Press Conference by Under-Secretary-General for Management

9 October 2013

Press Conference by Under-Secretary-General for Management

9 October 2013
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Under-Secretary-General for Management

 

Thanks largely to Member States meeting their obligations, the overall financial situation of the United Nations was sound, and the Organization’s cash position in its core operations other than the regular budget were projected to be positive at the end of this year, said Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management at a Headquarters press conference today.

“The number of Member States meeting their full obligations continues to improve,” Mr. Takasu told reporters.  That translated into 134 Member States paid in full to the regular budget by 1 October this year — the cut-off date of reporting to the General Assembly, as compared to last year’s 129.  For peacekeeping some 33 Member States had paid all their assessments in full, as of 9 October of this year.

He also said that the financial position of the United Nations as a whole was sound and there was “no need to worry too much”.  The cash position was projected to be positive in three of the four lines of the budget that Member States financed, including peacekeeping, the three tribunals and the Capital Master Plan.

However, the fourth budget line — the regular budget — situation was “quite tight”, he said.  In spite of the notable increase of Member States who had already made their full contribution, a significant amount of assessment still remained unpaid.  That discrepancy pointed to the reality that the financial health of the Organization continued to depend on Member States meeting their financial obligations.  Urging timely payments, he stressed that the Organization’s final financial position rested on the incoming contributions during the remaining quarter of the year.

As it stood now, he commented, the financial position of the regular budget, compared to one year ago reflected that assessments were higher by $194 million and payments received were lower.  Unpaid assessed contributions amounted to $945 million as at 1 October.  That figure was higher than last year’s by $90 million.

In regards to the Organization’s efforts to expedite payments owed to Member States who provided troops, police and equipment for peacekeeping operations, he pointed to a marked improvement compared to a year ago.  Outstanding payments were projected to decrease at the end of the year to $423 million.

On peacekeeping operations, a total outstanding amount as of 1 October was $3.4 million, reflecting an increase of $2.1 million as compared to the end of 2012.  “This sounds alarming, but it isn’t,” Mr. Takasu said, explaining that the disparity was mainly due to the timing in the Letter of Assessment that the Secretary-General issued to all 193 Member States.

In the case of the peacekeeping operations budget, he said that Headquarters would have to wait until the Security Council authorized extensions or new mandates, an occurrence that happened throughout the year.  Also contributing to that was the fact the scale of assessment for Member States changed in keeping with the General Assembly’s revision of the scale every three years.

The issue of outstanding payments to Member States, he stressed, was a top priority for the Organization.  The United Nations was dependent on those Member States that had the capacity and willingness to provide troops and police equipment to carry out peacekeeping operations.  At the end of 2012, the Organization owed such Member States $525 million.  As of now, it stood at $795 million. “But between now and the end of the year, we are going to make serious efforts to reduce it; to pay more to those countries,” Mr. Takasu stated.

He then turned to the issue of the tribunals and the Capital Master Plan, noting that unpaid assessments had been decreasing.  That decrease clearly demonstrated the strong commitment and support of the Member States to the United Nations, for which the Secretary-General was grateful.  He expected the unpaid assessments in this regard to drop from the $63 million at the end of last year to $60 million by the end of this year.

Responding to several correspondents’ concern on allegations of corruption, theft, graft and extortion in the Organization and peacekeeping operations, as well as what steps were being taken to address those charges, Mr. Takasu said the Organization had internal control mechanisms to reduce potential abuse of power or illegalities, including corruption to some extent.

The Organization also has “very tight” financial control mechanisms, he said.  However, he acknowledged that the Organization “cannot be perfect on this”.  Hence, the Office of Internal Oversight Services that, although was part of the Secretariat, now functioned independently from management and the rest of the Secretariat.  Other mechanisms, among others, included methods to address conflict of interest.

To a question on the Capital Master Plan, he lauded the United States Government for paying $100 million above its assessment for the Capital Master Plan, noting that the host country paid that amount to enhance security in the building. 

When asked what the host country’s assessments were, he noted that the United States owed $795 million for the regular budget, and $651 million for peacekeeping operations assessment.  In response to another question, he said there was no “meaningful correlation” between the United States’ $795 million and Brazil’s $75 million as unpaid regular budgets assessments and the order in which the two countries spoke at opening sessions of the General Assembly.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.