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Statement by Mr. Yasuo Kishimoto
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 125: United Nations Common System

Fifth Committee
Sixty-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly
27 October 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My delegation would like at the outset to express its gratitude to Mr. Kingston Papie Rhodes, Chairman of the International Civil Service Commission, and Ms. Susan McLurg, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing their reports.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation has expressed its full support for the purpose of the Common System to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of conditions of service for all participating organizations. As is the case every year, the decisions and recommendations of the ICSC on the level of basic salary of the Professional and higher categories should be approved as they are.

[Methodological review of allowances]

This year, the ICSC reviews the level of various allowances and the methodology used to calculate them. A periodic review of the level is necessary in order to reflect the movement of basic salary scale or inflation. On the other hand, before the methodological changes are made, however, the General Assembly has to scrutinize the review of the methodology, which affects the level of allowances. The important point is that we must ensure that the review has been conducted in a cost neutral way. At least, should additional resources are to be requested, the methodological changes must be based on sound grounds and the process has to be presented to the General Assembly for consideration, before the new methodology is put into effect.

[Children's and secondary dependants' allowances]

In 2006, the General Assembly approved the revision of the level of Children's and secondary dependants' allowances. The amount was reduced from US$1,936 to US$1,780 per annum for staff who became eligible to receive the allowances on or after 1 January 2007. The level of allowances had been set on the basis of the value of tax abatements and social legislation payments. Why, then, does the proposed new scheme, which accords with that idea, yield on an outrageous 50 percent increase in the amount of the allowances (from $1,780 to $2,686 per annum)?

I would like to cite paragraph 124 of the 2006 ICSC report (A/61/30), which says that "The Commission noted that the current methodology had been applied for many years without any objections from any party. While recognizing the need to revisit certain aspects of the current approach to determining the dependency allowances, most members agreed that changes in the methodology should be considered in a comprehensive manner and that a selective approach to its review should be avoided." My delegation is not convinced that this year's ICSC recommendations are in line with this view expressed in its previous report to the General Assembly.

My delegation also wishes to emphasize that the ongoing methodological reviews of the education grant and mobility/hardship scheme should proceed in the same manner.

[Conditions of service of the General Service]

Turning to the conditions of service of the General Service and other locally recruited categories, paragraphs 139 and 144 of the ICSC report seems somewhat confusing. They state that as the recommended salary scale was lower than the scale in effect, no financial implications related to its implementation are expected. My delegation wonders whether the scale in effect was reduced or the salary scale recommended by ICSC was not adopted, even if it reflects the best prevailing conditions of employment in the region.

[Global Staff Survey]

My delegation sincerely commends those involved, for the intensive work they put into the Global Staff Survey on recruitment and retention. The results should serve useful for the analysis to address the important issues of streamlining contracts and harmonizing conditions of service. It would be interesting to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, ideally with the data broken down for each Funds and Programmes and peace operations.

Finally, my delegation would like to express again its sincere support for the ICSC and its hope that the ICSC will continue to play a key role in guiding the entities under the Common System towards more coherent and effective management. The ICSC can and should take a more active and wide-ranging role in recruitment policies and performance management. Improving performance management is the prerequisite to introducing new contractual arrangements and the ICSC can lead us in this aspect based on its accumulated expertise. My delegation would like to learn about any challenges it is encountering and to participate in a constructive discussion on how to surmount them.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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