Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
    UNIS/GA/1773
    18 December 2000
     
    Fifth Committee Discusses Outline for United Nations Budget
    For 2002-2003
     

    NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- Economy measures should not result in the sacrifice of implementation of the United Nations programmes, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told this morning, as it began its consideration of the proposed budget outline for the 2002-2003 programme budget.
     
    The representative of China added that his delegation supported the efforts to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures, but believed that the programme budget should provide full financial backing for mandated programmes and fully reflect the Organization’s actual needs.  Some States talked about increasing the role of the United Nations, while trying to set a ceiling for the United Nations budget.  He appealed to all parties to demonstrate flexibility in that respect.
     
    Stressing that the budget outline was a key step in the budgetary process, the representative of Japan explained that it gave Member States the opportunity to reflect on estimated overall resources prior to the submission of the next proposed budget.  Given that, provisions for special political missions and for safety and security of personnel -– not included in the Secretary-General’s proposal -- should be included in the preliminary estimate of resources.  

    Speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the representative of Australia said the implementation of priority activities represented only one part of the budget equation.  An equally important aspect was the need and responsibility to take advantage of every possible opportunity to do things better and cost-effectively.

     The Committee also concluded its general debate on the proposed capital master plan, this morning.  Several speakers agreed that the proposed gigantic construction project should help update the deteriorating Headquarters complex and bring it up to modern standards.  The importance of support from, and coordination with, the host country was also stressed.

    The representative of the United States said that the host country would indeed respond to the needs of the aging facility.  The United States had started its own review to determine what must be done and what had been done in similar exercises in the private sector.  The United States would share the results of that examination with its fellow Member States.

    Acting on the programme budget implications of several draft resolutions currently before the General Assembly, the Committee decided to inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt the draft resolution on MINUGUA, additional requirements of some $16.24 million would arise for the year 2001.  

     The Assembly would also be informed that an additional appropriation of $191,800 would be required within the framework of the current budget if the Assembly passed a draft resolution before it on the situation in Central America.

     Action on a draft decision regarding the financial situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) was deferred, pending the outcome of informal consultations. 

     The Committee also concluded its general discussion of the first performance report on the programme budget for 2000-2001 this morning.

     The representatives of France, Mexico, Russian Federation, Norway, Cuba, Syria, Nigeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and Sweden (also on behalf of the European Union) also made statements this morning.

     The report of the Secretary-General on the budget for 2002-2003 was introduced by United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs.  Relevant reports before the Committee were introduced by the Chairman of that body, Conrad S.M. Mselle.  Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, Toshiyuki Niwa, made a statement in reply to questions on the capital master plan.  Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Warren Sach, also spoke.

     The Committee will hold its next meeting at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 16 December, to conclude its general discussion on the proposed programme budget outline for the next biennium and to take action on outsourcing and results-based budgeting.

    Committee Work Programme

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to begin discussion on the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2002-2003, and to conclude its general discussion on the first performance report on the 2000-2001 programme budget and the capital master plan.  It was also expected to take action on the programme budget implications of several draft decisions on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), the situation in Central America and the critical financial situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).  (For background information on the reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/AB/3421 of 14 December 2000.)

    Introduction of Reports

     JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, the United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2002-2003.  He recalled that the outline was a significant component of the budget process.  The purpose of the outline was to promote the greater involvement of Member States in the budgetary process.  The outline, once considered by the Committee, would guide the Secretary-General in preparing the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.  He pointed out that the outline was not a preliminary programme budget, it was a preliminary estimate of resources.  It could only be general in nature. 

    Regarding the provision for special political missions, the Assembly had decided that the outline should include provision for special missions, he continued.  The Secretariat could have maintained a provision in the outline, but in light of the ongoing review of the recommendations of the Brahimi panel, it decided that it would be better to leave the provision out and revert to the issue later.  The forecast for special political missions would be some $90.3 million.  During the actual budget preparations, the Secretary-General would continue to scrutinize the level of resources required. 

     CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, Chairman of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related report.  The preliminary estimate amounted to some $2.475.4 billion.  The ACABQ examined that estimate and questioned the rationale for deleting the provision for special missions.  It recommended that amounts for special missions should be included in future outlines.  Regarding 2002-2003, the ACABQ was informed that the estimate for special missions was currently projected at some $93.7 million.  The ACABQ recommended that that amount be included in the outline.  Experience gained in 2000-2001 indicated that the initial provision for special missions had exceeded the Assembly’s authorization.  Roughly $112 million was estimated for 2000-2001.  Accordingly, the ACABQ recommended the amount of $93.7 million for 2002-2003.  Any addition to that amount would be treated in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 41/213.  The ACABQ recommended that the General Assembly adopt a preliminary estimate of $2.515.3 billion for 2002-2003.  The General Assembly, when it took action on the outline, would wish to make the usual provision for recosting that amount when the budget was prepared to the 2002-2003 rates.  

    He also noted a correction in paragraph 10 of the ACABQ report.

    Statements

     PENNY WENSLEY (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said that the budget outline was a crucial component of the budgetary process.  One of the main reasons for its introduction some 15 years ago was to provide Member States with a greater degree of predictability about the level of resources needed for the forthcoming biennium.  The Secretary-General’s indicative budget estimate appeared to be consistent with the priorities contained in the medium-term plan for 2002-2005.  In general, she endorsed the proposal.  Like any other tool, the benefits to be gained from the use of the budget outline would be determined ultimately by the care and judgement of both the Secretariat and Member States in their efforts to apply it.  

    If budget estimates were to be a useful planning figure, it was important that they be as realistic a forecast of the Organization’s financial requirements as possible, she said.  For that reason, she regretted that the budget estimate did not take into account special political missions, for which there was a recurring need for significant resources.  She could agree to the recommendation of the ACABQ that the budget outline estimates include an amount of some $93.7 million at revised rates for special political missions.  Omitting significant costs was not conducive to sound budgetary planning and control.  She also regretted that the budget outline was conspicuously silent on the issues of projected efficiency savings.  In the last budget outline, efficiency gains in the amount of some $20 million were initially identified -– a figure well within the range of normal productivity gains.  

    The task at hand, for both Member States and the Secretariat, was to ensure the Organization was run in the most efficient manner possible, she added.  While all Members wanted a budget that enabled implementation of priority activities, that represented only one part of the budget equation.  An equally important aspect of the budget process was the need and responsibility to take advantage of every possible opportunity to do things better and cost-effectively.  She was also disappointed that the outline did not make cost provisions for a number of major issues, including the Capital Master Plan, safety and security of United Nations personnel, and implementation of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, the costing of which would need careful consideration.  She agreed with the ACABQ's recommendation that the General Assembly adopt a budget outline estimate of $2.515.3 billion at the revised 2000-20001 rates for the biennium 2002-2003.

     CELINE CERVI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the United Nations was about to embark on profound reforms, including those on the scale of assessments and the financing of peacekeeping.  They should be reflected in budget decisions.  In general, she was satisfied with the proposed budget outline for the next biennium, for it correctly reflected the priorities of the Organization.  

    She supported a systematic search to savings in the process of budget preparation, she said.  Rigorous consideration of the amounts needed for 2002-2003 was needed.  Special political missions should be reintegrated in the proposed budget outline, as it was essential to provide sufficient amounts for possible engagement of those missions.  

    It was necessary to consider the financial consequences of implementing the recommendations of the Brahimi panel and to start implementing measures to improve safety and security of personnel, she said.  The size of those appropriations would be better assessed in May next year.  It should be pointed out, however, that maintenance of peace could not divert money from development activities. The preliminary estimate of the resources needed for the next biennium rested to a great extent on exchange rates, and the needs of the special political missions also remained to be confirmed.  The European Union would assume its share of the financial implications of the programme decisions taken by the General Assembly.

     MARIA ANGELICA ARCE DE JEANNET (Mexico) said that her delegation had carefully studied the proposed budget outline for 2002-2003, submitted by the Secretary-General.  It was important that any budgetary exercise ensured the human and financial resources needed to carry out the mandated activities of the United Nations.  Quality should not be sacrificed for the sake of misconstrued efficiency.  

