Consideration of Proposed 1996-1997 Budget, Medium-Term Plan, Pattern of Conferences Continues


Permanent members of the Security Council should pay a substantial surcharge in addition to their assessments for peace-keeping operations due to their special roles in international peace and security, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told this morning as it discussed how United Nations costs should be divided among Member States.

Today's meeting also deliberated on the prototype of a new format of the medium-term plan, the proposed $2.69 billion budget for 1996-1997 and the pattern of conferences.

Suggesting the surcharge, the representative of Australia, also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said the peace-keeping scale of assessments should continue to be based on its regular budget counterpart. Both the "floor" and the "ceiling" rates of the regular budget should be abolished. The ceiling rate gave the largest and wealthiest countries a benefit which must be subsidized by others. The floor rate imposed a burden of more than 30 times the share of the world income on the smallest and least economically developed countries.

The Philippines, also speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that those Member States' special circumstances should continue to be taken into consideration in reviewing the calculation of the scale. General Assembly mandates should also be considered in that effort.

The Ukraine said that it was unrealistic to measure capacity to pay on the basis of socio-economic or human development indicators. The statistical base period for determining income should be reduced to three years, the assessment scale should be set for single years, and market rates used to convert currencies.

The representatives of Republic of Turkey, Azerbaijan, India, Republic of Moldova, Syria and Nepal also spoke on the scale.

Speaking on the proposed budget, Bangladesh said that economic and social development had not been given the resources they deserved and the proposed budget did not reflect the priority areas of the medium-term plan, of which economic development should be the first. More resources should be provided to follow up recent international conferences and for the 48 least developed countries, which were increasingly being marginalized.

In addition to seeking more emphasis on economic development of Africa, Nigeria sought more resources for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and related institutions to improve trade and technology development.

Uganda said the proposed budget's "efficiency gains" should be clarified, expressed in specific monetary amounts and their impact in relation to the Assembly's set priorities clarified. The Secretariat should provide specific information on each post proposed for redeployment, giving its legislative mandate, rationale and its effect on the work programme of the various departments.

The representatives of Indonesia, Latvia and Belarus also spoke on the budget.

Speaking on the pattern of conferences, Ecuador, also speaking for the Rio Group -- including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela -- said the equality of official languages should be stressed and resources provided to ensure the translation and simultaneous distribution of documents in those languages. The use of conference facilities should be improved and production of documents controlled.

Speaking on the question were Japan and the United States, in addition to Bangladesh, which also spoke on programme planning.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday 18 October, to consider the financing of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), travel and related expenses, and continue discussing the scale of contributions.

Committee Work Programme

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue discussing the pattern of conferences, the proposed budget for 1996- 1997, programme planning and the scale of assessments.

Under programme planning, the Committee had before it the report on the prototype of a new format of the medium-term plan (A/49/301). The new format has been designed to enhance strategic planning, permit the creation of a link between objectives and the allocation of resources among budget programmes. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in its report (A/49/958), recommends approval of the new format if some of its observations are taken into account.

The Committee had before it 23 programmes in the medium-term plan for the period 1992-1997 for revision. United Nations regulations provides for a review exercise every two years and the incorporation of required programme changes. The proposed revisions to the medium-term plan (document A/49/6), which are submitted by sections, include the following:

-- Programme 6. Elimination of apartheid: The proposed revisions would terminate the programme in light of changes that had taken place in South Africa.

-- Programme 8. Peaceful uses of outer space: Proposed revisions would reflect the transfer of the Office for Outer Space Affairs from the Department of Political Affairs to Vienna and other changes to reflect most recent resolutions and decisions of the legislative and deliberative organs of the United Nations.

-- Programme 11. Policy development and coordination: The proposed changes reflect changes in the content and orientation of the activities for international cooperation for social and economic development resulting from Assembly resolutions and changes in the structure of the Secretariat due to its restructuring.

-- Programme 12. Global development issues and policies: The revisions reflect changes in the programme's content and orientation resulting from relevant intergovernmental decisions relating to revitalization in the economic, social and related fields, and other relevant mandates. They would also reflect the new emphasis in the orientation of the United Nations activities occasioned by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

-- Programme 13. Trade and development: The revisions would transfer the subprogramme on investment and technology from programme 13 to programme 17 on science and technology for development, while keeping its high priority designation.

