2006.10.23: Items 46, 118, 120, 122, 124, 128, 129 and 136 (Procurement Reform)

Mr. Yoo Dae-jong, First Secretary, at Fifth Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

1. I would like to join previous speakers in thanking Inspector Muhammad Yussuf for introducing the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU)’s report entitled “Procurement Practices within the UN System”. I also wish to express our appreciation to Mr. Herman of the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB) Secretariat for his presentation.

2. At the outset, I would like to reiterate that the UN procurement system requires strengthened internal controls and transparent management to match the growing dimensions of its work. As we are all aware, the sharp surge in peacekeeping operations in recent years has led to rapid and substantial increases in the value of procurement by the UN Secretariat, from $180 million in 1996 to more than $1.6 billion in 2005.

3. Along with this increase in volume is an increase in complexity due to field procurement for peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, recent cases of alleged mismanagement and fraud have demonstrated why we need to make the UN procurement system more transparent. Considering that the United Nations is likely to be engaged in a higher volume of peacekeeping operations for the foreseeable future, there is a need to deal with these issues thoroughly and in a timely fashion.

Mr. Chairman,

4. Many of the efforts discussed in the Secretary-General’s report have been underway for some time. They are in line with the corrective actions that are needed to address the deficiencies identified by numerous reports, particularly in the area of strengthening internal controls. As the ACABQ pointed out, however, the other aspects of reform suggested by the Secretary-General, namely the optimization of UN acquisition management and the strategic management of UN procurement, are not as well developed in his report. To expedite our discussion, it would be helpful if the Secretariat would update and fill in the table presented in the Secretary-General’s report regarding action on recommendations, with the concrete new developments since the completion of the report last June.

5. My delegation would appreciate clarification regarding the timeline for reports to the Fifth Committee, particularly the report on the alignment of peacekeeping acquisition management responsibilities between the Department of Management and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Without this report, among others, it will be difficult to take informed decisions, as two of the issues for reform of the procurement system are its governance structure and the delegation of authority.

Mr. Chairman,

6. In terms of strengthening internal control of procurement, we welcome the measures taken to increase transparency and to avoid conflicts of interest. These will certainly contribute to the enhanced management of procurement activities.

7. Also planned is a review of procurement rules and procedures applicable to the field, so that special procedures can be established to support immediate operational requirements. This is appropriate given that the current procurement process is unduly slow and involves multiple, sometimes duplicative steps. We share the ACABQ’s trust that the review will promote the efficient delivery of services to the field through the involvement of the industry experts.

8. As for the optimization of acquisition and procurement management, the report of the Secretary-General indicated that the Secretariat is exploring logistic support arrangements that have further potential for optimization or cost savings, such as regional or global fuel supply, long-term air charter, contingent deployment, and freight forwarding and shipping. These are intended to enhance efficient acquisition planning and coordination. My delegation would be happy to hear more from the Secretariat on the development of these arrangements.

9. My delegation is of the view that partnership on procurement with other organizations within the UN system has great potential to further enhance system-wide economies of scale and stability of supplies. In fact, the value of procurement by the UN system as a whole increased to $8.3 billion in 2005, growing 21 percent over the previous year. We encourage the Secretariat to further extend partnerships within the UN system to improve coordination and to eliminate duplication of work.

10. In closing, Mr. Chairman, my delegation is committed to proceeding in an open spirit, and we are confident that this Committee will adopt measures in a timely fashion to cope with deficiencies in the procurement system.

Thank you.