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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
on Proposed Program Budget for the Biennium 2010-2011

Fifth Committee
64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
29 October 2009

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, permit me to express how grateful we are to have you as chairman of the Fifth Committee. I am confident that with your rich experiences and commitment, you will be able to complete the heavy responsibility and contribute to sound resource management of the UN.

I would like to start by extending my sincere appreciation to Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his commitment to management reform and accountability. We are also grateful to him for his personal leadership in budgetary process including introducing his proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011. I would also like to thank Ms. Suzan McLurg, Chairperson of the ACABQ, for her work and introducing the report of the Advisory Committee.

This proposed program budget for the biennium 2010-2011 is the first full budget proposal submitted in the Secretary-General's tenure. The initial budget proposal stands at $4.89 billion (an increase of 0.5 per cent over the previous biennium) or $5.06 billion with recosting. We note and welcome the serious efforts made in the Secretariat to formulate the detailed budget proposals in line with the level of the budget outline which was agreed earlier by the GA.

All of us are living at the time of austerity. The global financial and economic crisis has seriously impacted on the national economy and finance of Member States across the world. The UN cannot be isolated from the tight budgetary situations of many Member States. We expect from the Secretariat not only the most cost-effective performance but also strict budgetary discipline.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to discuss five important rules concerning the regular budget proposals for 2010-2011.

Rule 1.

We should follow the established budgetary procedures and methodology, based on General Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211.

The total budgetary requirements and priorities for the next biennium should be negotiated and agreed upon by the consensus of Member States at an earlier stage and Secretary-General's budgetary proposals for the biennium should be formulated and contained within this political understanding in the outline.
In this way, Member States are able to anticipate and prepare for the expected overall financial obligations for the next two years.

It is therefore incumbent upon the Secretary-General, in submitting program budget proposal for 2010-2011, to present us with a vision of the overall program and a whole picture of the anticipated requirements of the Organization for the next two years.

Rule 2.

We do not deny that there will be new and unanticipated requirements emanating in the course of biennium. However, those additional expenditures must be contained within the previously agreed level of the contingency fund. If additional requirements cannot be accommodated within the contingency fund, the activities should wait until the following biennium. The only exception to this rule is urgent activities related to international peace and security such as special political missions.

Lately we witnessed the tendency to circumvent this established rule by submitting additional requests for resources of a substantial amount in revised estimates or program budget implications after the initial proposed budget is submitted. Deviation from the established budgetary procedures will only undermine the sustainability and credibility of the UN budgetary process. Apart from PBI deriving from a legislative decision, many of additional requirements indicated in the Secretary-General's introductory statement should have been included in the budgetary outline. The Secretary-General should exert maximum budgetary discipline and minimize the additional requests. The sharp growth of the program budget seen during the current biennium should not be repeated in this coming biennium.

It is also important for the Secretariat to submit the revised estimates well ahead before careful examination by the legislative organs.

Rule 3.

Budget formulation is a dynamic process and new budgetary requirement should be met first of all through redeployment. Only an exceptional case that redeployment is not possible and feasible, minimum additional resources could be requested.

In careful examination of the Secretary-General's proposal, we note serious efforts were made by the Secretariat to redeploy 368 posts in total, within or between sections, and to reduce the total number of staff by 24 by offsetting the increase of P-level posts by abolishing GS level. We also note that 4,541 outputs will be discontinued in the next biennium in order to accommodate new activities and outputs. Japan highly commends such efforts to contain additional requirements in accordance with PPBME 5.6.

Rule 4.

In view of global nature of UN budget, we understand the need to adjust the fluctuation in currency and inflation. But the methodology of recosting should not be applied mechanistically but with flexibility.

Under the severe financial situation of many Member States, full recosting and appropriations should not be taken for granted. Last year the General Assembly partially withheld the recosting to the amount of $45 million. To date, the Secretary-General has not requested this amount to be apportioned among Member States. Recosting the initial program budget may not be imperative at the time of its approval; it may be considered if necessary at the mid-point of the biennium.

Rule 5.

In the course of budget implementation, the Secretary-General should be given certain budgetary discretion to carry out unanticipated expenditures by utilizing savings in the total approved resources. Such discretion is essential for good management of available resources to meet constantly evolving and expanding needs of the Organization.

General Assembly resolution 60/283 decided to accord the Secretary-General the limited budgetary discretion for two biennia to reallocate up to $20 million per biennium to meet evolving needs of the organization under certain conditions. We are open to revisit this discretionary authority in response to the proposal of the Secretary-General.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, Japan believes that we should seek zero nominal growth (ZNG) as the principle that should be applied to the regular budgets of international organizations. That is not to say to freeze the activities within the same level. On the contrary, with this principle in mind, the international organizations would be encouraged to examine alternatives to achieve mandated activities in a more cost-effective manner and to be creative in searching ways to revitalize themselves.

It is the joint responsibility of the Secretary-General and the Member States to develop strong partnership built on the relationship of trust and to realize a most efficient and accountable organization.

Bearing in mind the fundamental rules on the UN budget I outlined today, my delegation will examine the Secretary-General's budget proposals strictly on the merit basis. We should also prioritize the additional requests and provide additional funding only to those activities with a clear time-bound activity.

I would like to assure you that my delegation will participate constructively in the consultations to achieve a consensus on the proposed programme budget under your able guidance.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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