First of all, the Group wishes to pay tribute to H.E. Ambassador Alfred T. Moleah, Permanent Representative of South Africa who passed away on Saturday, 28th May, and expresses its deepest condolences and sympathy to his family and friends.
Allow me, Madam Chair, to express the Group of 77 and China's satisfaction to see you chairing this session of Working Group A. We are confident that under your guidance and leadership, which we had the occasion of witnessing many times before, we will achieve excellent results in our deliberations.
The Group would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Tibor Tóth for his able stewardship as Chairman of Working Group A during the past seven years, from the early days of CTBTO to the present, and we wish him every success in the new challenges he will be facing shortly as Executive Secretary of this Organization.
The Group of 77 and China would like to thank the Executive Secretary for his reports on Major Programmes 6 and 7, as well as his informative oral report.
We would also like to thank the Secretariat for elaborating the budget proposal for 2006.
In this regard, the Group would like to make the following comments:
a) First of all, the Group of 77 and China would like to reiterate its position that the budget proposal should reflect zero real growth. The Group also maintains the position that there should be no overall programmatic increases in the budget proposals.
b) However, given the importance it attaches to Major Programme 4 (OSI), including the FEO7 exercise, the Group notes with appreciation the substantive increase proposed for this Major Programme and holds the view that this increase should be ensured by means of reallocations and adjustments in the other Major Programmes.
c) Concerning budget implications of possible tsunami alert activities, the Group will express its opinion after careful examination of the Report to be presented by the PTS to the 25th session of WGB in September 2005 and after adoption of a decision on the activities to be implemented.
d) Concerning Security Enhancements, before the Group states its position on the budget proposal, we would like to request further clarification from the Secretariat on what measures are being envisaged in Phase II and their detailed financial implications.
The Group of 77 and China notes with appreciation the slight increase in the number of staff members from the Asia-Pacific as well the African region in the Secretariat. Nevertheless, Madam Chair, the overall representation of developing countries remains unbalanced. In this regard, the Group would like to reiterate the need to increase the presence of staff members from developing countries in the PTS, and calls upon the Secretariat to give due attention to this criterion in the recruitment process of new staff members.
Equal Employment Opportunities - Women in the PTS report contained in CTBT/PTS/INF.737
The Group of 77 and China thanks the Secretariat for its ongoing efforts in promoting a more equitable representation of women in the Secretariat and encourages further action in this regard.
In reference to the Report of the External Evaluation Team, the Group of 77 and China would like to thank the participants of the Team who, under the leadership of Ambassadors Rimdap and Starr, produced a sound document that is considered a good basis for our deliberations. The report is being carefully examined by member-States of the Group of 77 and China, and the Group will present its comments in future occasions.
At this stage we would like to reiterate the position expressed by the Group at the inception of this exercise, to the effect that all recommendations of the External Evaluation Team's report must be thoroughly examined in WGA and WGB, and adopted by the PrepCom, before they can be implemented. In this regard, the Group sees merit in the suggestion to convene joint WGA/WGB meetings to discuss the recommendations of the Report, since both WGA and WGB mandated the External Evaluation Team.
The Group of 77 and China notes with appreciation the work that has been carried out by both Working Groups A and B. Considering inputs for improvement, the Group would like to suggest that ways and means be considered to finance the participation of representatives from developing countries to WGB meetings. Concerning the Chairmanship of both WGA and WGB, the Group suggests in principle a tenure of three years, taking into consideration geographical rotation. The Group expresses its view that the next Chairman of WGA should be a member of the G-77 and China and we are in the process of internal consultations to present a candidate.
The Group welcomes the mainstreaming of the discussions on Status of On-Site Inspectors and Inspector Assistants and looks forward to further progress in this issue. In this regard, the G-77 and China agrees that the creation of an open-ended group of interested Signatories States to follow-up on these discussions, as proposed during the joint WGA/WGB meeting last February, would be an appropriate way to move forward. It is important to observe geographical balance in the composition of this Group.
Thank you Madam Chair.