STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASADOR MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN, PERMANENT MISSION OF PAKISTAN TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEMS 139: PROGRAMME PLANNING, AND 138: PROPOSED PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR 2023, AT THE FIFTH COMMITTEE DURING THE MAIN PART OF THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 12 October 2022)
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and would like to thank Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations for the presentation of his proposed programme plan and budget for 2023. We also thank Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee, for introducing the Committee's related report.
2. We wish to recognize the Chairperson of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), Mr. Francis Saudubray, the Vice Chairs and Rapporteur of the committee for their efforts during the committee's deliberations this year.
3. We are gravely troubled by the timeline under which the related programme budget has been prepared by the Secretariat, analyzed by the ACABQ and then presented to us without a basis of an inter- governmentally agreed programme plan, as stipulated in the PPBME. As the trial period for the annual budget cycle runs out and we evaluate the format and timeframes for the coming future, the Group of 77 and China underscores the enormous importance of preserving programme planning as the cornerstone of the whole programme budget process of the Organization. Therefore, we look forward to continue the discussions in this Committee on the appropriate sequence to be followed in the formulation, review and adoption process of the programme plan and budget. We will address this in greater detail during our deliberations on the review of the implementation of the annual budget cycle.
4. The Group reaffirms its steadfast support to the prerogatives of the CPC in its work as the main subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for planning, programming, evaluation and coordination. We are pleased to note the in-person participation of experts from the capital in this year's session and appreciate the much needed interpretation services during CPC proceedings. We also note with satisfaction about the fifth additional week provided to CPC which had a positive outcome in the work of the Committee.
5. The Group has examined the programme plan and the CPC's report. In this regard, we appreciate the continued improvements made by the Secretariat in light of resolution 74/251, regarding the format of programmes and sub- programmes, despite the lack of consistency at times with inter-governmentally approved terms and terminologies. While disappointed that no consensus was achieved in CPC to put forward cross- cutting recommendations regarding the format of the programmes, we strongly believe that further guidance will be needed considering the fact that we are at the end of the trial period of the annual programme plan and budget.
6. The Group noted the Committee managed to give recommendations on the majority of the programme plan and also reviewed a number of OIOS Evaluation Reports, the JIU report on mainstreaming environmental sustainability, and the coordination reports on the United Nations system support for Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and on the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
7. However, there are a number of programmes which have been left without recommendations from the CPC due to a lack of consensus. The Group recalls the clear mandates reflected in paragraph 16 of resolution 76/236 and paragraph 9 of resolution 75/243 that if CPC has not been able to provide conclusions and recommendations on a given programme or subprogramme, then the plenary or the relevant Main Committee of the General Assembly, will consider the said subprogramme or programme at the earliest opportunity to provide recommendations to the Fifth Committee no later than four weeks after the start of the session.
8. As we look forward to our deliberations, we appreciate that in the current programme of work the informal sessions on the programme plan are being given the precedence they ought to have ahead of the consideration of their corresponding budget sections. The Group stresses that these items, though closely related, are not and cannot ever be viewed as the same. The Group emphasizes that agreements on any of the corresponding budget sections of the open programmes are not possible without the necessary agreement on those programmes.
9. On the programme budget, it is one of the most important agenda items under consideration during this session. It serves as the resource base for important element underpinning the United Nations to fulfil its role and execute its legislated mandates. The budget document is not just a financial and accounting tool. It is an authoritative statement that should reflect the strategic vision of the Secretary-General in delivering the mandates and priorities agreed upon by Member States. For this reason, the Group has always been fully committed to delivering a substantive budget on time, and will continue to work with all sides to ensure that the budget is finalised in a timely fashion. The Group reiterates its request to the Secretariat and to all Member States to strictly abide by the consistent decisions of the General Assembly that no changes to the established budget methodology, procedures and practices or to the financial regulations should be implemented without prior review and approval by the General Assembly.
10. The Group recognises the Secretary-General's efforts to improve the presentation of the programme budget. However, we agree with the comments of the Advisory Committee that further improvements can be made, such as on the presentation of deliverables for all programmes, and in ensuring a results-based budget that reflects existing mandates.
11. The Group further appreciates the Secretary General's effort to enhance Conference management across the board and in particular his efforts to implement the General Assembly's mandate to increase productivity within the area of documentation and translation services and welcomes the observations and recommendations by the ACABQ in this regard. In the same spirit, we welcome the return to in-person meetings and we recognize the efforts from the Secretariat to use virtual and hybrid meetings as an extraordinary measure to ensure business continuity after consideration of the General Assembly. We appreciate the possibility to resume the interpersonal diplomacy and in this regard, we highlight the need to fully re-establish the services to delegates and staff in the UN facilities.
12. On the proposed programme budget itself, the Group notes the difference in actual vacancy rates in individual sections of the programme budget. We further note that timely recruitment had been constrained by the liquidity situation. With the improvement in the financial situation and relaxation of hiring freeze, the Group reiterates that vacant posts should be filled as expeditiously as possible taking into consideration equitable geographical representation.
13. The United Nations adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development seven years ago. We are now less than a decade away from our target date of 2030. International peace and security and development are two sides of the same coin. The ground conditions for peace and stability will not be laid if the development agenda is not realised.
14. In this regard, the Group reiterates its call for the strengthening of the development pillar, and will work towards ensuring adequate resources for bodies that are integral to the development pillar. To this end, the G-77 also supports a well-resourced UNCTAD, DESA, OHRLLS, ECA, ESCAP, ECLAC, and ESCWA.
15. The Group is committed to working constructively with you and all delegations on this item. We encourage all delegations to engage in budget deliberations with a spirit of flexibility and responsibility, in order to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the Organisation.
I thank you, Mr. Chair.