IN FIFTH COMMITTEE, AFRICAN GROUP ADVOCATES ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR UN MISSIONS IN SIERRA LEONE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

20 May 2003
GA/AB/3567

IN FIFTH COMMITTEE, AFRICAN GROUP ADVOCATES ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR UN MISSIONS IN SIERRA LEONE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

20/05/2003
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3567

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee (Resumed)

53rd Meeting (AM)

IN FIFTH COMMITTEE, AFRICAN GROUP ADVOCATES ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR UN MISSIONS

IN SIERRA LEONE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) continued its consideration of peacekeeping financing, the African Group advocated providing adequate funding for two major African missions -- the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) -– in order to enable them to successfully implement their mandates.

The representative of Nigeria stressed that UNAMSIL remained a flagship mission that all Member States could be proud of.  The Organization’s commitment in stemming the tide of the conflict had helped to prevent the escalation of the crisis in Sierra Leone and had assisted the eventual return of peace to that country.  Despite the apparent calm, however, serious security challenges persisted and needed to be addressed.  The United Nations, therefore, should remain constructively engaged to ensure the maintenance of the hard-earned peace.

Also on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Gabon said that given the vastness of the territory, the volatility of the situation and the wide range of critical tasks before it, MONUC needed to be provided with adequate resources.  The Mission had proven to be one of the most complex missions in the United Nations peacekeeping history, and for its achievements to be sustained, there should be a sufficient deployment of troops. 

Recruitment and training of civilian police would guarantee a smooth future exit strategy, he added.  As a new budget was to be submitted later in the year in connection with the revision of MONUC’s mandate by the Security Council, for now, the African Group wished to explore the merits of providing the Secretariat with a degree of flexibility, which would ensure the Mission’s ability to fulfill its mandate in the field.  

In that connection, Ghana’s representative wondered how the Secretariat envisioned the operations of the mission under current circumstances when some foreign troops had moved out of the eastern part of the country, and MONUC’s presence there was not adequate. 

Also this morning, Canada’s representative (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand) advocated a simple, transparent, equitable and fair system of reimbursement for troop-contributing countries, saying that additional information was needed on the implications of proposed changes before a decision could be made in that respect.

As the Committee turned to the 2004/2005 budget outline for the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO, speakers noted that the proposed amount represented a 5.4 per cent increase in real terms and questioned the inclusion of particular requirements in the estimate.

Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Japan, United Republic of Tanzania, Jordan, China, Cuba and the United States. 

Responding to questions and comments from the floor were Director of Peacekeeping Financing Division, Catherine Pollard, and Chief of the Economic, Social and Human Rights Service, Ali Khamis.

The Committee is expected to meet next at 10 a.m. Thursday, 22 May.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to continue its consideration of various reports on the administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping financing (for more detailed information, see Press Release GA/AB/3566 of 19 May). 

Also before the Committee was a Secretary-General’s report (document A/57/761) containing a proposed budget outline for the International Trade Centre United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)/World Trade Organization (WTO) for the first year of activities for the coming biennium (SwF 33.13 million) and a projection of requirements for 2005 (SwF 33.53 million).  Those resources will be used to strengthen the capacity of the International Trade Centre in the fast growing area of trade in services and expand the number of country networks participating in the “World Tr@de Net” programme.  The proposed outline represents an increase of 5.4 per cent in real terms.  The change is mainly related to the creation of several posts (three P-4; two P-3; 1 P-2; and 5 G-level), as well as reclassification of three posts.

Statements

JEAN CHRISTIAN OBAME (Gabon), speaking on behalf of the African Group on the financing of United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), welcomed the efforts by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and invaluable support by all troop-contributing countries to the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Group appreciated the progress made so far in the deployment of both civilian and military components of the Mission, which was needed for the successful completion of phase 3.  Also welcome were the achievements in ensuring a sustained political dialogue among the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and the support provided to the Neutral Facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue.  The MONUC had played an important role with regard to political settlement, improved living conditions, increasing respect of human rights and facilitating a voluntary disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement (DDRRR) process.

