Press Releases

    GA/AB/3696
    27 October 2005

    Secretary-General, Presenting 2006-2007 Budget, Says "Business As Usual" No Longer an Option for UN, in Current Environment

    Budget Committee Receives $3.6 Billion Spending Plan; Debate Said to Be Opportunity to Push ahead with Reform Efforts

    (Issued on 26 October 2005.)

    NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- Presenting his $3.6 billion United Nations budget proposal for 2006-2007 to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed the need to push forward the management reform within the Organization, saying that "business as usual" was not an option in today's changed environment.

    "It is not just the exceptional number of new demands being placed on the United Nations that defines our work today", the Secretary-General said. "The very way in which the Organization is doing business has also changed profoundly." Not so long ago, the main job had been to staff and service a predictable routine number of meetings and conferences. Today, it was also necessary to manage an unpredictable, non-routine, fast-moving global enterprise encompassing peacekeeping, political missions, humanitarian relief and development.  Yet, the United Nations still functioned "under the old rulebook".

    Implementation of the outcome of last month's Summit would present a chance to bring important programmatic and management changes to the Organization's work, he said. The Fifth Committee had a pivotal role to play in transforming the Organization, in giving it the flexible management and the skilled, motivated workforce it needed. Management reform was indispensable: it was necessary to constantly improve services, learn from experience and correct mistakes. The goal of the reform was to equip the Secretary-General and Secretariat with the management tools and resources needed to handle complex global operations. "And it is to ensure that we are answerable for results and performance through effective, stringent oversight. Working together, we can and must achieve this", he said.

    The budget for the next biennium envisaged a slight increase in real growth:  less than 0.1 per cent over the previous biennium before the revised estimates that would arise from the Summit Outcome Document, he said. Growth in priority areas was to be funded largely through reallocation of resources. The budget continued a trend of significant investments in staff development and information technology, and maintained United Nations capacity to handle special political missions. More than 3,000 obsolete, ineffective or marginally useful outputs had been discontinued.

    Several speakers in the ensuing debate, including the representative of South Africa, expressed concern that further budgetary constraints would seriously compromise the ability of the Organization to deliver the level and quality of services expected of it, especially when Member States imposed new mandates without providing associated resources.

    The representative of Jamaica, who spoke for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, was among the speakers who insisted that resources approved by the Assembly should be commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities in order to ensure their full implementation. There could not be an arbitrary decision to lower the level of resources or impose an artificial ceiling that could adversely affect programme delivery.

    On the other hand, the representative of the United Kingdom, who spoke on behalf of the European Union and associated States, insisted that some savings must be identified for 2006-2007, and that all mandates must be revisited frequently to confirm that the decisions remained valid. In that connection, he noted that with the costs emerging from the World Summit and initiatives under discussion in other Committees, the budget proposal was approaching $4 billion. In just two budget cycles, there had been a rise of well over 50 per cent, and the Secretariat should respond to increased pressures with a prioritized approach to programming.

    While advocating positive examination of the budget proposals to ensure that they reflected the priorities and conformed to the Member States' mandates, India's representative said that the dismay of some Member States at the growth in the budget from the initial proposals in the previous biennium was astonishing. The Assembly had approved a number of new mandates over the biennium, including the largest increase in posts in the history of the United Nations (more than 700 positions had been created for the Department of Safety and Security alone). Yet, even in such areas as United Nations support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the proposed real growth of resources was a mere 1.7 per cent.

    Speaking for the African Group, the representative of Namibia said that, while the security agenda was important, increases in funding for that area should not be at the expense of activities related to development.  The lack of adequate resources to finance the activities of the Economic Commission for Africa remained an issue of great concern because of its crucial role in the support of the development agenda.

    The representative of Japan pointed out that a $4 billion-plus figure was projected if the financial implications of the 2005 World Summit outcome and re-costing were taken into account. Also, one should not ignore the fact that the peacekeeping operations budget for the current financial year was expected to exceed $5 billion. In other words, it was necessary to keep in mind whether the total expenditures were affordable for Member States.  Should there be a "budget adoption crisis", an approach based on zero-nominal growth might be a useful idea as a last resort. Unless concrete results were achieved in the area of management reform, Member States would face enormous difficulties in justifying the ever-increasing budget level of the United Nations.