-- Programme 14. Trade expansion, export promotion and service sector development: Revisions to the programme include, among others, the programmatic implications of the newly established ad hoc working group on trading opportunities in the new international trading context. They are also meant to integrate all work done by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and to establish or adjust priorities.

-- Programme 15. Least developed, land-locked and island developing countries, and special programmes: The revisions call for reviews of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s by a high-level intergovernmental meeting convened by the General Assembly. The meeting is to consider and formulate appropriate national and international policies and measures to accelerate those countries' development.

-- Programme 17. Science and technology for development: The proposed revisions would merge subprogrammes on modern technology and assessment systems with that for information services. The subprogramme on coordination and harmonization of activities of the United Nations system on science and technology for sustainable development would be merged with the related programme 46 on sustainable development.

-- Programme 18. Population: The programme would be revised to reflect the results of the Secretariat's restructuring.

-- Programme 21. Public administration and finance: Revisions reflect the restructuring in the economic and social sectors approved by the Assembly in May 1993.

-- Programme 22. Human settlements: Proposed revisions reflect the new mandates on the preparatory processes for the second United Nations Conference for Human Settlements (Habitat II), the linkages between human settlements and the environment, and various legislative measures adopted by policy-making bodies relating to the activities of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).

-- Programme 23. Transnational corporations: The revisions would reflect the review of the relevant work programme of the Assembly by the Commission on Transnational Corporations, to broaden the focus of international investment and transnational corporations and to provide new orientations. The programme is aimed at furthering understanding of the nature of the economic, social and environmental effects of the activities of those corporations in home and host countries and in international relations. It is also to enhance the contributions of international investment and transnational corporations to national development and world economic growth. It would also strengthen the capacity of developing countries in their dealings with the firms and in creating an enabling environment for international investment and for private sector and enterprise development.

-- Programme 24: Statistics: The proposed revisions would reflect the transfer of the Statistical Division to the Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

-- Programme 25: Global social issues and policies: The revisions in the programme would reflect the outcome of the intergovernmental process in social development and the restructuring of the Secretariat. A new subprogramme entitled "Strategies for poverty eradication" is also proposed under the programme.

-- Programme 26: Social Integration: The revisions would reflect the new emphasis that Member States have placed on integration aspects of social groups in development during the preparatory process for the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.

-- Programme 31: Regional cooperation for development in Asia and the Pacific: The changes call for efforts to identify potential areas for regional economic cooperation, recommend appropriate policy options and assist Commission members in implementing measures to achieve such cooperation.

-- Programme 32: Regional cooperation for development in Europe: The revisions would reflect, among others, the substantial changes in the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) region arising from an increase in membership to 54 members and by 61 per cent since the drafting of the medium-term plan. Its membership comprises all countries of Europe and of Central Asia, in addition to Canada, Israel and the United States. Among the membership, approximately half are States in transition to a market economy.

-- Programme 34: Regional cooperation for development in Western Asia: The revised text states that the programme will try to enhance sustainable development by promoting regional cooperation; to increase awareness of the links between social and economic factors in development; and to promote social and economic development in States with special conditions.

-- Programme 35: Promotion and protection of human rights: The revised text has been elaborated as a result of the adoption by the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which was endorsed by the Assembly last December.

-- Programme 36: International protection of and assistance to refugees: The proposed revisions would, among others, reflect the Assembly's decision to extend the term of office of the High Commissioner for another five years, from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 1998.

-- Programme 37: Emergency humanitarian assistance: Revisions would reflect, among others, the Secretary-General's initiatives in the Agenda for Peace and Agenda for Development. The report mentions that there is no specialized intergovernmental or expert body responsible for reviewing the revisions to the programme.

-- Programme 38: Public information: Proposed revisions would reflect the Assembly resolution which terminated the mandate of the Special Committee against Apartheid and removed from the current session's provisional agenda the item entitled "Elimination of apartheid and establishment of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa".

-- Programme 46: Sustainable development: The proposed programme reflects the outcome of the intergovernmental process initiated by UNCED held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

In its related report (document A/49/16 (Part II)), the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) recommends the approval of most of the revisions on the understanding that they would be considered by the relevant Main Committees of the Assembly and that the recommendations of relevant sectoral intergovernmental bodies would be made available to the Assembly for that purpose.

