Press Releases

    GA/AB/3740
    12 June 2006

    Budget Committee Takes up Budgets for Peacekeeping Missions in Haiti, Sudan

    NEW YORK, 9 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning started its consideration of the budgets for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), totalling some $1.572 billion for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.

    Introducing MINUSTAH's budget for the 2006-2007 period, Warren Sach, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General, said the requested $490.6 million represented a decrease of $25.8 million from the 2005-2006 period.  That decrease was attributable, among other things to:  lower rations costs, freight costs, as well as the projected completion of all accommodation facilities, seaport jetties and landing fields in the 2005-2006 period.

    Rajat Saha, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), however, said the ACABQ recommended a reduction of $385,000 in the proposed budget, due to its recommendations on posts and consultants.  He said the Committee noted "with concern" the Mission's continued use of consultancy services for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, although 56 posts and positions had been made available to the Mission.  It did not recommend the approval of the required resources for that purpose.

    Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Bahamas' representative hailed the return of constitutional rule in Haiti and welcomed the country back into the Community.  As the road ahead for Haiti would be long and difficult, he urged a long-term commitment and support from the international community.  In that regard, he commended the support provided by MINUSTAH.

    Presenting UNMIS budget for the period 2006-2007, Mr. Sach said the estimated total of $1.08 billion reflected an increase of $112.2 million from the appropriation for 2005-2006.

    The Advisory Committee's Chairman, Mr. Saha, said that, depending on the decision of the Security Council, the costs for the financing of the Mission for 2006-2007 could be reviewed, in which case revised estimates would be submitted to the Assembly.  He trusted any such estimates would be submitted expeditiously.  As UNMIS had moved into the second year of its mandate, the Committee trusted that the budget assumptions would be improved to reflect lessons learned.

    The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the expected long-term nature of the Mission highlighted the importance of full integration of all United Nations actors in the Sudan and coordination with the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), the African Union, the Government of the Sudan and non-governmental organizations.  He underlined the importance of clear lines of responsibility and accountability in a mission of that size and complexity.  He welcomed savings achieved through the use of water-based transport rather than air, and encouraged the Mission to continue to explore alternatives to ensure the most efficient use of resources.  The Secretary-General should continue to explore the possibility of sharing aircraft with other missions in the region.

    The representative of the United States also spoke on the subject.

    The representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group) and the Sudan announced that they would address the issues on Monday.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Egypt and Nigeria paid tribute to their colleague, Jaideep Mazumdar (India), who attended his last meeting of the Fifth Committee today, prior to his departure from New York. 

    Mr. Mazumdar thanked the members of the Committee, the Secretariat and the ACABQ for having made his life richer during his years here.

    The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 12 June, to continue its discussion on MINUSTAH and UNMIS.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider financing of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission in the n (UNMIS).

    Regarding MINUSTAH, the Committee had before it the performance report on the Mission's budget for the period 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/646).  The total expenditure of MINUSTAH for the period 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 has been linked to the Mission's objective through a number of results-based frameworks, grouped by components as follows:  secure and stable environment; political process; human rights; humanitarian and development coordination; and support.

    In its resolution 59/17A of 29 October 2004, the General Assembly appropriated the amount of $379.05 million gross ($372.79 million net) for the Mission's maintenance for the budget period.  It provided for 5,844 military contingent personnel, 872 civilian police, 750 personnel in formed police units, 482 international staff, 549 national staff and 153 United Nations volunteers.

    The Secretary-General recommends that Member States shall waive their respective shares in other income for the period ended 30 June 2005, amounting to $4.8 million, and their respective shares in the amount of $437,500 from the unencumbered balance of $1.8 million for the period ended 30 June 2005, to be applied to meeting the current and future after-service health insurance liabilities of the United Nations.  Member States should also decide on the treatment of the remaining unencumbered balance of $1.4 million for the period ended 30 June 2005, as well as interest income in the amount of $2,000 for the period ended 30 June 2004.

    The Committee also has before it the budget for the Mission's maintenance for the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 (document A/60/728), which amounts to $490.64 million and provides for the deployment of 7,500 military contingent personnel, 1,897 United Nations police officers, including 1,000 in formed units, 510 international staff, 1,072 national staff and 189 United Nations volunteers.  The resource requirements have been linked to the Mission's objective through a number of results-based frameworks, groups by components as follows:  democratic development and consolidation of State authority; security, public order and development of the rule of law; human rights; humanitarian and development coordination; and support.

