Serbia + 1 more

Administrative and Budgetary Committee takes up financing of United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo

Source
Posted
Originally published
GA/AB/3348
Some $456.45 million and 9,774 civilian personnel, were needed for the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) for the period 10 June 1999 to 30 June 2000, according to a Secretary-General's report taken up by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning as it commenced consideration of the financing of that mission.

The Mission will require 38 military liaison officers, 4,718 civilian police, 1,269 international staff, 3,566 local staff, 18 National Officers and 203 United Nations Volunteers, the report states.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), however, states that the Mission could be established and maintained over the period for some $427.06 million, according to its related report also introduced to the Committee this morning.

Part of the basis for the reduction was that the grades and number of staff the Secretary-General had requested were significantly inflated, the ACABQ added, and it made specific recommendations regarding numbers and grades for the Mission's various components. However, it also noted the low level of payment of amounts already assessed for the Mission, and stated that, without improved payments from Member States, a serious cash-flow problem might damage its ability to fulfil its mandate.

The representatives of China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Uganda addressed the Committee about UNMIK's financing.

C.S.M. MSELLE, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body's comments after the Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, introduced the Secretary-General's report.

Bock Yeo, the Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, Compton Persaud, of the Field Administration and Logistics Division, and Choi Young-Jin, Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping, answered representatives' questions.

The Committee also discussed organizational matters related to its programme of work.

It will meet again at 10 a.m., tomorrow morning, to continue it general discussion of UNMIK's financing.

Committee Work Programme

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to take up the financing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

It had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the financing of UNMIK (document A/54/494 and Corr.1). The report contains the proposed budget for the period from the inception of the Mission on 10 June 1999 to 30 June 2000 at a strength of 38 military liaison officers, 4,718 civilian police, 1,269 international staff, 3,566 local staff, 18 National Officers and 203 United Nations Volunteers, which amounts to some $456.45 million gross (about $437.76 million net), inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind, amounting to $585,500. This amount is inclusive of the commitment authority of $200 million already authorized by the General Assembly in its resolution 53/241.

Of the total budget, some 52 per cent of resources relate to civilian personnel costs. Operational costs account for 43 per cent of the budget. Staff assessment comprises 4 per cent of the total, and military personnel costs reflect 1 per cent. Less than 1 per cent of the total resources are related to other programmes.

Expenditures for the period from inception to 31 August 1999 amount to some $37.01 million. The actions to be taken by the General Assembly are set out in paragraph five of the report.

In a related report from the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)(document A/54/622). The ACABQ states that the proposed budget of UNMIK includes budgeted voluntary contributions in kind estimated at $585,500. It was informed that of the total assessment of $125 million, $43.3 million had been received as at 15 October, leaving an outstanding balance of contributions of $81.7 million. Unless the collection of contributions improves, the Mission will face a very seriously debilitating cash-flow problem that might damage its ability to fulfil its mandate.

Overall, the ACABQ recommends that the General Assembly appropriate some $427.06 million gross for the establishment and maintenance of UNMIK for 10 June 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of some $200 million authorized previously by the Assembly.

It asks for information in the next UNMIK financing report about how effective the UNMIK Executive Committee and the UNMIK Joint Planning Group currently are and how the coordination mechanism works.

It also states that the Secretary-General's report does not provide sufficient information on the roles of the various major participants in UNMIK, on their relationship with the United Nations and on the interaction among the four components of the Mission, including the European Union, which will lead reconstruction activities. No information is provided on resources available for UNMIK components run by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union.

It notes there is no clear definition of the roles of the agencies participating in the Humanitarian Affairs component of UNMIK. The role of the agencies should be defined as a matter of priority, given the needs in the field and the unique nature of the operation. The Secretariat should make agreements with United Nations specialized agencies to identify their respective responsibilities and to define their roles in the implementation of technical cooperation activities. The state of preparedness, deployment in the mission area and capacity of all the four parts will affect the progress of the UNMIK mandate.

The proposed budget for UNMIK provides for the establishment of a total of 9,774 civilian personnel is and estimated at some $225 million, the report states. Considering past mission experience, it is unlikely that the full amount would be obligated and disbursed by 30 June 2000, especially with regard to the civilian police. Excluding civilian police, the civilian personnel are to number 5,056, but this, however, does not include personnel hired or obtained using general temporary assistance funds and consultants, for which a provision of some $1.15 million is requested. As of 30 September, over 60 per cent of all posts remained vacant. The ACABQ was informed that actual deployment of international Professional and General Service staff and United Nations Volunteers was expected to reach the level of 750 personnel by 31 December, 850 by 31 January 2000, 1,000 by 29 February and 1,472 by 31 March.