However, MONUC had proven to be one of the most complex missions in the United Nations’ peacekeeping history, he continued.  For its achievements to be sustained, there should be a corresponding deployment of troops, which should keep the peace process interfaced with recruitment and training of civilian police to guarantee a smooth future exit strategy.  Given the vastness of the territory, the volatility of the situation and the wide range of critical tasks before the Mission, MONUC needed to be provided with adequate resources to facilitate timely contingent troop deployments and to ensure full and successful implementation of its mandate.  The Africa Group, therefore, viewed sufficient troop deployments as a prerequisite to the implementation of programmes leading to compliance with a ceasefire and disengagement plan, as well as progress towards voluntary DDRRR.  Provision of adequate resources would also enable the Mission to fulfill the requests of the Council aimed at increasing the number of personnel in its human rights component and enhancing the capacity of the Mission.

He noted that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended maintaining the budget and staffing of the Mission at their current levels and requested the Secretariat to submit a new budget before the end of 2003, which should reflect the changes to the existing mandate.  The African Group wished to explore the merits of providing the Secretariat with a degree of flexibility to enable the establishment of important posts until the Committee had an opportunity to consider the new budget.  Such commitment authority would ensure MONUC’s ability to fulfill its mandate in the field.  It was also crucial in view of external variances, which were likely to affect the situation in the country.  Recent unfortunate incidents at Ituri and Bunia highlighted the urgent need for enhanced performance of the Mission.

The Group remained concerned about the crippling and perennial issue of high vacancy rates, which ran as high as 38 per cent for international staff, 47 per cent for national staff and 45 per cent for military contingent deployments.  The number of 47 per cent for civilian police grossly affected the overall objective of advancing the restoration of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Therefore, he called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Office of Human Resources Management to redress that situation in the overall context of financing of all peacekeeping missions.  The Group remained ready to consider any additional staffing and financial resources for MONUC in the context of the next budget.

Turning to the airfield services contract for MONUC, he recalled the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the board of auditors and the ACABQ on the matter and noted that the oversight bodies continued to follow the issue.  He welcomed the efforts of the Secretariat which had undertaken a detailed study and an exercise of replacing the existing airfield services contract in the Mission.  That was a step in the right direction.  He hoped that many of the shortcomings previously identified by the oversight bodies would be fully addressed.  The Group called upon relevant Departments to take necessary measures to penalize contractors for non-performance, in accordance with the provisions contained in the contract. 

Concerning procurement and contract management, the Group requested the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of Central Support Services to ensure strict respect for and enforcement of the procurement rules and regulations of the Organization.  The importance of ensuring best peacekeeping practices, with a clearly defined code of ethics to guarantee transparency, fairness and accountability of all staff could not be over-emphasized. 

NONYE UDO (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group on the financing of United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) said UNAMSIL remained a flagship mission that all Member States could be proud of.  The Organization’s commitment in stemming the tide of the conflict had helped to prevent the escalation of the crisis in Sierra Leone and had assisted the eventual return of peace to that country.  Despite the apparent calm, however, serious security challenges persisted and needed to be addressed.  The United Nations, therefore, should remain constructively engaged to ensure the maintenance of the hard-earned peace.

She noted five benchmarks outlined by the Secretary-General that needed to be filled in order to determine the extent of the Mission’s drawdown.  They included:  building the capacity of the army and police; reintegration of ex-combatants; and a cessation of hostilities in Liberia.  In that connection, she noted that, in the second phase of the drawdown of troops in May, the number of troops would be some 13,000.  In the third phase, from August 2003 to the end of 2004, the number of troops would drop from 13,000 to 5,000.  It seemed as if the drawdown process was being accelerated.  She wanted to know which benchmarks the drawdown strategy was following.  Accelerated drawdown in itself would be desirable as long as it was matched with the development of national capacities required to ensure continued peace. 

The final reduction to 5,000 troops was closely linked to the achievement of critical benchmarks, most significantly, the development of the Sierra Leone police and armed forces to maintain security, and was predicated on the much greater risks in phase 3.  The Group urged the Secretariat to be guided by those considerations as it continued to monitor UNAMSIL.

