Mr. Chairman, Secretary-General,
I have the honour to speak today on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. First, we would like to thank the Secretary-General and the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for introducing their reports on the Proposed Programme Budget for the 2012-2013 biennium. We greatly appreciate your personal engagement, Mr. Secretary-General, in this important process.
CANZ delegations are acutely aware that the global financial situation remains fragile. Like all Member States, our governments are working tirelessly to find innovative opportunities for cost savings in our respective national budgets. It is only appropriate that we bring this same financial discipline to our deliberations at the United Nations.
In this regard, CANZ delegations are encouraged by your leadership, Mr. Secretary-General, in proposing a reduction of 3 % to the 2012-2013 budget. We look forward to close collaboration with Member States and the Secretariat to take this initiative even further, including by implementing systemic changes that will generate real savings over the long-term.
CANZ delegations remain concerned about the practice of introducing additional, often significant expenditures to the budget beyond initial budget proposals, particularly where these add-ons could have been foreseen. This practice of piecemeal budgeting obscures the estimation of final budget figures. While unforeseen circumstances and new mandates may arise, budget add-ons cannot be a replacement for sound budget planning.
The additional process of adjusting the budget to account for inflation and exchange rates also leads to final budget levels that are higher than those originally proposed. CANZ delegations look forward to your report Mr. Secretary-General, on this practice of recosting, as we feel a serious review is long overdue.
CANZ delegations are ever watchful for potential areas for budget savings. One visible opportunity, in our view, is the delivery of conference services. As Member States, we all rely on the delivery of high quality conference services for our deliberations. However, given the significant resources involved, we should consider how to render these services with greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Personnel costs constitute one of the largest funding requirements of the Organization. While acknowledging the hard work and dedication of all UN staff, we also recognize the need, in the current financial environment, to control the growth of personnel costs. Member States need to support the Secretary General’s efforts in the area of harmonization and take a hard look at staffing numbers and levels in light of the needs of the Organization and its clients.
CANZ delegations are also mindful of the ever-increasing share of the budget devoted to Special Political Missions (SPMs), and will scrutinize these budgets carefully to ensure these mandates have the resources they require, while remaining subject to strong financial discipline. We look forward to reviewing your report, Mr. Secretary-General, on the funding and backstopping of SPMs.
CANZ delegations recognize that we cannot focus exclusively on budget numbers. We also need to look closely at the way we do business at the UN. We strongly support the Enterprise Resource Planning UMOJA project, but we remain concerned by the delay in the implementation of UMOJA, and potential requirements for additional resources. UMOJA should exemplify the spirit of efficiency that it seeks to establish across the Organization.
We are also concerned that funding requests for information and communications technology (ICT) continue to increase. Investments in ICT are needed to improve the delivery of programs, but requests for new resources should be balanced against demonstrated savings and efficiency gains.
CANZ delegations also recognize that budget discipline must go hand-in-hand with strong organizational accountability. We are encouraged by your commitment, Mr. Secretary-General, to this ideal. In this context, CANZ delegations also fully support the efforts of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to strengthen its role in the Organization, including by investigating serious corruption more proactively.
Strong budget discipline is in the interest of the entire Organization. We must focus on the fact that our financial contributions to the United Nations are ultimately investments in global peace, security, and prosperity. We look forward to working in partnership with all Member States to ensure the final budget reflects rational outcomes and measurable results.
We also need to recognize that every challenge is an opportunity to affect change. Together, our collective efforts can improve organizational performance, enhance institutional coherence, and, importantly, increase global confidence in the important work of the United Nations.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary-General. top of page