    In its related report (document a/60/869), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommends a reduction of $385,300, thus, recommending an appropriation of $490.25 million for the Mission's maintenance, as it makes a number of observations and recommendations with regard to the administration and management of the Mission and opportunities for further savings.

    Regarding the Mission's financial performance for 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, the ACABQ notes that the Secretary-General, in his report on liabilities and proposed funding for after-service health insurance benefits (document A/60/450), proposed a number of measures that needed to be taken to fund and account for the accrued liabilities for such benefits.  The measures provided, among other things, for the transfer of $250 million from unspent balances and savings on, or cancellation of prior period's obligations of, active peacekeeping missions as at the end of the 2005 fiscal year.  Depending on what the Assembly decides, there may be a consequential impact on the Mission's financing and other peacekeeping operations.

    The ACABQ, therefore, recommends that the unencumbered balance of $1.37 million, as well as other income and adjustments in the amount of $2,000, be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.

    Regarding UNMIS, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General's performance report on the Mission's budget for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/626).  General Assembly resolution 60/122 of 8 December 2005 appropriated an amount of $222.03 million gross ($219.72 million net) for the establishment and maintenance of that Mission.  It provided for 141 military observers, 965 military contingent personnel, 43 civilian police, 306 international staff, 535 national staff and 32 United Nations volunteers.

    The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly:  apply the loss of $362,000 on interest income to the unencumbered balance of $3.17 million; decide that Member States shall waive their respective shares in the amount of $764,600 from the unencumbered balance to be applied to meeting the current and future after-service health insurance liabilities of the Organization; and decide on the treatment of the remaining unencumbered balance of $2.04 million for the period ended 30 June 2005.

    The Committee also has before it the budget for UNMIS for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 (documents A/60/726 and Corr.1), which amounts to $1.081 billion and provides for the deployment of 750 military observers, 9,250 military contingent personnel, 715 United nations police, 1,136 international staff, 3,345 national staff and 231 United Nations volunteers.  In addition, the budget includes seven international and three national staff funded under general temporary assistance for the Conduct and Discipline Team.

    The total resource requirements have been linked to the Mission's objective through a number of results-based frameworks, grouped by components as follows:  peace process; security; governance; humanitarian assistance; recovery and reintegration; and support.

    In its related report (document A/60/868), the ACABQ recommends a reduction of $594,300.  The Advisory Committee also makes a number of observations and recommendations with regard to the administration and management of the Mission, as well as opportunities for further savings.  The Committee's general report on peacekeeping operations will contain its views and recommendations on a number of cross-cutting issues.

    Regarding the Mission's financial performance for 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, the ACABQ notes that the Secretary-General, in his report on liabilities and proposed funding for after-service health insurance benefits (document A/60/450), proposed a number of measures that needed to be taken to fund and account for the accrued liabilities for such benefits.  The measures provided, among other things, for the transfer of $250 million from unspent balances and savings on, or cancellation of prior period's obligations of, active peacekeeping missions as at the end of the 2005 fiscal year.  Depending on what the Assembly decides, there may be a consequential impact on the Mission's financing and other peacekeeping operations.

    The ACABQ, therefore, recommends that the loss of $362,000 on interest income be applied to the unencumbered balance of $3.17 million.  The remaining unencumbered balance of $2.8 million should be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.

    Introduction of Reports

    WARREN SACH, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General, introducing the performance report on MINUASTAH for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/646), said the unencumbered balance of $1.8 million -- 0.5 per cent of the appropriation -- was attributable to:  lower emplacement travel costs; incumbency of international posts at grades lower than the budgeted levels; and lower utilization of helicopters, owing to delays in the deployment of military contingent personnel.

    He said savings were partially offset by:  higher freight costs by air instead of by sea, of equipment for formed police units; higher average deployment of civilian police than budgeted; and an increase in the rates of mission subsistence allowance (MSA).

    The original actions to be taken by the Assembly, as reflected in the performance report, had been overtaken by the provisions of Assembly resolution 60/255, in connection with the funding of liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits.  The draft resolution would reflect the credit to Member States of the total amount of $6.6 million, comprising the unencumbered balance of $1.8 million and other income of $4.8 million.

