DRAFT DECISIONS ON 2002-2003 BUDGET ESTIMATES, POLITICAL MISSIONS APPROVED BY FIFTH COMMITTEE
DRAFT DECISIONS ON 2002-2003 BUDGET ESTIMATES, POLITICAL MISSIONS APPROVED BY FIFTH COMMITTEE
Fifty-sixth General Assembly
38th Meeting (PM)
DRAFT DECISIONS ON 2002-2003 BUDGET ESTIMATES, POLITICAL MISSIONS
APPROVED BY FIFTH COMMITTEE
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning made recommendations to the General Assembly on the effect of the changes in exchange and inflation rates on the proposed 2002-2003 budget, and estimates in that budget for the special political missions concerning matters of which the Security Council is seized. It also began its consideration of the second performance report for the 2000-2001 budget and took up the programme budget implications of several drafts before the General Assembly.
Approving without a vote a draft decision on estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized, the Committee recommended, in particular, that the Assembly approve the charge of some $8 million for the period 1 January to 31 March 2002 for 15 special political missions dealing with the Council matters. Concurring with the observations and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Assembly would also decide to resume its consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the matter at its first resumed session in March 2002.
In its report, the ACABQ expressed its concern at the late submission of the proposal, which totalled some $29 million. Accordingly, it recommended that the matter be deferred pending a detailed review in February 2002 and subsequent action by the Assembly.
By the second draft decision approved by the Committee this morning without a vote, the Assembly would take note of the revised estimates for the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 reflecting the changes in the exchange rates and inflation.
In accordance with established practice, the proposed programme budget is recosted prior to its adoption by the Assembly. Following the current recosting, the resources proposed under the expenditure sections of the 2002-2003 budget would amount to some $2.68 billion. The recosted estimates of income for 2002-2003 amount to some $408.3 million.
Also this morning, the Committee began its consideration of the second performance report for the 2000-2001 biennium, according to which the appropriations were estimated at some $2.56 billion, representing a gross increase of $27.8 million. The closing of accounts according to financial regulations was done as of 31 March 2002, after the Secretary-General had submitted a final statement with respect to those accounts.
Several speakers in the debate on the matter addressed such issues as the high vacancy rates versus the over-expenditure reported in post incumbency; the under-utilization of funds by the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); and high requirements for the General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services.
The representative of Japan drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that a large portion of the budgetary change was attributable to the inflation and exchange rates fluctuations and he requested a study on the matter in order to find a solution to the problem of additional expenditures due to such variations.
The Committee also considered programme budget implications of draft resolutions on: the World Summit for Sustainable Development; the implementation of decisions of the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs); the financing of United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA); and the situation in Central America.
Documents before the Committee were introduced by the United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs; Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Warren Sach; and Chairman of the ACABQ, Conrad S.M. Mselle.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Iran (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, Israel, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, Bangladesh (on behalf of the LDCs), Nepal, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Argentina, Syria, Canada and Cuba.
The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at a date to be announced.
This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met to consider several items under the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget, including statements of programme budget implications for the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Committee was also expected to consider the second performance report for the 2000-2001 programme budget and the financing of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The Committee had before it statements of programme budget implications on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/C.5/56/28), the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (document A/C.5/56/29), MINUGUA (document A/C.5/56/26) and the situation in Central America (document A./C.5/56/27). The respective reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), namely A/56/719, A/56/716, A/56/705 and A/56/709, were also before the Committee.
Also before the Committee was a draft decision on estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized (document A/C.5/56/L.21), under the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the estimates and concur with the recommendations of the ACABQ contained in paragraph 7 of its report. The Assembly would also approve the charge of $8 million for the period 1 January to 31 March 2002 for the 15 missions dealt with in the Secretary-General’s report against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget. The Assembly would also decide to resume its consideration of the Secretary-General’s report at its first resumed session in March 2002.
According to the terms of another draft decision before the Committee on revised estimates: effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation, (document A/C.5/56/L.22), the Assembly would take note of the revised estimates arising from the recosting of the effects of changes in the rates of exchange and inflation.