    On a different aspect of the budget, Pakistan's representative said recent calls for special privileges and status on the basis of budgetary contributions to the United Nations were contrary to the Charter. He would not support any move that would be tantamount to putting "on sale" a privileged status within the United Nations.

    Also speaking this afternoon were representatives of Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Bangladesh.

    Reports before the Committee were introduced by Rajat Saha, Acting Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ); and Yoo Dae-Jong, Vice-Chairman of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC).

    The Committee will continue its debate on the proposed budget of the United Nations at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 26 October.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this afternoon to take up the Secretary-General's budget proposal for 2006-2007.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/AB/3695 of 25 October).

    Introduction by Secretary-General

    Presenting his budget proposal to the Committee, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that in our challenging times, the very way in which the Organization was doing business had changed profoundly. Not so long ago, the main job had been to staff and service a predictable routine number of meetings and conferences. Today, on top of that work, it was necessary to manage an unpredictable, non-routine, fast-moving global enterprise encompassing peacekeeping, political missions, humanitarian relief and development. Yet, the United Nations still functioned under the old rulebook, setting staffing tables and allocating financial resources by committee in New York.

    As the Organization's work and operational environment had changed, "business as usual" was not an option, he stressed. The Fifth Committee has a pivotal role to play in transforming the Organization, in giving it the flexible management and the skilled, motivated workforce it needed. Moreover, the relationship between the Committee and the Secretariat would be critical. "If we understand our respective roles; if we respect and really listen to each other's concerns; if we work in a constructive manner, the Secretariat will better carry out your mandates, and people in need throughout the world will be the beneficiaries", he said.

    In that effort, management reform was indispensable. It was necessary to constantly improve services, learn from experience and correct mistakes. Good management was in the interest of everyone -- bad management served no one. The goal of management reform was to equip the Secretary-General and Secretariat with the management tools and resources needed to handle complex global operations. "And it is to ensure that we are answerable for results and performance through effective, stringent oversight. Working together, we can and must achieve this", he said.

    The General Assembly had asked the Secretariat to produce a staggering number of reports over time, and to comply with a seemingly infinite number of managerial requirements, he continued. Indeed, the level of detail could be quite extraordinary. Such an approach did not lead to more accountability -- instead, Member States themselves became mired in detailed discussions that ended up leaving many of the larger strategic questions unanswered.

    "So, let us move towards a proper division of labour, with you, the Member States, providing strategic direction, and the Secretariat managing", he said. "But we need to be empowered. Not as part of some competition or zero-sum game in which the Secretary-General's gain is this Committee's loss, or vice versa. And I do not mean a blank cheque. I mean authority with accountability."

    Implementation of the outcome of last month's Summit would present a chance to bring important programmatic and management changes to the Organization's work, he said. Last week, Member States had been informed about the work plan for implementing the Summit outcome. In the days ahead, the Secretary-General would be announcing the appointment of a senior adviser on management issues. It was his intention to enlist a person of proven renown in the field, who would advise him on all aspects of the reform process and help ensure that the Organization's work was in line with international best practices.

    Turning to the items "that must be addressed by the end of the year", he said that Member States had called for the Peacebuilding Commission to be operational by December, along with its associated Support Office and Fund. Steps were being taken to set up a "start-up" element of the Office, so that it could "hit the ground running" once the Commission had been established. Financial implications would be submitted early next month.

    In November, the Secretary-General would also submit preliminary budgetary requirements related to a new Human Rights Council, pending a decision by Member States, Mr. Annan said. Given that the Council's parameters were still to be defined in discussions among Member States, those would be tentative. He would also submit financial implications for the doubling of the High Commissioner's budget over the next five years, which Member States had agreed was a vital and long-overdue step for strengthening United Nations work in that area.

    In response to Member States' request that the Secretary-General make detailed proposals to strengthen oversight, measures to strengthen the capacity of the Office of Internal Oversight Services would be undertaken in two phases: the provision of additional resources for auditing and investigation; and an independent external evaluation, to be commissioned by November. The Secretariat was also preparing proposals on the creation of an independent oversight advisory committee. Another "important part of the picture" was a new Ethics Office.  he Bulletin related to that body would be issued in a few days, and financial estimates would be presented to the Committee by early next month.

