31 October 2003
PROPOSED BUDGET FOR UN SHOULD REFLECT PRIORITIES
SET OUT IN MID-TERM PLAN, MILLENNIUM GOALS, MAJOR
CONFERENCES, FIFTH COMMITTEE DELEGATES STRESS
Concerns Raised about Funding for Development
Needs, Extrabudgetary Financing
NEW YORK, 30 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) continued its consideration of the proposed $3.058 billion United Nations budget for 2004-2005, speakers agreed that the proposal should reflect the priorities established in the Medium-Term Plan for 2002-2005, the Millennium Development Goals and major recent conferences.
In that respect, many delegates placed development needs among the top priorities requiring adequate financing, pointing out that resources approved by the General Assembly should be commensurate with all mandated United Nations programmes and activities.
Cuba’s representative cautioned against applying the principle of zero nominal growth to the 2004-2005 biennium, saying it would lead to the approval of a low-level budget that would not meet the Organization’s needs. As for the proposal to remove obsolete programmes, Cuba was against encouraging that practice, which could generate additional budgetary cutbacks.
Syria’s representative, while noting that the Secretary-General’s budget proposal exceeded $3 billion, agreed that zero growth was not compatible with the Organization’s needs and questioned whether the proposed figure could really enable the United Nations to fulfil all its mandates. It was a contradiction for Member States to support United Nations reform while insisting at the time on a zero-growth budget.
Regarding the proposed 0.5 per cent real growth of the budget, several speakers pointed out that the nominal increase in resources would amount to 5.8 per cent. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended a budget level of $3.017 billion, which would result in 0.4 per cent negative real growth and a 4.4 per cent nominal resource increase. If the currency and inflation rates were updated, an additional $150 million would be required. In that connection, most speakers in today’s discussion supported strict budgetary discipline and cost-effective use of resources, as well as transparency and accountability in spending.
Iran’s representative echoed alarm of several other delegations over the trend of using extrabudgetary resources to fund priority areas that should be funded from the regular budget. Speakers insisted that those resources should be used to fund priority activities of the United Nations and several delegates expressed concern that extrabudgetary funds were often tied to the wishes of the donors.
As the Committee turned to its consideration of the financial situation of the Organization, speaker after speaker stressed the importance of timely, full and unconditional payment of dues to the United Nations. Noting that the Organization was once again in “rough financial waters”, as a result of late payment or non-payment of assessed contributions, Nepal’s representative also emphasized the need for the Secretariat to undertake further reforms in order to reduce expenditures and seek the payment of arrears. The United Nations must also seek resources outside the assessed contributions and each Member State must pay according to its capacity.
Also speaking this morning were representatives of Kuwait, Switzerland, United Republic of Tanzania, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of ASEAN), Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Zambia and Pakistan.
Catherine Bertini, Under-Secretary-General for Management, responded to comments and questions from the floor.
At the end of the meeting, representatives of Australia, Cuba, Egypt, United States, Syria, Mexico, Russian Federation and Costa Rica took part in a discussion of the ban on smoking within United Nations premises.
Andrew Toh, Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support, responded to the delegates’ questions on that matter.
The Fifth Committee will continue its debate on the budget and begin its consideration of a series of reports relating to the financing of the United Nations for 2004-2005 at 9:30 a.m. Friday, 31 October.
As it met this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to continue its consideration of the programme budget for the biennium 2003-2005 and to take up the question of improving the financial situation of the United Nations.
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