|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/GAAB/44|
|Release Date: 9 May 2000|
Administrative and Budgetary Committee Begins Second Resumed Session,
With Focus on Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
Peacekeeping Costs of $2.016 Billion for 2000-2001
NEW YORK, 8 May (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning began its second resumed fifty-fourth session, which will focus on the financing of peacekeeping missions.
As it began its consideration of some 40 financial reports on a variety of peacekeeping missions, the Committee was told that total estimated peacekeeping requirements for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 are approximately $2.016 billion gross, a significant increase over the totals for 1999-2000 and 1998-1999. According to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), while the budgets of five of six ongoing missions had decreased, total requirements had risen due to the expansion of new missions in Kosovo, East Timor and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the expansion of the Sierra Leone operation. The scope of activities and the nature of personnel required for those recent missions was a dramatic change, said C.S.M Mselle, Chairman of the ACABQ, as he introduced that body’s reports.
The volatility of peacekeeping made life difficult for both Member States and the Secretariat, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the United Nations Controller, told the Committee, as he introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on a number of missions. That volatility made it difficult to follow standard budgetary cycles. However, the accuracy of the Secretary-General’s estimates over the past two years was borne out in the small balances left at the end of financial periods, he added.
Also this morning, Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced two reports, one concerning an investigation into procurement in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM), the other an investigation into allegations of fraud in travel in the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UMMIBH).
As well as hearing the introduction of reports on peacekeeping missions, the Committee this morning recommended that the Assembly appoint Natham Irumba of Uganda to its Committee on Contributions, to complete the term of a member of that body who had resigned. It also elected Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry of Pakistan as a Vice Chairman of the Committee to replace a previous Vice Chairman who was no longer with his country’s permanent mission to the United Nations. The Committee also approved its organization of work for the session and noted the status of documentation.
The representative of the United States spoke on the Office of Internal Oversight Services reports, and the representative of India made some suggestions regarding the presentation of ACABQ reports.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today, when it will continue its general discussion of the financing of peacekeeping missions.
Committee Work Programme
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning held its first meeting of its second resumed fifty-fourth session. This session is traditionally dedicated to the consideration of financing of peacekeeping missions.
Peacekeeping missions are financed individually. The normal practice is for the Security Council to determine the activities of a mission and to decide the maximum number of peacekeepers its can employ when it establishes that mission's mandate. The Secretary-General then proposes a budget and a level of civilian staff needed to achieve the mandate. This budget is reviewed first on behalf of the General Assembly by one of its expert committees, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), which makes recommendations based on the Secretary-General's budget estimates. The ACABQ passes its recommendations to the Assembly's Fifth Committee, which, after consideration, recommends a draft resolution on each mission's financing to the Assembly.
Once approved by the Assembly, in most cases the expenses are then divided among the United Nations Member States according to a scale or formula (the “peacekeeping scale of assessments”). That scale is based on the principle of each Member State's capacity to pay, with the permanent members of the Security Council bearing a greater financial responsibility than they have under the normal scale of assessment used to determine the breakdown for the regular (non-peacekeeping) expenses of the United Nations.
Many of the reports before the Committee this session are proposed budgets for peacekeeping missions, and comments on those proposals from the ACABQ. Others are financial performance reports from the Secretary-General and related comments from the ACABQ. Financial performance reports are produced after the end of a mission's budget cycle (usually 12 months) and provide the actual expenditures for the relevant period. However, the Committee will also consider other matters, including the ACABQ's general report on peacekeeping financing.
The ACABQ general report on financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations is scheduled to be introduced at this meeting (document A/54/841). In it, the ACABQ notes that, as of 28 February 2000, unliquidated peacekeeping obligations amounted to some $125.19 million, and draws attention to past comments on the high level of unliquidated obligations as an indication of the need to refine the monitoring of budget implementation and disbursement. A good part of these unliquidated obligations relate to payments owed to Member States for troop costs and contingent-owned equipment. Inter-office vouchers and unliquidated obligations have been reviewed more intensively in this reporting period, the ACABQ notes. It stresses the importance of timely settlement of all claims from governments participating in peacekeeping operations.
The Secretary-General's total estimated peacekeeping requirements for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 are some $2.016 billion gross, excluding requirements for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi and the costs of United Nations Headquarters' support for peacekeeping operations -– an increase over the previous year. The United Nations Controller estimates requirements will exceed $2.6 billion for 2000-2001. The budgets of five of six ongoing missions have decreased, however, with the expansion mainly due to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), each with large military and/or police components, and to the conversion and expansion of the Sierra Leone operation.
The ACABQ welcomes improvements in peacekeeping budget proposals, the report states, noting they result in part from the implementation of ACABQ recommendations. The budget preparation process has been streamlined, and estimates are usually more realistic, reflecting performance experience. But in areas such as civilian staff costs, it questions the extent to which experience has been used to formulate new requests. The proposals are also more user-friendly, with fewer errors than previously.