The Secretary-General's report on the 1992-1993 programme performance of the United Nations (A/49/135) presents an overview of assessments and a summary of resource use. According to the report, the budget for that period had 6,604 final outputs specially identified as well as other diverse activities that do not fall within the standard categories of outputs.

Those other activities comprise non-outputs/services and operational activities that are not precisely quantified in the budget and are less "measurable". Examples are support to intergovernmental negotiations, good offices, the promotion of legal instruments and consultations with non-governmental organizations.

Specifically identified outputs fall mainly under the major categories of parliamentary services, published materials and information materials and services. They account for the bulk of the Organization's work, notably in the social and economic sectors. They used more than 60 per cent of the Professional work-months available for the Organization's programme of work. The breakdown of the total by major work category are:

No. Percentage

Parliamentary services 2,293 35 Published material 3,609 55 Information services 702 10

TOTAL 6,604 100

Of the 6,604 outputs, 4,997, or 75.6 per cent, were implemented. The 1,607 not implemented were either postponed (884 or 13.4 per cent) or terminated (723 or 10.9 per cent). Implementation rate was highest (100 per cent) under peace-keeping; 89 per cent under the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); 88 per cent under the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Department of Political Affairs. The lowest are (47 per cent) in the Department of Development Support and Management Services; 56 per cent under the Centre for Human Settlements and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and 59 per cent under crime prevention and criminal justice. In all other sections, the rate varies between 70 and 80 per cent.

A total of 44,707 Professional work-months -- including consultant services -- were available for implementing the Organization's work in 1992-1993. Of those, an estimated 11,196, or 25 per cent, were funded from extrabudgetary resources.

The report calls for inspection reviews of programmes with less than optimum implementation rates. The reviews would assess to what extent programme managers have set appropriate procedures to ensure adequate preparation, implementation and control of their work programmes and budget. They would then recommend needed improvements. Resources permitting, certain organizational units will be subject to such reviews in the current biennium. They are UNCTAD, the Centre for Human Rights, UNEP, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, the Crime Prevention and the Criminal Justice Branch, ECE, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, and the Department of Development Support and Management Services. The report recommends that the 173 outputs carried over from the 1990-1991 biennium or earlier should be terminated.

According to the report, the ability of the Secretariat to monitor changes adequately depends on the clarity of the objectives and the descriptions of the activities in the programme budget document. A clear perception of monitoring as a tool of management will only come about when a culture of management accountability is firmly established in the Secretariat. The central oversight entities at Headquarters should ensure that there are adequate mechanisms of control, and the promotion of efficient management and of dialogue with programme managers to address problems affecting the Organization's overall performance.

Programme performance by sections of the programme budget for the biennium 1992-1993 is issued as an addendum (A/49/135/Add.1).

A report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the role of evaluation findings in programme design, delivery and policy directives (document A/49/99 and Add.1) recommends that the current evaluation cycle at the United Nations should be shortened. The first phase of the cycle should lead to an evaluation review report containing findings and recommendations. Triennial reviews should be replaced by annual compliance reviews contained in the Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly on the work of the Office for Inspections and Investigations (OII).

In-depth evaluations are prepared by the Central Evaluation Unit on topics recommended by the CPC and endorsed by the Assembly. In evaluations of the last five years, efforts have been made to apply indicators to different programmes and types of activities. Issues addressed include external users' reliance on the United Nations programme as a source of analysis and data, the quality and distribution of outputs and the level of interest in the programmes by various user groups.

A note by the Secretary-General on the annual overview report of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) for 1993 (E/1994/19) transmits to the CPC and the Economic and Social Council an overview of ACC's activities since the end of its 1993 first regular session. The ACC comprises the Secretary-General and the heads of the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It supervises the implementation of agreements between the United Nations and the agencies and ensures the coordination of their activities. It meets thrice yearly.

The note outlines the outcome of the ACC's consideration of some policy issues related to resource flows and financing for development. Those include the World Summit for Social Development, the Agenda for Development and the follow-up to UNCED.