The Committee also had before it the second performance report on the programme budget for 2000-2001 (document A/56/674), which provides an estimate of the anticipated final level of expenditures, following recosting. The scope of the report is strictly financial, and it will be supplemented by a separate report on programme implementation. [Recosting is a routine adjustment of figures to reflect changes in such parameters as exchange rates, inflation and cost-of-living expenses.]
The anticipated final expenditure and income figures are based on actual expenditures for the first 20 months of the current biennium, projected requirements for the last 4 months and changes in the inflation and exchange rates, as well as cost-of-living adjustments as compared with the first performance report. The revised requirements under the expenditure sections amount to $2.56 billion –- an increase of $27.8 million. The revised estimate under income sections amounts to $379.7 million, a decrease of $1.1 million.
In a related report (document A/56/694), the ACABQ states that the Secretariat should consider, in the long term, combining the financial and programmatic sides of budget performance into a single performance report. The Advisory Committee holds the view that performance information reflected in a number of paragraphs of the Secretary-General’s report could have been more detailed. For example, the ACABQ had to seek clarification on under-utilization of funds under the central training programme and “non-utilization of the one-time provision to the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women for 2001”. Upon request, a breakdown of savings under travel was also provided, which the Advisory Committee insists should be included in future performance reports.
The Committee also had before it the revised estimates resulting from the strengthening of the role of internal oversight services at the International Tribunals for the biennium 2002-2003 (document A/C.5/56/30). The report explains that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) provides oversight services to both the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Current oversight coverage could be enhanced, however. Expanded oversight services are proposed by placing resident auditors at both The Hague and Arusha to improve internal control mechanisms. The proposals include provisions for general temporary assistance, travel of staff, office supplies and equipment and communications.
Should the Assembly adopt revised estimates, effective 1 January 2002, additional appropriations of some $167,550 and $219,850 would be required under the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, respectively.
Introduction of Budget Statements for 2002-2003
WARREN SACH, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced statements of programme budget implications on the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, MINUGUA and the situation in Central America.
He said the first statement before the Committee concerned the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/C.5/56/28). Under the terms of operative paragraph 8 of draft resolution A/C.2/56/L.71, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to launch a public information campaign to raise global awareness of the World Summit, including through reprioritization of the Department of Public Information’s budget and voluntary contributions. The requirements for the Department to undertake the necessary programme requirements amounted to some $352,500. As resources required to implement the request could not be covered from within the overall resources under section 26, Public information, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget, an additional requirement would arise under that section of the budget.
Turning to the budget statement on the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/C.5/56/29), he said that according to the terms of draft resolution A/C.2/56/L.78, the Secretary-General was requested to take immediate measures to make the Office of the High Represent for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States operational as soon as possible. The requirements would be reflected under a new section 9A, Office of the High Representative, to be established in the regular budget for 2002-2003 and would include 13 posts.
The implications for the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 would amount to an additional appropriation of some $3.1 million under the new section and $850,800 under section 27D of the proposed programme budget. It would also result in reductions of the amounts proposed under sections 10 and 11A by $709,900 and $1.97 million, respectively. The total to be redeployed from the two sections would amount to $2.68 million, which would imply that $369,900 would be required from the Contingency Fund to arrive at the amount of $3.1 million required under section 9A. Net additional requirements of $1.2 million would represent a charge against the Contingency Fund. Of that amount, $369,900 would be required under section 9A, and the balance of $850,800 would be required under section 27D.
In the statement of programme budget implications for MINUGUA, (document A/C.5/56/26), he said the General Assembly would decide to authorize the renewal of the Mission’s mandate from 1 January to 31 December 2002. The proposals would continue the resources available in the current biennium with some modification. Related amounts would total $14.75 million, to be charged against the provision for special political missions under Section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
On a related matter, the budget statement on the situation in Central America (document A/C.5/56/27), he said the Assembly, during its fifty-fifth session, authorized the continuation of the provision of resources for two staff for 2001 in support of the Central American peace process pursuant to General Assembly resolution 55/178. The current proposals reflect the maintenance in 2002 of those resources authorized for 2001. Should the Assembly adopt draft resolution A/56/L.45, the requirements of some $188,500 would also be charged against the provision for special political missions requested in Section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
Presenting related comments of the ACABQ (document A/56/710), the Chairman of that body, CONRAD S. M. MSELLE, said the report dealt with the draft resolution recommended by the Second Committee on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (document A/C.2/56/L.71). The ACABQ was recommending that the Fifth Committee should inform the General Assembly that the adoption of the draft would lead to expenditures not exceeding $352,500 under section 26, Public information, of the proposed programme budget. Additional appropriations would be subject to the provisions governing the use and operation of the Contingency Fund.