The ACABQ also notes improved coordination between Headquarters and the field in budgetary and administrative matters, the report states. Established missions are a source of expertise for new missions. While welcoming improvements, it believes that further adjustments are needed to ensure the information in performance reports is up-to-date. Information on efforts to more effectively manage funds and on economy measures, such as that provided regarding the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), should be included in all performance reports.
It will watch unbudgeted expenditures to see whether they result from unforeseen circumstances or from weaknesses in identification of requirements, the report states. Failure to provide valuations for voluntary contributions, for example for UNIKOM, means failure to comply with full-cost budgeting requirements and must be remedied in future.
Organization charts showing the number of personnel proposed for each unit of a mission should be provided for all missions to help comparative analyses of budget proposals, it states. The ACABQ continues to be concerned about screening, selection and deployment of police personnel, and it observes that improvements to these and to notifying Member States of needs could lead to savings. Equipment for civilian police personnel must be commensurate with their mandate, and the structure of the Police Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations must be continuously monitored.
Difficulties exist in placement and retention of civilian mission staff, the report notes, and the effect of continuing high vacancy rates on missions and of the impact of inter-mission personnel and equipment loans should be examined. It calls for a report with proposals to increase staff mobility and to improve recruitment. Performance reports should include data on inter-mission personnel loans. Maximum use should be made of mission appointees, it adds, and conversion from general service to local level posts is encouraged. New missions like UNTAET should use more national professional officers.
The ACABQ calls for greater involvement of the Office of Human Resources Management in developing mission job descriptions and post classifications, to improve uniformity of post levels. It also asks for an analysis of the problems in attracting and retaining qualified personnel for peacekeeping operations, and repeats its call for study of the use of United Nations Volunteers for missions, to be presented to the main fifty-fifth Assembly session
It notes savings resulting from the use of volume purchase agreements or systems contracts, and those due to increased procurement in the field. Further savings could result from increasing the threshold for local procurement. It seeks more information on the impact of decentralizing procurement and of increased procurement thresholds. The resulting savings could increase Headquarters' procurement planning capacities. A review of reserve stock for missions is also sought, to be presented in the next 2000/2001 budgets.
Noting that some missions failed to submit required evaluations of suppliers with contracts worth more than $200,000, the ACABQ stresses that all field missions must submit such evaluations. Savings had resulted from regular use of stock from the Brindisi Logistics Base. The ACABQ calls for an examination of a possible enhanced role for the Base, for example, for regional procurement and training. It calls for a review of the current system of financing the base's repair, refurbishing and preservation activities, with full costs disclosed in future budget presentations.
It notes the pragmatic approach taken to vehicle replacement, the report states, and asks that current replacement cycles for various items be reported more transparently, and that reasons for replacement be clearly indicated in performance reports. Despite some progress, inventory management remains a cause of concern, with standard procedures not visibly in operation. It calls for a progress report on inventory management system implementation for the fifty-fifth Assembly session, and that summary inventory reports be made available.
Increased training resources are welcomed by the ACABQ, but it asks for more transparency on the criteria for training priorities, the report states. Training areas, numbers, facilities, costs, and the weaknesses and shortcomings training aims to address should be clearly stated in budget reports, and mission availability of personnel to be trained should be checked. United Nations organizations are urged to carefully coordinate security and safety activities in the field, with a comprehensive system-wide approach needed.
The mechanisms for coordination and the various roles and functions of mission partners should be reported by the Secretary-General, it states. Trust funds and other extrabudgetary funds available to missions need to be more transparent. There appears to be no coordinated approach to accounting for costs associated with missions' environmental activities, and the ACABQ recommends that these costs be studied.
The ACABQ recommends that data be systematically collected on incidents that led to high insurance premiums, such as accidents and theft, the report states, with a view to determining the best way to deal with them. Commenting on the Secretary-General's report on losses of United Nations property of peacekeeping operations (documents A/54/669 and Corr.1), the ACABQ states the definitions of negligence and gross carelessness are inadequate and asks that they be clarified in his next loss report. Improvements in collecting, classifying and analysing data for this report are needed, with comparative statistics on recovery and loss reported over the same time period and the causes of loss identified.
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)/United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General's financial performance report for UNDOF for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 (document A/54/707). On 26 June 1998, the General Assembly appropriated some $35.40 million gross ($34.51 million net) for that period. Expenditures for the period totalled about $33.66 million gross ($32.92 million net), resulting in an unencumbered balance of some $1.74 million gross ($1.59 million net).
The unencumbered balance resulted mainly from civilian vacancies, the report states, and from favourable unit cost rates obtained for vehicles, favourable exchange rates and receipt of some items from the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi. The Secretary-General proposes the General Assembly decide on the treatment of that unencumbered balance.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's proposed budget for UNDOF (document A/54/732) for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001. The Secretary-General seeks some $34.95 million gross (about $34.2 million net). Some 54 per cent of these resources relate to military personnel costs, with 15 per cent for civilian personnel, 29 per cent for operational costs and staff assessment comprising 2 per cent of the total. He recommends the General Assembly appropriate that amount for the mission's maintenance, assess it at a monthly rate of some $2.91 million, and credit back to Member States about $4.02 million during the fifty-fourth Assembly session, representing part of the remaining net surplus balance held in the UNDOF suspense account.