Local staff employed by UNMIK are paid some 40 per cent less than that of some other international agencies, and the ACABQ states cooperation within the international community should be sought to limit sudden cost inflation whenever the United Nations is installed in a place of operation, including steps to prevent adverse effects of cost inflation on both the local community and the foreign entities, and information on this should be given to the Assembly in future budget submissions. The comparators for local UNMIK staff are currently predominantly non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but the ACABQ recommends that, as the situation in Kosovo normalizes, comparators should also include local employers.

The ACABQ believes the staffing and grade structure proposed for UNMIK is significantly inflated. The total number of posts requested for UNMIK in the category of Professional staff and above is 702, including 16 D-2, 34 D-1 and 76 P-5 posts. In several instances, attempts have been made to try to meet every eventuality with a separate post, instead of planning to use staff more efficiently. A satisfactory explanation of the proposed grade structure is not provided. The Office of Human Resources Management should be closely involved in setting levels for Professional posts.

As detailed generic job descriptions for key positions for peacekeeping missions are reflected in the Standard Ratios and Standard Cost Manual, but not accompanied by generic grades, the ACABQ asks that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of Human Resources Management determine whether or not it is feasible and practical to establish such generic grades.

Regarding its recommended reductions to the proposed cost estimates for UNMIK, the ACABQ states that these should not prevent the Secretary-General from proposing, on the basis of actual experience, further adjustments in the staffing structure of and resource estimates in future budget submissions. The recommended reductions should be implemented so as to not hamper the ability of UNMIK to implement its mandate, especially with regard to language assistants.

The ACABQ questions the use of having assistants to senior advisers, and states there appears to be an excessive number of requests for personal assistants and secretaries. Accordingly, it is not convinced at this time of the need for one D-1, one P-4, one P-3 and one Local level post. Similarly, it believes the number of posts requested for liaison functions in UNMIK is overestimated, and therefore recommends the deletion of one D-1 and one P-3 liaison officer post.

The D-1 post and the local level post proposed for the Office of Gender Affairs are not warranted, according to the report, and the ACABQ recommends the provision of one P-5, one P-4, one General Service (Other level) and two Local level posts for this Office. It does not see adequate justification for the D-2 post proposed for the Office of the Legal Adviser, given the central role that the United Nations Legal Counsel has in all legal matters of the United Nations. The related functions of the D-2 post in the Office of the Legal Adviser should be reconfigured and assigned to one of the two D-1 posts of the Office. It also recommends against the establishment of one General Service and one Local level post.

The functions of Professional staff in the Office of Political Affairs are unnecessarily fragmented, it states, and therefore the proposed staffing requirements are inflated. The D-2 and D-1 posts in the Office should be classified at the D-1 and P-5 levels respectively, and it does not accept the need for one P-4 post.

While public information will be important to the mandate of UNMIK, the report does not contain any indication of the level of public information programme activities that could form the basis for the proposed staffing requirements estimated at 71 posts. It asks that a review be undertaken of the most effective means by which UNMIK could implement its public information programmes, considering options, including using facilities now under development by OSCE. Pending the results of the review, the ACABQ recommends the following staffing structure for the Office: one D-1, one P-5, 10 P-4, 11 P-3, four P-2, 7 General Service (Other level) and 30 Local level.

The requested staffing requirements for UNMIK Civil Affairs include 478 posts in the Professional category and above, 179 General Service (Other level) posts, six National Officer posts and 2,075 Local level posts. The ACABQ notes that an equal number of posts is proposed for each of the five regional offices, based on average requirements. The eventual workload of each regional office and municipality is not known. As it has not received convincing justification for the grading structure of the regional offices, it recommends the D-2 posts for the five regional offices be graded at the D-1 level, and the proposed D-1 deputies be graded at P-5 level.

In view of the role that the European Union and the OSCE play in the regions and municipalities, and in the absence of information on tasks they perform and the magnitude and the scope of the special projects to be undertaken, the number of posts under Civil Administration remains to be fully justified, the ACABQ states. Taking all this into account, the ACABQ recommends the following staffing structure for Civil Administration: one Assistant Secretary-General, four D-2, 19 D-1, 51 P-5, 200 P-4, 160 P-3, 160 General Service (Other level) and 1,900 Local level posts.

Similarly, the proposed staffing requirements of Humanitarian Affairs should be further reviewed and streamlined. In the meantime, the ACABQ recommends against establishment of one proposed P-4 and two Local level posts.

