Press Releases

     

    GA/AB/3588
    5 November 2003

                                                                                                                                                        

    PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY SYSTEM, HAZARD PAY INCREASE
    FOR LOCAL STAFF AMONG ISSUES RAISED, AS FIFTH
    COMMITTEE DEBATE CONTINUES

    NEW YORK, 4 November (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) continued its consideration of the United Nations Common System this morning, speakers addressed the proposals to introduce a pay system that would reward performance, the recommendations to increase hazard pay for locally recruited staff and the possible introduction of a broadbanding system.

    Canada’s representative stressed that linking pay and performance should be a very high priority for human resource management reform, because under present arrangements length of service mattered more than performance.  He also saw merit in the suggestion that a pay-for-performance system should be tested.  Such a test could start with managers, he said.

    China’s representative felt the reform should eventually lead to establishing pay for performance, a practice that had already been adopted by some governments.  The proposals put forward by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) were not something revolutionary, he said.  Rather, they represented an effort to help the common system organizations to improve their efficiency.  That was why his delegation welcomed a limited pilot project to link pay and performance.

    The representative of the Russian Federation agreed with China that the focus should be on increasing efficiency and cautioned against creating illusions that the new pay system was paramount to increasing pay.  Better rewards for above-the-average performance should be achieved through redistribution of the funds and not through introducing new resources.

    Turning to the issue of hazard pay for locally recruited staff, the United States’ representative questioned the rationale behind the Commission’s recommendation to increase hazard pay for local staff to 30 per cent of the midpoint of the local salary scale, which reflected a 50 per cent increase in the benefit.  [Following last year’s recommendation by the ICSC to increase the hazard pay for locally recruited staff, the Assembly, in its resolution on the matter, requested the ICSC to reconsider the question.]  Instead of increasing hazard pay, the United Nations should focus its resources on improving the overall security of United Nations personnel, she said.

    While supporting an increase, China’s representative believed that to set such pay at 30 per cent of the midpoint of the local salary scale seemed to be somewhat simplistic and a bit arbitrary.  Thus, he would appreciate some explanation about the thinking behind such a decision.

     

    While agreeing with some of the cautionary remarks made by other speakers, Sierra Leone’s representative strongly supported the ICSC’s recommendation, stressing that staff working in dangerous conditions deserved recognition from the United Nations.

    Several speakers also noted the progress made by the Commission in exploring the possible introduction of a broadbanding system, which would put grades into broad salary groups with no steps between the minimum and maximum pay for the band.  It would permit managers to shift the duties of their staff to meet new requirements and priorities.  Nevertheless, some delegates doubted that broadbanding could succeed at the United Nations and wondered if the models chosen to test such a system were the most appropriate.

    Also this morning, Conrad S.M. Mselle, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Committee’s report on the salary and retirement allowance of the Secretary-General and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 5 November, to continue its work.

    Background

    This morning the Fifth Committee was expected to continue its consideration of United Nations Common System and begin its consideration of various aspects of the 2002-2003 budget.

    Programme Budget for Biennium 2002-2003

    The Committee had before it a report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the salary and retirement allowance of the Secretary-General and salary and pensionable remuneration of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (A/58/7/Add.3).

    The report is submitted by the Advisory Committee in accordance with General Assembly resolution 57/310 of June 2003, in which the Assembly concurred with the recommendation of the Committee concerning the salary and retirement allowance of the Secretary-General and the salary and pensionable remuneration of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) contained in document A/57/7/Add.25.

    [A/57/7/Add.25 states that, in December 2002, the General Assembly approved differentiated salary increases in the salary scale for staff in the professional and higher categories, including a 6.3 per cent increase for D-2 staff and above.  As a result of the increase, the pensionable remuneration of the UNDP Administrator would increase from $251,827 to $267,692.  The Secretary-General’s retirement benefit would increase from $129,548 to $137,710.  The Advisory Committee recommends that those changes be made effective from 1 January 2003.

    The change in the Secretary-General’s gross salary would result in an increase of expenditure of staff assessment under section 32 of the 2002-2003 programme budget of some $18,000, offset by an equivalent amount under Income section 1, Income from staff assessment.  Should the Secretary-General’s net salary be increased, there would be an increase in expenditure under section 1 of 2002-2003 budget of some $16,400.  The consequential increases in the maximum retirement allowance for the three former Secretaries-General would result in a total additional cost under section 30, Special expenses, of the 2002-2003 programme budget of some $24,900 at a rate of $8,300 per former Secretary-General for 2003.]

    The Assembly requested that the Committee submit proposals to it at its fifty-eighth session with a view to formalizing conditions and procedures related to the salary and retirement allowance of the Secretary-General and the salary and pensionable remuneration of the Administrator of the UNDP.

    The Advisory Committee does not see a need, at this time, to change the current practice.

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