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/841/Add.1), that body notes that for the period 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 the unencumbered balance of some $1.74 million gross (about $1.59 million net) amounts to some 4.9 per cent of the amount appropriated. Unliquidated obligations as at 31 December 1999 were some $13.32 million, with some $9.22 million government-related. The report recommends that Member States be credited their respective shares of the unencumbered balance in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.
Commenting on the proposed budget of mission for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the ACABQ notes the proposed requirements represent a 5.1 per cent increase over 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, due to increased salaries and common staff costs, for premises and accommodation and for transport operations, offset by a decrease for communications and other equipment. The replacement of leased equipment with new contingent-owned equipment, under new arrangements, required extensive discussions and negotiations with the troop contributors involved, according to the report. It recommends acceptance of the Secretary-General's staffing table proposal.
It recommends approval of the Secretary-General's proposal that the Assembly appropriate some $34.95 million gross for July 2000 to 30 June 2001. It also recommends the Member States be credited some $4.02 million this Assembly session, as part of the net surplus in the UNDOF suspense account.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's financial performance report for UNIFIL (document A/54/708). In it, he asks the General Assembly to decide on the treatment of an unencumbered balance of some $8.329 million gross (almost $8.085 million net), for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. The report also contains a financial performance report for the Force for that period, for which the Assembly had appropriated almost $142.985 million gross ($139.133 million net), while expenditures had totalled some $134.655 million gross (roughly $131.049 million net).
The Secretary-General explains the unencumbered balance as being due largely to actual troop strength being lower than budgeted, a high vacancy rate for civilian staff caused by the temporary assignment of experienced UNIFIL staff to assist in other missions, savings on the purchase of vehicles because of better unit prices, and savings related to the receipt of equipment, vehicles and supplies from the Brindisi Base and other peacekeeping missions. Those savings were partially offset by additional requirements related to upgrading the mission's computer systems to ensure year 2000 compliance.
Also before the Committee was a Secretary-General's proposed budget for UNIFIL for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001(document A/54/724). The Secretary-General estimates he will need some $139.55 million gross (about $135.72 million net), which would include budgeted voluntary in kind contributions valued at $180,000. This would be a 0.4 per cent decrease ($541,600) compared to the 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 apportionment. Civilian personnel costs would account for some 18 per cent of the budget, with operational requirements accounting for 21 per cent, military personnel costs some 57 per cent, and staff assessment comprising 3 per cent.
Changes to staffing for UNIFIL are proposed, including the establishment of one new P-3 level post for a Supply Management Officer, the reclassification of the Budget Cost Control Officer post from P-3 to P-4 and of a Civilian Engineer post from P-2 to P-3. It is proposed that three General Service posts and three Field Service-level posts be converted into six local-level posts, that one General Service post in the Chief Administrative Officer's office be abolished, and that one Field Service post be redeployed to that office from the Communications Section.
In a related report from the ACABQ on the UNIFIL financial performance report (document A/54/841/Add.2), that body recommends that proposals to deal with an unbudgeted contingent liability of some $1.49 million related to contingent provided equipment be presented in the next UNIFIL budget submission. It also recommends that Member States be credited their respective shares of the unencumbered balance of about $8.33 million in a manner the General Assembly determines.
Regarding the proposed UNIFIL budget for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the ACABQ recommends acceptance of the staffing changes proposed by the Secretary-General. It recommends that UNIFIL replace only 20 per cent of its total holdings of data-processing equipment (requirements would amount to $438,650), thus reducing to $797,150 from $846,650 the resources required. It recommends that a vacancy rate for international staff of 8 per cent, rather than the 5 per cent rate used by the Secretary-General, would better reflect experience on this mission, and would reduce requirements by $540,681. After adjustment for these two reductions, the ACABQ recommends acceptance of the budget proposal.
United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM)/United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA)
Also before the Committee was a report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on an investigation into a $6.9 million procurement of quartering area goods for UNAVEM (document A/54/548). In the Secretary-General's note transmitting the report, the Secretary-General advises he concurs with its recommendations of the report, and that a separate report from him, as envisaged by the Assembly in resolution 54/17, would add nothing of use.
The Oversight Office advises it was asked, in February 1997, by the UNAVEM Chief Administrative Officer to assist in a case before UNAVEM's Board of Inquiry, whereby a $6.9 million contract for quartering area goods was awarded to a local trading company, based on a four-week delivery schedule. Subsequently, the delivery schedule was not met, and many of the goods were found to below acceptable standard.
Following the investigation, the Oversight Office concludes the evidence does not support a finding that Mission staff benefited or sought to mislead United Nations Headquarters, or that there was actual financial loss from this procurement. In addition, the politically important demobilization for which the goods were needed went ahead, as a result of efforts by UNAVEM staff. That said, the United Nations paid some $5.8 million for goods and services, almost all of which were below specifications, further complicating the quartering area project.
