28 October 2005
Concern Expressed over Increasing Extrabudgetary Funding of UN Activities, as Fifth Committee Continues Debate on 2006-2007 Budget Proposal
(Issued on 27 October 2005.)
NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today continued its general debate on the budget proposal for 2006-2007 following its introduction by Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, several speakers expressed concern over increasing extrabudgetary funding of United Nations activities, particularly in comparison with the regular budget.
While the budget proposal before the Committee amounts to $3.6 billion, it is expected that, in 2006-2007, some $5.6 billion in extrabudgetary resources will be utilized for a variety of activities in the areas of conflict resolution, electoral assistance, mine action, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law, central support services and outreach activities at regional disarmament centres, among others.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in its report, also noted that the regular budget proposal did not take into account the cost of United Nations peacekeeping operations, which is expected to come to nearly $8 billion over two budget cycles (1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 and 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006), excluding the costs of special missions covered under the regular budget. The revised appropriations for 2004-2005 for the two International Tribunals, also not included in the regular budget, total some $585.23 million gross.
Concerned with increasing estimates for extrabudgetary funding, Ghana's representative insisted that the core mandates should be funded through the regular budget, even if that would result in its growth. Core mandates should also be funded through untied funds that would reflect the Member States collective responsibility.
On the same subject, Viet Nam's representative expressed concern that extrabudgetary funds were used to implement donor-driven policies and programmes, and the representative of Algeria said that such practices could have an effect on decision-making process within the United Nations.
The representative of Iran agreed that the Organization's level of resources should enable the Secretariat to efficiently and effectively implement mandated activities without having to resort to extrabudgetary funding. He also stressed the importance of ensuring that any reallocation of resources did not adversely affect the implementation of development objectives. The programme of work of the departments in charge of development, as well as regional commissions, should be implemented effectively.
Speakers also noted that most of the 3,019 "ineffective, obsolete and marginally useful" outputs proposed for termination during the biennium were related to development activities. In that connection, Cameroon's representative stressed that reallocation of resources must take into account the enormous special needs of Africa, which must be effectively resolved.
China's representative said that all resource appropriations must be accompanied by reasonable justification. The Organization should match resources with actual requirements, rein in resource growth, improve management and use resources effectively. It was necessary to drastically reduce administrative costs, make full use of information technology and devote more resources to development.
The Committee will continue its debate on the budget at 10 a.m. Thursday, 27 October.
The Fifth Committee today continued its debate on the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007.
WANG XINXIA (China) said that all resource appropriations must be accompanied by reasonable justification, and that the Organization should match resources with actual requirements, rein in resource growth, improve management and effectively use resources. With limited resources, it was necessary to drastically reduce administrative costs, make full use of information technology and devote more resources to development. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had advanced valuable recommendations on such questions as budget management and resource allocation, which should be given priority by the Secretariat.
While the Advisory Committee had made no substantive cut to overall resources proposed by the Secretary-General, its 200-page report contained concrete recommendations on management, he said. If adopted, they would assist the Organization in correcting serious administrative and managerial deficiencies, achieving savings for the Organization.
He added that a well-reasoned and rational use of resources that ended waste, optimized resource use and realized gains in efficiency should be common objectives for the Organization. Hopefully, budget and programme managers would enhance cooperation to further improve budget management, prepare practical expected accomplishments and indicators of achievements, and terminate outputs once they became obsolete and ineffective.
ABDELATIF DEBABECHE (Algeria) supported the position of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China and the African Group, and noted that the draft budget had been presented for the first time in conjunction with the two-year programme, which had been aligned with the budget cycle. Aware of economic uncertainties that would inevitably affect various programmes, his delegation fully subscribed to the proposal related to the creation of a reserve fund to avoid the impact of inflation and currency fluctuations. However, that strategy should not hide the fact that, at the time of the reform, the Organization still encountered a total stalemate in the implementation of the political will to make means available to the United Nations.
Continuing, he wondered about the budget proposals in relation to the development account and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and noted that financing of representation in Nairobi continued to depend largely on external support. He also had questions regarding the elimination of certain outputs to free resources for high-priority activities. Most of the more than 3,000 outputs slated for discontinuation related to development activities. His delegation, like the Advisory Committee, had questions regarding the breakdown in resources gained from removal of certain budget lines and believed that a distinction should be made between discretionary activities and those mandated by legislative bodies. In the same spirit, he was surprised at the weakness in the increase in the budget related to regional cooperation -- 0.2 per cent compared with the previous budget.
His delegation was happy to see an "open book" policy regarding peacekeeping missions and International Tribunals, he said. However, delays in the payment of contributions for those bodies were causing questions regarding Member States' commitment. It was also not acceptable that countries with limited resources were not being reimbursed on time for peacekeeping operations.
Turning to the payment of dues for the budget, he insisted that payments must be made on time, in full and without conditions. However, countries experiencing genuine economic difficulties should be given sympathetic treatment. His delegation was concerned about an exorbitant amount withheld by certain major contributors, as the Organization was approaching the end of the current budgetary cycle. Another point he wanted to make was that, at a time when the regular budget was experiencing stagnation, extrabudgetary contributions were seeing an increase. That could have an effect on decision-making process within the United Nations.
