Statement by Mr. Ken Mukai
Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 118: Capital Master Plan
The Fifth Committee
The First Resumed Part of the Sixty-third Session
of the United Nations General Assembly
4 March 2009
Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
My delegation would like to join others in expressing its gratitude to Mr. Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, Mr. Jun Yamazaki, Controller, Mr. Imran Vanker, Chairman of the Audit Operations Committee of the Board of Auditors, Ms. Susan McLurg, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and Ms. Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, for introducing their respective reports.
My delegation is very happy to hear that significant progress has been made on the construction of the temporary North Lawn conference facility, and understands that the Organization is faced with the huge task of preparing to move the entire Secretariat staff into office swing space. My delegation, however, remains concerned about the delay in the relocation schedule. As was pointed out by the ACABQ, all necessary steps should be taken to avoid any further slippage in the fit-out and relocations schedules.
Allow me to comment on value engineering and the associated costs.
Firstly, we understand that value engineering is "the process of reviewing the objectives of the project and actual design work, and finding ways of achieving the same objectives at a lower cost". The projected overexpenditure was $190 million in March 2008. The Office of the Capital Master Plan states that the estimating effort of value engineering decisions is projected to exceed $100 million. My delegation continues to urge the Secretary-General to utilize value engineering as a tool to recover the cost overruns. On the other hand, my delegation concurs with the ACABQ on the need for a definition of value engineering. In addition to that, as was mentioned in paragraph 25 of the ACABQ report, every effort should be made to derive the maximum benefit from prevailing favourable market conditions.
Although my delegation welcomes the initiatives of "greening the United Nations," these initiatives need to be pursued within the existing resources. My delegation would like to request the Secretary-General to submit a cost-benefit analysis of these additional sustainability initiatives.
Secondly, the estimate given for associated costs related to the CMP for the period 2008-2013 amount to approximately $185 million (including $38 million for the present biennium). This estimate appears to represent the maximum. My delegation believes that the Member States should continue to scrutinize these costs to effect further reduction and absorption, based on the full details of and justification for these extra costs. It is necessary to distinguish those that should be attributed to the CMP projects and those that should be funded from regular departmental budgets. My delegation reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to make every effort to absorb truly associated costs within the approved CMP budget, as was agreed in paragraph 43 of GA resolution 62/87, particularly given the present global financial crisis and the healthy cash situation which this fund presently enjoys.
In concrete terms, my delegation is of the view that:
(1) Broadcasting equipment that the Department of Public Information requested does not relate directly to the Capital Master Plan but rather to ongoing capital improvements. Thus, the equipment should not be considered as an associated cost. As for the proposed costs for a consultant for the broadcast facility and audio-visual archives, these should be absorbed within the current departmental budget. Investment cost or long-term commitment should be requested through the normal regular budget cycle.
(2) ICT support service requested by the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management should be absorbed within the existing budgets.
(3) As for the furniture, existing furniture should be utilized when moving out to the temporary facilities and office swing spaces. Disposing of furniture at this time is premature and is not environment-friendly.
(4) As for the covering of CMP tasks and OCSS related request for temporary assistance positions, said tasks could be performed by the existing staff members in the CMP office, OCSS or OICT.
(5) Most of the resource requirements from DSS lack justification. We would like to know the extent to which some of the existing posts and equipment could be redeployed to off-campus locations, based on the presumable reduction in security requirements for Headquarters and the Conference Buildings during the renovation. My delegation requests the Secretary-General to submit a DSS redeployment plan of the personnel and equipment to the second part of the sixty-third session or the main part of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Only with this redeployment plan will it be possible to assess the additional demands that will be placed upon the security and safety services.
Based on the above observations, my delegation:
(a) concurs with the ACABQ and is not in a position to approve the overall level of associated costs.
(b) is of the view that the associated costs for the biennium 2008-2009 should be absorbed in the CMP budget or the regular budget.
(c) does not favour the proposed suspension of regulation 3.2 (d), 5.3 and 5.4 of the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations. (The Secretariat should comply with the established regulations and rules that state that the remaining balance of any appropriations retained will be surrendered and credited back to the Member States.)
(d) sees no reason to take note of a preliminary estimate for coming bienniums. The requirements for the bienniums 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 should be submitted in the proposed programme budgets for those bienniums.
I would like to conclude by saying that Japan looks forward to working with other Member States and the Secretariat on this project, which is obviously of great importance to us all.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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