The UNMIK's activities concerning minorities -- to be fulfilled by one P-4 post -- requires, in the opinion of the Committee, an immediate review and its asks that the level of the post be reviewed urgently as well as consideration given to assigning additional posts to function.

There are 104 Professional posts proposed for UNMIK's Division of Administration, along with 204 Field Service posts, seven General Service (Principal level) posts, 94 General Service (Other level) posts, 42 Security Service posts, 1,398 Local level posts, 12 National Officers and 203 United Nations Volunteers, the ACABQ notes. This structure replicates Headquarters, and fewer staff and non-staff resources could be required if actions such as making better use of data-processing equipment and organizing units more efficient by merging them, were taken. It asks that the structure of the Division be reviewed, and, in the meantime, it recommends 94 Professional posts, 180 Field Service, six General Service (Principal level), 85 General Service (Other level), 42 Security Service, 1,296 Local level, 12 National Officers and 203 United Nations Volunteers be employed.

It recommends a study be made of the potential for wider use of United Nations Volunteers to meet the requirements of field missions, to be presented to the fifty-fifth Assembly session.

It recommends that six national officers proposed for civil administration not be approved pending a study of policy and financial implications of introducing this category of personnel in UNMIK. The study should include the wider implications for all future peacekeeping operations.

Given delays in the deployment of civilian police, the ACABQ urges the Secretary-General to expedite negotiations on formed police units so that they can be deployed as soon as possible. Using formed units would affect the breakdown of expenditures by line item, but total estimates for police are not expected to change. Considering the past experience of peacekeeping start-ups, the cost estimates for civilian police in UNMIK could be reduced by 8 per cent, or $8 million.

The explanation of the requirements for $1.1 million for general temporary assistance and consultants is too general, the report states. No indication is given of the number of consultants and projects -- areas where the projects are needed or the duration of contracts. Pending more proof of need, it recommends that estimates for general temporary assistance be reduced by $220,000.

The travel programme is excessive and should be reviewed, the ACABQ reports. It recommends an amount of $1 million, a reduction of $146,600 from the Secretary- General's proposal.

Given delays in the deployment of personnel and reductions in staff recommended by the ACABQ, the estimates for transport operations should be reduced by $5 million. In addition, the next UNMIK budget submission should justify requirements for air support and provide a rationale for elements in aircraft rental contracts, such as block hours, extra hours and so on. Deployment delays and recommended reductions lead the ACABQ to the view that estimates for other equipment should be reduced by $2.5 million, according to the report. Information on equipment transferred from the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi and other missions should be provided to the Fifth Committee. It also asks that information on payments for services provided by UNMIK to other entities on a reimbursable basis be included in future budget submissions. The ACABQ also asks for a review of the situation regarding resident auditors, as it believes the number is inadequate.

Statements

Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, introduced the Secretary- General's report on the financing of UNMIK. The Committee might recall that last July, $200 million had been sought and approved to enable the Mission to proceed pending the submission of this report. Some $50.1 million in unpaid assessment related to that approval was still outstanding. The Secretary-General was now seeking some $456.4 million for the Mission.

C.S.M MSELLE, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), then introduced that body's comments. Within the limited time available the ACABQ had tried to prepare a report that would be of assistance to the Committee. The report had not been easy to prepare, as many elements of the Mission and other bodies' activities were not very clear, and the size and structure of the Mission was unique. On paper, there was an elaborate machinery for coordination between the various partners, but only time would tell how effective this machinery would be.

The mandate of UNMIK would be affected by the effectiveness of the other partners in the Kosovo issue, he said. Compared with other partners, the emplacement of United Nations personnel was far better, although only at 40 per cent. There was a tendency to inflate grades, he noted, which had led to the type of recommendations the ACABQ had made.

The ACABQ recommended a total reduction to some $427.06 million, he said. It was anticipated that resources would be re-examined in the light of experience. The experience regarding the collection of the initial assessment of $125 million was not encouraging. Unless the rate of payment of assessments improved, the Mission would face serious debilitating cash flow problems that would damage its ability to fulfil its mandate.

SUN MINQIN (China) said the Secretary-General's report was poorly written and "played with words". Earlier discussions about streamlining and efficiency had not been reflected in it. The Advisory Committee was correct to say that the proposed staffing and grade structure on UNMIK was significantly inflated. His delegation wanted a written organizational chart of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), with similar content and format as annex 3 of the present report, to facilitate comparison between the two missions, she said. While China fully agreed with gender mainstreaming, it was not a major issue in peacekeeping and there was no need for a separate office for that purpose. Money could be saved by abolishing it. She asked which unit had been responsible for public information in previous peacekeeping operations. It was necessary to practice economy so that every penny was spent constructively.

