|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Under-Secretary-General for Management
The financial health of the United Nations depended on Member States meeting their financial obligations in full and on time, said Yukio Takasu, the Organization’s Under-Secretary-General for Management, at a Headquarters press conference today.
The year 2012 reflected a “healthy” financial situation for the United Nations, thanks to the very positive efforts of many Member States, he said. That forthcoming attitude by Member States had resulted in lower unpaid assessments than the previous year; and a reduction in the dues that the Organization owed to Member States. And, with those developments, the prospect for 2013 was that the cash situation was currently positive in all categories, and the only area calling for “more care” was the regular budget.
Addressing correspondents following his briefing to the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, Mr. Takasu said the Organization’s overall financial position was generally positive, notwithstanding some developments that had negatively impacted its financial footing, like Storm Sandy at the end of 2012.
At the end of 2012, unpaid assessments were lower in all areas except those of the Tribunals; cash balances were positive across all categories with the exception of the regular budget; and at year’s end, the Organization closed the year with a $35 million deficit, or shortfall, which was covered by the working capital fund — the United Nations own unique “cash cushion” intended to manage cash flow problems.
On assessments, he said 2012 closed with unpaid assessments of some $327 million. Compared to the end of 2011, there was a marked improvement, as unpaid assessments had been recorded at $450 million at that time. Up to the end of April this year, it stood at $2.6 million, and many Members had already paid. He said $1.4 million remained unpaid, as at 30 April, in the regular budget.
On peacekeeping operations, the total outstanding amount at the end of last year was $1.33 million, compared to the previous year’s $2.6 million in unpaid assessments, a clear decrease, he pointed out. In the current year, up to 30 April, a total of $1.5 million was assessed. However, the rate of assessment and the outstanding balances were often distorted by the fact that Member States had different budget cycles and the Organization often had to wait before the correct picture emerged later in the year, when more Members had paid their assessments.
Mr. Takasu also noted that the Organization’s outstanding payments to Member States with regard to peacekeeping operations currently stood at $745 million, up to the end of April. A total of 29 Member States had made full payment with regard to all assessments, while only 41 Member States had paid in full their assessments to Tribunals as compared to 64 by the same time last year.
On the Capital Master Plan, he said $1.866 billion of the $1.869 billion in assessments had been paid as at 30 April. The unpaid assessment of $3 million represented 34 Member States. And reflecting on that, Mr Takashi commented: “This is a multi-year project, (and) there is only $3 million unpaid. This is remarkable. This demonstrates very clearly the Member States take their financial obligations very seriously.” They see the concrete work the Capital Master Plan was doing and described it as impressive and encouraging.
In response to questions, Mr. Takasu said the Organization had learned a lot from last year’s Storm Sandy, which had caused extensive damage to both infrastructure and equipment. While most of the damaged equipment was covered by insurance, some had to be paid for by the Organization. All major work to repair the damage was going on and was expected to be completed soon, he said. Beyond the current repair work, management was also planning against a similar catastrophe, which could be higher than Sandy. He, however, also stressed that the overall global financial situation, which had seriously affected Member States and resulted in “belt-tightening”, also had an impact on how much the Organization could do.
He pointed to the Secretary-General’s initiative proposed to Member States for a budget reduction of some $63 million through cost efficiency and economic measures in administrative areas and programme support. Even those steps, while acceptable, were not enough in the opinion of Member States, he said.
Asked about the working conditions in areas affected by Storm Sandy, he said it was management’s obligation to provide a working environment which was not only safe, but also secure and healthy. To that end, it was undertaking extensive repair work. He also said management was open to what he called a “cooperative approach” to seeking solutions to problems between management and staff, saying open-mindedness on the part of management, and good-faith consultation on the part of staff, was the best way to achieve that.
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