This was the result of the difficulties in forward planning for procurement in the absence of funding and because of less-than-adequate procurement processes, the Oversight Office concludes. For eight months after the signing of the Lusaka Protocol, there was no budget and no planning. Recommendations of the Headquarters Committee on Contracts were not implemented. There were deficiencies in the invitation to bid and the selection process, delays in making a decision whether to procure at United Nations Headquarters or at the Mission site. Some of this may have been affected by the continued hostilities, but others were not.
In order to address systemic procurement problems that the investigation identified, the Oversight Office makes four recommendations. It recommends that crucial and exigent Mission procurement be initiated before budgetary provision exists to a point just short of financially obligating the United Nations. It also recommends that relevant Secretariat areas develop institutionally sanctioned mechanisms for such situations, including special rules and procedures for emergency situation procurement. It states that Mission legal advisers should be involved in complicated and expensive procurement, including in determining the appropriateness of the contract itself. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations supports these recommendations. It also recommends the Office of Legal Affairs review this case to decide whether the company and its directors can be excluded from conducting business with the United Nations. Responsibility for the action on this last recommendation rests with the Department of Management.
The Secretary-General's financial performance report of MONUA for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 was also before the Committee (document A/54/809). It states the General Assembly had appropriated some $133.1 million gross for the same period. Expenditures totalled about $132.95 million, leaving an unspent balance of $149,500 gross ($787,600 net).
The unencumbered balance is due to the ending of the Mission's mandate on 26 February 1999, repatriation of military and civilian personnel and commencement of its technical liquidation. Some resources were used to absorb unbudgeted additional requirements arising from implementation of the new contingent-owned equipment reimbursement procedures for the eight troop-contributing countries. Balances were also used to offset additional requirements arising from the crashes of two United Nations-chartered aircraft, unforeseen replacement of a military medical unit and an infantry company, and the return of military helicopters and contingent-owned and United Nations' equipment.
The Secretary-General proposes no action be taken on financial adjustments required until the final performance report from MONUA and UNAVEM is available. He invites the General Assembly to note the unencumbered balance of $149,500 gross and additional requirements of $787,600 net for MONUA for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 and to defer action until its review of the two missions' final performance information.
The revised liquidation budget of MONUA for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 and cost estimates for MONUA continued liquidation activities at United Nations Headquarters were also before the Committee (document A/54/812).
The revised 1999-2000 budget amounts to about $15.05 million gross ($14.31 million net) -- an increase of some $7.61 million, compared with the initial budget. The increase is primarily due to the retention of military and civilian personnel in the Mission area because liquidation activities have extended past the original deadline. Provision of $143,500 gross ($130,500 net) is also sought for eight work-months of staff activities at United Nations Headquarters.
The Secretary-General calls on the Assembly to approve an additional some $7.61 million gross ($7.22 million net) for MONUA for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of the $5.27 million already granted by the ACABQ. He also asks it to provide $143,500 gross ($130,500 net) for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.
In related comments from the ACABQ (document A/54/831), that body, commenting on the MONUA financial performance report for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, recommends the Assembly note the unencumbered balance of $149,500 gross and additional requirements of $787,600 net for MONUA for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 and defer action until the review of the final performance information of UNAVEM and MONUA.
Regarding the revised MONUA budget for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 and cost estimates for continued liquidation activities at United Nations Headquarters, the ACABQ recommends the Assembly accept the Secretary-General's recommendations and approve an additional some $7.61 million for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 and $143,500 for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.
United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
Also before the Committee was the MINURSO financial performance report for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 (document A/54/780). The Assembly had approved some $60 million for the Mission for this period. About $46.03 million has been charged to Member States. Some $44.61 million has been spent, leaving about $15.39 million gross (about $13.52 million net) of the approved amount unspent, and an actual unspent balance of about $1.42 million gross ($603,627 net). The unspent balance is primarily due to early repatriation of a military engineering support unit, high vacancy rates for international civilian staff and to the suspension of identification activities. The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to reduce the appropriation it had approved from $60 million to some $46.03 million gross, corresponding to the amount actually assessed on Member States. He also asks it to decide on how it wants the unspent some
Also before it is the Secretary-General's proposed MINURSO budget for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 (document A/54/785). The Secretary-General asks for some $46.61 million gross ($42.77 million net) for that period -- 5 per cent less (some $2.41 million) than for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000. Of that, some 54 per cent relates to civilian personnel costs, operational requirements account for 22 per cent, military personnel costs would be 16 per cent, and staff assessment comprises 8 per cent of the total. The Secretary-General proposes the Assembly appropriate that amount for MINURSO's maintenance for the 12 months.
In related comments from the ACABQ (document A/54/841/Add.7), that body states that the Secretary-General's recommendations on the financial performance report be accepted. Regarding the Secretary-General's proposed budget for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the ACABQ recommends the amount proposed by the Secretary-General -- some $46.61 million -- be approved.
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's financial performance report of UNFICYP for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999(document A/54/704).
