|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
32nd Meeting (AM)
Fifth Committee Takes Up 2010/11 Budget Requests for Peacekeeping Support Account,
Interim Force in Lebanon, African Union-United Nations Hybrid Mission in Darfur
Also Takes Up Related Advisory Committee Recommendations, Performance Reports
Taking up the Secretary-General’s proposed $313.9 million budget for next year’s peacekeeping backstopping activities — known formally as the peacekeeping support account — speakers at the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) said increases must be proportionate to need, and called for “utmost prudence” in determining its size.
Under-Secretary-General Jun Yamazaki, United Nations Controller, presenting the proposed budget for the peacekeeping support account from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, said there was a net increase of 69 posts envisioned for the next period. The amount requested had gone up by $19.9 million from last year’s $294 million, representing a 6.8 per cent rise.
He said requirements of $57 million, related to enterprise resource planning, were also proposed to be funded from the support account, but estimates for that project must first be reviewed by the Secretary-General before being submitted to the Assembly at the main part of the sixty-fifth session.
Other line items in the support account included the peacekeeping share of the maintenance costs for the secondary data centre, he said. It also included projected after-service health insurance costs of current peacekeeping retirees for the 2010/11 period. He pointed, as well, to a separate budget document for the United Nations Office to the African Union, which stipulated that a considerable part of that Office’s needs would be financed from the support account.
Mr. Yamazaki presented, as well, the performance report for the peacekeeping support account for the 2008/09 period, saying spending from that year had amounted to $272 million against an approved budget of $282.4 million, leaving an unencumbered balance of $10.4 million.
Responding to the 2010/11 proposals presented by Mr. Yamazaki, Susan McLurg, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), said that Committee had found ways the budget could be reduced by $4.5 million. She said the ACABQ saw merit in approving 41 of 73 posts proposed, explaining that, where it had not recommended approval, it was of the view that those functions should be provided from within existing capacity.
Also responding to Mr. Yamazaki, the representative of Japan pointed to possible overlaps in requests made for the support account and those of other accounts. For example, the budget of the support account had ballooned due to information and communications technology initiatives and the enterprise resource planning project, as well as to resource requirements for Inspira. The budget for the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, too, had increased significantly, for reasons that might serve similar aims.
The increase in general temporary assistance positions in the support account was continuing to grow, he noted, even as the number of military contingents, United Nations police and civilian staff deployed in missions were starting to decrease. He stressed the importance of making optimal use of posts and positions already approved, rather than request that new ones be created.
In addition, three years after the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the creation of the Department of Field Support, he said he agreed with the ACABQ that existing resource levels and management structures should be actively reviewed so that the existing resources can be reassigned, redeployed and reduced to streamline and update various backstopping functions.
The representative of China noted that, due to certain limitations, the Board of Auditors was unable to conduct a proper analysis on the account’s current usage and composition, and how it would evolve in the future. While she welcomed the description in the Secretary-General’s report of initiatives taken by operational divisions and offices for strengthening peacekeeping support, she agreed with the ACABQ that such reports should provide more information on progress of relevant initiatives, timeline, resource requirements and participating departments.
She remarked, as well, that the Secretary-General had proposed the establishment of a coordinating and planning group for Somalia and a headquarters support group for AMISOM, but the Chinese Government wanted more clarification from the Secretariat on the group’s structural framework and how it related to other groups.
She noted that 38 of 39 new posts approved for the Office of Military Affairs had been filled, but she favoured the ACABQ’s proposal that service of seconded personnel be extended and that information and communications technology be used to realize “systemic continuation”, as opposed to the Secretary-General’s suggestion to reclassify three seconded officers funded by the support account as civilian staff.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Yemen expressed dismay at “the continued practice of the Secretariat and the ACABQ to submit over and again proposals that had been overruled by the General Assembly at previous sessions”. That was particularly true, he said, of the resubmission of posts for the Investigation Division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).
He reiterated the Group’s view on proper representation of troop-contributing countries at senior management level, saying a majority were developing countries. It was equally concerned at the continuing low proportion of women from developing countries at senior levels in the Secretariat.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of two additional budget documents — for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for the 2010/11 period — and the performance reports for both those operations for the 2008/09 period.
According to Mr. Yamazaki, who presented those reports, the proposed budget for UNIFIL was $564.5 million, a decrease from the previous financial year. The Assembly was left to determine the use of an unencumbered balance of $75.2 million from the last period.
On behalf of the ACABQ, Ms. McLurg described recommendations that would entail a reduction of $30.05 million for UNIFIL. Noting that actual vacancy rates were higher than reflected in the budget document, it recommends that the budgeted vacancy rates be increased from 18 per cent to 21 per cent for international staff and 20 per cent for national staff. It has also identified cost savings in information and communication.
In addition, she said resources related to the office in Tel Aviv — which the report says was aimed at providing enhanced liaison and coordination functions with the Israeli military and others, but remains pending — should not be included in the budget. Should efforts to establish the office succeed, any related expenditures should be reported in the performance report for the period in which it happens.
On UNAMID, Mr. Yamazaki said the proposed budget for 2010/11 was $1.89 billion, an increase of $300.4 million from the previous year. In connection with the budget of that Operation, he called on the Assembly to note the associated report of the Secretary-General on the budget of the United Nations Office to the African Union, which proposed the inclusion of the support functions of the Joint Support and Coordination Mechanism in Addis Ababa into that Office.
Ms. McLurg said the ACABQ had made recommendations that would entail a reduction of $60.22 million. When calculating the 2010/11 budget, under-spending was projected at $72.6 million if the Secretariat were to apply the same assumptions used in 2008/09 — that is, delayed deployment factors of 10 per cent for military personnel, 15 per cent for United Nations police and 12.5 per cent for formed police units. For that reason, the ACABQ recommends using higher delayed deployment factors of 10, 15 and 12.5 per cent, respectively. It also recommends a reduction of 6 per cent in the proposed requirements for operational costs, in light of those recommendations.
On a separate note, she drew attention to a procedural glitch that had produced two reports with budget recommendations for OIOS — which conducts peacekeeping audits as part of its work. She said the review process, as normally conducted, would begin with a review of the proposed budget of the OIOS by the IAAC, which consequently reports to the ACABQ. But, as explained in detail in the ACABQ report, the ACABQ received not just a report by the IAAC, but also proposals from the OIOS, in which it had already incorporated the IAAC’s recommendations. It was up to the Assembly to decide which submission the ACABQ should take up.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 13 May, to take up the financing of United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
* *** *For information media • not an official record