Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by Mr. Majed Bamya, First Counsellor, Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 135: "Proposed Programme Budget for 2020".
2. The Group of 77 and China would like to thank Mr Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, for the presentation of his proposed programme budget for 2020. We also thank Mr Cihan Terzi, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, for introducing the Committee's related report.
3. The programme budget serves as the resource base for the United Nations to fulfil its role and execute its legislated mandates. The budget document is not only 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. 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.
4. For the Group, the proposed programme budget is one of the most important agenda items under consideration during this main session. We believe that sufficient time must be provided for informal consultations. We request that adequate time in the Programme of Work be allocated for this specific agenda item.
5. On the preparation of the programme budget, the Group notes that this is the first year that we have moved to an annual budget period on a trial basis. We acknowledge that every transition is accompanied by challenges, and we recognise the Secretariat's efforts to present a more accessible budget proposal. However, the Group regrets the lack of adherence to key established budgetary procedures and practices. In particular, the sequential nature of the review processes conducted by the Committee for Programme and Coordination and the Advisory Committee was not preserved, contrary to paragraph 12 of resolution 72/266 A.
6. This has impacted not only the timeliness of the review processes, but also the accuracy of related documentation. As the proposed resource requirements are based on a programme plan that has not yet been approved by the General Assembly, it also undermines the link between resource proposals and the mandated activities of the Organisation. The Group also notes the various concerns highlighted by the Advisory Committee on the level of details in the new budget proposal format, and will engage in constructive discussions on this issue during the informal sessions.
7. On the proposed programme budget itself, the Group notes the lack of clarity and justification for "efficiency measures" and "productivity gains". The Group agrees with the Advisory Committee that further improvements are needed to better explain and enhance the clarity of resource changes presented in future budget proposals with regard to these areas.
8. The United Nations adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development four years ago. We are now little more 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.
9. In this regard, the Group reiterates its call for the strengthening of the development pillar. We are therefore concerned that the budget proposal contains cuts to bodies that are integral to the development pillar, such as DESA, UNCTAD, and the Regional Commissions including ECA, ESCAP, ECLAC, and ESCWA. The Group will seek detailed explanations about the proposed cuts during the informal consultations.
10. The Group notes with concern the growing imbalance between assessed and voluntary contributions. The budget proposal contains a net increase of $78.2 million in extrabudgetary resources as compared with estimates for 2019, while assessed contributions continue to be reduced. This means that even as legislative bodies approve mandates and set priorities, these priorities can be skewed towards specific areas that receive more voluntary funding. The Group firmly rejects any such manipulation of the Organisation's delivery of mandates. The Group reiterates its long-standing position that adequate resources must be provided for the Organisation to fulfil its mandates. In the meanwhile, the Group notes that the total extrabudgetary budgetary resources grew from $9.27 billion in 2014 to $12.4 billion in 2020, representing an increase of 34 per cent. The Group reiterates that all extrabudgetary posts must be administered and managed with the same rigor as regular budget posts and that extrabudgetary resources shall be used in consistency with the policies, aims and activities of the Organisation.
11. 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.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.