Minister-Counsellor Song Young-wan at Fifth Committee of the General Assembly
1. Let me begin by thanking the Secretariat for its hard work in producing the proposed budget for the biennium 2006-2007, which we know is a substantial task. My delegation also appreciated the Secretary-General’s eloquent and illuminating statement on Tuesday, which provided many useful insights. In addition, I must thank Mr. Saha, acting chairman of the ACABQ for introducing the Committee’s comprehensive, forward-looking report on the proposed budget.
2. There are many ways to approach a budget, and I am concerned that we might be attempting all of them at once. As we discuss results-based budgeting (RBB), inputs and outputs, accountability and oversight, we must ensure that we are not merely overburdening the United Nations with a welter of new requirements. For example, the Secretary-General was right to say that the number of reports the Secretariat must produce is “staggering”, and we recognize that these reports do not necessarily lead to greater accountability.
3. Our goals should be efficiency and effectiveness, and achieving these goals will require a balanced approach. It is our responsibility in this Committee to weigh the wisdom of different approaches and to consider carefully where best to apply them. We share the view that the Secretary-General should exercise his authority under the Charter, as chief administrative officer of the Organization, to effectively manage the Secretariat to carry out the mandates set by the General Assembly. In this regard, we look forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations on budgetary, financial and human resource policies and rules to respond to the Organization’s current needs, which will be delivered in the first quarter of 2006.
4. Oversight and accountability are also crucial. We welcome the Secretary-General’s effort to strengthen oversight through the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and through an independent external evaluation. These mechanisms are valuable tools for budgetary oversight, and we should take their results and recommendations seriously.
5. I wish to draw attention, as have other delegations, to the slightly misleading figure of 0.1 percent real growth of the budget between the present biennium and biennium 2006-2007. It is worth recalling that the initial estimate for the biennium 2004-2005 was revised upward substantially, so that the change from estimate to estimate is closer to 20 percent. There is reason to expect that the budget for the biennium 2006-2007 will also be revised upward, continuing the pattern of rapid budget growth. Coupled with the ongoing increases in the peacekeeping budget, the overall assessments are becoming a serious burden on Member States. As we pour ever-increasing resources into the United Nations, it becomes all the more important to examine carefully how those resources are used and what results they are producing.
6. In this regard, we are pleased to see that results-based budgeting is taking root as a methodology, and we concur with the ACABQ that the Secretariat should continue to sharpen this tool so that it can be deployed to best effect. For example, we agree that the RBB approach to support and administrative functions needs some refining, and we look forward to seeing more concrete assessments of these functions in future reports. Another issue is clarifying which outputs contribute to which objectives and accomplishments, and to what extent. In sharpening the use of RBB, specificity and quantifiability are key. We agree with the ACABQ that there is a need to develop “cost-effective and easy-to-maintain cost-accounting systems” to facilitate budgetary analysis and give us a clearer picture of the resources that would become available if one or another output were to be discontinued.
7. We welcome the discontinuation of 3,019 obsolete, ineffective or marginally useful outputs. As the ACABQ’s report points out, however, some sections of the budget lacked any recommendations for the deletion of outputs. We would like to know what resources have been made available because of output discontinuations, and we would also like to see this information included in future budget proposals. In addition, my delegation hopes that further reviews will find still more outputs that can be discontinued without negative effect.
8. Indeed, as we have pointed out many times and in many contexts, reform is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Clearing away unnecessary outputs is valuable and will free up budgetary resources for high-priority work, but unless new outputs are periodically reviewed, we will simply accumulate a backlog all over again. Likewise, we support the efforts of the Secretary-General to facilitate a review of mandates older than five years, as was agreed upon by our leaders in September.
9. As a strong advocate of institutional reform, the Republic of Korea will do its utmost to work with other delegations to devise a budget that adequately prepares the United Nations for the biennium ahead.