A - Performance report on the programme and programme support costs for the biennium 1980-1981 and proposed budget for the biennium 1982-1983
480. The Acting Assistant Executive Director, Office of the Environment Fund and Administration, introducing the performance report on the programme and programme support costs for the biennium 1980-1981 (UNEP/GC.9/12 and Corr.1) and the proposed budget for the biennium 1982-1983 (UNEP/GC.9/13 and Corr.1-3 and Add.1 and Add.l/Corr.1 and 2) with the related reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (UNEP/GC.9/L.2 and L.3), said that the additional resources requested in the performance report (UNEP/GC.9/12 and Corr.1) were estimated at $1,215,100, representing a net amount after adjustments for inflation and fluctuations in rates of exchange. in connexion with the latter, an amount of $655,000 had been saved as a consequence of the devaluation of the Kenya shilling on 2 February 1981, which had resulted in a new operational exchange rate of KSh.8 to the United States dollar, compared to the KSh.7.43 to the dollar used for the 1980-1981 budget estimates.
481. A sum of $1,475,700 was being requested by the Executive Director for the following purposes: the establishment of one D-1, one P-5, one P-4, three P-3 and six supporting local level posts ($790,200) and a joint UNEP/UNDP project for institutional support to the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian office ($685,500), currently financed from the Fund programme activities budget. Other proposals were for the conversion of two P-4 posts in the Desertification Branch from ad interim to permanent status, the conversion of 11 local level posts, financed from temporary assistance funds, to established posts, and the appropriation of an additional sum of $25,000 for an ad hoc expert group meeting to consider a draft report on additional financing to implement the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, for which no provision had been made in the budget for 1980-1981.
482. With regard to the proposed budget for programme and programme support costs 1982-1983 (UNEP/GC.9/13 and Add.1 and 2), the Executive Director was anxious to have a positive growth rate, as the real growth in 1980-1981 had been negative. The major additional requirements under the programme and programme support costs budget for 1982-1983 were: establishment of two P-l/P-2 posts in the administrative servicel establishment of one local level post in the programme of executive direction and management, three local level posts in the environmental programmes one local level post in the Regional Office for Europe and one local level post in the programme of conference services; reclassification of two P-3 posts to P-4 in the programme of administrative services and of one P-3 post to P-4 in the programme of executive direction and management; provision for a P-4 internal auditor's post together with one secretary and travel, all to be shared with UNCHS in the proportion of 75 per cent and 25 per cent, under the object of expenditure
'Fellowships, grants and contributions", as UNEP's share was for reimbursement to the United Nations.
483. Many delegations considered that the estimates in the 1980-1981 performance report and the proposed programme and programme support costs budget for 1982-1983 were too high. They drew attention in that connexion to the ACABQ report on the 1980-1981 performance report (UNEP/GC.9/L.2), in which the Governing Council was recommended to request the Executive Director to endeavour to reduce expenditure under the programme and programme support costs budget for 1980-1981. One delegation considered that the revised estimates for 1980-1981 should be reduced by $1,215,000, namely, should be kept at the level initially approved. Suggestions were made that the two P-4 posts in the Desertification Branch should not be converted into permanent posts, that only half of the amount of $685,500 for institutional support to the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) should be transferred from Fund programme activities to the programme and programme support costs budget, that the conversion of the 13 local level posts from temporary assistance to established status should not be approved and that the temporary assistance provided to the United Nations Office at Geneva and to the office of the Economic Commission for Latin America in Mexico City should be cut. One delegation, supporting those suggestions, proposed that the estimates for the 1980-1981 programme and programme support costs budget should be revised to a figure of $19,800,000; that proposal was supported by several delegations.
484. Several delegations, pointing to the growing problem of desertification, said they were opposed to any cuts that would impede the work of the Desertification Branch and they insisted on the conversion of the two P-4 posts in that Branch from ad interim to permanent status.
