STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR DE LA CONCEPCIóN, SECOND SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 134: "FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE REPORT ON THE PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR 2022", AT THE MAIN PART OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 3 October 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. Our Group wishes to thank Mr. Chandru Ramanathan, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, for introducing the report of the Secretary-General on this agenda item and we acknowledge him and his team for the efforts in preparing this document. We also thank Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) for presenting the related report.
3. We attach significant importance to the consideration of this agenda item. In our view, assessing the performance of the budget management during the previous year is fundamental to determine how efficient we are. Our role as the sole Main Committee with responsibilities for administrative, financial and budgetary matters requires to have an insightful examination on how the budget we approved was implemented.
4. To do so, it is essential for us to have at hand all the information that is required. In this regard, we notice that some elements are missing in the report that has been prepared by the Secretariat. We would like to highlight, notably, that this year the practice of providing information on the transfers between sections has been suspended. This is one case where the General Assembly is impeded to carry out its duties, in accordance with the Financial Regulations and Rules, specifically, Regulation 5.6.
5. In the case of the special fund commitments, we remind that this issue was subject to discussions during the previous main session. Yet, there is need for further information with regard to the management of these funds. Financial Regulation 5.3 basically states that appropriations shall remain available for 12 months following the end of the budget period to which they relate and that the balance of appropriations should be surrendered. However, we still don´t know whether the balance of 17.7 million in special funds commitments for 2020 was used, for what purpose it was used or whether it was returned to Member States. In the same vein, we would like to have further clarity on why it has taken more than the established time to surrender the positive balances across the regular budget. We refer to the special fund commitments but also to the balance of 21.7 million resulting from the transfer of the regular budget fund to the cost recovery fund by the end of 2020.
6. Also, as a matter of concern, we notice the negative results that have been repeated as a trend when it comes to the policy of forward purchasing of currencies. This policy was mandated by the General Assembly with the aim to protect the United Nations against exchange rate fluctuations. Nonetheless, since 2014 the balance has been more than twice as many losses as gains. Against this backdrop, the current contract arrangements to forward purchasing of foreign currency, as well as the possibility to diversify the basket of currencies need to be revised.
7. Now I will turn to a matter that has been raised consistently by the G77/China during the last year. I´m referring to the cost-recovery surplus, in this case in the Regular Budget. To our surprise, the cost-recovery surplus continued to grow during 2022. At present, there is not detailed information on why this is happening and more importantly, what this money is being used for.
8. We remind that pursuant to the cost-recovery policy and guidelines issued in December 2021, the overall fund balance should not exceed one year of operating expenses and the difference between income and expenditure per year should not vary more than +/-10 per cent of the costs incurred. In 2021, the accumulated surplus was approximately 1.8 times the expenses of the cost-recovery fund. This year, the pattern is the same. Therefore, we insist once again that this Committee needs to have a clear understanding on this issue and to decide on the funds that have been accumulated.
9. To conclude, Mr. Chair, I convey the willingness of the Group to follow closely these discussions and to work constructively to ensure the best outcome on this agenda item for the benefit of our Organization.
I thank you.