget, he continued. An idea had also been put forward that it should be financed through presumed efficiency savings. The Account was far from the goal of $200 million set in 1997, to be achieved in 2000. In that connection, his delegation would advocate the establishment of a viable mechanism to finance the Development Account through the regular budget. The current unacceptable imbalance reflected a lack of a global vision for the mandates adopted by the General Assembly, the only universal legislative organ. The budget must faithfully reflect those mandates. Nicaragua firmly believed in the need to strengthen multilateralism and would oppose any attempt to set artificial limits on expenses. At no time had the Assembly defined the idea of zero growth to be the guideline for budget formulation. It was obvious that the need for resources for the functioning of the Organization would continue to increase with the adoption of new mandates.
Within the regular budget, the heading that had shown the highest increase was for special political missions, he said, pointing to “an impressive increase” of that budget from $100 million in 2000 to some $829 million -- and possibly to $1 billion -- in the next biennium. That showed an undeniable distortion in the budget that could be easily eliminated with the creation of a separate account for special political missions. He was also worried over the high level of extrabudgetary contributions, amounting to $9.3 billion -– about twice the amount of the regular budget. While welcoming the generosity of States contributing beyond their obligations, he believed that those contributions should be gradually incorporated in the regular budget, particularly in view of the fact that voluntary contributions often led to creation of posts beyond the mandates created by the Assembly, violating equitable geographical distribution. Nicaragua welcomed the efforts of the Secretariat to achieve gender balance in the Organization and called for greater efforts to recruit women from developing countries.
In conclusion, he recalled the need to respect the prerogatives of the Committee on Programme and Coordination and urged the ACABQ, in the future, to refrain from interfering in matters related to the logical framework.
YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) noted that the proposed budget stood at $4.89 billion (an increase of 0.5 per cent), or $5.06 billion with recosting, and said that at a time of global austerity the United Nations must not be isolated from the tight budgetary constraints of many Member States. He expected cost-effective performance and strict budgetary discipline.
There were five important rules concerning the regular budget proposals for 2010-2011, he said. First, established budgetary procedures and methodology, based on General Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211, should be followed. Total budgetary requirements and priorities for the next biennium should be negotiated and agreed upon by consensus of the Member States at an earlier stage, and the Secretary-General’s budget proposals formulated and contained within that political understanding in the outline.
Secondly, he said, additional expenditures must be contained within the previously agreed level of the contingency fund. If additional requirements could not be accommodated within the contingency fund, the activities should wait until the following biennium, with the exception of urgent activities related to peace and security. He noted a recent tendency to circumvent that established rule, which undermined the sustainability and credibility of the Organization’s budgetary process.
The third rule was that new budgetary requirements should be met first of all through redeployment, he said. Only in the exceptional case that redeployment was not feasible could minimum additional resources be requested. Careful examination of the proposed budget showed that the Secretariat had made serious efforts in that regard.
The fourth rule called for adjustments due to currency fluctuation and inflation to be made through the flexible use of recosting methodology, he continued. Under the severe financial situation of many Member States, full recosting and appropriations should not be taken for granted. He noted that last year the General Assembly had partially withheld recosting to the amount of $45 million and that, to date, the Secretary-General had not requested that that amount be apportioned among Member States. Recosting the initial programme budget might not be imperative at the time of its approval, but might be considered at the mid-point of the biennium, he said.
The last rule, he said, was that, in the course of budget implementation, the Secretary-General should be given a certain degree of budgetary discretion to carry out unanticipated expenditures by utilizing savings in the total approved resources. That was essential to good management. Assembly resolution 60/283 had decided to accord up to $20 million per biennium to meet evolving needs. Japan was open to revisiting that discretionary authority in response to the Secretary-General’s proposal.
In conclusion, he said that zero nominal growth should be the principle applied to the regular budgets of international organizations. That would encourage those organizations to examine alternative ways to achieve mandated activities in a more cost-effective manner and to be creative in finding ways to revitalize themselves. Japan would examine the Secretary-General’s budget proposals in light of the rules outline above, and strictly on a merits basis.
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