G-77 oppposes concept of "programme" and "non-programme" activities

UNITED NATIONS, March -- The Group of 77 has expressed strong reservations over a proposal to categorize U.N. activities under two headings: "programme" and "non-programme" activities.

Under the new categorization, the Secretariat plans to reduce "non programme" activities in order to cut administrative costs, according to a report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"We share the view by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that the report of the Secretary-General does not reflect a clear concept of what constitutes the nature of the activities funded by the regular budget," Cecep Herawan of Indonesia told delegates.

Speaking on behalf of Group of 77, the delegate of Indonesia said it is not clear as to how some intergovernmental and expert bodies were included as "non-programme" costs.

The G-77 was also critical of the Secretariat's decision to declare the activities of the Department of Public Information (DPI) as "non-programme activities."

"The Group of 77 attaches particular importance tot he issue of reduction and refocusing of non-programme costs," he said.

The Secretary-General has proposed a reduction in "non-programme" activities and channelling the savings to a development account.

The shift in resources, he has said, will result in a"development dividend" of about $200 million by the year 2002.

The General Assembly in late March decided by consensus to defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report to the resumed session of the Fifth Committee later this year.

Earlier, the delegate of Syria told the Fifth Committee that his country was "extremely concerned" with the new concept of "non-programme" costs, which set up a new categorization for U.N. activities. The distinction between what was "non-programme" and "programme" was creating an imbalance in the very structure of the Organisation, he added.

The work of the United Nations relied heavily on conference services. How could they be considered to be non-programmatic?, he asked.

The delegate of India said the Secretariat, under pressure brought on by a cash crisis, was drawing distinctions between the programme and administrative activities that are at best of dubious validity.

"The Secretariat is desperately trying to show 'savings' in the hope that this will persuade defaulters to pay contributions which should be unconditional,'' he said. The impact, both of non-payment and the Secretariat's attempts to save, is ultimately on mandated programmes, he added.