The Group also wanted to know if the Secretariat had complied with Council resolution 1470 (2003) that requested the Secretary-General provide detailed plans for the remainder of the drawdown.  She reiterated the need for the Secretariat to be guided in its formulation of an exit strategy while taking into full consideration of the security conditions both within Sierra Leone and the region as a whole.  There was a need to develop adequate rule of law capacity by training civilian police, developing adequate infrastructure and strengthening the justice system.

Regarding the Mission’s budget, she said sufficient resources should be made available to UNAMSIL to address any operational changes that might occur during the implementation period.  The Group trusted that no action would be taken regarding resource allocation that might prejudge the actions taken by the Council after it reviewed the Secretary-General’s recommendations in his report.  The Group remained concerned by high vacancy rates in the Mission and wanted to know what steps the Secretariat was taking to remedy the situation.  In that regard, the Group reiterated its support for the decentralization of authority to field missions for recruitment from local and regional levels to meet the Mission’s staffing needs.  It was important to ensure that adequate staffing was retained that would be commensurate with the responsibilities required by the Mission.

SHINICHI YAMANAKA (Japan) said Japan was concerned with recent developments surrounding MONUC and continued to support the Mission’s activities.  He noted that the Secretary-General would be reporting to the Security Council in May with recommendations for an expanded role for MONUC.  He also noted the ACABQ recommendation that the budget and staffing table be maintained at the current level and that a new proposed budget was to be submitted for consideration in the fall.  In that connection, he recalled General Assembly resolution 49/233A, which related to peacekeeping operations with budgetary requirements subject to fluctuation and the Assembly’s decision that budget estimates be approved twice a year -- for the periods from 1 July to 31 December and from 1 January to 30 June.

While he basically supported the ACABQ’s recommendation, he said MONUC was a case of peacekeeping operations with budgetary requirements subject to fluctuation.  Resolution 49/233A should, therefore, be applied in the case of MONUC, and budgetary requirements should be approved only for the period from July to December.  As the Committee responsible for administrative and budgetary issues, it should make a proper decision in accordance with the established framework.  He expected that all posts would be fully justified in the new 2003/2004 budget in terms of the new concept of operation, organizational structure and workload.

On financing of MONUC, JOHN J. NG’ONGOLO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his country belonged to the Great Lakes Region and Southern African Development Community (SADC), as did the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  His Government was very concerned over the developments taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which tended to undermine the progress already achieved by the United Nations in restoring peace and security there.  He called upon the people of that country to refrain from any activities, which could undermine the efforts of the international community to restore peace there, as peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo meant peace and security in the region and also within the SADC. 

Tanzania was a poor country struggling to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, he continued.  Despite its difficult situation, however, it had been granting refuge to people fleeing the neighbouring countries, whenever there was a political upheaval there.  The influx of refugees was constantly overstretching the already meager resources and leading to environmental degradation in his country.

Restoration of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a very important matter for the United Republic of Tanzania, and he associated himself with the position of the African Group on the matter, emphasizing the importance of increasing the resources provided to MONUC to enable the Mission to implement its mandates effectively.  He was encouraged by the decision of the Security Council to send a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi with a visit to the United Republic of Tanzania in June to assess, among other things, the situation on the ground.  His Government was ready to cooperate with the United Nations in the restoration of lasting peace in the Great Lakes Region. 

HAROLD ALDAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said he fully shared the views of the African Group on MONUC, but he wanted to seek clarification on several issues.  The ACABQ had recommended maintaining the budget and staffing of the Mission at their current levels and requested the Secretariat submit a new budget before the end of 2003.  He wanted to know how the Secretariat envisioned the operations of the mission under current circumstances when some foreign troops had moved out of the eastern part of the country and MONUC’s presence there was not adequate.  Also, some countries indicated that they would be sending troops to that area, and he wanted to know what the status of such an international force and its relationship to MONUC would be, at least until the Council took action on the issue. 

Turning to the airfield contract for the Mission, he said the board of auditors had noted some instances of non-performance by the contractor, yet the contract had been renewed.  He wanted to know how the contract had been renewed without an assessment of the performance of the contractor, while instances of non-performance had been noted.  Why had the contract been granted to the same company?  He also asked whether fair comparison had been ensured among various bidders.  Noting that a request had been made to increase the number of United Nations volunteers, he asked about the current status of volunteers in the Mission and requested that a list by nationality be provided to the Committee in informal consultations.