The ACC call for a more comprehensive approach to security. That is because it sees development not only as a prerequisite for international peace and security but ALSO as the only durable way to prevent conflicts. International trading conditions facing low-income countries should be changed. Commodity prices should be improved, markets opened to exports from poor countries and fair trading conditions assured for them since gains from trade could exceed those from aid.

The ACC states that there was a strong economic case for investing in developing countries. Greater official development assistance (ODA) should be allocated to low-income and least developed countries, particularly those in Africa. A larger share of the ODA should be devoted to the social sector, especially for rural development, the eradication of poverty and for disadvantaged groups. Market forces and traditional policies have proved unable to address the roots of social problems. The ACC suggests that collaboration between the specialized agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions should be pursued and a common approach designed to promote human-centred sustainable development. The Social Summit and the Agenda for Development should be seen as instruments to promote enhanced system-wide cooperation and to introduce a more comprehensive framework to address global socio-economic problems.

A report on a series of joint meetings of the CPC and the ACC held in October 1993 (document E/1994/4) calls for an integrated approach to coordination on the implementation of Agenda 21, at both the policy-making and the programme implementation levels. The United Nations system could play a key role in coordinating international support for national activities to follow-up the Rio Earth Summit. It also calls for more partnerships between the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

A report on the twenty-eighth series of Joint Meetings of the CPC and the ACC held in October 1994 (document E/1995/4) focuses on African economic recovery and development. The meeting called on United Nations bodies to take all necessary measures to effectively implement the System-wide Plan of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development in close cooperation with the continent's governments and regional organization. Urgent measures should be taken to increase official aid to Africa and to allocate adequate resources to the Plan of Action. It stresses the need for diversification of African economies, food security, good governance and improvement of Africa's image. On pattern of conferences, the Committee had before it the Committee on Conferences' annual report (document A/50/32 and Add.1). Related reports being considered by the Committee included the Secretary General's report providing a consolidated statement of scheduled special conferences for 1996 (document A/50/288); a Secretariat note on provision of written records to the Assembly's subsidiary organs (document A/50/263 and Add.1); and a letter to the Assembly's President by the Chairman of the Committee on Conferences (document A/50/404).

Regarding the scale of assessments, the Committee had before it the report of the ad hoc intergovernmental working group on the principle of capacity to pay (document A/49/897) and another by the Committee on Contributions (document A/50/11). The working group's report contains advice on how to implement the principle of the capacity to pay as the fundamental criterion for determining how much each Member State should contribute to the regular budget. The Committee on Contributions' report contains the conclusions for the first part of its comprehensive review of the method of assessment which it began in the last Assembly session.

Assessments on Member States for the regular budget range from 0.01 per cent, the floor rate, to 25 per cent, the ceiling rate. Peace- keeping budgets are assessed separately.

(For backgrounds on pattern of conferences, the prototype of a new format of the medium-term plan and the scale of assessments, see Press Release GA/AB/3019 of 10 October.)

Also before the Committee were the Secretary-General's proposal for a 1996-1997 budget of $2.69 billion, after adjustment for inflation and currency fluctuations (document A/50/6/Rev.1, vols. I and II); a report of the ACABQ, which trims his proposal to an adjusted $2.67 billion (document A/50/7); and a related report from the CPC (document A/50/16).

(For background on the proposed budget, see Press Release GA/AB/3017 of 4 October.)

Statements on Pattern of Conferences

LUIS VALENCIA RODRIGUEZ (Ecuador), also speaking for the Rio Group -- Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela -- said the Group supported the recommendations of the Committee on Conferences on the calendar of conferences for 1996-1997. The Group would support all ways of improving the use of conference facilities and to maintain a balance between demand and their use. The method of calculating the costs of conference services should be changed to improve it. The control and limitation of documentation should be done on the recommendation of the Committee of Conferences.

He said new technology should be used further and staff trained. New technology would help reduce excessive use of paper. The equality of official languages should be stressed. Resources should be made available to ensure the translation of documents into the official languages and their simultaneous distribution.

HIDEKI GODA (Japan) expressed regret at the decline in the overall utilization factor for conference services from 84 per cent in 1993 to 77 per cent in 1994, below the benchmark of 80 per cent. The situation was similar for all the main committees of the Assembly, including the Fifth, as its utilization stood at 72 per cent. Parties planning meetings should be more aware of costs in their planning. The number of meetings should be reduced and the utilization of meeting services enhanced. The Secretariat should develop a cost-accounting system for the conferences. It should also share the translation workload among various duty stations and keep translation costs low, without affecting quality.