    Looking ahead to the beginning of next year, he said that in the first quarter of 2006 he intended to submit recommendations to ensure that the Organization's budgetary, financial and human resource policies and rules responded to the current needs. Member States would also receive the Secretary-General's recommendations aimed at facilitating the review of mandates older than five years that the Assembly had approved. That would be "a golden opportunity" to eliminate outdated activities and update the Organization's entire programme of work.

    "I will also submit a detailed proposal for a one-time staff buy-out, so we can establish a staffing profile that reflects the new priorities of the General Assembly and that enables us to meet the requirements of the twenty-first century", he said.

    The budget for the next biennium envisaged a very slight increase in real growth: less than 0.1 per cent over the previous biennium before the revised estimates that would arise from the Summit Outcome Document, he continued. Growth in priority areas was to be funded largely through reallocation of resources. The budget continued a trend of significant investments in staff development and information technology, and maintained United Nations capacity to handle special political missions. More than 3,000 obsolete, ineffective or marginally useful outputs had been discontinued.

    As stressed throughout the Summit process, the agenda was very ambitious, but achievable. "As we move ahead, let us not accept the false hierarchy of issues that treats management as ancillary to our main work. Let us not succumb to the view that the workings of this Committee are some kind of arcane pursuit for specialists only.  Management matters", he said.

    For nearly a decade now, he continued, a sustained effort had put in place a wide range of structural, technical and managerial reforms at the United Nations. The General Assembly had given broad support to those changes, and they had made the Administrative and Budgetary Committee more strategic, and the Organization more effective in doing the job the world expected of it. But even that extensive slate of reforms did not go far enough.

    "For the sake of the Organization, and most of all for the sake of the people we serve, let us continue pushing forward the indispensable process of management reform", he concluded. "Our time is here; the hour for action is now." (For full text of Secretary-General's statement see Press Release SG/SM/10183 of today's date.)

    Introduction of Documents

    RAJAT SAHA, Acting Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body's report (document A/60/7), saying that the Advisory Committee recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General's estimates. In times of budgetary stringency, it became increasingly important to focus on how resources were managed. That was particularly true as the Organization converted to results-based budgeting, which presumed a shift in emphasis from input analysis to a review of results and expected accomplishments. Thus, although it had recommended some specific reductions in individual budget sections, the ACABQ had concentrated on making recommendations on a number of major management issues facing the Organization.

    The Advisory Committee had devoted considerable attention to personnel matters, including the management of the Secretariat as a whole, accountability, staff selection, mobility and the freeze of General Service staff recruitment, he said. If the United Nations was to respond to new challenges, the staffing table of the Secretariat would need to be administered with greater creativity. Reiterating that the departments did not "own" particular posts at particular grade levels, the Advisory Committee urged the Assembly to strengthen the role of the Secretary-General to effectively manage the staffing of the Organization.

    While a number of initiatives had been undertaken to promote accountability in the Secretariat, in the absence of a system of sanctions for failure to perform, such measures could have no real impact. Failure to perform should no longer be tolerated in the United Nations. There should be a whole range of specific disincentives for failure to perform satisfactorily, up to and including dismissal, as well as incentives for excellent performance. Through proper application of the Performance Appraisal System, the United Nations now had the tools to measure performance against specific benchmarks and goals. Conversely, to the extent that managers were held accountable for their performance, they must also be given the authority to manage effectively.

    On staff selection, he said that it still took too long to fill vacancies -- an average of 410 days at Headquarters in 2004-2005. The ACABQ recommended a requirement that all posts that became vacant as a result of planned retirements must be filled within 30 days. For other vacant and new posts, the Advisory Committee expected rapid progress towards the target of 120 days.

    On the common system of salaries, allowances and benefits, he said the ACABQ was increasingly concerned about the disparity in the treatment of entitlements for international staff in non-family missions and the implications that could have for staff morale. It recommended that the Assembly give due consideration to preserving the letter and spirit of the common system when it considered, at its sixty-first session, the comprehensive report on conditions in the field.

    With the contained increase in extrabudgetary resources available to the United Nations, attention must be given to ensuring that extrabudgetary expenditures were subject to greater scrutiny and control, he said.  Presentation of such resources should be revised to make it more compatible with results-based budgeting principles. With expanded emphasis on obtaining funding from the private sector, it was important to establish that the receipt and utilization of funds would not alter the priorities established by Member States, that financial and personnel rules and regulations would be adhered to, that documentation and standards would be established for accountability requirements, and that any additional support costs entailed in managing the funds would be reimbursed on an agreed basis.