MOHAMMAD TAL (Jordan) asked for a written copy of the presentation made by the Controller yesterday.

CATHERINE POLLARD, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, responding to delegates, said the Secretariat had made progress in lowering the vacancy rates for MONUC.  As of 30 April, the vacancy rate for international staff was some 18 per cent compared to 38 per cent as noted in the performance report.  She had noted the questions on the airfield services contract and would provide detailed information during informal consultations.  Regarding UNAMSIL, some improvement had been made in the number of vacancies for international staff.  She would respond to the issue of the application of benchmarks also at the informal consultations.

Regarding the budget and the impact related to troops, she said the Secretariat had prepared a budget based on 13,000 military personnel.  While the ACABQ had recommended appropriation of the full amount, it had recommended assessment of a lower amount, which would represent financial implications of drawing down to 11,000 troops.  Should the drawdown not take place as planned, based on the developments in the Mission, and additional funds were needed, the Secretariat would approach the Assembly through the ACABQ, as it had done in

2003 with another mission.

Ms. UDO (Nigeria) asked the Secretariat for a list of volunteers for UNAMSIL.

As the Committee turned to the review of the rates of reimbursement, PETER HAMMERSCHMIDT (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the delegations he represented attached great importance to peacekeeping and contributed troops, observers and civilian police to peacekeeping operations.  They also attached great importance to the efficient and effective administration of various operations.  That included the need for a simple, transparent, equitable and fair system of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries. 

He went on to say that the rate of reimbursement should be set at a level that was fair to all troop-contributing countries and beneficial to the peacekeeping system as a whole.  It should accurately reflect the essential additional costs incurred by troop contributors for their participation in peacekeeping operations.  It should be representative of the situation on the ground and provide appropriate guidance on the validity and analysis of data and the periodicity of the review.  Also, it should be based on the principles of financial control, audit and confirmed delivery of services.

Upon the recommendation of the Fifth Committee, the Assembly had requested that the Secretariat conduct a comprehensive review of the methodology in resolution 55/274, he continued.  While he thanked the Secretariat for its work in undertaking the review, he had hoped it would be more comprehensive.  Though some elements, such as the periodicity, had been refined, the report largely just added two components to the existing formula. 

Additional information was also needed on the implications of the proposed changes, he said.  Among other things, the delegations he represented needed to know more about how the principles of verification and financial control would be applied to the post-deployment medical costs and peacekeeping-related training.  And most importantly, expert-level consideration of the administrative and financial implications of the proposed changes would be required to determine the overall impact on the peacekeeping budget.  Members of the budgetary and administrative committee would find it difficult to pass judgement on the implementation of the proposal without first knowing the full consequences of doing so.

Responding to comments and questions, Ms. POLLARD said that in the past, the General Assembly had requested the Secretariat to conduct reviews of the rates based on the methodology adopted in 1973.  In 2000, it had been decided to consider the methodology underlying the current calculations.  In view of the absence of consensus in the post-Phase V Working Group, the report before the Committee had been presented in response to resolution 55/274.  By the terms of that text, the Secretary-General had been requested to submit to the Assembly for its approval a methodology for the reimbursement for troop costs and a questionnaire to be submitted to troop-contributing countries on the basis of elements and guidelines contained in the same resolution.  Cognizant of the technical nature of the matter, Member States might wish to convene a technical working group, for which the Secretariat would provide the necessary support. 

Regarding transparency, financial control and confirmed delivery of services, she said the proposed methodology laid out various cost elements for which Member States should be reimbursed on an equal basis.  In addition, it proposed that the survey be sent to all former and current troop and police contributors.  Furthermore, when troop cost reimbursements were made for a particular mission, all troop-contributing countries were paid at the same time.  Verification and payments were based on the monthly troop strength reports, which provided actual numbers of troops deployed, rather than the maximum planned strength stipulated in the memoranda of understanding.  That procedure followed the reimbursement procedure for contingent-owned equipment, whereby actual reimbursements to troop-contributing countries were based on verification reports of equipment deployed, against the equipment reflected in the memoranda of understanding.  Should Member States decide that the principle of confirmed delivery of services should extend beyond the Secretariat’s current interpretation, the Secretariat would welcome guidance from the General Assembly on the qualitative criteria to be applied to the delivery of services.