    She fully agreed with the recommendations of the ACABQ regarding the inclusion of special political missions in the budget outline, she continued. Eventually, the proposed programme budget should also include the resources needed to implement the resolution on the high-level meeting on financing for development.  She also endorsed the other conclusions of the ACABQ and those of the Committee on Programme and (CPC).

     DONALD HAYS (United States) said that in general he saw no problem with the budget as it was laid out.  In the last several years, Member States, in partnership with the Secretariat, had come a long way in shaping the United Nations into a more streamlined Organization.  While Member States had sought an Organization that fully carried out all of its priority activities, they had also expected that those activities be implemented efficiently.  Responsible budgeting had been, and must continue to be, the hallmark of the United Nations.  The Committee's consideration of the budget was a critical part of an orderly and predictable process created to advance the cause of responsible budgeting.  While he supported the Secretary-General’s priorities for the next biennium, his overall impression was that it required further definition.  The outline, as presented, made it difficult to determine whether the estimate fully reflected the programme of work, in particular in priority areas of the Organization.

     In the area of peace and security, for example, the outline did not present a clear estimate for the cost of special political missions in the next biennium, he continued.  He shared the ACABQ’s opinion that estimates for those missions should be included in the budget.  The proposed outline also did not provide specific cost estimates for enhanced security and safety measures.  The United States strongly supported the need to strengthen staff security and safety, and welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiatives in that regard.  The United Nations’ share of the estimated costs for that should be fully reflected in the Secretary-General’s budget proposals.  Furthermore, estimates for the costs of the Brahimi report had now been submitted and were being given full consideration by the Committee.  As peace and security was a priority activity of the Organization, it was important to ensure that the resources to carry out that activity were adequate.   He supported the inclusion of estimated costs for peace and security mandates in the proposed budget for 2002-2003.  

     While he was pleased that efforts would be made to scrutinize resources and identify obsolete activities, there was no indication of what those efforts were expected to achieve in the way of possible economies, he added.  That omission detracted from the utility of the outline exercise and made it difficult for Member States to obtain a comprehensive perspective on the budget.  Although the proposal included a small reduction for public information activities, the overall budget level for that programme would still exceed $141 million, more than 5 per cent of the total United Nations budget.  He considered that estimate high in comparison to the final level of the last biennium, some $134 million.  Moreover, the level of the contingency fund appeared to far exceed its actual usage in recent years.  He wanted to know why the fund was proposed for 0.75 per cent.  A reduction to a level of 0.25 per cent was entirely reasonable.

     Without a fully costed outline, the Committee was hard pressed to recommend an overall total to the Secretary-General, he said.  He suggested that the Committee decide on an amount relating to the core proposal as indicated in the report.  That amount -- $2.475 billion -– would be revised to reflect recent currency and inflation trends.  He would also propose that the Committee request the Secretary-General to take account of the cost implications of the additional items when preparing his detailed budget for submission next spring. 
     
     SHINICHI YAMANAKA (Japan) commended the efforts by the Secretary-General to improve efficiency, accountability and transparency within the United Nations.  The continuing financial difficulties, however, made it all the more important that those efforts should continue.  The budget outline was a key step in the budgetary process since it gave Member States the opportunity to reflect on estimated overall resource needs prior to the submission of the Secretary-General’s proposed  programme budget for the next biennium.  In that context, the provisions for special political missions and for strengthening the security and safety of the United Nations personnel should be contained in the preliminary estimate of resources.  

     He said he regretted that compensating economies were not identified in the proposed budget outline, as had been done in the last proposal of the Secretary-General.  Japan would also like to point out that precise estimates of savings to be achieved from implementing mandated activities more efficiently and economically should be developed.  Finally, he agreed to the size of the contingency fund at 0.75 per cent of the overall level of resources.

     NIKOLAI V. LOZINSKI (Russian Federation) said that the outline contained the estimated resources for the next biennium and was quite preliminary in nature.  He took note of the estimated resources proposed by the Secretary-General, although much time had passed since the time of their preparation. 