    On the whole, he said, the ACABQ had pointed to a number of deficiencies in the administration and management of the United Nations, which should be addressed on a priority basis. It was absolutely essential to provide specific guidelines and objectives for achieving greater productivity and efficiency. The Advisory Committee trusted that its efforts would result in a positive contribution towards that end.

    YOO DAE-JONG, Vice-Chairman of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), introduced that body's report (document A/60/16 and Corr.1), on behalf of its Chairman. Regarding new and revised mandates, he said that following the decision on the establishment of the Department of Safety and Security, the CPC had recommended that the Assembly approve the programme narrative of programme 27 -- safety and security -- of the biennial programme plan for 2006-2007.

    The Committee had also made some recommendations on the sub-item "evaluation" and on coordination issues, he said. Concerning proposals for future thematic evaluation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), it had recommended the theme "Knowledge management networks in the pursuit of the goals of the Millennium Declaration". Some of the Committee's conclusions and recommendations related to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

    Statements

    STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), who spoke on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, noted that the oil-for-food programme was a special operation that was not subject to the Assembly's normal oversight and review controls, and the conclusions of a recent investigation of the programme should not be used as the basis for setting the Organization's directions and priorities.

    He said he welcomed the presentations of the proposed programmed budget in a results-based format and emphasized that that format was a management tool to enhance transparency in implementing programmes and mandates, but not an end in itself. He noted that the proposed budget did not reflect any real growth. He said the Group of 77 and China reaffirmed their position that resources approved by the Assembly should be commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities in order to ensure their full implementation. There could not be an arbitrary decision to lower the level of resources or impose an artificial ceiling that could adversely affect programme delivery. He noted that the Assembly had not accepted the principle of "zero-nominal growth", which some Member States supported.

    He noted that the Secretary-General had proposed the discontinuation of 3,019 outputs and most of these outputs were in the economic, social, and environmental areas -- area of critical importance to developing countries. He believed the agenda of the United Nations should continue to reflect the concerns and priorities of Member States as set out in various legislative mandates. The group would closely consider the proposed discontinuation of the outputs.

    He said the Group was not convinced that the funding allocated for training was adequate to carry out the functions of the Organization.  With the current reform efforts, it was difficult to understand how $25 million would be sufficient to meet the staff's evolving training needs. Resources for training should be allocated fairly among programmes and duty stations.

    The Group also expected that any additional budgetary requirements stemming from the conclusions reached at the World Summit in September would be presented in a revised estimate and supported by detailed proposals. He added that the Group had serious concerns with the Advisory Committee's report and said several observations in the report went beyond the Committee's mandate. The Group emphasized the role of the ACABQ as an independent, impartial and technical expert body to advise the Assembly. The Group believed it was time to review the reform of the ACABQ in line with the ongoing reform process of the Organization.

    EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking for the European Union, noted that the current regular budget proposal was approaching $4 billion, with implementation costs emerging from the World Summit and various additional requirements under discussion in other Committees. In just two budget cycles, there had been a rise of almost $1.4 billion, well over 50 per cent, which represented a significant change from the more stable budgetary levels of the past. The Secretariat should respond to those increased budgetary pressures with a prioritized approach to programming, as well as comprehensive and thorough assessments and decisions on the continuing validity of activities needed. Some savings potential must be identified in the budget proposal for 2006-2007, and all mandates must be revisited frequently to confirm that original decisions remained valid, and that the Organization was dealing with the most important problems.

    Turning to staffing, he said the European Union would seek assurance that all efforts to meet new needs through redeployment or restructuring had been exhausted across the Secretariat as a whole. It was disappointing that measures taken two years ago in the previous budget negotiations to encourage a dynamic approach to staffing allocation had produced such meagre results. The limited flexibility granted to move 50 posts at will, within the staffing complement, was not acted upon until very late in the day. Similarly, there was clearly little appetite within the Secretariat to respond to the "freeze" on recruitment of General Service staff through a wholesale re-evaluation of support functions and redeployment of available resources.

    He added that Member States also had a responsibility, especially when it came to Conference Services, which took up 15 per cent of the budget. Too often States failed to make efficient use of them by starting late, or demanding extra meetings because of their own lack of organization. States should seek to streamline the programme of meetings and make more efficient use of that valuable resource.