SEYED MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), supported the statement of the Group of 77 and China and said the Organization's level of resources should let the Secretariat efficiently and effectively implement mandated programmes and activities without having to resort to extrabudgetary resources. He said it was important to ensure that any reallocation of resources did not adversely affect the implementation of the development objectives. He added that the programme of work of the departments in charge of development, as well as the regional commissions, should be implemented effectively, so they could reach their goals. In that regard, he asked the Secretary-General to avoid a high vacancy rate, especially in the regional commissions.
He noted that more than 3,000 outputs were proposed for termination during the biennium and most of these outputs were related to development activities. He expected that the exercise, although not an end in itself, would be attempted across the board, where possible, without implying a shift from that priority to other priorities. On the topic of technology, he said he hoped that the significant investment in information and communication technology -- more than $234 million was proposed in the budget -- produced the expected results. He believed that the results of the investment should be reflected clearly in the relevant areas.
He said he hoped that the Secretariat ensured the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). He noted that there appeared to be some duplication between the role of the CPC and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in considering fascicles. He said that, while the former should confine itself to reviewing the programmatic aspects to determine if they are identical to the plan, the Advisory Committee should look at the budget's technical links when it comes to resources and management.
He also noted that the Advisory Committee had an important role in considering the administrative and budgetary proposals and its technical advice was very important to the Assembly and the Secretariat. It was in the best interest of the Organization that the independence of the ACABQ be maintained.
PAUL EKORONG À DONG (Cameroon) said his country associated itself with the statement of Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Namibia, on behalf of the African Group. He said it was the Member States' duty today to provide the Organization with the necessary means to keep alive the hope born in San Francisco 60 years ago. To meet that objective, the Organization needed to provide adequate human and financial resources to carry out well-targeted projects. He added that adequate resources should be allocated for the financing of development.
Regarding the rate of growth in the proposed budget over the previous biennium of 2004-2005, he said the estimated 5.4 per cent increase showed that the Organization was moving in the right direction. He said the Organization was facing many challenges around the world at this time, from poverty to terrorism to maintaining peace in regions of conflict. He said a positive budget was needed that allowed the Organization to meet its mandates and programmes, while following rigorous financial management.
He stressed that the reallocation of resources must take into account the special needs of Africa, which had enormous needs that must be effectively resolved. More attention should be focused on the human rights situation in Central Africa, and the organizations now doing work in that region deserved sufficient resources.
ROBERT TACHIE-MENSON (Ghana) associated himself with the statement of the Representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Namibia, on behalf of the African Group. He said the budgetary estimate of $3.6 billion, before recosting, proposed by the Secretary-General for the biennium 2006-2007 represented a useful basis for consideration, and subsequently, finalization of the United Nations regular budget for the upcoming biennium. He added that the bid to attain budget stringency, while fulfilling established programmes and mandates, must not be at the cost of effectiveness.
Ghana reiterated its call for adequate resources for the implementation of international cooperation for development, particularly relating to the implementation of NEPAD. His delegation also attached great importance to the role of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in the social and economic role of the continent. Yet, despite its vital responsibility, the ECA was confronted with logistical constraints that impinged on the efficient and effective execution of its mandate. He urged the United Nations to review the shortcomings plaguing the institution.
Ghana also was concerned with the increasing estimates for extrabudgetary funding of core mandates, particularly in comparison with the regular budget. He believed that the core mandates should be funded through the regular budget, even if that necessarily resulted in the regular budget's growth. Core mandates should also be funded through untied funds that would reflect the Member States collective responsibility.
NGUYEN DINH HAI (Viet Nam) commended the Secretariat for the timely submission of the budget proposal and noted the clarity of the introduction. However, he also agreed with the ACABQ that it was still difficult to ascertain the extent to which the outputs contributed to the attainment of the objectives and expected accomplishments for each of the subprogrammes. Resource implications of the outputs should be specified. Expressing satisfaction that the proposal had been presented in a more logical framework, he also noted that it needed to be presented in accordance with relevant Assembly resolutions, including 55/231. His delegation shared the ACABQ's opinion that results-based budgeting was not an end in itself, and if effectively used, it could bring about improvement in management and accountability and allow the Assembly to shift its attention to policy-setting, focusing on the results to be expected from invested resources.
In recent years, more and more extrabudgetary funds were used for activities that should be funded under the regular budget, he continued. His concern was that those funds were used to implement donor-driven policies and programmes. Mandated activities should be financed in accordance with Article 17 of the Charter. Resource allocation among various sections of the work programme should better reflect the Organization's priorities. More resources should be given to sections related to economic and social development to adequately meet the challenges that many developing countries were facing and could not overcome without the help of the international community.
Regarding the staff costs related to consultancy, he said he agreed with the ACABQ that resources for consultants should be determined on a case-by-case basis and limited to specific activities, for which necessary in-house expertise was not available. More attention should be paid to that matter. It was necessary to strictly apply approved regulations on the use of consultants.
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