On the control of documentation, he said, fewer documents should be produced; efforts should be made to expand contractual arrangements for translation and printing operations. Further initiatives should be taken to make greater use of technology to improve conference servicing and its cost- effectiveness.

LINDA SHENWICK (United States) said her delegation was circulating a paper to the plenary to improve the use of conference services. The United States delegate would ask the plenary to assign the matter to the Fifth Committee. A coordinator should be assigned to discuss that paper.

Statements on Proposed Programme Budget

SYED RAFIQUL ALOM (Bangladesh) said it would be premature to judge whether the proposed budget cuts/adjustments would help improve the administrative efficiency and reform of the system. The viability of the budget to undertake the mandatory tasks remained questionable if Member States did not pay their contributions.

The interim borrowing from the peace-keeping budget had been made at the expense of developing countries. The proposed budget would therefore be unrealistic if after its adoption Member States failed to pay.

He said resources for economic and social development were not commensurate with the priority attached to them. Although he supported the main thrust of the proposed budget, it did not reflect the five priority areas set out in the medium-term plan. Of those, economic development should be the first priority. Compared with other programmes, the resources devoted to development programmes had been reduced. Adequate resources should be provided for follow-up activities of recent international conferences and for the development of Africa.

More resources should be made available to the 48 least developed countries which were increasingly being marginalized, he continued. The emphasis in the proposed budged on overall policy- making direction and coordination, political affairs and humanitarian affairs was contrary to the set priorities. The proposed budget had not provided a clear picture which could facilitate the Committee's assessment of the proposals for the redistribution, creation and the elimination of posts. The Secretariat should ensure the circulation of the proposed organizational charts of each department when the Committee considered the individual budget sections.

S. OYEJU (Nigeria) said there should be more emphasis on economic development of Africa in the budget proposals. The level of resources proposed for certain areas was not consistent with the established priorities. More resources should be provided for UNCTAD and other related institutions to improve trade and technology development.

He expressed the hope that the reduction in the proposed budged would not adversely affect mandated programme areas. The Department of Peace- keeping Operations should be adequately funded and staffed to enhance its capacity for preventive diplomacy and peace-keeping. Resource increases should allow it to improve its capacity at peace-keeping. He expressed concern that the Assembly's mandates relating to development were not receiving adequate attention. As a troop contributor, Nigeria was concerned that there would be further delays in the financial reimbursement to those countries. The Organization was borrowing from them without interest. He called on Member States to pay their contributions.

SAMANTHA ARI WARDHANA (Indonesia) expressed concern at the cut in resources proposed for development and other activities important to developing countries. He was deeply concerned at the reduction for UNCTAD, estimated at $110.6 million before adjustment, at a time when the agency was preparing for UNCTAD IX. Resource reductions should not harm the implementation of the Organization's mandates, especially those relating to development activities, such as those of UNCTAD and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

He welcomed the proposed measures to strengthen the follow-up to the major international conferences and the work of the regional commissions. He welcomed the increase in resources for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) by $287,000 to $61.6 million before adjustment.

ULDIS BLUKIS (Latvia) said more should be done regarding the format of the budget document; the narratives describing the various programmes should be more specific. The objectives of spending should be formulated as specific results to be achieved instead of in general terms. That would facilitate an understanding of the relationship between benefits and costs in the budget. A brief history of the results achieved in previous bienniums would be helpful in showing whether the results specified in the budget could be achieved. Those suggestions, if implemented, would help the Secretary-General attain the goal of making the United Nations a mission-driven Organization.

ALYAKSANDR M. SYCHOU (Belarus) said the additional resources allocated to the priority areas seemed very modest. Internal oversight was not a priority area of the United Nations but it could be supported, taking into account the circumstances at the United Nations.

He said that there should be more ways to save money, especially during the current financial crisis. Radical measures were necessary to improve the scale of assessments and contributions for peace-keeping operations in order to improve the overall financial situation. Secretariat reforms should be done quickly to enhance efficiency in the use of resources. Uncertainty should not be introduced regarding personnel. There should be resources to support decentralization efforts of the formerly centrally planned economies.