The second report (document A/56/716) dealt with programme budget implications of Second Committee resolution on the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/C.2/56/L.78), he continued. He drew attention to the observations of the Advisory Committee in paragraphs 9 and 10 of its report, where it was recommending establishment of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The ACABQ was also recommending that the Fifth Committee take note of the decision to provide up to 12 posts for the Office, but defer decision on the permanent establishment of those posts under the new budget section 9A until the Secretary-General submitted a report on the matter on the basis of the elements outlined in the ACABQ report. Subject to those conditions, the ACABQ recommended that the Fifth Committee inform the General Assembly that the adoption of the draft would necessitate a net appropriation not exceeding some $1.2 million, as specified in the statement by the Secretary-General. That amount would be subject to the provisions governing the operation of the Contingency Fund.
The third report of the ACABQ (document A/56/705) dealt with MINUGUA, he said. The Advisory Committee recalled that for 2000-2001, the proposals had been made based on the plan of gradually scaling down the Mission. However, the draft resolution before the General Assembly (document A/56/L.42) refers to the new schedule for implementing the substantive aspects of peace agreements, which should be completed by the end of 2004. In his budget implications statement, the Secretary-General had presented a request for $14.7 million for 2002. It may be recalled that, for the current biennium, an amount of $43.2 million had been appropriated, and unaudited statements of financial operation of the Mission indicated that some $9.9 million had been spent, leaving an incumbent balance. Accordingly, the ACABQ was recommending an appropriation of an additional $14.76 million to be charged against the provision of $93.69 million (before recosting) for special political missions requested in section 3, Political Affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.
Turning to the ACABQ report (document A/56/709) on the budget implications of draft resolution A/56/L.45, concerning the situation in Central America, he said that the Advisory Committee was recommending that an amount of $188,500 be charged against the provision for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for 2002-2003.
On the World Summit on Sustainable Development, SEYED MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, supported the statement of programme budget implications before the Committee, because according to the Secretary-General’s statement, there was no potential for absorption of the requested amounts from within the overall resources under section 26, Public information, of the proposed programme budget.
THOMAS REPASCH (United States) said that his country had been intensely engaged in working out the arrangements for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. However, noting the request for additional resources for public information activities related to the Summit, he said that, overall, as on several other occasions, he was disappointed that they had not been provided for in the proposed budget. He was particularly concerned, as everyone had known in advance that preparations for the Summit were under way. He also asked about provisions for posters in six official languages ($33,000). As for the television and radio projects, he wanted to know how the proposed $10,000 for special United Nations radio programmes to promote the Summit related to the Department of Public Information radio project being discussed in the context of the regular budget. Was there an opportunity for synergy? He also inquired about the process of “sending money to United Nations information centers” and $30,000 for regional projects to publicize the Summit.
RON ADAM (Israel) said that the preparations for the World Summit had been under way for at least 10 years. The plans for the World Summit were very clear. The fact that the Department of Public Information had decided to ignore the World Summit in the current biennial budget plan was not only strange, but also indicated the importance of the Summit in the view of the Department. His delegation found the request for public information resources most peculiar, for information and awareness aspects of the preparatory work should have been planned well in advance. It was important to find out why the Department had not included the necessary amounts in its budget request. Publicizing the Summit and promoting its issues were as important as the event itself. However, the Department should use existing resources for those purposes.
SHINICHI YAMANAKA (Japan) said there was no doubt that his Government attached great importance to the issue of sustainable development. Draft resolution A/C.2/56/L.71 requested the Secretary-General to launch a public information campaign. He noted that the Department of Public Information had already produced some materials, which gave rise to some questions. What was the basis for the brochure on the World Summit? Was it possible for the Department to issue such material before the Secretary-General requested the launch of a public information campaign? He also wished to know why no provision had been included in the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
THEODORE ALBRECHT (South Africa) thanked all Member States that had voiced support for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He had similar questions and hoped that the Committee would be able to address the problems made clear by the current dilemma in informal consultations. Although he would like to see funding made available, if resources could not be found within existing resources, they must be found in the Contingency Fund. On the issue of poster production, he wondered if States would print their own posters in black and white. The Committee should think before investigating such an issue.