This report states that the General Assembly appropriated some $45.28 million ($43.54 million net) for the mission's maintenance for that period, on 26 June 1998. Expenditures for the period totalled some $44.90 million gross ($43.12 million net), leaving about $374,000 gross ($421,700 net) unencumbered, largely as a consequence of lower travel costs and lower operational cost. The report notes the General Assembly should decide on the treatment of that unencumbered balance.
The Committee is also to consider the Secretary-General's proposed budget for UNFICYP's maintenance for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 (document A/54/729). He proposes some $41.04 million gross (about $39.38 million net) be made available, inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions valued at about $19.62 million from Cyprus (some $13.12 million) and Greece (about $6.5 million). This amount would be about 4.5 per cent less than the resources available for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000. Some 23 per cent of this amount would be used for civilian personnel costs, operational costs would account for 18 per cent, military personnel costs would use 55 per cent, and staff assessment would comprise 4 per cent, he reports. The Secretary-General proposes the Assembly approve the proposed budget of $41,039,800 gross ($39,374,200 net) for the maintenance of the Force for the 12-month period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.
In related comments (document A/54/841/Add.4), the ACABQ recommends the UNFICYP unencumbered balance for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 ($374,000 gross) be credited to Member States in a manner to be decided by the General Assembly. The Advisory Committee recommends that the amount the Secretary-General proposes be approved for UNFICYP for 1 July 2000.
United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)
The Committee had before it the financial report for UNOMIG (document A/54/721) for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. The Assembly appropriated some $19.44 million gross ($18.45 million net) for that period. In addition, the ACABQ provided a commitment authority for about $1.53 million gross (some $1.43 million net) in December 1998. The report says that expenditures for the period totalled about $20.52 million gross (some $19.53 million net), excluding budgeted voluntary contributions in kind of about $1.15 million resulting in an overrun of $1.1 million gross. The overrun resulted mainly from increased operational costs.
The Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to assess $290,200 gross ($485,200 net) for the Mission's maintenance for 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 in addition what was already assessed. It should also appropriate an additional some $1.1 million gross from the $1.53 million authorized by the ACABQ for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. Member States should be assessed the additional amount of $1.1 million.
The Committee also had before the Secretary-General's proposed budget for UNOMIG for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 (document A/54/735). He proposes a budget of some $28.4 million gross ($26.89 million net). Of that amount, some 45 per cent of resources would be for civilian personnel costs, operational costs account for 32 per cent, military personnel costs for 17 per cent, and staff assessment comprises 5 per cent. The Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to appropriate that amount.
Commenting on the financial performance report, the ACABQ notes the overrun of $1.1 million gross, or 5.5 per cent of the amount appropriated (document A/54/841/Add.5). This was caused by increased civilian personnel and operational requirements, provision for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi and an increase in staff assessment, partially offset by savings on military personnel. The ACABQ states that planning could have avoided some of that over-expenditure. It recommends that the amount of $290,200 gross ($485,200 net) for the Mission's maintenance for 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 be assessed. It also recommends an additional some $1.1 million gross, from the amount it had authorized, for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999.
On the budget proposal for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the ACABQ recommends again that effort be made to identify administrative tasks that can be performed by local staff, thereby saving resources. It also notes that the rates the Secretary-General uses to estimate salaries, common staff costs and mission subsistence allowance are not fully in line with the most recent experience. The ACABQ also encourages the Secretariat to intensify efforts to identify qualified personnel for UNOMIG's public information programme. It recommends acceptance of the Secretary-General's proposed budget.
United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT)
Also before the Committee is the Secretary-General's financial performance report for UNMOT (document A/54/705) for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. In November 1998, the General Assembly appropriated $20 million for the same period. Expenditures for the period totalled $16.37, million resulting in an unspent balance of some $3.64 million gross ($3.21 million net). The lower than expected expenditure resulted mainly from the low levels of deployment of both military and civilian personnel, owing to the security situation and the delayed establishment of the Joint Security Unit. The Secretary-General suggests the General Assembly decide what it wants done with the unspent $3.64 million.
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/822), that body notes that expenditures could have been lower had the security situation been more favourable. It recommends that details of security-related expenditures be provided in the performance reports of all peacekeeping missions. It also asks that information on the circumstances and nature of unforeseen purchases be included in future.
Noting that information of the Mission's inventory was incomplete, it called for qualified personnel to manage the disposition of the Mission's assets if it is liquidated after 15 May. A significant part of those assets should be available for use by other missions. The ACABQ recommends that the unspent money be credited to Member States as the Assembly decides.
United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH)
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's financial performance report for UNMIBH (document A/54/697). In the report, he explains that the Assembly appropriated some $189.48 million gross ($179.59 million net) for the Mission for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. Expenditures for the period totalled $169.84 million gross ($161.79 million net), leaving an unspent balance of $19.64 million gross ($17.80 million net). The unspent balance was largely due to lower than expected civilian personnel costs. The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to decide on the treatment of this unspent balance.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's proposed budget for UNMIBH (document A/54/712), which includes resources for the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), and the United Nations liaison offices in Belgrade and Zagreb. He asks the Assembly to approve some $153.59 million gross (about $145.54 million net) for the Mission for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001. The Secretary-General explains that about 77 per cent of the budget would be used for civilian staffing costs, with 17 per cent for operational costs. Military personnel would cost 1 per cent and staff assessment some 5 per cent.