    JOHN DAUTH (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said that strengthening public confidence must come first.  With assessed United Nations budgets poised to scale $7.5 billion annually, the public needed to know that the resources they provided were well spent, and spent with integrity. Planned measures to strengthen the ethics function, to prevent conflicts of interest and to require honourable conduct were fundamental building blocks, and they should be supported by strengthened, capable and independent oversight.

    He said a second priority theme was transparency and accountability, and the Organization needed to sharpen its focus on results. A key improvement would be to allocate resources to substantive purposes, rather than to administrative purposes as was the case now. More broadly, results-based budgeting was not just incremental budgeting, nor was it a paper exercise; it was a comprehensive management tool which encouraged productivity, efficiency, accountability and better human resource management. Transparency also required a review of the budget methodology to ensure that the full costs of proposals were not obscured and that non-recurrent outlays did not unwittingly become part of the budget baseline.

    Over the years, he said, his delegation had stressed the need to have a big picture view of resource prioritization and allocation; and of the need to discontinue outdated activities in favour of actions that reflected contemporary needs. The forthcoming review of older mandates would help in this respect, but there was no substitute for the ongoing responsibility of managers to assess the relevance and impact of what they were doing.

    MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), speaking for the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that while the security agenda was important, increases in funding for that area should not be at the expense of activities related to development. Furthermore, the Secretariat should justify their resource requirements in the programme budget proposal, so that Member States could make well informed decisions. It was hoped that investments in information technology and staff training would help the United Nations to fully integrate results-based budgeting into its system, and that there would be additional measures to strengthen training efforts.

    He said the proposed programme budget placed emphasis on the need for programme managers to constantly review recurrent outputs under their spheres of competence, with a view to identifying those outputs that were obsolete or of marginal utility -- outputs which may be terminated in accordance with Regulation 5.6 governing programme planning, the programme aspects of the budget, the monitoring of implementation and the methods of evaluation. He stressed that Regulation 5.6 was key to rationalizing and streamlining the work of programme managers, and that its impartial application may positively contribute to focusing resources away from redundant outputs towards priority areas agreed to by Member States.

    The lack of adequate resources to finance the activities of the Economic Commission for Africa remained of great concern because of its crucial role in the support of the development agenda. He also expressed concern over the heavy reliance of the United Nations Office at Nairobi on extrabudgetary funding for its activities. He said it was unfair and needed rectifying. He noted that budget proposals did not significantly contain requests for new resources for that office.

    CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina), speaking for the Rio Group, associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China, and noted the budget proposal at the level of $3.8 billion after re-costing. He said the Group was aware of the financial obligations derived from the cost requirements of peacekeeping operations, the international Tribunals and the Capital Master Plan. He welcomed the decision by the Secretary-General to accompany the proposed budget with measures aimed at increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of programmes and related utilization of resources.

    Seeking to achieve consistency and eliminate duplication, the countries of the Group shared the view that certain outputs should be discontinued. However, such elimination should not be an objective in itself, nor should it depend on the contingent reception of extrabudgetary resources. It was essential for the organs that formulate programmes and the General Assembly to participate in that process. Given that almost 17 per cent of the outputs proposed to be discontinued in the next two years belonged to the section on economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean, he would like more clarification in that regard during informal consultations.

    With staff costs representing the largest share of the budget, efficient management of resources was of key importance. Equitable geographic distribution, particularly at senior levels, should be ensured. It was also necessary to reduce the average number of days a post remained vacant in the Organization. The Rio Group welcomed the initiatives to improve accountability, including the preparation of a comprehensive anti-fraud and corruption policy. The Group would support the measures to strengthen transparency and institutional integrity.

    On information technology, he supported the implementation of the strategy approved by the Assembly. Work to improve the networks at regional headquarters and regional commissions should continue, to allow the strategic standardization the Assembly had asked for. The Group was firmly in favour of incorporating gender mainstreaming in all sections of the budget, particularly taking into account the situation of women from developing countries.

    Concerning results-based budgeting, he said that there had been an improvement in budget presentation over the last two bienniums. Nevertheless, he noted that the ACABQ had pointed out several areas where further progress could be achieved, such as progress indicators, external factors and the need to pay more attention to the linkage between inputs and outputs. 

    MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said the budget should match the commitments that Member States pledged in the Millennium Declaration and in the outcomes of all the major international and summit conferences, and it should be carried out in a framework of budget discipline according full justification to the resources required.

    He noted that the budget considerations would no doubt be affected by many factors, including, inter alia, the overblown ramifications of the oil-for-food scandal; the adoption of the Outcome Document; and the rumours of withholding of their assessments by certain Member States. He said the budget was not the appropriate place to address those issues. Egypt remained committed to addressing all of them in the future.

    He associated himself with the comments of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and of Namibia on behalf of the African Group. He said that all mandated activities should be provided with adequate resources from assessed contributions, in order to ensure their full implementation. Secondly, he remained deeply concerned about the role played by extrabudgetary resources in the realignment of priorities of the Organization's work; he was concerned about the escalating trend towards financial support from donor countries as compared to the level of funding from assessed contributions. And thirdly, Egypt was concerned that some technical bodies were overstepping their mandates as established by the General Assembly.

    XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa) fully associated South Africa with the statements of Jamaica, for the Group of 77 and China, and of Namibia, for the African Group. He said the proposed programme budget of the Secretary-General provided an invaluable opportunity for all Member States to demonstrate their political commitment to the guiding principles and priorities of the Organization. However, Member States needed to recognize that there was only so much that could be done by instituting savings measures and moving funds from one activity to another. The implementation of individual programmes and ultimately the overall work of the Organization would suffer if new sources of reliable funding were not provided.

    He said it was time that Member States paid attention to the Secretary-General's remarks that further budgetary constraints would seriously compromise the ability of the Organization to deliver the level and quality of services expected of it, especially when Member States imposed new mandates without providing associated resources.

    He noted the increasing efforts undertaken in the past two years by the United Nations system to mainstream the policies and priorities of NEPAD into their priorities and programmes. But he concurred with the Secretary-General and the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) that these efforts were not sufficient and the successful implementation of NEPAD was still constrained by a lack of resources. To that end, he welcomed the efforts to increase the regular budget component of the United Nations Office at Nairobi as an important first step in bringing the financial arrangements of the Office in line with those of similar United Nations administrative offices. The Nairobi Office served as interface between the peoples of Africa and the United Nations, and made an important contribution to strengthening the Organization's presence in Africa.

    NIRUPAM SEN (India) aligned himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China, and said he had been struck by the fact that at $3.6 billion, the regular budget accounted for only about 20 per cent of the total outlay of the Organization. Extrabudgetary resources were expected to touch $5.6 billion and peacekeeping budgets would total $10 billion.There was comparatively little or no intergovernmental scrutiny over those $16 billion, and yet negotiations on the regular budget tended to take up disproportionate time and effort of the Fifth Committee.

    He said developing countries had little say in decisions that resulted in the mandates corresponding to more than 80 per cent of the resources of the United Nations. It was the regular budget that those countries saw as the vehicle through which the United Nations addressed their priorities in social and economic development. It was also the vehicle for ensuring effective conduct of the deliberations of intergovernmental organs. Developing countries had, in general, been traditionally supportive of the Secretary-General's budget proposals. While believing that intergovernmental budget scrutiny was essential, India would urge delegations to favour an approach that would focus on the merits of the proposals and effective use of resources.

    Some Member States, he said, had expressed surprise and dismay at the growth in the budget from the initial proposals in the previous biennium. Such surprise was astonishing, given that the Assembly had approved a number of new mandates over the biennium, including the largest increase in posts in the history of the United Nations. More than 700 new positions had been created in a new Department of Safety and Security alone.  Yet, in real terms, the budget showed a growth of 0.1 per cent, which was far less than the modest 0.5 per cent growth in the previous biennium. Even in such areas as United Nations support for NEPAD, the proposed real growth of resources was a mere 1.7 per cent.

    He commended the Secretary-General for having identified over 3,000 obsolete or ineffective outputs for discontinuation. That proved that existing regulations and rules could be used to free up resources for more useful purposes. It was another matter that out of those 3,000 outputs, nearly 2,800 were in the areas of social and economic development. That appeared to be somewhat unbalanced.