DEWI SAVITRI WAHAB (Indonesia) believed that the activities were very important for the Summit and its Preparatory Committee and should be funded adequately. Because there was no specific mandate for the Department of Public Information, she supported the proposal made by the Secretary-General and the recommendations of the ACABQ.
HENRY FOX (Australia) attached great importance to the World Summit. He was concerned, however, that no provision had been made for a public information campaign in the proposed budget. He shared the concern that the Summit was known by most of the planet, but not by the Department. He noted the comment of the Budget Director and the observation that changing priorities would not be possible. The Fifth Committee should assist the Department of Public Information, therefore, in changing its priorities during the budget negotiations. He would be happy to assist in that exercise. Regarding voluntary contributions, he wondered if the Secretariat had taken steps to invite extrabudgetary resources.
Mr. SACH, addressing the issue of the non-inclusion of requirements in the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget, said the issue had already been discussed in the Committee in connection with the Conference on ageing. No specific mandate related to the public information component. As such, provisions were not included in the initial proposal for section 26 of the proposed programme budget. The same practice had been followed in the past. He could not say more about the topic without being repetitive.
Concerning certain elements in the annex to the budget implications, he would not wish to comment on posters. The Department of Public Information considered what it produced appropriate. Regarding television and radio products, provisions were not included because the programming would be an addition to the normal schedule, going over and above the normal products. Regarding item 4 of the annex, there was a typographical error in the document. “Send money” should be replaced with “seed money”. All the costs in the statement of budget implications were standard.
The CHAIRMAN proposed that the Committee consider the statement during informal consultations.
Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries
Mr. REPASCH (United States) supported the work of the United Nations in the area of least developed countries. It was important to find ways to carry out that work more effectively. He noted the proposal was to redeploy staff to the New York office. Why was there a proposal, in section 27D, for almost $1 million for alterations to office space? That amount seemed rather high. He also wanted the Chairman of the ACABQ to elaborate on that body’s recommendations. Overall, he believed that the entire proposal to establish the Office of the High Representative should be implemented through redeployment. He attached great importance to the activity and looked forward to further discussions on the issue.
Mr. MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said the Group strongly supported the Office of the High Representative and supported the draft resolution to make that Office operational. The Group had made all efforts to secure the cause of least developed countries. Regarding the proposal that resource requirements come through redeployment, he noted that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Section 11A, was carrying out technical work for least developed countries and small island developing States. The main task of the Office of the High Representative was system-wide coordination.
He noted the recommendation of the ACABQ that the question of posts be deferred until the submission of a report by the Secretary-General on the programmatic impacts on the affected budget sections, namely 10 and 11A. UNCTAD was responsible for substantive work. He wished to know what the impact of redeployment would be on UNCTAD’s substantive work. In that respect, it would be important to hear from the representatives of UNCTAD on the issue.
M. RIAZ HAMIDULLAH (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said the establishment of the Office of the High Representative was in line with effective follow up for the least developed countries. Noting that the establishment of the Office would result in additional resources, he would have expected the Office to be fully funded through regular budget resources. He noted that the location of the new Office at United Nations Headquarters was to secure high visibility for the least developed countries. He stressed that there had been a change in UNCTAD’s mandate on coordination work following the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. He strongly supported UNCTAD’s substantive work in capacity-building. With the changed mandate, he was keen to see that the Office was funded as requested by the Secretary-General. He supported the creation of the Office as recommended by the ACABQ, and the question of the comprehensive review.
DURGA BHATTARAI (Nepal) said that his delegation attached tremendous significance to the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries and supported the statement by the representative of Bangladesh on behalf of least developed countries. The success of the Programme of Action depended on the effective follow-up and review of the decisions of the Conference. The Committee had before it the requests of the least developed countries. The new arrangements needed to be in place as soon as possible in view of the urgency of the situation. In that light, he was confident that the international community was prepared to respond to the need of the world’s poorest countries and approve the Secretary-General’s proposals, making the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States operational as soon as possible.