RAMESH CHANDRA (India) said he noted the ACABQ comments on inflation of grade levels of staff, and also its comment today that in the light of experience it hoped new staffing recommendations would be made. He asked for written information on the relationship between the mandates and activities of UNMIK and those of other organizations working with the Mission, like the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

NIKOLAI LOZINSKI (Russian Federation) said he wished to be informed about the mission's current financial situation, especially what cash was currently available to the Mission. On the structure of the Mission, he said that the Secretary- General's report did not show anything about the "special police" specified in the Security Council mandate. He asked how these special police would be funded if they were sent, since there was no reference to them in the budget. He also asked how the negotiations on the Memorandum of Understanding on sending special police was developing.

AMJAD HUSSAIN SIAL (Pakistan) asked for a copy of the ACABQ Chairman's earlier statement.

BOCK YEO, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, said it was incorrect to say that as a result of low expenditures the budget had been inflated -- many obligations entered into had not yet been met. On the question raised by the Russian Federation on special police, budgetary provision had not been made for this. Estimates had simply been made for total number of police, and he was confident that within the funds requested suitable re-alignment was possible.

He said written answers to the question from the representative of China on a comparison with UNMIBH would be provided.

Mr. COMPTON PERSAUD, of the Field Administration and Logistics Division, said there had been one Memorandum of Understanding for a special police unit for Kosovo, but no form of undertaking had been forthcoming from donor countries. On the question raised by the representative of India, he said the information had been requested from the Mission.

NESTOR ODAGA-JALOMAYO (Uganda) said this was the second time he had found a report from the Secretary-General on this Mission unsatisfactory -- this report was no better than the first. He noted the large number of personnel requested given the size of Kosovo, and asked what the situation would be for a mission in an area much bigger than Kosovo.

The ACABQ had explained that some "pillars" of the operation were to be led by other organizations, he said, and that these would be led by deputy special representatives of the Secretary-General, and he wished to be informed as to who would appoint these deputy representatives.

He sought clarification of the basis on which the ACABQ commented that the two coordinating bodies within UNMIK could be effective as a means of reducing waste, given that it also stated that the current situation of the work of these bodies was not clear.

He also concurred with the point raised by the representative of India, and asked that the role of other agencies be defined as a matter of priority. He failed to understand why the ACABQ asked for explanations of certain questions it had posed to appear in the next budget report, and asked why they should not be clarified immediately.

Ms. SUN (China) said she did not think the Secretariat had fully answered her questions. Logic said the expenditures of a peacekeeping operation would be high at the beginning, however in this case the new estimates reflected a monthly expenditure that was three times the original monthly expenditure. She sought an explanation for that rapid increase.

BOCK YEO, Director of the Peacekeeping Finance Division, said originally expenditures had been about $1.2 million per month, but this was because the disbursements were only to cover the staff initially sent and immediate contractual liabilities. For new missions, the expenditures rose very quickly because most of the initial requirements entered into required payment to be made at a later date.

In July, he had explained the basis for the Secretariat's request for authority to enter into commitments of some $200 million, and he had indicated that, aside from the need for cash, the timing of the request was in part to allow Member States sufficient time to obtain the necessary funding from their legislative bodies to allow the Mission's start up.

Even for ongoing missions, he said, monthly expenditures were not flat. The pattern would normally be that there would be a slow start at the beginning of a financial period, followed by a peak, and then downsizing.

CHOI YOUNG-JIN Assistant Secretary General for the Department of Peacekeeping, said because of UNMIK it was better to have a division of labour with other organizations, to reduce the budgetary burden on the United Nations. This was why some of the pillars of the Mission had the degree of autonomy they did.

Mr. ODAGA JALOMAYO (Uganda) repeated his question about who appointed the heads of these pillars.

Mr. CHOI confirmed that they were appointed by the Secretary-General.

PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) Committee Chairman, explained the bureau's thinking behind the latest programme of work, just issued to the Committee.

She also pointed out that the Secretariat had distributed Office of Internal Oversight Services responses to the statement made by the representative of Pakistan at the Committee's 31st meeting. In addition, the Secretary of the Committee had been told that all other questions of a personal nature addressed to Karl Pashke, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, must be answered by him; the Office had no authority to answer those questions on behalf of Mr. Pashke.

Mr. SIAL (Pakistan) said this seemed to be contrary to the United Nations Charter.

Following an organizational discussion of the Fifth Committee's programme of work, the meeting was adjourned.