Statement by Mr. Masatoshi SUGIURA
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Item 120: Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations
Fifth Committee
Sixty-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly
6 November 2008

Mr. Chairman.

I would like to express my appreciation to Ms. Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, for her presentation on the twenty-eighth of October. Ms. Kane has provided us with a comprehensive overview on the financial situation of the United Nations at present.

At the outset, my delegation reiterates two basic principles on this subject:
-Member States should meet their responsibility to pay their assessed contributions in full and on time;
-The Secretariat should be accountable and utilize the resources efficiently and effectively.
With these principles in mind, Japan has faithfully fulfilled its obligation in spite of very difficult fiscal situation its government faces, and will make every effort to continue to be a responsible Member State of the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to outline my delegation's views on the regular budget and the peacekeeping operations.

As for the regular budget, the Under-Secretary-General for Management indicated that assessments and unpaid assessed contributions were both lower at 24 October 2008 than at 31 October 2007. It seems to be an improvement, but the proportion of the unpaid contributions remained almost the same (40%). We are concerned that the cash balance was worsened with possible borrowings of $148 million from reserve accounts, which is 72 percent larger than those in last year's report. We believe that cash balance should have been improved with lower unpaid contributions this year. The Secretariat is expected to improve its management of cash resources.

In addition to possible borrowings, large amount of Add-ons to the regular budget has been proposed by the Secretariat. My delegation wishes to remind other Member States that the Secretary General is bound by past United Nations General Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211, especially when they have stood the test of time. Moreover, as known to all, the world economy currently faces a major difficulty, and it is certain that additional financial strains will be imposed on the governments of Member States. Under the circumstances, the United Nations cannot carry on business as usual but instead should make every effort to keep its programme budget affordable for Member States. I would like to emphasize the importance of maintaining budgetary discipline, absorbing the additional costs within existing resources and keeping Add-ons to a minimum, in line with related General Assembly resolutions notably the aforementioned 41/213 and 42/211. In this context, my delegation supports the initiative taken by the Secretary General within his prerogative to consider saving for reallocation of resources based on priority in preparing for the budget outline of the next biennium.

It is said that a shortage for regular budget is primarily due to special political mission expenditure levels and the general weakening of the US dollar. We have been told that the special political mission expenditure was lower than last year when this year's regular budget was assessed, but has increased significantly since then. It is obviously vital that the efficiency and effectiveness of special political missions be secured through a thorough examination of the mandate and budget of each mission. We also believe that the impact of currency exchange rates should be examined carefully with due consideration on its relative nature. While the US dollar has weakened against some currencies, it is now stronger against the Euro.

As for the peacekeeping operations budget, Mr. Chairman, it seems that it amounts to $6.6 billion, which is well more than three times the regular budget per annum. We are obliged to express our concern over the significant increase in PKO assessments in recent years, which has been a burden on Member States and has made timely payment difficult. The Secretariat should make the peacekeeping operations more efficient and effective through a comprehensive examination of the relations between the peacekeeping operations and the special political missions in view of avoiding duplications as well as securing a clear line of command for every mission. My delegation will be looking carefully at every means of making the missions more cost-efficient. Furthermore, when I compared the financial report with the previous ones to understand the trends, I noticed that the last report presented to the General Assembly in May this year did not include any country-based information on unpaid peacekeeping assessments as of May. For more transparency, we would like to request updated information on unpaid assessments at the second resumed session.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me briefly touch on the Capital Master Plan. Japan made an accelerated and one single payment of its contribution assessed for five years. We believe that this will improve cash balances and will contribute to smooth implementation of the project.

In closing, my delegation reaffirms our commitment to contributing to maintain financial health of the organization. To address the current financial situation of the United Nations, it is both critical that Member States meet their financial responsibility and that the Secretariat ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations as well as its accountability to the Member States.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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