    He remarked on the lack of appropriations for possible extension of mandates of special political missions.  An analysis of experience in the implementation of the budget testified to the justification of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee to include the provisions for such missions in the outline.  He supported that recommendation. 

    He also welcomed the recommendation to maximize the effectiveness of the resources committed, he said.  Further reviews of activities and additional cost-effective measures would be useful.  As for the preliminary estimates, he supported the recommendations of the ACABQ contained in paragraph 11 of its report.  He also supported the proposal to maintain the reserve fund at the level of 0.75 per cent and emphasized the need to observe the provisions of Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211 regarding the use of funds from the reserve fund.

     KJERSTI RODSMOEN (Norway) said that the growth rate of the United Nations budget was not a question of principle for Norway.  The zero nominal growth policy had become increasingly counterproductive for the reform of the United Nations and for its ability to respond to new challenges.  The United Nations system was increasingly dependent on voluntary contributions from a small group of countries.  A substantial part of the activities currently financed through voluntary contributions clearly fell within the core mandate of the Organization and should, therefore, be financed through the regular budget.  On several occasions, Norway had used the expression “the straitjacket of zero nominal growth”.  The outline document before the Committee was a clear example of what was meant by that.  The presentation of figures in the report seemed to aim at making most delegations happy regardless of their position on growth rates.  The Secretary-General appeared obligated to present certain figures to the “zero nominal growth” followers, even if that meant leaving out several expenditures that Member States had previously asked him to include.  

     She said that Norway could accept the proposed figures on the understanding that Member States would have to expect several add-ons.  The figures did not include provision for special political missions, the implementation of the Brahimi panel’s recommendations or the strengthening of the United Nations security management system.  Should Member States support the Secretary-General’s proposals in those areas, the subsequent costs would have to be added to the total figures.  Norway supported the priorities for the next biennium as proposed in the Medium Term Plan.  Norway also continued to support the current level of the contingency fund.  

     LOIPA SANCHEZ LORENZO (Cuba) said that she attached importance to adoption of the outline and the role that it should play as a preliminary indicator of the way in which the budget for next biennium would be prepared.  After the efforts that had gone into the resolution which approved the inclusion of estimates for special political missions, the outline should also include funds for those missions.  Since the outline had been published, a number of important decisions had been taken on a number of issues.  She hoped that the Secretariat would make proposals for inclusion of the results of the decision taken by the General Assembly on a number of items.  Regarding the contingency fund, she supported maintaining the level of the fund at 0.75 per cent.  She reminded the Committee that the Assembly had not endorsed including estimates for savings in the last budget outline.  The outline should include all activities for the next biennium. 

     ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) said that the outline was aimed at providing Member States with preliminary indications of the resources needed for the next biennium.  It appeared that while establishing the preliminary nature of the estimates, paragraph 2 of the ACABQ report envisaged zero growth of the budget, although the General Assembly had not approved such an approach.  That concept should not be the basis for the preliminary estimates.  

    The needs of special political missions were a recurrent cost and should be included in the budget outline, he continued.  Regarding the contingency fund, he agreed with the proposed rate of 0.75 per cent.  Paragraph 3 of the Secretary-General’s report indicated a certain number of posts for approval for the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) at offices away from Headquarters, which were funded only for the latter part of the biennium.  He asked for clarification in that respect.  Paragraph 6 of the same report also indicated that there might be savings as a result of the cancellation of obsolete activities and simplified procedures.  Those activities should be included in the outline with indication of the amount of savings achieved as a result of their abolition.  

    As for the annex to the Secretary-General's report, there was a preliminary proposal for reduction of resources for information.  He supported information activities on a permanent basis and objected to the reduction in those amounts.  Proposals to increase resources for the Office of Internal Oversight Services required further clarification, and more information should be provided regarding the proposed increase for common support services.  Lastly, his delegation saw there was an increase of $13.2 million for IMIS posts in 2002-2003, and he stressed the importance of that.  That amount should go to the proper budget section of the outline devoted to those activities.