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/841/Add.6), that body recommends the Assembly decide on the manner it wants to treat the unspent balance for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999.
It explains that it had previously commented on the need to improve the arrangements for notifying Member States about civilian police needs, and on better screening, selection and training of civilian police. Improvements in these areas would lead to greater efficiency in the management of policing and, therefore, a reduction in costs. Commenting on information it was given on the reasons for repatriation of civilian police, it asks for more precise information regarding the category "failure to meet mission requirement", including an indication of how many repatriations were due to problems in the United Nations selection process. It also sought information on the reimbursements to the United Nations and governments resulting from repatriations.
Commenting on the proposed budget, the ACABQ states that, given the performance information to 30 June 1999 and the expenditure estimate for the current period at 31 December 1999, requirements for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 should not exceed $150 million gross.
It notes that previously freight for vehicles was lower than the 15 per cent estimated cost, but that the budget proposal applies the standard 15 per cent rate, and that this rate is also applied to budget estimates for other missions. Thus, these rates should be reviewed to determine whether there should be a change in the standard rate. It welcomes the proposed identification of then General Service and two Field Service posts for replacement by local posts, and recommends acceptance of the proposals to increase national officer posts from eight to 15.
The ACABQ is not convinced of the need to automatically replace all five-year vehicles or vehicles driven more than 120,000 kilometres. Rather, vehicles should be replaced when it is not economical to continue to operate them. Reasons for replacement should be indicated in a more transparent manner in future budgets, and current replacement policy cycles for various items should also be reviewed and made more transparent. The ACABQ also asks for additional information on the mechanisms for coordination and the various roles and functions of mission partners, in future. This would allow it to ensure duplication is avoided and that resources provided by the Assembly are being applied effectively and efficiently.
The Committee had before it a note from the Secretary-General on investigations into allegations of fraud in travel at UNMIBH (document A/54/683). The note explains that the Office of Internal Oversight Services received a confidential report from United Nations staff of fraudulent charges for excess baggage for military observers travelling from UNMIBH to their home countries. The evidence showed that from July 1996 until around September 1998, the Chief of the Travel and Traffic Unit in UNMIBH initiated a conspiracy with a local travel agent and an employee of a major airline to submit fraudulent invoices with false supporting documentation and inflated airfares, which the Chief would then approve.
The note states that these criminal actions caused losses estimated at some $800,000. The case was referred to the United States authorities for the prosecution of the Chief. In January 1999, he was indicted and charged with conspiracy and wire fraud. The Oversight Office has cooperated with Croatian authorities to secure the prosecution of his accomplices and the restitution of the money they obtained. This investigation is proceeding.
The investigation found that the United Nations was the victim of significant fraud over a period of two years, the note states. Supervision of expenditure was too lax in UNMIBH. Also, certain arrangements with financial implications, such as an offer of free transport of baggage, were not in writing. The Oversight Office recommends that the two staff that brought the crime to light be officially commended by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. It also recommends the Department of Peacekeeping Operations include its report in its Lessons Learned programmes, especially for training of new Chief Administrative Officers and Chiefs of General Service, Finance and Travel before they take up mission assignments.
The Oversight Office recommends that the relevant Secretariat departments consult on debarring the Chief from future United Nations assignments and the travel agency from future United Nations contracts. Finally, it recommends that Secretariat explore options for further action, such as a civil action against the Chief with a view to recovering assets lost as a result of his criminal activities, and that cooperation with Croatian authorities aimed at prosecuting the Chief’s accomplices and recovering stolen funds continue.
United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES)
The Committee had before it the financial performance report of the Civilian Police Support Group from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 to be considered under its agenda item on financing of UNTAES and the Civilian Police Support Group (document A/54/713).
According to the report, the General Assembly appropriated some $7.48 million gross (about $6.99 million net) for that period. Expenditures totalled about $6.61 million gross ($6.01 million net); less than expected because of vacancies, early repatriation of civilian police, the availability of supplies from UNTAES and use of mission vehicles to transport equipment to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi.
In June 1999, the Assembly authorized the use of $601,200 gross form the balance to finish the UNTAES liquidation and final audit. This process cost $614,000 gross ($535,000 net), leaving an adjusted unencumbered balance of $359,960 gross ($263,160 net). The General Assembly is asked to decide how to treat the unencumbered balance.
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/823), that body recommends the Assembly decide how it wants to credit the unencumbered balances to 30 June 1998 and for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 to Member States.
United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP)
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's financial performance report for UNPREDEP for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 (document A/54/740). Following the termination of the mission's mandate in February 1999, the General Assembly reduced its appropriation from about $50.05 million to some $43.06 million gross ($42.00 million net).