NESTER ODAGA-JALOMAYO (Uganda) noting that the proposed budget was comparatively lower that the 1994-1995 budget, said the picture remained hazy as to the where "efficiency gains" had been made as well as the specific dollar amounts of those gains. The Secretariat should provide a conference room paper on those gains and their nature, and the impact on priorities set by the Assembly. It would be unwise to realize savings as a result of delays in the implementation of mandated activities.

He said the implementation of reform measures should only be pursued if the Secretariat first sought authorization from the Assembly. The Fifth Committee lacked information on the work of the various departments or units. Some proposals in the budget were counter to the letter of the Assembly's mandates. Uganda was yet to be persuaded that many of the budget proposals were in the best interest of Member States, particularly the developing ones. Budget proposals should be more specific and contain clear justifications.

Specific information for each post proposed for redeployment should be provided. Such information should include the legislative mandate and the programmatic rationale for the redeployment and its effect on the work programme of the sending and receiving departments. There was a need for transparency in the use of extrabudgetary resources. He looked forward to receiving additional information on those resources from the Secretariat as requested by the ACABQ. More information on the procedures for the use, operation and the level of the contingency fund should be made available to the Committee to help it make a more informed decision on the issue in the context of the proposed budget.

There was a tendency by other Committees to usurp the role of the Fifth Committee and its subsidiary bodies on budgetary matters, he continued. That had given rise to confusion not only in the Committee but also in the Assembly. He urged other Committees to observe relevant Assembly resolutions.

Programme Planning

DAVID BIRENBAUM (United States), endorsing the Secretary-General's proposals for the new format of the plan, said the Committee should reach an early consensus on the matter. The current format for the plan was too elaborate to chart the Organization's future course. The new one should help in strategic planning. It would allow all departments to know what was expected of them and let Member States know what was expected of every department. It must be a dynamic policy document and the section on "perspective" should reflect priorities. Establishing a perspective of four years, instead of the current six, would ensure that it reflected the current thinking of Member States.

He said that the "programme framework", which would set out the major programmes and subprogrammes, should be guided by the perspective. By reviewing the framework every two years during off-budget years, the membership should be able to ensure that it reflected current priorities and facilitate the preparation of the next biennial budget proposals. In using the new format, efforts should be made to identify specific outputs and outcomes to be achieved. Programme results should be more specific and tangible for effective evaluation. Effective measurement of programme performance required the identification of specific and tangible outputs in order to provide the critical evaluation of feedback needed to make strategic planning meaningful.

Mr. ALOM (Bangladesh) said the prototype of a new format for the medium- term plan was a concise forward-looking document for the Organization. It would be demand driven with adequate flexibility, responsiveness and adaptability. But the institutional arrangements and system design required further examination. Performance assessment and programme evaluation method needed further elaboration.

Continuing, he said the relationship between the plan and the budget had not been clearly worked out. He requested the Secretariat to explain why some programmes were divided among units while others were consolidated. It was also necessary to ascertain the rationale behind the linkages between the medium-term plan and the budget outline.

Statements on Scale of Assessments

MARTIN SHARP (Australia), speaking for Canada, New Zealand and Australia, said the scale of assessments must be considered against the backdrop of the Organization's financial situation. While reform of the United Nations was necessary, that of itself would not resolve the crisis caused by widespread failure of Member States to pay their assessed contribution. He referred to the "over-assessment of 22 countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc. In due course, the rates for the 22 would fall to levels better reflecting their capacity to pay.

The floor rate of the scale was excessive on the smallest Member States and imposed a burden over 30 times their share of the world income. The floor should be abolished if the smallest and least economically developed countries were to enjoy a rate of assessment even remotely approaching their capacity to pay. On debt adjustment, he said that as long as there was an opportunity for countries to demonstrate they had made substantial net payments, the debt burden adjustment should be eliminated. Mitigation -- the adjustment to the machine scale -- had no place in a methodology to determine capacity to pay.

He said the ceiling of the scale conferred on the largest and wealthiest countries a benefit which must be subsidized by others. The report of the ad hoc working groups on the implementation of the principle of capacity to pay should remain an important point of reference, both for the Committee on Contributions and the high-level working group on the Organization's financial situation.

