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Statement by Mr. Takashi Kanamori
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Agenda item 131: Programme budget: biennium 2008-2009 - ASHI

Fifth Committee
Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
10 November 2009

Thank you, Madam Chair.

My delegation would like at the outset to express its gratitude to Mr. Jun Yamazaki, the Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, and Ms. Susan McLurg, the chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for introducing their reports.

Madam Chair,

The Secretary-General, in his report (A/64/366), requests the General Assembly to approve the funding of accrued after-service health insurance liabilities of the United Nations related to active and former staff under all funding sources, which takes effect from 1 January 2010, and the transfer of some funds to the special account for the after-service health insurance reserve funds. The report also provides a daunting update on the accrued after-service health insurance liabilities, which amounted to $2,430.9 million as at December 2007, under the assumption of a 5.5 per cent discount rate.

Facing this overwhelming outlook, my delegation shares the view of the ACABQ that the General Assembly may wish to review the scope and coverage of the existing after-service health insurance plans, as well as the contribution levels by the Organization and by the participants. In particular, my delegation would like to point out that the General Assembly may have limited option than to consider imposing a limitation on the number of years for which retired staff members and their dependants are covered by ASHI after their retirement. Upon the consideration of such an option, the Secretary-General should recalculate the accrued liabilities on the basis of the reviewed ASHI plans and then formulate a new proposal on funding strategies. The current funding proposal of the Secretary-General, however, is not acceptable to my delegation. In particular, my delegation endorses the ACABQ's recommendation that the Commission is against the transfer of $290 million in unencumbered balances under peacekeeping operations for the 2008/09 financial period through the suspension of financial regulation 5.3 and is of the view that those balances should be returned to Member States.

Madam Chair,

The report of the Secretary-General argues that ASHI is a very important element of social security for retiring staff members, as many cannot benefit from the national social security schemes of Member States owing to their service with the United Nations. My delegation, however, would like to be informed of the actual circumstances in which some Member States allegedly refuse to provide UN retirees with the same national social security benefits that other citizens are eligible to receive. And in such cases, my delegation would like to know whether the United Nations has ever held consultations with such States in an attempt to ameliorate the financial hardships that such retired staff members must endure in their home countries.

Madam Chair,

As regards the ASHI liabilities of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, my delegation is in accord with the ACABQ recommendation that appropriations be made to cover the costs only for current ASHI participants who have retired from the Tribunals.

I thank you, Madam Chair.

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