    In the budget, the Secretary-General had also proposed reallocation of $100 million between different sub-programmes and more than $50 million among different sections, he said. As many as 243 posts had been proposed for redeployment. As for the myth that regular budget resource requirements were mushrooming out of control, he said that, in reality, the share of the regular budget was shrinking rapidly. Extrabudgetary funding was already over 1.5 times the amount of the regular budget. Like others in the Group of 77, his delegation would examine the budget proposals positively. He would oppose any approach that proceeded from the standpoint of an arbitrary ceiling and would examine the proposals purely on merit. The overwhelming consideration would be to give the Organization the resources it needed to carry out its mandates effectively, and to ensure its financial health and effectiveness.

    ABDULLAH M. AL-RASHEED (Saudi Arabia), supporting the position of the Group of 77 and China, said he welcomed the proposal of the Secretary-General for the 2006-2007 budget, as well as his reform initiatives presented to the Committee.  The Organization's resources should be spent in accordance with well defined and measurable achievements.

    He said he also welcomed the increased appropriations for information technology for the coming biennium. The Office of Central Support Services must coordinate and implement such technology. He also shared the opinion of the ACABQ that the time had come to use results-based budgeting to improve management efficiency and accountability in the Secretariat. With regard to human resources management, he supported the Secretary-General's initiative to address the question of accountability through the establishment of such bodies as management performance board and the United Nations oversight committee. "Whistle-blowing" protection policy was also important, as well as the recommendations on the preparation of a comprehensive fraud and corruption prevention mechanism.

    He added that Saudi Arabia was not fairly represented in the Secretariat, although it had qualified candidates, including those who had taken professional examinations. He called on the Secretariat to appoint Saudi nationals to available posts, and said it was also important for developing countries to have a bigger share in United Nations procurement.

    JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said he supported the significant adjustment in staffing resources and continued investment in information and communications technology and staff training. He also applauded the reconfiguration of the staffing table to strengthen the junior Professional levels, while rationalizing the General Service support level.

    He noted that the programme budget was nearly a net zero-growth budget, yet the Organization was facing necessary "add-ons" as a result of the decisions taken at the World Summit in September. He voiced strong support for the reforms and the new priorities included in the Outcome Document, and called for agreement on additional funding to execute those reforms.

    He said it was important to Norway that appropriate allocations from the regular budget be secured for important areas such as human rights, humanitarian affairs and refugees. Norway believed that the Organization's human rights work was too dependent on extrabudgetary resources and merited a significantly larger proportion of regular budget funding; a tangible and positive outcome of the Summit was the commitment to double the regular budget of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and that should be followed up in the budget for 2006-2007.

    He said the ACABQ's recommendations on the planning and budget process, the lead-time, the outputs and accountability were very sound and timely, and they should find resonance in the Fifth Committee. The recommendations should also be well heeded by the Secretary-General and management at large. While, by and large, Norway endorsed the budget proposal, it would continue to seek productivity improvements and efficiency gains, in order to ensure that the United Nations was cost-efficient and well managed.

    MUNIR AKRAM ({Pakistan) said that there was a limit to absorbing expenditure on new and additional mandates from "existing resources".  Pakistan believed that while efficiency in the use of resources was highly desirable, provision of adequate resources, commensurate with the mandated activities, was imperative. He, therefore, called on all Member States to honour their financial obligations in full and on time; payment of dues was a Charter obligation. For its part, Pakistan had always paid its dues in full and without any conditions.

    Lately, he continued, there had been calls for special privileges and status on the basis of budgetary contributions to the United Nations. That was contrary to the United Nations Charter, which was founded on the principle of sovereign equality and payment of dues according to countries' capacity to pay. He would not support any move that would be tantamount to putting on sale a privileged status within the United Nations.

    In determining the level of the budget, it was necessary to ensure adequate resources to fulfil the approved mandates. The programmes relating to poverty alleviation, promotion of universal primary education and other high priority areas should receive adequate financial and human resources. He suggested that the savings of $18 million reported by the OIOS should be diverted to the Development Account.

    He noted that the General Assembly, in its resolution 57/300, had granted flexibility to the Secretary-General for reallocation of 50 posts within a single budget period.  His delegation wanted to know how that flexibility had been utilized so far. It was necessary, in considering the budget, to bear in mind the decisions on new institutions, programmes and reforms adopted last month at the 2005 World Summit. The agreed initiatives should be financed through additional resources, as required, and not by reappropriating or diverting resources from existing programmes.