The peace-keeping scale of assessment should continue to be based on the regular budget scale with the additional element of a substantial surcharge levied on all permanent members of the Security Council. The current peace- keeping scale was inequitable and outdated, he said. Some wealthier countries which enjoyed a substantial discount under the peace-keeping scale could and should contribute more. The unilateral decision of one Member State to reduce its assessed contribution was unacceptable. In spite of the distortions in the scales all Member States must honour their obligations.

CELSO D. GANGAN (Philippines), also speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the principle of "capacity to pay" should remain the fundamental criterion for determining the scale of assessments. While the present scale did not serve all the interest of all Member States, it had the agreement of Members overall. Therefore, all of them were obliged to pay their dues. The scale, as the Assembly had resolved, should be made simpler and based on reliable and comparable data.

The group understood the wish of the Committee on Contributions to have more time to consider how to reform the method of calculating the scale, he continued. The special circumstances of developing countries should continue to be considered in the review of all aspects of reforming that method. Mandates of the Assembly should be considered in efforts to improve the methodology for the scale for the regular budget. The guidelines of the General Assembly regarding the apportionment of costs for peace-keeping operations should be considered while discussing the peace-keeping scale. Permanent members of the Security Council and richer Member States should be made to bear more peace-keeping costs than should those which were poor.

BORIS M. HUDYMA (Ukraine) said the scale of assessments should be fair. The existing scale still contained some anomalies and distortions. The three- step scale did not become stable and fair. Due to the imperfect method used to calculate it, the rates of dues for some Member States continued to exceed their capacity many times over, preventing them from paying up, and increasing their debt. The Member States with overestimated assessments owed about one quarter of all outstanding assessments to the Organization, leaving the United Nations in financial crisis. Since gaining independence, Ukraine had paid nearly $30 million to the United Nations. It would pay $10 million this week, taking its payments this year to $15 million. The payment of $30 million would have been sufficient if Ukraine's assessment had been fair, based on the elimination of the scheme of limits, and if its participation in funding peace-keeping operations had corresponded to its capacity to pay. That was why the country wanted to see a fairer and more coherent system of assessments.

The representative said the application of gross national product (GNP) to calculate the scale of assessments should be considered carefully. It was unrealistic to measure capacity to pay on the basis of socio-economic or human development indicators. The statistical base period should be shortened to three years and the scale determined for single years to better reflect countries' capacity to pay. Market exchange rates should be used to convert currencies. The concept of purchasing power parity was an artificial construct, and far from realistic methods measuring capacity to pay.

SEDAT YAMAK (Turkey) said he supported a number of the proposals of the ad hoc working group on the principle of capacity to pay, such as the rounding of the scale to three decimal points; annual calculation of the per capita income and its average over the base period; the adoption of GNP; and the use of market exchange rates to convert to a common currency. But he did not agree with the recommendation of the Working Group suggesting the reduction of the base period to three years; he supported a longer period, preferably six years, in order to allow fluctuations in the economies to be smoothed out, and for the Committee to reach a more predictable and stable scale while the scheme of limits was being phased out.

He said he did not see much chance of attaining a fair and equitable scale when the data used in the calculations of contributions were far from accurate. The Committee on Contributions had failed to address that broad issue. There was need to increase transparency, reliability and comparability in that area in order to accurately reflect the changes in national economies as well as Member States' capacity to contribute.

He said his country's share for the regular budget from the previous scale (0.27 per cent in 1992-1993 and 0.38 per cent in 1997) had increased by more than 40 per cent, which was the highest jump within the membership, he said. That unprecedented increase was due to the Contributions Committee's decision on the application of a 1993 Assembly decision to phase out the scheme of limits. Turkey had not benefited from the scheme of limits during the 1992-1994 scale period. He was compelled to indicate that the application of the Assembly's decision had been unfair and incomplete, and could not be accepted.