Expenditures for the period totalled about $41.90 million gross, leaving an unencumbered balance of about $1.16 million gross ($1.10 million net). The unspent balance was mainly due to lower troop-rotation costs and the rapid liquidation of the mission from March to June 1999. However, $904,000 not obligated for troop rotation is still required. The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly retain $904,000 from the unspent balance to cover outstanding claims for troop rotation from May 1996 to June 1998. He also recommends the Assembly decide how to treat the other $257,700 gross ($200,300 net).
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/824), that body notes that although the funds for the troop rotation were requested and authorized, the related obligations were overlooked. It also notes that considerable funds were spent refurbishing the mission's equipment, but that that no provision had been made in the mission's budget for that. The ACABQ requests that future budget documents fully disclose the rationale and methodology for financing refurbishment, at the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, of equipment from missions being liquidated.
It also points out that liquidation activities for UNPREDEP have taken approximately 16 months for a mission with 1,314 personnel. It is essential that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations reviews its capacities so that undue liquidation delays are not experienced. The ACABQ recommends the General Assembly accept the Secretary-General's proposal to retain $904,000 from the unspent balance and that the Assembly decide on treatment of the remainder.
United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH)
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's financial performance report on MIPONUH for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999 (document A/54/757). The General Assembly appropriated some $29.97 million for that period. Expenditures totalled about $26.26 million gross ($25.10 million net), excluding budgeted voluntary contributions in kind of $1.79 million, leaving an unspent balance of some $3.70 million gross ($3.43 net). The unencumbered balance resulted mainly from civilian police and civilian staff vacancies. The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly decide on the treatment of the unspent balance.
In a related report from the ACABQ (document A/54/825), that body recommends that the Assembly decide either to credit the unencumbered balance to Member States or to the trust fund of the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH).
Also before the Committee was a letter from the President of the Economic and Social Council to the President of the General Assembly, dated 31 July 1999 (document A/54/274-E/1999/116). It states that, following the report of the Economic and Social Council's Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, the Economic and Social Council recommends the Assembly review all aspects of the mandate and operations of the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti and consider renewing the mandate of the United Nations component of that Mission. It also recommends the Assembly consider devising a special training and technical assistance programme for the Haitian National Police, and consider asking the Secretary-General to continue his good offices in Haiti through his Representative, and maintain the Representative's office, according to the letter. That office could be responsible for managing any new United Nations civilian mission.
The Committee had before it a note by the Secretary-General on the appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/54/102/Add.1), advising that David Etuket of Uganda had resigned from that body. The Secretary-General advises the Assembly must appoint a person to fill the remainder of Mr. Etuket’s term of office, which expires on 31 December 2000. A related note from the Secretary-General informs the Assembly that Uganda has nominated Nathan Irumba to complete Mr. Etuket's term (document A/C.5/54/6/Add.1). Attached to the note is Mr. Irumba's curriculum vitae.
The Committee Chairman, PENNY WESLEY (Australia), informed the Committee that, following the departure from the Permanent Mission of Pakistan of
Mr. CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) then thanked Member States for the confidence they had shown in him.
Organization of Work
The CHAIRMAN then drew attention to a recommendation from its Bureau, contained in the Committee’s organization of work (document A/C.5/54/L.57), that consideration of a number of reports be deferred to the Assembly’s fifty-fifth session. The Committee then decided to defer its consideration of them, without a vote. The Committee then approved its programme of work for the resumed session.
Introduction of Reports
The United Nations Controller, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, then introduced the Secretary-General’s reports.
As an overview, Mr. Halbwachs said that last year, at the end of May, the Assembly had authorized some $644 million for 12 active missions. Subsequently, as a result of unanticipated developments such as the establishment of new missions, the level of authorized financing was $1.8 billion. By the time this session finished, just under $1.9 billion would have been approved.
The volatility of peacekeeping made life difficult for both Member States and the Secretariat, and made it difficult to follow the standard budgetary cycles, he said. The current net unencumbered balance for peacekeeping was $47.1 million, given the approval of recommendations to retain some of the gross balance to meet commitments. The realism of estimates submitted over the past two years was reflected in the small balances left-over after the financial periods.
DILEEP NAIR, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, presented two reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and introduced himself as the new head of the Office and successor to Karl Paschke. Since assuming his position on 24 April, he had familiarized himself with the work done by Internal Oversight Services and was pleased to learn that the function of oversight had been accepted as part and parcel of the management culture of the United Nations. Internal Oversight Services was now seen as a key component of the Secretariat.
Moreover, the January resolution of the General Assembly on Internal Oversight Services reaffirmed the roles, functions and operational independence of the Office, he said. He looked forward to working in close partnership with the management of the Organization and under the guidance of the intergovernmental bodies to whom the Office reported, to make the United Nations even more efficient and effective in carrying out its main programmes and activities.