     ZHOU QIANGWU (China) said that China agreed, in principle, with the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the CPC.  He would like to make some points, however.  He had noted the reduced resource estimates in the report of the Secretary-General.  He supported efforts to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures, but the programme budget should provide full backing to mandated programmes and activities and should fully reflect the actual needs of the Organization.  Economy measures should not mean the implementation of programmes was sacrificed.  

    He went on to say that some people spent a lot of time speaking about increasing the role of the United Nations and improving the work of the Secretariat, while trying to set a ceiling for the United Nations budget.  He appealed to all parties to demonstrate flexibility in that respect, to allow the United Nations to fulfil its commitments.  

    Recently, the Fifth Committee had begun to deliberate on the financial implications of the Brahimi report, he continued.  The resource estimates for 2002-2003 should be arrived at through extensive discussions between all delegations and through consensus-building.  He appreciated the fact that the priorities set out in the budget outline were in agreement with the priorities in the mid-term plan. 

    While paying attention to the balance between peacekeeping and development, he said, it was necessary to take more effective measures to ensure development, guaranteeing adequate financial resources for its needs.  On special political missions, he expressed regret that they were not incorporated in the outline.  That weakened the fundamental purpose in formulating the outline and undermined the spirit of resolution 53/206.  He supported the ACABQ recommendation to include the provisions for those missions in the outline.  Regarding the contingency fund, he supported the position of the Russian and Cuban delegations, which had said that the rate of 0.75 should be maintained.  

     Mr. HALBWACHS said that the purpose of the outline was to promote greater involvement of Member States in the budget process.  Concerning the elements omitted from the budget outline, the outline had been done in July.  The Secretariat was bound by legislation to complete it by 15 August.  They could, therefore, only include what they knew of at the time or what could be accurately forecasted.  What could not be forecasted was “flagged out”.  That had been done in the case of the recommendations of the Brahimi report and the security and safety of United Nations personnel.  It was not an abnormal procedure and it had been done before.  Also, the omission of a figure for possible savings had not been done deliberately.  The General Assembly had decided such figures not be included in the budget outline for 2002-2003.  The Secretariat would, of course, continue to scrutinize the level of resources.  That was its duty.  Savings would be identified in the proposed programme budget.  The Secretary-General would list the activities he considered obsolete.

    Concerning the reduction in the Department of Public Information, that reduction related to one-time costs that had taken place in the current biennium, he explained.  The Department of Public Information had been given funds for conferences, for example, that would not be required in 2002-2003.  Regarding IMIS, the proposed increase related to the phenomenon of making provision for costs on a full biennial basis.  Regarding the contingency fund, the Secretary-General was proposing that the fund be maintained at 0.75 per cent.  He reminded the Committee that previous attempts to lower the percentage had not been well received. 

     The Committee then turned its attention to the first performance report for the programme budget for 2000-2001.

     EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) asked for clarification on the high vacancy rates.  She also wanted information on posts in information services.  What was the status of those posts, and what was the vacancy rate for those posts in relation to the approved level? 

     WARREN SACH, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, said that vacancy rates had been budgeted for some 6.5 per cent for Professional staff and 2.5 per cent for General Service staff.  Vacancies were confined to a limited number of areas.  The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) had a higher number of vacancies than the average.  The Office of Internal Oversight Services was another area.  It was regrettable, and he would have preferred full utilization of posts.  Vacancy rates had declined, however, and were expected to continue to decline in 2001.  Regarding the situation in the Department of Public Information, vacancies were lower than the average for the budget, at some 4.5 per cent for Professionals and 2.1 per cent for General Service.  There had been pretty full usage of posts in that Department, including those in the information centres.  Regarding new posts in 2000-2001, information had been sought on the current status of recruitment.  They were in the process of compiling that information, and expected to be able to present it in informal consultations.

    Ms. SILOT (Cuba) asked if the Director could make his explanations available to the Committee in writing. 

     The Committee then turned its attention to the capital master plan.

     Responding to several questions put forward in yesterday’s discussions, Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, TOSHIYUKI NIWA, said that the concept of schematic design should be put in context.  A comprehensive study of existing conditions and of implications of the reactive approach had been undertaken.  Possible energy costs had also been figured out.  The thorough building-by-building analysis also took into account recommendations for corrective work.  However, it did not contain details needed for the implementation of the plan.  

