23 March 2005

Budget Committee Takes Up Additional Financing Requests for Iraq, Bougainville Missions

NEW YORK, 22 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following recent decisions by the Security Council to extend the mandates of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB), the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning took up a request for an additional amount of some $87.31 million for the financing of those special political missions.

[The mandate of UNAMI was extended last August until 11 August 2005 by Security Council resolution 1557 (2004).  However, bearing in mind significant uncertainties in the security situation and the evolving political situation in Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan had proposed resource requirements for only the first four months of 2005, in the amount of $59.6 million.  Some $23 million of that amount related to security requirements.

The mandate of UNOMB was initially not expected to extend beyond the end of 2004, and the resources requested in the previous report were to cover only liquidation activities.  However, the Mission has since been extended for six months through 30 June 2005, in view of the importance attached to maintaining a United Nations presence in the period leading to the elections.]

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the matter (document A/59/534/Add.3), Acting United Nations Controller, Warren Sach, said that the estimates on UNAMI provided for the remaining eight months of 2005, on the assumption that the mandate of the Mission would be extended beyond 11 August.  The total requirements for that period amount to $91.87 million gross, but some $5.27 million will be met from the unencumbered balance of the amount already appropriated, bringing the overall requirements to some $86.55 million.  The Secretary-General intends to strengthen the Mission’s presence in Baghdad and deploy staff and security personnel to two new locations -- Basra and Erbil.  The estimate provides for three Guard Units, comprising a total of 334 personnel, as well as 816 staff (including 198 additional posts).

Regarding UNOMB, he said that estimated resource requirements for the maintenance of the Mission from 1 January to 15 August 2005, including the liquidation period of one and a half months, amount to $754,800 gross, taking into account the over-expenditure of $53,400 in January and February this year.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a related report (document A/59/569/Add.3) -- introduced by its Chairman, Vladimir Kuznetsov -- recognized that the volatility of the situation in Iraq made precise estimates difficult.  Yet, it is still of the view that the basis used by the Secretariat for determining the requirements should have been more clearly defined.  The Advisory Committee trusted that a fuller presentation would be possible in the light of unfolding events and experience.  The ACABQ had also reiterated its earlier recommendation that budgets of large missions should be presented in a manner more suitable for their size and complexity.

Noting that requirements for logistics/life support services accounted for a significant portion of the UNAMI estimates, he said that, as the situation in Iraq improved, the Mission would be building its own capabilities, which should result in savings.  The ACABQ had encouraged the Mission to hire national staff, wherever possible.  Also, to the extent possible, internal capacities, such as the Department of Security and Safety, should be utilized to provide training for new staff.

In general, depending on the events beyond the control of the Mission, there might be significant savings, or even the need for additional resources, he said.  Should the situation stabilize, the Advisory Committee would expect that the next budget estimates would be subject to the usual discipline.

Belgium’s representative, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Union was prepared to approve the Secretary-General’s proposals and the ACABQ recommendations regarding the two missions.  He recognized the difficulties in making budgetary determinations for UNAMI, but expected the Secretariat to provide a fuller presentation in its next budget submission.  That was particularly important given recent growth in resource requirements for special political missions and the possibility that that trend would continue in the future.  To make efficient use of resources, early and more transparent budget information was needed.

He also supported the aim of improving the presentation and transparency of budgetary information for UNOMB, but added that the Union emphasized its attachment to the continuation of consolidated reporting on special political missions.

China’s representative pointed out that the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI had been submitted on the assumption that its mandate would be extended beyond August.  However, that would depend on the Security Council’s determination.  She agreed with the ACABQ that the volatility of the situation made precise determinations difficult and hoped for a fuller presentation in the Secretariat’s next budget submission.  She also agreed that that Secretary-General should consider ways and means to present the budgets of large missions in a manner which would be suitable for their size and complexity.  Once the situation in Iraq had been stabilized, the Secretariat should submit more precise budget estimates.

Regarding UNAMI, the representative of the Republic of Korea said it would be wise to prepare for the possibility that, as recommended by the Secretary-General, the Mission’s mandate would be extended, and to plan accordingly.  Considering the volatile environment, the Mission required enhanced security measures, and additional resources should be channelled toward the establishment of an integrated security structure there.  The Secretariat should explore ways to take advantage of the Department for Safety and Security for security awareness training for new staff and report the results to the Committee.  He also concurred with the Advisory Committee that, despite the Secretary-General’s efforts to establish an objective oriented budget, substantial refinement was needed.  He looked forward to a more detailed presentation in the next budget submission.

The Committee will continue its work at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 23 March, when it is expected to take up the financing of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

* *** *