Mr. Nair then introduced the report on the investigation into the $6.9 million procurement of quartering area goods in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III) (document A/54/548). He said that Internal Oversight Services was requested in February 1997 by the then Chief Administrator of UNAVEM III to assist in a case which had been pending before the Board of Inquiry of the Mission. A $6.9 million contract for quartering area goods was awarded to a local trading company, based on a four-week delivery schedule. That award was part of a tender exercise conducted in May 1995, in which six other vendors were also awarded contracts.
The investigation determined that planning for the exercise was inadequate, and that the procurement processes of the Mission were flawed, he said. For a large field procurement that had substantial implications for the achievement of the objectives of the Mission, deficiencies in the procurement process could not be excused by reason of emergency time pressures. That could not be viewed simply as a peacekeeping matter, when the obligations of the Organization were involved, as well.
Extensive discussions had been held between the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations prior to the issuance of that report to the Assembly, he said. Internal Oversight Services had presented recommendations for corrective action, which had been agreed to by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Mr. Nair then presented the report on the investigation into allegations of fraud in travel at the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) (document A/54/683).
He said that Internal Oversight Services had received a confidential report from United Nations staff members of fraudulent charges for excess baggage for military observers travelling from UNMIBH to their home countries. The evidence adduced by Internal Oversight Services between November 1998 and March 1999 showed that, from July 1996 until September 1998, the then Chief of the Travel and Traffic Unit in UNMIBH, who was located in Zagreb, had initiated a conspiracy with a local travel agent and an employee of a major airline, to submit fraudulent invoices with false supporting documentation to UNMIBH. Those were false because they contained false baggage charges and inflated airfares, which the former Chief approved in his official capacity. The criminal actions by the former Chief and by his accomplices caused the Organization to suffer an estimated loss of at least $800,000.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of Legal Affairs had reviewed the report, he said. The comments of the Office of Legal Affairs had been incorporated in the report and the Office of Legal Affairs agreed to advise on the specific recommendations in its role as legal adviser. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations concurred with the findings and agreed with all the recommendations.
C.S.M. MSELLE, Chairman of the ACABQ, then introduced that body’s reports. In addition to individual mission reports, he explained the practice of the ACABQ producing a general report on all missions had been continued. The estimates for 2000-2001 showed a significant increase over the previous two periods. The scope of activities and the nature of personnel required for recent missions had changed dramatically, he noted.
THOMAS REPASCH (United States) welcomed the new Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services. He said the Oversight Office reports he introduced were well-done, comprehensive, thoughtful and easy to read. Commenting on the report on procurement of quartering area goods for Angola, he noted that this procurement had been a mess. Some procedures were not followed and there did not seem to have been full competition for all elements in the procurement. He noted the Secretary-General had concurred with the recommendations of the Oversight Office, and asked for a status report on the implementation of the recommendations.
He also wanted to again raise the issue of accountability, he said. What had happened to the officers who were responsible for the procurement? How had those responsible for the procurement been held accountable?
On the report on fraud in travel expenses, this report was engrossing, he said, because it told the tale of a clever fraud perpetrated on the United Nations by a clever individual who took advantage of some lapses in internal controls and some cozy relations. He was curious to know of the status of the case and, particularly, what sentence had been imposed on the individual prosecuted in the United States.
He also sought information on the activities of that person’s supervisors. Clearly, there were lapses by those above the individual. What action had been taken to hold the supervisors accountable? A report on the status of the implementation of the recommendations that had been made to avoid a repeat of such a situation would also be welcome. He thanked those that had drawn the matter to the attention of the United Nations.
Mr. NAIR, said that implementation of the recommendations on the Angolan procurement were in process. The officers concerned had mostly been moved out of procurement, he noted. On the status of the fraud case, sentencing had been postponed and was now expected to take place on 11 May.
Regarding the supervisors of the perpetrator of the fraud, he said that added layers of control could be introduced, but that ultimately staff at all levels must carry out their work with integrity. Without integrity from staff members, additional layers of control would not have the desired effect. The full weight of the law must be directed against those that fail to act with integrity. That, of course, was not to suggest that checks and balances were not required, and the audit unit in the Oversight Office would make sure that sufficient checks and balances were in place. A status report on the level of implementation of the Oversight recommendations arising from the fraud investigation would be provided by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in due course, he concluded.
Committee on Contributions
The Committee then decided to recommend that the Assembly appoint Nathan Irumba (Uganda) to the Committee on Contributions, to serve until 31 December 2000.
RAMESH CHANDRA (India) thanked those who introduced reports. As had been stated, there were some three dozen reports from the Secretariat and about the same number from the ACABQ. He thanked the Secretariat for the qualitatively better reports produced this time around, and also Mr. Mselle for the ACABQ analyses. He suggested that, for the delegations from the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, and indeed especially for India, the ACABQ reports contained information that was crucial for decision-making. The ACABQ could help the Committee further by making some improvements in the presentation of its reports. He noted, with gratitude, that recommendations in ACABQ reports were now in bold. Rationalizing the periods of reference in financial performance reports would also help. In addition, the inclusion of tables with details of reimbursements to countries for contingents, their equipment and for death and disability claims would be helpful, as would footnotes providing enabling resolutions.
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