28 October 1997
Ambassador Bagher Asadi
of the Islamic Republic of Iran
to the Fifth Committee
Agenda item 116:
” Proposed program budget for the biennium 1998-1999 “
New York, October 28, 1997
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
As this is the first time I take the floor in this Committee, let me offer my sincere congratulations on your deserved election to the Chairmanship of this important Committee. My felicitations also go to other distinguished members of the Bureau. My delegation rests assured that under the stewardship of a refined and seasoned diplomat as you are, the work of the Fifth Committee will embrace utmost success.
Allow me to express my delegation’s thanks to the Secretary-General for introducing his budget proposals for the biennium 1998-99, as well as to Chairmen of the ACABQ and the CPC for the presentation of the reports of their respective Committees. My delegation supports the statement of the G77 and China on this item, in particular, as regards its emphasis on the reaffirmation of the role of this Committee on administrative and budgetary matters, as well as for the reiteration of the principles outlined in resolution 41/213 for planning, programming and budgeting process.
Now, I would like to take the opportunity to make the following remarks. They are brief and free from figures and statistics.
My delegation notes that budgeting programmes and activities of the United Nations under a specific and predetermined ceiling is not an end in itself. The mandates of the General Assembly and the relevant intergovernmental bodies should not be altered to reach a certain budget level at the expense of programmes and activities, since programmes precede the budget. Accordingly, the Fifth Committee should examine and ensure that mandated programmes and activities are duly reflected in the budget.
We note that the total amount of resources requested by the Secretary- General is lower than the revised appropriations for 1996-97. But, reduction in the budget should not lead to a reduced role for the Organization. The reduction must not affect the implementation of mandated programmes and activities, especially in the field of international and regional cooperation for development. In this regard, we take note with concern of the observation of the Chairman of the ACABQ that “since no prior analysis is made to ascertain whether the agreed budget level and full implementation of mandated programmes are compatible, there is no way of knowing whether the demand to implement programmes fully can be honored”.
The Secretary-General’s report on the impact of savings measures on the implementation of mandated programmes and activities reflects the contradiction between the assurances given for the full implementation of mandates at the level of resources requested for 1998-99, and the serious problems in fulfilling these assurances. The savings have been identified without a prior determination of programme priorities and their endorsement by the General Assembly. As a result, decisions have been made by programme managers to discontinue certain programme activities and delay others without consideration for legislative mandates or consulting Member States.
We are also concerned about the number of posts proposed for abolition and its possible negative impact on the capacity of the Organization to implement its programme of work fully. We believe that the level of resources to be released by the proposed reduction of posts should be carefully examined, as well as the impact on programme delivery and on the institutional memory of the Organization. In this regard, we reiterate that the international character of the Organization must be maintained and the principle of equitable geographical representation must be observed in any exercise of the staff reduction.
In our view, the budget proposal should have included all the posts deemed necessary to ensure that the various departments of the Secretariat would be able to carry out the programmes and activities approved by the General Assembly without the need to resort to gratis personnel. This could have been achieved by simply reducing the number of posts the Secretary-General is proposing to abolish.
My delegation shares the concern of the ACABQ that in a number of instances, the abolition of posts has been accompanied by a request for additional funds for consultants and expert groups. It is important to learn how many consultants and short-term individuals – and from which countries – are engaged currently in the delivery of mandated programmes in the Secretariat. Increasing use of such type of employees is hiding the substantial shifts in the equitable geographical representation of staff at the Secretariat. Replacement of permanent staff by short-term employees undermines the institutional memory of the Organization and arguably affects the delivery of work programmes. In this particular regard my delegation wishes to draw the attention of the Committee to part VI of the General Assembly resolution 51/226 on Human Resources Management, titled Consultants, which, among others, expressed concern about the practice of using consultants to carry out functions assigned to established posts, and requested the Secretary-General to refrain from such practice. My delegation would like to be enlightened as to how this request is being addressed.
We are also concerned at the change in the methodology applied to the uniform vacancy rate, which gives a wrong impression that a real increase in resources has been achieved. This could be seen in several sections of the budget, in particular, in economic sections.
To conclude, let me draw attention to one more point. The level of resources for different sections of the budget, an indication of the way in which mandated programmes and activities are treated, should be examined in view of the priority attached to some issues by the Organization. We will submit our comments in due time, in the section by section analysis of the budget as well as for the document A/52/303 after receiving the reports of the CPC and ACABQ on it.
Mr. Chairman, as the discussion on the reform of the United Nations is being pursued in the Open-Ended Informal Consultations in the General Assembly therefore, I did not address it in this statement.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.