    Turning to the Mission's budget for the 2006-2007 period (document A/60/728), he said the budget was estimated at $490.6 million, representing a decrease of $25.8 million from the 2005-2006 period.  That decrease was attributable to:  lower rations costs and no provision required for the freight costs for contingency-owned equipment; and reduced requirements under facilities and infrastructure owing to the projected completion of all major projects for the establishment, renovation and upgrading of accommodation facilities, seaport jetties and landing fields in the period.

    He said, in light of the provisions of Assembly resolution 60/255 on the funding of the liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits, the draft resolution on MINUSTAH would reflect the exclusion of the related provision from the amount to be appropriated.

    Introducing the related report of the ACABQ (document A/60/869), RAJAT SAHA, the Advisory Committee's Chairman, said the Committee recommended a reduction of $385,000 in the proposed budget, due to its recommendations on posts and consultants.  The Mission continued to review post requirements and was proposing to abolishment one P-4 post and to reclassify three P-5 posts to lower grades.  The Committee was also recommending a change for the provision of interpreters from contractual to established posts, as well as the request for approval of five related administrative posts.  The resulting cost was significantly lower than the cost for outsourcing, even with the inclusion of administrative expenses.

    He said the Committee regretted that the Mission's projected budget during the period 2005-2006 regarding travel costs had been overrun and trusted that the proposed travel budget for 2006-2007 would be utilized prudently.  He noted with concern that the Mission was resorting to continued consultancy services for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, although 56 posts and positions had been made available to the Mission.  The work on the programmes to date had been focused on the preparation of studies and the establishment of a platform for future operational activities.  The Committee had not received convincing information that the work of external consultants could not be done by existing staff.  It, therefore, did not recommend the approval of the required resources for that purpose.

    Statements

    FRANK DAVIS (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that on 7 February, after two challenging years, the people of Haiti in large numbers had demonstrated their yearning to be governed by persons of their choice.  From the outset, the CARICOM had indicated its willingness to welcome the return of Haiti to its councils once constitutional rule had been restored.  On 7 June, Heads of Government of CARICOM had issued a statement in which they welcomed the return to constitutional rule in the course of an electoral process deemed by the people of Haiti and the international community as free and fair.  President René Préval had been invited to take Haiti's rightful place at the twenty-seventh Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government on 3-6 July.

    He said stability and security were imperative.  The road ahead for Haiti would be long and difficult.  A long-term commitment and support from the international community would be of critical importance.  The support provided by MINUSTAH must be commended.  Regarding the Mission's budget, he said that the Community welcomed review of staffing requirements in order to ensure a greater proportion of national staff.  Vocational training provided to national staff provided an important contribution towards building long-term capacity.

    He asked for more information on why the Mission continued to resort to using consultancy services for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  Also, it would like more information on why the Mission sought to extend the durations of its responsibility for the implementation of quick-impact projects. The CARIOCOM supported the establishment6 of a United Nations radio station in Haiti, as well as building a permanent national election capacity.

    UNMIS

    Presenting the Secretary-General's reports on the financing of the Mission, Mr. SACH said that UNMIS' unencumbered balance for 2004-2005 was primarily attributable to delays in the deployment of contingent-owned equipment.  Those savings had been partially offset by additional requirements for the acquisition of prefabricated units for accommodation and airfield facilities, owing to the lack of existing infrastructure in the regions and unbudgeted acquisition of generators due to unavailability of local electricity supply.

    The original actions to be taken by the Assembly, as reflected in the performance report, had been overtaken by the provisions of resolution 60/255, in connection with the funding of liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits.  Consequently, the draft resolution on the financing of UNMIS would reflect the credit to Member States of the total net amount of $2.8 million, comprising the unencumbered balance of $3.2 million and net loss of $0.4 million, due to declines in the market value of short-term investments, which more than offset the interest income, in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.

    The budget for 2006-2007 was estimated at $1.08 billion, an increase of $112.2 million from the appropriation for 2005-2006.  The actions to be taken by the Assembly were reflected in paragraph 38 of the Security Council's report.  However, in the light of the provisions of resolution 60/255 on the funding of the liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits, the draft on the Mission would reflect the exclusion of the related provision (4 per cent of the total net salaries included in common staff costs) from the amount to be appropriated for the maintenance of the Mission for the 2006-2007 period.

