STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. SONDRA CHEONG, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 134: PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR THE BIENNIUM 2018-2019: CONSTRUCTION AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, CAPITAL MASTER PLAN, AT THE FIRST RESUMED PART OF THE 74TH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 2 March 2020)
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 134. Programme budget biennium 2018-2019: Construction and Property Management, Capital Master Plan (CMP).
2. At the outset, the Group would like to thank Mr. Andrew Nye, Chief, Facilities and Commercial Activities Service, Department of Operational Support for introducing the Seventeenth annual progress report of the Secretary-General on the Capital Master Plan contained in document (A/74/302) as well as Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing the related report contained in document A/74/573.
3. The Group of 77 and China notes that at the moment, all construction work and related administrative close-out activities have been completed, with the exception of liabilities related to the two ongoing arbitration cases.
4. The Group notes with concern that financial close-out of the capital master plan project would be delayed by the ongoing arbitration cases and the Group would seek information on whether the two arbitration proceedings have continued into 2020 and would incur additional attorneys’ fees and arbitral expenses, estimated at $2 million. We commend the efforts being made by the Office of Legal Affairs in actively defending the interests of the Organization in these two arbitration proceedings to prevent the Organization from incurring avoidable expenses. The Group looks forward to hearing from the Secretary-General on the current status of these proceedings during the informal deliberations.
5. The Group of 77 and China attaches great importance to the issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities to the United Nations premises, and in this respect welcomes the recommendations of the accessibility experts as contained in the Secretary- General’s report bearing in mind resolution 74/253 which we recently adopted on this matter.
6. With respect to recreational facilities, the Group also notes the assessment done by the Administration which indicates that the funds provided by the donor are adequate to ensure that the recreational facilities and equipment can be properly maintained through to the end of their useful life, which is seven years. The Group encourages the Secretary-General to explore alternative funding arrangements of ensuring that the recreational facilities continue to operate beyond the seven years, and that these expenses are not transferred to Member States.
7. With respect to the protection of assets, the Group welcomes the efforts made by the Secretary-General in verifying and locating all the missing assets of the Organization and encourages the Secretary-General to continue his efforts in this regard.
8. The Group also notes with appreciation that actual cost of all utilities (electricity, steam, water, gas and other) of the Headquarters complex was reduced by $17.3 million, or more than 48 per cent, from $35.9 million in 2006–2007 to $18.6 million in 2016–2017 and is expected to reduce further for biennium 2018-2019 to about $18.3 million.
9. The Group also takes note of the status of the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors provided in the seventeenth annual progress report and observes that only 5 of the 20 outstanding recommendations have been fully implemented. We encourage the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with a view to implement the remaining recommendations.
10. In conclusion, Mr. Chair, the Group of 77 and China wishes to assure you our continued commitment to actively and constructively engage on this important agenda item during informal consultations.
I thank you.