    The Secretary-General’s report contained safeguards against possible cost overruns, he continued.  The figures were realistic, and the oversight bodies were checking the feasibility of the estimates.  Funds for the schematic design would not be needed if a decision was made to adopt the reactive approach.  Otherwise, the schematic design would comprise a conceptual layout for all systems, including heating, air conditioning and electric.  Utility strategy would be looked into, and a number of operational issues would be addressed.  

    Extremely detailed assessments would be required to implement the capital master plan, he said.  In the event that Member States decided not to go with the capital master plan after spending $8 million for the implementation plan, that amount would not be completely wasted, for about half of it would refer to necessary maintenance.  If the plan was deferred, the estimate would remain valid, provided it was adjusted for inflation and other elements.  The decision was time-sensitive, however.  There would be a price attached to a delay in the decision, which could lead to additional costs.

     ALEXIS LAMEK (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted the importance of the question before the Committee, which would require a debate at a greater depth than was possible at the end of the Committee’s main session.  The buildings of the United Nations Headquarters were undeniably old, and the working conditions could be improved.  A step-by-step reactive approach was no longer valid.  He was sure that renovations would bring the buildings to standard.  

    Amounting to $964 million, the cost of the master plan under consideration was of great magnitude, he continued.  With interest, it could be an even larger figure.  On the whole, the magnitude of the project was comparable to the biennium budget of the Organization.  Sources of financing and the scope of the plan needed to be further analysed.  

    The report of the Secretary-General mentioned a possibility of construction of additional premises, he said, which would provide for savings on rental costs.  The proposed spread of work over 6 years should be supported by a relevant study.  Financing would depend on the contribution of the host country.  In that connection, the European Union would like to recall that the idea of servicing the debt through a special trustee account was hardly consistent with the principle of payment from the regular budget.  He also suspected that “savings” of $354 million, suggested in paragraph 84 of the Secretary-General’s report, were hardly certain.

    The Union endorsed the principle of the master plan, which would be further discussed in spring, he said.  At present, he supported the provision of $8 million for the implementation plan and favoured the idea of convening a consultative group to study the plan.  The expenditures should be kept within the initial envelope.  The plan would largely depend on the goodwill and participation of the host country.

     Mr. HAYS (United States) said that as the host country, the United States was proud to have the historical landmark in New York City.  For the past 50 years, the United Nations building had become a part of the city’s skyline.  It had also become a symbol of hope.  There was little doubt that the host country would indeed respond to the needs of the aging facility.  He was pleased that the Secretary-General had seen fit to draw the attention of Member States to the condition of the Headquarters complex.  It was important to improve the working conditions of United Nations’ and Member States’ staff.  The Secretary-General’s report provided a basis for beginning the discussion.  He could endorse many of the comments of the European Union.  Important questions must be asked.  The United States had started its own review using experts from financial, management and construction fields to determine what must be done and what had been done in similar exercises in the private sector.  The United States would be happy to share the results of that examination.  Regarding the request for $8 million, he requested more information on the timing of the effort and what it was likely to produce.  If other Member States had conducted similar reviews, he would be interested in knowing the outcome.

     Mr. YAMANAKA (Japan) said that he appreciated the report of the Secretary-General and his efforts to bring the matter to the attention of Member States.  He pointed, however, to the lack of detailed information regarding the cost estimate and schedule for the plan.  More information on a comprehensive implementation schedule and financing plan was needed to get the whole picture of the capital master plan.  Active participation of the host Government, including in funding of the plan, was both necessary and important.  As for the preparation of the comprehensive design plan and the cost analysis, he was not convinced that the Secretary-General should be authorized to proceed with it now.  The General Assembly should give clear direction to the Secretary-General before authorizing him to proceed.  

     TANG GUANGTING (China) said the Secretary-General had indicated in his report that most of the buildings of the United Nations had been constructed 50 years ago.  The structures and their energy-efficiency did not meet modern criteria and did not conform with the building codes.  At the same time, they did not meet with the requirements of security.  Therefore, they should be completely refurbished.  His delegation had seriously studied the reports before the Committee concerning the various options available.  A planned, managed refurbishing was much preferable to an ad hoc method.  It was also much wiser.  