    Introducing the Advisory Committee's UNMIS report, Mr. SAHA said that the Advisory Committee had been informed that, depending on the decision of the Council, the costs for the financing of the Mission for 2006-2007 could be reviewed, in which case revised estimates would be submitted to the Assembly.  He trusted any such estimates would be submitted expeditiously.

    The Committee trusted that, as UNMIS had moved into the second year of its mandate, the budget assumptions would be improved to reflect lessons learned from the operation of the Mission, he said.  With regard to operational costs, the ACABQ welcomed the proposal to make use of river transportation, which cost significantly less than air transport and constituted a more effective use transport, in view of the lack of road infrastructure, in particular in southern Sudan.

    PETER STONE (Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ), said that progress in the region had been made with the signing of the Abuja Peace Agreement last month and subsequent deployment of the UN Technical Assessment Mission to Darfur.  An expansion of UNMIS could result in the consideration of a revised budget for the Mission relatively soon.  He urged the Secretariat to use the experience gained over the last year during the initial set-up phase of UNMIS in its preparation of any revised estimates.  He also hoped that possible expansion of the Mission was taken into consideration in ongoing recruitment and management decisions.

    The UNMIS budget, now exceeding $1 billion, reflected the scale of the Mission, he continued.  The expected long-term nature of the Mission highlighted the importance of full integration of all United Nations actors in the Sudan.  The success of the Mission would depend on the coordination of its military, police and civilian aspects with the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), the African Union, the Government of the Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations funds and programmes, and the non-governmental organizations.  He welcomed the details provided in the budget on the progress made in implementing a unified work plan and the description of respective roles of various actors.  He encouraged the Secretary-General to continue pursuing and formalizing the concept on integrated mission partnerships, and finalize doctrine, policies and guidelines to govern not only UNMIS, but all peacekeeping missions.

    Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) joined the ACABQ in welcoming the efforts to implement results-based budgeting to record the progress made on performance by programme managers, he said.  In a mission of this size and complexity, it was essential that clear lines of responsibility and accountability were established.  Of some concern was the difficulty experienced in recruiting staff, both national and international, in a timely manner.  He supported the use of national staff, where possible, as it played an important role in capacity-building and transfer of skills to the local population.  He would be interested to hear from the Secretariat on its strategies to improve recruitment, particularly if faced with a request to expand the Mission, and looked forward to a significant decline in vacancy rates.

    And finally, he welcomed the savings achieved through the use of water-based transport rather than air, and encouraged the Mission to continue to explore alternatives to ensure the most efficient use of resources.  The Secretary-General should continue to explore the possibility of sharing aircraft with other missions in the region.  The UNMIS continued to face many challenges.  The Technical Assessment Mission currently in Darfur might present additional challenges.  CANZ pledged its full support to ensuring UNMIS had the necessary resources and structures to meet the objectives of the Mission.

    DAVID TRAYSTMAN (United States) reiterated the need for sustained strong leadership in the Mission and continued dialogue with other partners working in the Sudan.  Given the large size and the decentralized nature of its setup, he asked for more information on reporting and communication lines in the Mission, as well as on the role of the proposed Strategic Planning Office and the potential for duplication of functions with the office of the Chief of Staff.  He also requested a concise breakdown of resources proposed to prepare for the expansion of the Mission.

    He commended the Mission for its continued efforts to find efficiencies in the area of operational costs and applauded efforts to coordinate on a regular basis with other United Nations entities in the Sudan.  He requested a clear breakdown of what the Mission's role was in relation to the role and activities of other United Nations system entities and how the budget reflected that division of labour.  The Mission's role in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process should also be clarified.  Noting that it appeared that UNMIS was undertaking activities that were normally carried out by the humanitarian community, he asked for further information on the Mission's role in that regard.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Egypt and Nigeria paid tribute to their colleague, Jaideep Mazumdar (India), who attended his last meeting of the Fifth Committee today, prior to his departure from New York.

    JAIDEEP MAZUMDAR (India) thanked the members of the Committee, the Secretariat and the ACABQ for having made his life richer during his years here.

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