MICHEL TILEMANS (Belgium), speaking in behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed support for the follow-up to the Brussels Conference. The European Union would take a close look at the proposals of the Secretary-General, in view of the ACABQ recommendations. He had, however, a question about the impact of those recommendations on the effective functioning and efficiency of the Office of the High Representative. The functioning of that Office and the capacity to act as soon as possible would depend on the ability to mobilize resources through necessary redeployment. Taking note of the comments of the ACABQ regarding the review of the exact needs on the basis of the performance report, he expressed confidence that the establishment of the new structure would allow implementation of the decisions taken at Brussels.
Responding to the comments from the floor, Mr. MSELLE said that the course of action recommended in paragraphs 9 and 10 of the ACABQ report on the matter was the most appropriate one. The Advisory Committee was recommending that the post of High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States be established. However, the ACABQ believed that other proposed posts should not yet be established on a permanent basis. That action did not in any way impair the capacity of the Secretary-General and the High Representative from making the Office operational. The question of redeployment of those posts would be further considered, as soon as the General Assembly took a decision on the matter.
He explained that the reason for that recommendation was that the proposals affected sections 10 and 11 of the proposed budget. The statement of the Secretary-General was not very clear regarding the programmatic effect of the establishment of the new structures on those two sections, and a number of issues needed to be presented in writing. Certain other issues needed to be looked at, among them carefully articulated resource requirements for the Office, including the total availability of posts to be seconded or funded from voluntary contributions. The ACABQ had also made an important comment that the representative of the Secretary-General should also address how the operational capacity of the Organization and other bodies would be enhanced by the activities in support of the developing countries. For those reasons, the Advisory Committee believed it would be more appropriate to proceed in the manner it had indicated.
The Committee decided to consider in informal consultations the decision to be taken on the matter.
As the Committee turned to the budget implications statement on MINUGUA, Mr. REPASCH (United States) noted that, for the period ending 31 December 2001, the activities of MINUGUA had resulted in an unencumbered balance of over $3 million. That fact gave rise to the question of how much of the total amount allocated for special political missions remained unencumbered at this point in the biennium.
Mr. SACH said that the expenditures by special political missions had been reported in the second performance report for 2000-2001. To the best of his recollection, as much as $10 million to $12 million remained unencumbered. He would check the exact amount. The MINUGUA budget represented a small portion of that amount.
The Committee decided to consider in informal consultations the decision to be taken on the matter.
Concerning the situation in Central America, Mr. REPASCH (United States) asked how much staff time under that particular mandate was devoted to Guatemala and El Salvador, respectively. Where were the staff posted? He also wanted to know how many meetings the political affairs officer had attended in the current biennium. The broader issue, which also related to MINUGUA, was that there were similar activities under both mandates and he inquired about the efforts to avoid duplication and achieve greater efficiency.
Mr. SACH replied that the request for $188,500 provided for one P-4 and General Service support to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs at Headquarters, ensuring backup and oversight for the activities in Central America. As for the time devoted to the two countries in question, the staff spent about 20 per cent of their time on the situation in El Salvador, and 80 per cent on Guatemala. Regarding the question of duplication, the substantive areas of the two mandates were the same, but only one of them took care of the Headquarters backup.
The Committee decided to continue its consideration of the matter in informal consultations.
Action on Draft Decisions
The Committee adopted the draft decision concerning estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized (document A/C.5/56/L.21) without a vote.
It then took up the draft decision on revised estimates: effect of changes in exchange rates and inflation (document A/C.5/56/L.22).
ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) hoped that the practice of making documents available in the six languages would be maintained. He had a technical question. Noting that the Committee was being asked to “take note” on the revised estimates, he recalled that, according to A/55/188, the term “takes note” did not imply approval or disapproval. He was not sure whether “takes note” was the correct term. He asked for the view of the Secretariat whether it would be necessary to use a different term.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, said that traditionally, at the current stage, the Secretariat did come out with revised estimates on exchange rates and inflation. It was one element to be taken into consideration in the resolution on the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that perhaps he was not clear. While he agreed with the draft decision, he was referring to terminology in the draft text. He had drawn attention to the issue several times, especially in the wake of the adoption of A/55/188. “Take note” did not lead to what the Committee wanted anymore. Other terms could be used. If the Committee was being asked to approve a draft resolution, then a term other than “take note” should be used.
