Mr Chairman,

1. At the outset, on behalf of the States Signatories of the Group of 77 and China, I wish to congratulate you on your election as Chairperson of WGA and thank you together with the Chairperson of Working Group B for convening the eighteenth joint meeting of Working Groups A an B. The Group believes that under your stewardship and guidance, discussions will lead to fruitful conclusions and I assure you of the Group's full cooperation.

2. The Group also thanks the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Tibor Tóth for his opening remarks at the commencement of the meeting. Let me also express the deep appreciation of the Group to HE Ambassador Antonio José Vallim Guerreiro of Brazil for the excellent mission he accomplished during his term as Chairperson of Working Group A.

3. The Group of 77 and China takes note of document CTBT/PTS/INF.1171 concerning further updates to the Medium-Term Plan 2009-2013, and notes that no new changes are foreseen in 2012 and that CTBT/PTS/INF.1115, dated 10 February 2011, will continue to serve as an informal document prepared by the Secretariat. The Group wishes to reiterate that, as the Medium-Term Framework is not a formally endorsed policy paper, it should only serve as an outline for the preparation of the draft Programme and Budget for 2013.

Mr Chairman,

4. With respect to Major Programme 1, the International Monitoring System (IMS), the Group of 77 and China wishes to recall that the mandate of the PrepCom is to operate provisionally as necessary the IDC and the IMS networks provided for in the Treaty, pending their formal entry into force. As such, the Group reiterates its position on the IMS network that priority should be given to duly safeguarding investments already made to sustain the facilities that have been installed and certified, to maintaining the network, and to completing those facilities where work is under way. The Group encourages the PTS to pursue its work with these core objectives in mind.

5. On Major Programme 2, the International Data Centre, the Group recalls the need to maintain and enhance the quality of data products of the IDC taking into account the needs of the IDC Division on required staff.

6. The Group of 77 and China welcomes the work conducted by the PTS on building technical capacity for National Data Centres (NDCs) and station operators through workshops, training courses and voluntary contributions to accelerate the build-up of relevant technological infrastructure in developing countries. The Group deems it important to strengthen technical capabilities of developing States Signatories, through an improvement of their ability to benefit more from the global verification regime, in particular the use of data collected by the IMS and IDC products resulting from data analysis, and also the distribution of IDC data processing software.

7. Turning now to Major Programme 3, the OSI Division, as stated by the Group in its opening statement to the Thirty-Eighth Session of Working Group B, the Group reiterates its support for the IFE14 and considers the exercise an important work of the PTS in the coming years. The Group looks forward to continued consultations regarding the host country proposals and hopes that the Vienna spirit will prevail in agreeing on a host country for the IFE14. Mr Chairman,

8. Regarding item 3 on the agenda pertaining to guidance to the Secretariat on the preparation of the initial Programme and Budget for 2013, the Group would like to recall its position on this issue. The Group reiterates, once again, the importance it attaches to the four key elements concerning budgetary matters, namely;
" The current well advanced status of the verification system;
" The mandate of the PrepCom on the provisional operation of the system;
" The actual prospects of the entry into force of the Treaty;
" The need to minimize the financial burden to be borne by States Signatories.

9. Whilst noting the significant progress achieved so far in establishing the global verification system that is near completion, the Group is of the opinion that in line with this status the Preparatory Commission should maintain an adequate balance between budgetary implications and the prospects of the entry into force of the CTBT.

10. The Group believes that the preparation of the draft Programme and Budget for 2013 should be once again based on a target of zero real growth as a ceiling for the overall expenditures. The Group also appeals to the Secretariat that utmost priority should be given by the Secretariat to the elimination of unnecessary increases in levels of expenditure and to the identification of possible savings in the next budget cycle, and requests that the results of such efforts are duly reported to Working Group A and to the PrepCom. This becomes all the more crucial in the context of the current widespread austerity measures being applied, in varying degrees, by the entire membership of the Treaty.

11. Additionally, as stated by the Group on previous occasions, the preparation of the verification related work programme for 2013 and future years should take into account the need to ensure balance in all areas of the verification regime.

Mr Chairman,

12. The Group of 77 and China notes that the term of the current Executive Secretary will expire on 31 July 2013. The PTS is therefore requested to prepare an information paper for the upcoming Working Group A session, outlining the modalities for the appointment of the new Executive Secretary in order for the candidature process to commence.

13. With these remarks, the Group of 77 and China reiterates its unwavering pledge to a work that is both constructive and committed. May these deliberations be fruitful and result in substantive progress on the important issues coming to our consideration during this current session.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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