    China agreed with the ACABQ recommendations concerning the need for serious study of the question, he continued.  The Organization should not rely on assumptions.  In his next report, the Secretary-General should put forth detailed and comprehensive information.  The plan was a gigantic construction project, the purpose of which was to turn the aged complex into a modern and healthy one.  To attain that objective, it was important to coordinate the project with the host government.  Of course, he also agreed with the statement that the plan should not be too ambitious.  

     Turning to fund-raising, he said that 50 years ago the host government had generously provided loans to build the complex.  From the report of the ACABQ, it was clear that the Secretariat was discussing with the host country the issues of financial support, and he appealed to the local authorities to provide financial  support to the project.

     Mr. NIWA, Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, said that there was an issue of chicken and egg involved.  The first goal had been to identify the condition of the buildings.   Now, there were two choices before the Committee:  to provide repairs as need arose, or to undertake major refurbishing of the premises.  The capital master plan would be more cost-effective in the long run.  First of all, a decision regarding the method to follow was needed.  Additional details could be provided to Member States only if a detailed study was carried out of the schematic design.  

    Concerning the savings of $350 million, he said that the Secretary-General’s proposal in terms of requirements was for $964 million.  Cost avoidance savings on energy and emergency repairs could be used towards the implementation of the plan.  If Member States chose the bond approach, there would be the issue of interest, he continued.  Another way of financing involved half in commercial bonds and half in donations from Member States.  In the event the work was authorized, it was anticipated that it would take about a year to conduct the study.

    First of all, dedicated staff and expertise were needed, he said.  Then, the schematic design study would be carried out, which would cost about $6 million.  After that, a feasibility study would be provided.  A variety of options regarding interim requirements should be considered, as well as the precise quantity and duration of swing space.  In the end, final recommendations and estimates would be produced.  That would take approximately one year.

    Sufficient detail was already available to decide whether to proceed with the capital master plan, he said.  Clearly, the reactive approach was one of the options, but the comprehensive plan would be preferable in the long run.  As for the implementation plan, other international organizations and Member States had experience which could be taken into account.

    The Committee then turned to the programme budget implications of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), the situation in Central America and the critical situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).

     HASSAN MOHAMMED HASSAN (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that following consultation with the delegations concerned, the Group recommended the adoption of the statements of programme budget implications for the situation in Central America and MINUGUA.  The Group had also agreed to discuss the programme budget implications on the critical situation facing INSTRAW in informal consultations.  He once again requested delegations not to block the early resolution of that issue.

     MAGNUS LENEFORS (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that he had no problem with the programme budget implications on Central America and MINUGUA.  He did have some questions concerning INSTRAW, however, and had asked for informal consultations on the issue.  It was not his intention to prolong discussions.  He supported INSTRAW, and would continue to do so in the future.

     Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) thanked the Chairman for his efforts to translate the decisions into the six official languages.  That procedure should always be respected by the Committee, and he thanked the Chairman for seeing to the distribution of the decisions.  He also expressed support for the content of the draft decisions.  He understood, however, that the European Union had requested informal consultations on one matter to obtain more information.  He supported that position, and hoped that the Committee would be able to adopt the decision on INSTRAW very rapidly.  He also expressed his unreserved support for the adoption of two decisions relating to MINUGUA and Central America.

    The Committee then decided to inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt draft resolution A/55/L.33/Rev.1 on MINUGUA, additional requirements of some $16.24 million would arise for the year 2001.  Of that amount, some $7.24 million would be charged against the existing provision for special political missions, and an additional appropriation of about $8.99 million for the balance would be required under section 3, political affairs, of the programme budget for the current biennium.

     In connection with draft resolution A/55/L.42 on the situation in Central America, the Committee decided to inform the Assembly that additional appropriation of $191,800 would be required under section 3, political affairs, of the programme budget for 2000-2001.

     THOMAS SCHLESINGER (Austria) made a clarification on the programme of work for tonight; and the meeting then adjourned.

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