Responding to the issue, the Chairman of the ACABQ, Mr. MSELLE said whenever the Fifth Committee or the General Assembly took note of something, the interpretation must be taken in the appropriate context. He knew that a statement had been issued by the Office of Legal Affairs. The Fifth Committee had not finalized its action on the budget. The Committee was dealing with revised estimates resulting from currency and inflation. That amount -– $35 million -— would be discussed by the Committee in the context of deciding the level of the budget to recommend to the General Assembly. The action was not yet finished.
It was not possible, he added, to talk about the Fifth Committee approving $35 million, because that amount would be within the some $2.7 billion that the Fifth Committee would be reviewing shortly. It was the same procedure taken with respect to revised estimates resulting from the Economic and Social Council. Since those decision gave rise to additional expenditure, and there was no resolution before the General Assembly relating to ECOSOC decisions, the Fifth Committee recommended that the General Assembly take note of the revised estimates. Later on, those estimates were included in consolidated statement to be dealt with in the context of the resolution on the issue. The procedure outlined by the Chairman was appropriate.
The Committee then adopted the draft decision without a vote.
Second Performance Report
Mr. HALBWACHS, the Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the second performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 (document A/56/674). He said the estimates were based on actual expenditures for the first 20 months and last four months for the biennium, together with changes in the exchange rate. The anticipated final level represented a net increase of $28.9 million, presented in table 1 of the report. Regarding $14.5 million of commitment authority, details were provided in the report. The report also provided details on the projected reduction related to post incumbency. He noted that vacancy rates in 2001, which amounted to 6.9 per cent for Professional staff and 3.2 per cent for General Service staff, was going down.
Mr. MSELLE, introducing the related ACABQ report (document A/56/694), said the second performance report indicated that appropriations for 2000-2001 were estimated at $2,560.9 million representing gross increase of $27.8 million. The ACABQ had no technical reason to disagree with the provision of the second performance report. He drew attention, however, to $161.7 million in unliquidated obligations at the end of September 2001. The ACABQ’s experience was that not all that amount would ultimately be required for assessment to Member States. The closing of accounts according to financial regulations was done as of 31 March 2002 after the Secretary-General had submitted a final statement with respect to those accounts. The ACABQ would then be able to determine which of the $161.7 million would represent an additional assessment on Member States.
Mr. MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran) noted that, according to the performance report, the vacancy rate for Professionals in the current biennium had been higher than the projected figure. He was concerned that for certain sections of the budget, that rate was excessively high, reflecting delays in recruitment and appointment of staff. He also drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that the funds for the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) had not been fully utilized, saying that it should be reflected in the disbursement for 2002.
Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that from explanations regarding the statement on the revised estimates, the Assembly was to take note of the documents before the Committee. The expression “takes note” could not be understood in context, however. He disagreed with Mr. Mselle in that respect. When there was a request for specific action, it could not be decided in context. If the Secretariat wanted the Fifth Committee to take action on an item, it should use appropriate terms, and not the neutral “take note”.
Turning to the performance report, he stressed the high vacancy rates and the under-utilization of funds by INSTRAW, which should be given to the Institute in the upcoming budget.
Mr. YAMANAKA (Japan) said that according to paragraph 32 of the Secretary-General’s report (document A/56/674) a non-utilization of the one-time provision to INSTRAW had been recorded as a result of sufficient extrabudgetary funds remaining available. He inquired about the precise figures involved. He also asked about the provisions under the Contingency Fund.
A large portion of change under expenditures was attributable to the change of exchange rates and inflation, he continued. In that connection, he recalled a General Assembly resolution which called for solution of the problem of additional expenditures due to the variations in inflation and exchange rates, and said that his delegation requested a study on the matter.