Yesterday, the European Union had stated that a convincing case had yet to be made on the merits of including isolated new variables into the methodology, she recalled.  The addition of post-deployment medical costs to the methodology had been predicated on the Organization’s responsibility to ensure that returning troops should be in good medical condition.  The methodology proposed that such costs be included in the standard rates, without further need for verification that post-deployment examinations had been undertaken.  An analogy could be made with current reimbursement arrangements for the repainting of equipment to national colours upon repatriation from the mission area. 

As for the addition of peacekeeping-related training costs, she said that in the working group, proposals had been made to do that either under letter-of-assist arrangements concluded with troop-contributing countries on a case-by-case basis, or as part of the standard rate of reimbursement.  The proposed methodology recognized that including training costs in the standard rates calculation would meet the principles of simplicity, transparency and equitable reimbursement.  Using letter-of-assist arrangements would result in additional administrative support for negotiations based on actual costs, the range of which could vary from one troop-contributing country to another.  In addition, the development of proposed manual on training would serve as a more standardized basis for equitable reimbursement through the standard rates. 

Responding to question regarding an overall review involving experts as requested by the ACABQ, she said that in its 2000 report, the Advisory Committee had not made a specific recommendation for the matter to be reviewed by experts.  In its report of 4 April 2001, the ACABQ had recommended that, pending a comprehensive review of the methodology of reimbursement for troop costs, the Assembly might wish to consider, as an ad hoc arrangement, increasing the standard monthly rates of reimbursement by 4 to 6 per cent.  It had also recommended that consideration be given to having recourse to a group of qualified individuals who would make proposals on the methodology and the elements on which it was based.  Having considered the ACABQ report, the Assembly had made its requests in resolution 55/274, and the Secretary-General’s report before the Committee had been submitted in response to that text.  

As for the financial implications, they could be generated only upon the approval of the new methodology by the Assembly.  Should it so decide, the Assembly might request the Secretariat to provide the financial implications on the basis of a methodology that it approved, for which a test survey could be conducted.  However, in light of the response rate to past reviews by troop-contributing countries, the Assembly would need to provide the Secretariat with guidance and benchmarks on the number of responses to a survey that would meet its criteria of “comprehensive” information.

International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO

ALI KHAMIS, Chief of the Economic, Social and Human Rights Service of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, saying the present outline had been prepared following consultations with the WTO and the International Trade Centre (ITC) and had been considered by the WTO Budgetary and Finance Committee last week.  That committee had noted the budget outline.  On the basis of the Fifth Committee’s recommendation, a full-fledged budget fascicle would be presented to the General Assembly in the fall.  In the past, on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report and the ACABQ’s recommendations, the Fifth Committee had recommended that the General Assembly take note of the documents. 

The Committee Chairman, Murari Raj Sharma (Nepal) said he had been informed that the Advisory Committee had nothing to add to what was in its report.

HUANG XUEQI (China) said that currently, documentation for the annual session of the ITC Joint Advisory Board was in English, French, Spanish and Russian.  In 2002, the proposal had been made to add Arabic and Chinese as official languages for that meeting.  The ITC had said it would submit the request to its parent organization for further consideration.  While considering the

2003 budget, the Committee on Budget and Finance had decided that the WTO would undertake half of the cost of adding the two languages once approved by the General Assembly. 

In September 2002, at its twenty-ninth session of UNCTAD’s Trade and Develop Board, Arab and Chinese delegates had proposed adding Arabic and Chinese as official languages and had decided to submit such a proposal to the General Assembly for its consideration, he said.  However, the 2004-2005 budget outline did not reflect the addition of the two languages.  The six official languages were equal in status, and the ITC annual session should use all six official languages.  In view of the fact that the budget outline was not complete, he requested that informal consideration of the issue be delayed.