RUFAT NADIR NOVRUZOV (Azerbaijan) said the current session was the fourth that had dealt with the problem of the newly independent countries. It was the sixth time he had addressed his country's concern about its unfair














Fifth Committee - 16 - Press Release GA/AB/3022 7th Meeting (AM) 17 October 1995



assessment. His small country was assessed unjustly in 1982. They were now facing the bitter consequences. As a result, by 1 January 1996 the country would owe $5 million and could lose its voting rights under Article 19 of the Charter. He stressed that between 1991 and 1995 Azerbaijan's gross domestic product (GDP) had decreased, and he questioned what would happen after the loss of voting rights. He said his country was tired of appearing to be rule- breaking. It respected all obligations of membership in international organizations. United Nations membership was a symbol of its new-found sovereignty. In that regard, Azerbaijan would pay its debts but some scheme of part-payment could be worked out. That would be a good sign of encouragement for Azerbaijan as well as many other countries trying to build their economies.

Mr. ALOM (Bangladesh) said the scale should be based on the capacity to pay and the method for calculating the scale should be refined. While national income should remain the basic tenet, per capita income, the weight of external debt and the availability of foreign exchange were a more precise reflection of the capacity to pay. The "clean slate" approach was not justifiable, insofar as it did not reflect that capacity. The statistical base period should remain at 7.5 years to ensure stability, and as a check against wide fluctuations in the scales of Member States. The low per capita income allowances should remain in the calculation of the scale of assessments.

The representative said market exchange rates should be the only reliable and stable instrument for converting currencies. The plight of the 48 least developed countries warranted their continued placement on the floor rate for assessments. Stability should not be sacrificed by the introduction of radical changes.

NALIN SURIE (India) said the report of the ad hoc working group on the capacity to pay was useful, but it was only one of several inputs. Its recommendations should be further discussed by Member States before being translated into action. Those recommendations, together with the observations of the Committee on Contributions on the advantages of shifting over from the GDP to GNP and a shorter base period, would require further discussion. Recalling observations made on the scale since 1946, he said it was difficult to measure capacity to pay merely by statistical means; the ostensible focus on transparency and simplicity, as well as the attempt to devise neat statistical formulas, seemed to have become more important ends in themselves, rather than an accurate portrayal of the principle of capacity to pay.

With respect to national income as a fair guide for determining capacity to pay, he said it should be the starting point to guide calculations, not its final determinant. Relief from debt remained a valid and necessary factor in the scale of assessment. He welcomed the consensus on maintaining the relief which was currently given to developing countries with














Fifth Committee - 17 - Press Release GA/AB/3022 7th Meeting (AM) 17 October 1995



low per capita incomes. Although there was need to explore new methods for comparing economies to improve the assessment methodology, including the concept of purchasing power parity, that concept was itself in an incipient stage of development. He shared the view of the majority that a discussion on its use would not be constructive at this time.

TUDOR PANTIRU (Moldova) said the difficult situation in his country and its over-assessment had affected its ability to meet its obligations to the regular budget and peace-keeping operations. The present method of calculating dues was more than three times the ability of some countries to pay. To solve that problem, a first step had been taken to reduce by 50 per cent the application of the scheme of limits. For long-term changes and positive results, the base period should be cut to three years, market exchange rates used to convert currencies to United States dollars and the scheme of limits eliminated as soon as possible.

TAMMAM SULAIMAN (Syria) supported the statement of the Philippines on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. The special circumstances of countries under occupation should be considered, including Syria, whose Golan had been occupied by Israel. That action had deprived Syria of some revenue, and had sent persons streaming into other parts of the country. He reaffirmed the principle of collective responsibility towards the United Nations. The scale should not necessarily be increased to solve the Organization's current financial crisis, as an increase might only burden smaller countries. To solve the crisis, the richer countries should pay what they owed. The allocation of resources should be re-ordered and the assessment rates of developing countries should not be increased.

BHAGIRATH BASNET (Nepal) said a flexible base period and debt burden adjustment were essential elements in determining capacity to pay. Debt burden adjustment continued to be relevant, because of the economic situation of developing countries. The low per capita income adjustment should also be included in calculating the scale to make it fairer and equitable and the current rate of adjustment retained. The floor rates should be abolished to allow small countries to pay what they could afford to.

The representative said the bleak financial situation of the United Nations was due to the non-payment of assessed contributions by Member States. It was disheartening that of the 70 Member States that had paid their dues for 1995, a majority were from the developing world. That was discouraging to the troop-contributing countries, most of which were developing nations. Their troop costs should be met, and the resumption of reimbursements announced last week should not be interrupted.



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For information media. Not an official record.