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FIFTH COMMITTEE
Administrative and Budgetary

Week of 4 to 15 October 1999


The Committee began its substantive work on 4 October and approved its programme work of as contained in document A/C.5/54/L.2. As scheduled, informal consultations on procurement reform, the review of OIOS, procedures for determining reimbursement regarding contingent owned equipment, report of the Board of Auditors regarding peacekeeping operations and the development account are ongoing. The Committee concluded its general discussion on the financing of East Timor as well as the report of the SG on the findings, observations and recommendations contained in the report of OIOS on the audit of the procurement process in UNAVEM/MONUA under agenda item 129, as well as the report of the Secretary-General on the developments relating to the issue of overpayment of mission subsistence allowance and compensatory time off under agenda item 130. Informal consultations on them are scheduled to be held next week.

On Tuesday, 5 October, the Committee heard a progress report on the financial situation of the Organization by the USG for Management. The Secretary-General addressed the Committee on that occasion and gave an account of what had been achieved so far in his efforts to reform the Organization. The attendance was at the ambassadorial level and thirty-four delegations spoke on the question. The Secretary-General said that in order to help alleviate the chronic cash shortage, he would propose to temporarily suspend the provisions of the financial regulations requiring the return of surpluses to the Member States and to increase the level of the Working Capital Fund and the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund.

On Friday, 15 October, 1999, the Committee recommended to the General Assembly the approval of the following 4 draft resolutions (1) Draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.9 on the question of the report of the Board of Auditors on UN peacekeeping operations under agenda item 117: Financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors (2) Draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.5 on the Joint Inspection Unit; (3) Draft resolution A/C5/54/L.10 on the question of the findings of the OIOS on the procurement process in UNAVEM/MONUA; and (4) Draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.6 on the reformed procedures for determining reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment. All draft resolutions were adopted by the Committee without a vote.

The Committee is considering further in informal consultations the items on the Financing of the United Nations in East Timor; the review of the OIOS and the issue of overpayment of mission subsistence Allowance and Compensatory time off in UNIKOM.


Week of 18 to 29 October 1999


During these two weeks, the Committee began and concluded its general discussion on items 124: Pattern of Conferences; 125: Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations; 123: Joint Inspection Unit; 117: Financial reports and audited financial statements and audited reports of the Board of Auditors. The Committee also adopted the following draft resolutions; (1) Draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.4 on the Financing of the United Nations Mission in East Timor; (2) draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.11/Rev.1 on the modalities for operating the development account under agenda item 119: Programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999 and (3) draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.12 on the issue of overpayment of mission subsistence allowance and compensatory time off in UNIKOM; and draft resolution A/C.5/54/L.8 on procurement reform in the United Nations.

For its consideration of agenda item 124: Pattern of Conferences, Sixteen speakers spoke on this item and they generally commended the quality of the report of the Committee on Conferences and found its recommendations helpful for the Organization in performing its mandated functions as cost effectively as possible. Though most speakers welcomed the use of technological innovations by the Department of Conference Services, some speakers especially those from the developing countries felt that dependency on technological advancement should be approached cautiously.

As regards agenda item 125: Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, thirty eighth speakers participated in the general discussion of this item. All opposed to the proposal of the permanent representative of the United States of America to reduce the ceiling for the regular budget from 25% to 22%. As to his proposal to establish and formalize the rate of assessments for the peacekeeping operations, speakers from the Group of 77 and China felt that this issue was not related to agenda item 125 that dealt only with the scale of assessments for the regular budget. This issue could be considered in a different agenda item. As to the element of the scale methodology for the future scale of assessments, all recognized that one of its important criteria was the capacity to pay.

On Wednesday, 27 October, the Committee began its consideration of item 121: Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 with an address by the Secretary-General. The related reports of the Advisory Committee and of the Committee for Programme and Coordination were introduced by its respective chairman. According to the proposal of the Secretary-General, the overall level of the budget proposed for the biennium 2000-2001 of $2,535 million reflected a small but important increases in certain priority areas, such as peace and development in Africa, humanitarian assistance, promotion and protection of human rights, fight against drug trafficking and organized crime and training programmes for staff. A modest increase was proposed to internal oversight, capital expenditures and proposed provisions for special political missions. To offset these increases, he said, savings would be achieved in administration, common support services and through other efficiency gains. He referred to the shift to the system of results based budgeting, which is a crucial part of the reform process. Thirty eight speakers participated in the general discussion on this item.

The Committee also began its consideration of item 126: United Nations common system and the Committee has before it the 25th annual report of the International Civil Service Commission, a Note by the Secretary-General containing recommendation to the General Assembly to adopt an amendment to the statute of the ICSC A/C.5/54/24 and a note by the Secretary-General regarding administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations in the report of the ICSC A/54/434. The European Union being a strong advocate of the reform measures supported the proposed review of ICSC while other delegations expressed reservations on such a review.

On Friday, 29 October, the Committee began its consideration of item 127: Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office for Internal Oversight Services. The Committee had before it the Fifth Annual report of that office which was introduced by the Under-Secretary-General for OIOS.