JOHN ORR (Canada) said that he had three pages of questions on the report, but he would concentrate only on the key issues. One of them related to the post incumbency and other staff costs. Under section 27, Management and central support services, a $4 million over-expenditure was reported in post incumbency. But, according to another section, the Department had a high vacancy rate. He would appreciate an explanation of that contradiction. There was also a significant over-expenditure for the Department of General Assembly Affairs.
He understood that in many ways, the budgets were really projections, he continued. As the Committee was considering the proposed budget for the next biennium, he recalled that under general operating expenditures, reduced requirements of $12.9 million were shown in the performance report, attributable in large part to costs related to premises, increased recovery of communication costs and reduced long-distance charges. In the budget under consideration, however, exorbitant rates were being charged for the premises when new staff members were introduced to the Secretariat. Was that over-budgeting?
Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that the second performance report signalled the end of the current budget cycle. Many of his questions were similar to those put forward by the representative of Canada, and he wanted to get to the bottom of some of the issues raised, including the increase in the expenditures and overspending in several areas of the budget. Overall, the figures suggested some difficulty on behalf of the Secretariat in managing the allocations, and he inquired about the procedure followed in that respect. He also wanted to know about the unliquidated obligations at the current point of the budget cycle.
EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) commented on the lack of clarity in the preparation of the report, particularly regarding transparency in the level of savings. Her delegation agreed with the ACABQ that it would have been useful to have the financial document along with the programme performance report.
Responding to questions, Mr. SACH said in September $165 million in unliquidated obligations had been recorded. He did not consider that figure exceptional, for it was consistent with the normal operations of the Organization. As certain obligations were liquidated, the figure would drop. Now it was $95 million, and some “cleaning up” in the settling of accounts would lead to a further reduction.
As for the amounts sought under the Contingency Fund, he said that, while the exchange rate variance, inflation and the like were presented in Table 3 of the performance report, none of those items would be chargeable under the Contingency Fund. Regarding INSTRAW, he explained that the one-time provision for 2000-2001 had not been disbursed, because the conditions of insufficiency of extrabudgetary resources were not met. There had been adequate resources to continue the operation of the Institute. As the delegates had expressed a wish that the unutilized amount should be made available to the Institute in the future, he said that an explicit change in the rules was needed in order to do that.
Regarding vacancies versus the additional funds requested, he said that the quoted vacancy rate related only to Professionals, while provisions were needed in the budget for both categories of staff. The vacancy rate for General Service staff under section 27 was considerably below the budgeted rate for the biennium. Additional resources were needed as a result. Regarding the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, he added that there was an overspending as a result of additional meetings in 2000-2001. The proportion of meetings requiring interpretation had also grown. As for other staff costs, there was temporary assistance for meetings, and the Secretariat was tracking that situation. On general operating expenditures, he said that they were a large component of expenses under section 27. By and large, there was not a large amount of variance to account for.
The Committee decided to consider the decision to be taken on the matter in informal consultations.
As the Committee turned to the revised estimates for the two International Tribunals (document A/C.5/56/30), Mr. SACH introduced the reports of the Secretary-General on the matter. The submission of supplementary requirements followed the consultations regarding enhancing the oversight arrangements for the Tribunals. Several positions had been established to achieve that goal. It was understood that the issue would be revisited in the context of future consideration of the budgets of the courts.
Orally presenting the Advisory Committee’s report on the matter, Mr. MSELLE said that the document had been sent to the Secretariat to be published. He noted that 6 posts were being requested for six months. The ACABQ agreed that such a provision should be made. The question of providing resources beyond the first six months should be considered in the context of the first financial and programme performance report for the two Tribunals. The Advisory Committee was
recommending that the Assembly approve the additional appropriations in the amounts of $167,550 for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and $219,850 for the Rwanda Tribunal under the biennial budgets for 2002-2003.
Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said the fact that the ACABQ report was being printed was a distinct improvement in the issuance of the Committee’s reports. He wondered why the estimates for the Tribunals had not been submitted along with their budgets. He did not understand why the estimates were not submitted as part of the submission of their budgets.
Mr. SACH said the requirements were submitted to the Budget Division extremely late by the Office of Internal Oversight Services. The submission had been received when the budget materials had already been completed.
The Acting Chairman, Mr. ORR (Canada), proposed that the Committee make appropriate recommendations during informal consultations.
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