    Actions and activities of the Organization should be Member-driven and not Secretariat-driven. Proposals to grant authority and flexibility to the Secretary-General for deployment and redeployment of human and financial resources should not be used to change the priorities determined by Member States. Review of mandates should not be a merely cost-cutting exercise.

    Such matters of human resources management as a one-time staff buy-out should be dealt with as part of a comprehensive exercise and not in a piecemeal manner. The OIOS should have greater financial and operational independence, coupled with greater accountability to the Assembly as the principal oversight organ of the United Nations.

    IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said adequate resources must be provided if the Organization was to carry out its mandated tasks.  Member States must make their assessed contributions and all dues must be paid. He noted that despite various constraints, Bangladesh had paid its dues -- both for the regular and peacekeeping budgets -- with impeccable regularity.

    He welcomed the timely submission of the budget in a shorter and more convenient format that reflected the concept of results-based budgeting. He also agreed with the Advisory Committee's point about the need for additional simplification. He added that the budget should agree with the Millennium Goals and the objectives of the outcomes of major international conferences.

    On the reallocation of resources, he stressed the importance of shifting resources, while keeping in mind priorities previously set. He appreciated the proposal for continued investment in information and communications technology, as reflected in an increase of $16 million. However, he said $25.6 million for staff training might be inadequate.

    Regarding the Secretary-General's proposal to discontinue 3,019 outputs in 2006-2007, he urged "calm" as most of those outputs involved economic, social and environmental programmes in developing countries; those needed to be thoroughly evaluated. He noted with a "modicum of concern" that the proposed allocation of $3.61 billion for the regular budget in 2006-2007 represented an increase of less than 0.1 per cent, or $276,000. That included a net decrease of 10 posts. At the same time, extrabudgetary resources were estimated at $5.6 billion. That reflected a net increase in resources of nearly $185 million and additional manpower of 779 personnel. A methodology needed to be devised so that the totality of the membership could participate in decision and policy-making with regard to those additional resources.

    He said Bangladesh had every confidence that the management reform to be undertaken would further "sharpen and hone" the capacity of the Organization to deliver to "we the peoples", a better United Nations and thereby, a better world.

    TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said that the proposed budget amount of $3.8 billion (including preliminary re-costing) represented an abrupt increase of 20 per cent, compared to the initial appropriation of the previous budget. Furthermore, it was expected that there would be substantial additional resource requests. Yet the Secretary-General's proposal referred to the budget as "virtually no real growth in resources" on the whole. However, he said it was necessary, in the circumstances, to examine the 2006-2007 budget in its totality, including the contemplated additional expenditures, since it would become the basis for activities for the next two years.

    He understood that a $4 billion-plus figure was projected if the financial implications of the 2005 World Summit outcome and re-costing were taken into account. Bearing in mind the possibility that the budget for 2006-2007 could increase by nearly $1 billion over the initial 2005-2005 level, it was necessary to be very serious in analysing the budget proposal. One should not ignore the fact that the total peacekeeping operations budget for the current financial year was expected to exceed $5 billion. In other words, it was necessary to keep in mind whether the total expenditures were affordable for Member States.

    As the ACABQ had correctly pointed out, he said, the Assembly had never adopted a purely incremental approach.  Requests for all resources must be justified, not just for the proposed additional expenditures. It was necessary to be serious about ensuring efficient and effective use of available resources. The resources needed for prompt implementation of the Summit Outcome Document needed to be dealt with through redeployment in line with the priorities of the Organization, based on the principle of "scrap and build".  In that respect, the Secretary-General should effectively utilize his authority as the chief administrative officer.

    He said that while a total of 3,019 outputs had been identified to be discontinued, the question remained whether numbers alone were real indicators in measuring the endeavour to prioritize available resources. In the counting, one-time outputs and recurrent outputs had been lumped together. Also, no consistent information had been provided on whether the newly proposed outputs would replace the discontinued ones.

    The adoption of the budget was likely to draw much attention in some of the capitals, he added. Should there be a "budget adoption crisis", an approach based on zero-nominal growth might be a useful idea as a last resort. Concrete results should be achieved in the area of management reform to make the Secretariat effective, efficient and accountable. Otherwise, Member States would face enormous difficulties in justifying the ever-increasing budget level of the United Nations.

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