STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR, SECOND SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 134: PROPOSED PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR 2024: CONSTRUCTION AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: CONFERENCE SERVICES FACILITIES AT THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE AT NAIROBI, AT THE MAIN PART OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 9 November 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. The Group would like to thank Mr. Chandru Ramanathan, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General and Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for introducing their respective reports.
3. At the outset, we express our deepest gratitude to the Government of Kenya as host country of the United Nations Office at Nairobi for its continued support to the work of this Office and its engagement to ensure the success of the ongoing project aimed at addressing the deteriorating conditions and limited capacity of the Conference services facilities. This matter is of the utmost priority for the G77 and China.
4. The Group takes note of the update on the project that has been presented in Secretary-General`s report, describing the progress made in the planning activities in preparation for the commencement of the design phase based on option B, as approved in resolution 77/263.
5. The cost for option B, which is the preferred option and recommended by the Secretary-General, has remained unchanged at $265,659,200. We look forward to arriving at a decision on the scope of the project, the maximum overall cost and the construction phase, that can be based on this option, which we consider more cost effective and better to meet the long-term requirements of the Organization on this matter.
6. The Group takes note that this is the fifth progress report of the Secretary General and any further delays by the Committee in making a decision is likely to increase the cost of the project in the long term. The long-term benefits far outweigh the cost of this project. Furthermore, we note that the other main duty stations have been renovated at a substantial financial outlay such as the $2,150.4 Million for the capital master plan and 836.5 million Swiss francs for the strategic Heritage Plan.
7. The Group also emphasizes the need to implement the conference services facilities project in a timely manner and looks forward to discussing on options to accelerate the schedule. We are concerned that any further delays will result in additional costs. It is therefore imperative that this Committee approves the Secretary General's recommendations contained in the present report under consideration.
8. The Group of 77 and China stresses the importance of close coordination between the United Nations Office at Nairobi and the Secretariat in New York, in particular the Global Asset Management Policy Service, to ensure proper oversight and governance in all aspects of the project and the incorporation of lessons learned from other major construction projects especially the Capital Master plan and the Strategic Heritage Plan. In this regard, we note that a cost savings-sharing mechanism first introduced into the United Nations Secretariat by the Strategic Heritage Plan at UNOG will be used as a best practice approach. We would like to receive further information about it.
9. We recognize the outreach and overall efforts made to-date by the Office regarding voluntary contributions. We encourage the Secretary-General to continue to engage with all Member States and other potential donors to obtain voluntary contributions aimed at reducing the overall cost of the project.
10. On another note, we call on the UNON to ensure the equitable geographic representation of Member States, as well as gender balance, among its project staff. We believe that any vacancies will provide a concrete opportunity to that effect.
11. The Group also recalls that in previous resolutions related to construction projects, the General Assembly has impressed upon the Secretary-General on the need to use local capacity including knowledge, technology, expertise and materials. Hence, we hope that during the design and implementation stages of the project all efforts will be made to integrate locally sourced and manufactured materials, as well as use of local labor and expertise.
12. In conclusion, Mr. Chair, the Group would like to assure you of its readiness to engage constructively with all relevant stakeholders to conclude this agenda item in a timely manner.
I thank you.