Mr. KHAMIS, responding to comments, said the Secretariat was fully aware of the discussions that had taken place in the UNCTAD/WTO joint advisory group.  The Trade and Development Board had included a decision that it would desirable for documentation to be issued in the two other languages, and had recommended that the General Assembly consider the proposal in the light of its recommendation.  The Board’s report would be submitted during the Assembly’s fifty-eighth Session.  The legislative bodies of the WTO were ready to follow the General Assembly’s decision on the issue and would be ready to pay half the cost involved for adding the two languages.  The Secretariat’s view was that the addition of the two languages could be absorbed through the rearrangement of the ITC’s resources.  The Secretariat had not included the addition of the two languages in the current outline as it was awaiting the Assembly’s formal decision.

Ms. GOICOCHEA (Cuba) asked for clarification regarding the proposal related to the absorption of the cost of translation of documentation into Arabic and Chinese.  Should such a decision be made, she wanted to know how that would be possible.  On what basis had the outline been proposed?  Once the translation had been endorsed, would the Secretariat revise the estimates?  She also wanted to obtain information about the reasons why the joint review of procedures had not been initiated, which had been recommended by the ACABQ.  What were the deadlines and when would it be undertaken?  Would it have an impact on the amounts that the Committee was considering?

THOMAS A. REPASCH (United States) noted that the proposed outline for the ITC showed an increase of 5.4 per cent.  That was 10 times the increase proposed by the Secretary-General for the regular budget.  It seemed that every time the budget of the ITC was presented, it went up, but there was no evidence of priority setting and efforts to eliminate obsolete activities.  He wanted to know what the requirements were for setting priorities and eliminating obsolete activities within the ITC. 

Mr. KHAMIS said that issue of absorption of the cost, should the Assembly approve the addition of languages, was based on an estimate, but followed the same methodology as for the regular budget.  The ITC’s programme of work had been mandated for the next two years, and the estimates could be modified at the end of the process.  The actual amounts would be approved later, when the budget as a whole was submitted.  The ITC had indicated that it might be able to absorb the costs involved.

As for the joint review recommended by the General Assembly last December, it had not been carried out, because the Secretariat had been very busy with the preparation of the programme budget.  There was an intension to carry out those consultations in the near future with the objective of submitting the report in the fall.  He also took note of the United States’ statement regarding the increase of the budget by 5.4 per cent.  One should look at the increase in the context of the overall increase in part IV of the proposed regular budget (international cooperation for development).  While overall budget increase was much lower, in part IV it constituted 5.2 per cent.  Consequently, the increase for the ITC fell within the overall level of the increase for the economic and social levels of the Secretariat.  ITC was part of the overall economic and social sector, and the priorities for that sector had been approved. 

Ms. GOICOCHEA (Cuba) said that she appreciated the answers.  Her country attached great importance to the activities of the ITC, particularly technical cooperation, and was in favour of the proposed outline.  When the budget was discussed, she would address that matter further.  She was concerned over the concept of absorption, however.  While it was true that the outline was a preliminary estimate, it was based on the need to carry out the Organization’s activities.  At this point, she felt it was premature to say that if the translation into Chinese and Arabic was included, the resources would be absorbed. 

Mr. REPASCH (United States) said his country also placed great importance on the critical activities for the United Nations and thanked Mr. KHAMIS for answering his question about priority-setting.  He understood that the General Assembly had decided that the area of trade should be treated as a priority, but the budget outline included very specific requests for posts and resources.  If it was possible to make such proposals, wouldn’t it also be possible to indicate what kinds of activities were obsolete or ineffective?  He would assume that the budget proposal would contain specific proposals for priority setting and indications where activities could be eliminated in accordance with what was required from all managers within the United Nations.

The Committee was then informed that the Secretariat would respond to all questions on the ITC budget outline in informal consultations.

Ms. GOICOCHEA (Cuba) said she accepted the fact that information would be provided during the informal consultations.  However, when specific questions were posed, Secretariat representatives were required to answer those questions in formal meetings, so that those answers could be reflected in the formal record.

Mr. HUANG (China) said he hoped representatives of the ITC would provide more detailed clarification on the issue of including Arabic and Chinese as official languages of that body.  He hoped the proposals would be given full consideration and would be listed in future budget proposals.

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For information media. Not an official record.