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Partial Budget Approval Might Hobble UN Operations

UN Comptroller Says Partial Budget Approval Scheme Might Hobble Operations

New York, Nov 30 2005 4:00PM

Proposals to partially fund the United Nations to postpone battles over reform of the organization might leave it in serious financial straights in early 2006, the UN comptroller said, as he provided an update on budget negotiations in the General Assembly committee charged with the task.

"This place does not run on air – it runs on money", UN Controller Warren Sach said at a Headquarters press conference yesterday, as he addressed concerns over the possibility that, at the end of this year, a regular budget would be approved only for the first three months out of the next biennium.

The regular budget includes all mandated activities of the UN except for peacekeeping operations, international tribunals, agencies, or the Headquarter facilities master plan, which are funded through other kinds of assessments and contributions.

Proposals for partial budget approval had been "floating around" in the press, but are not part of the informal consultations in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) at present, he said. He said the Committee had yet to consider the text of the draft resolution on the budget, which was usually adopted around 23 December.

The $3.89 billion regular budget proposal before the Committee included some $73.4 million for reform activities resulting from the outcome of the September Summit, he said.

The Secretariat considered the quarterly budget scheme a serious problem, because cash requirements for the first quarter of the year would amount to some $450 to $500 million, but, based on a normal payment pattern, only $170 to $180 million would probably be received in that time period, leaving a $320 million gap.

As the situation stood at the moment, Member States still had a lot of negotiating to do on the budget and on reform proposals, so it was too early to speculate on the consequences of the reforms on the budget.

Various committees of the General Assembly were working hard on human rights, peacebuilding and management reforms. A large number of complex proposals were before the Assembly following the Summit, and it took time for that machinery "to digest everything."

He expected significant progress to be made on that front in the coming weeks, after which the budget and financing picture should become much clearer.


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