Press Releases

    GA/AB/3501
    15 March 2002

    SECRETARIAT PRESENTS FINAL EXPENDITURES OF
    SOME $2.56 BILLION FOR 2000-2001 BIENNIUM

    Group of 77 and China Introduce Draft Text Requesting Restoration of
    Conference Services, Mission Internet

    NEW YORK, 14 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning considered the level of final appropriations for the biennium 2000-2001. It took up the programme budget implications on the Third Committee draft resolution on implementation of the outcome of the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. It also heard an introduction of a draft submitted by the "Group of 77" developing countries and China in connection with the proposed cuts in services which were announced in a recent Secretariat circular.

    Introducing the final expenditures for the biennium 2000-2001, following recosting, United Nations Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs said that they amounted to some $2.56 billion. [Recosting is a routine adjustment of figures to reflect changes in such parameters as exchange rates, inflation and cost-of-living expenses.] Last December, the Assembly had decided to revert to the consideration of the matter at the first resumed session, in light of the need for precision in determining the required final level of the appropriations. The final amount exceeded the sum initially presented to the Committee on 18 December by some $391,000. As delegates knew, he had to close the books by 31 March and certify accounts to be presented to the Board of Auditors.

    [According to the reports before the Committee, the revised requirements under the expenditure sections showed an increase of some $27.8 million compared with the assumptions made in the first performance report (documents A/55/645 and Corr.1). The revised estimate under income sections amounts to $379.7 million -– a decrease of $1.1 million.]

    The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Conrad S.M. Mselle, said the ACABQ recommended that the General Assembly approve the final appropriation resolution as set out in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report. In doing so, the Assembly would have approved the necessary transfer among sections.

    Responding to a question by the representative of Syria regarding the deficit of some $35 million in the budget for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services for 2000-2001, Mr. Halbwachs said that last December the General Assembly had already acted on the first performance report in its resolution 56/240 A, approving a combined revised appropriation and commitment authority of some $2.56 billion for 2000-2001.

    Syria’s representative also recalled that he had made a formal request for comparative tables regarding each section of both the 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 budgets, to which he had not yet received a response. He also requested answers regarding the percentage of reductions in each budget section as approved by the Assembly in the last budget. The information he awaited should be presented in writing.

    Warren Sach, Director of Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s statement on programme budget implications of the Third Committee draft on implementation of the outcome of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which was held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of last summer. The draft envisages a number of measures, including the creation of a small anti-discrimination unit to combat racism and the appointment of five independent eminent experts, one from each region, to follow up on the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action. Mr. Sach said that, if approved, the requested resources of some $1.18 million for 2002-2003 would be charged against the contingency fund.

    Mr. Mselle clarified that as the activities indicated in the draft were to be implemented immediately, it would be necessary to authorize commitment in the recommended amount at the current part of the resumed session.

    Stressing the sensitive nature of the issue in question, the representative of the United States said that he had a number of questions regarding the proposed unit and the eminent persons group referred to in the draft, which he would present in informal consultations.

    Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the representative of Cuba emphasized the importance of the matter and said that her delegation was interested in analysing the matter and taking the steps recommended by the ACABQ under the contingency fund. Although the resources for the activities in question would be inadequate, it was necessary to abide by the decisions of the Third Committee.

    As a coordinator of the Group’s consultations on the cuts in services announced in the recent Secretariat circular, the representative of Cuba also introduced a draft resolution, submitted by Venezuela, the Chairman of the Group of 77.

    By the text, the Assembly would regret the implementation of the measures outlined in information circular ST/IC/2002/13 and a note verbale from the Secretary-General dated 28 February 2002 on service reductions in certain areas directly affecting Member States. It would stress that some of the measures are in contravention of the draft resolutions adopted last December and would decide that they should not be implemented. The Secretary-General would be requested to restore the services that have been reduced, in particular conference services and Permanent Mission Internet support services.

    Following the introduction of the text, the United Nations Controller said that, not surprisingly, it had financial implications. As he had pointed out before, the services being reduced could not be provided within the level of the approved budget for the current biennium.

    The representatives of the United States and Canada expressed surprise that the draft had been introduced. Following previous discussions, they had believed that the understanding had been reached with the Chair of the Group to withhold the introduction of the text, pending further consultations in search of consensus.

    The representative of Cuba said that the draft had been presented with a view to holding further consultations on the matter. Her delegation was looking forward to contributions and suggestions in informal consultations. She also reminded the Committee that the Group had requested from the Secretariat an indication of precise amounts that would be needed to restore conference and Internet services to the Missions.

    The Committee will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 15 March, to discuss the financial situation of the United Nations.

    Background

    As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning, it was expected to take up several matters related to the 2000-2001 programme budget. It was also expected to consider the programme budget implications of a draft resolution on the outcome of the Durban World Conference against Racism.

    The Committee had before it the second performance report on the programme budget for 2000-2001 (document A/56/674), which provides an estimate of the anticipated final level of expenditures, following recosting. The scope of the report is strictly financial, and it will be supplemented by a separate report on programme implementation. [Recosting is a routine adjustment of figures to reflect changes in such parameters as exchange rates, inflation and cost-of-living expenses.]

    The anticipated final expenditure and income figures are based on actual expenditures for the first 20 months of the current biennium, projected requirements for the last four months, and changes in the inflation and exchange rates, as well as cost-of-living adjustments as compared with the first performance report. The revised requirements under the expenditure sections amount to $2.56 billion -- an increase of $27.8 million. The revised estimate under income sections amounts to $379.7 million -- a decrease of $1.1 million.

    Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on the final appropriation for the biennium 2000-2001 (document A/56/866). The Assembly, by its resolution 56/240 A of December 2001, approved a combined revised appropriation and commitment authority of $2.56 billion for 2000-2001. To precisely determine the required final level of appropriations and assessments, the Assembly decided that it would consider the final appropriation at the Committee's March session.

    In the report, the Secretary-General proposes that the Assembly adopt a final appropriation resolution for the biennium 2000-2001 of $2.56 billion on the basis of actual expenditures approved by the Assembly.

    In a related report (document A/56/694), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) states that the Secretariat should consider, in the long term, combining the financial and programmatic sides of budget performance into a single performance report. The Advisory Committee holds the view that performance information reflected in a number of paragraphs of the Secretary-General’s report could have been more detailed. For example, the ACABQ had to seek clarification on under-utilization of funds under the central training programme and "non-utilization of the one-time provision to the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women for 2001". Upon request, a breakdown of savings under travel was also provided, which the Advisory Committee insists should be included in future performance reports.

    The Committee also had before it the programme budget implications of the draft resolution on the comprehensive implementation of the outcome of and follow-up to the World Conference against Racism (document A/C.5/56/38). The Third Committee adopted the draft resolution -- A/C.3/56/L.84/Rev.1 -- on 26 February 2002, as orally revised. Should the Assembly adopt the draft, it would give rise to additional requirements under sections 22, Human Rights, and section 32, Staff Assessment of the 2002-2003 programme budget. As it is not possible to identify activities within section 22 that can be cut or deferred, an additional provision of some $1.17 million would be required over and above the regular budget resources appropriated for 2002-2003. That provision would represent a charge against the contingency fund.

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