485. Replying to questions from one delegation, the representative of the secretariat said that the figure for under-expenditure as a result of the higher rate of vacancies for Fund-supported Professional posts was $1,884,000 and not the figure of $0.5 milion shown in the ACABQ report on the programme and programme support costs budget for 1980-1981 (UNEP/GC.9/L.2, para. 7). The net saving of only $409,000 under paragraph 20 in the performance report was due to the fact that variances between the standard salary costs used for budget purposes and the payments realized in 1980 and the new standard salary costs in 1981 amounted to an additional expenditure of approximately $1.3 million. Variations for Professional pos s were between 1.2 per cent and 9.8 per cent for the different grades, and for General Service posts about 25.9 per cent. For General Service posts alone, the discrepancy between budgeted standard costs and actual costs in 1980 and new standard costs for 1981 amounted to some $900,000.
486. Regarding the other points raised, he said that a reduction in general temporary assistance would seriously hamper the smooth functioning of UNEP, especially at times of peak workload. Moreover, there were two projects within the .United Nations Sudano-Sahelian office, one of a programme nature and one for institutional support. The Executive Director considered that the institutional project should be transferred as a whole from Fund programme activities to the programme and programme support costs budget and that it would be inappropriate to transfer half, as suggested.
487. During the ensuing discussion, some delegations expressed the view that the request for an additional appropriation for an ad hoc expert group meeting should be disallowed. The proposal to convert 13 local level General Service posts from temporary assistance to established status was discussed at length; some delegations considered that hiring staff against temporary assistance for a long period and then requesting conversion of their posts to established status was tantamount to facing the Governing Council with ' a fait accompli. Other delegations pointed to the human problem; a staff member who had worked for several years against temporary assistance would have a rightful expectancy of continued employment.
488. The representative of the secretariat pointed out that the Governing Council had been informed at its seventh session that there would be further conversions of temporary assistance posts to established posts.
489. On concluding its discussion of the performance report on the programme support costs budget for 1980-1981 the Committee recommended a draft decision to the Governing Council for adoption. For the text of the decision as adopted by the Governing Council, see annex I, decisions 9/27 A and C.
490. With regard to the proposed programme and programme support costs budget for 1982-1983 (UNEP/GC.9/13 and Corr.1 and 3 and Add.1 and Corr.1 and Add.2), one delegation, supported by several others, said that none of the Executive Director's proposals was acceptable. Another delegation referred to the ACABQ report on the proposed budget (UNEP/GC.9/L.3) and asked if the Executive Director had any comments on it. On the basis of the ACABQ report, one delegation expressed a reservation on the report of the Executive Director, in particular in respect of the conversion of posts and very high increases in certain appropriation lines.
491. The representative of the secretariat said that the ACABQ report had been very carefully studied. Regarding the Advisory Committee's comments in paragraph 10 concerning the reclassification of posts and the absence of job descriptions, as there was no change in functions of the posts in question, there was only one job description for each post; these were available to the Committee in a background paper. As to the comments in paragraph 11 regarding ad hoc expert groups, the Executive Director had informed ACABQ that preparatory and follow-up activities were required because the 1982-1983 biennium was of a special nature on account of the session of a special character in 1982 to stocktake 10 years after Stockholm. Furthermore, more and more tasks were being imposed on UNEP by the General Assembly and the Governing Council, which frequently required the convening of such meetings. In connexion with the comment by the Advisory Committee in paragraph 12 regarding the estimates for consultants, it should be remembered that the secretariat required the assistance of very high-level consultants, often to deal with policy matters, and that contrary to the situation in New York, considerable provision for travel had to be made when hiring consultants for Nairobi
492. Several delegations considered that the procedure followed for dealing with the various documents on budgetary matters before the Committee was not conducive to the proper conduct of business. They deplored, in particular, the absence of time to discuss the reports of ACABQ. They suggested that in future the reports of ACABQ should be discussed first, and a decision on the Executive Director's reports taken in the light of the Advisory Committee's recommendations. For the foregoing reasons, one delegation made a general reservation on the draft decisions relating to the programme and programme support costs budget and said that if they had been put to the vote, it would have voted against them.
493. Replying to a comment about the assessed 10 per cent inflation for 1982 and 1983, the representative of the secretariat said that 10 per cent inflation had been given in the first performance report on the regular budget, but the Executive Director had pointed out in his programme and programme support costs budget that the figure seemed too conservative. To a question concerning the two ad hoc meetings mentioned in paragraph 31 of document UNEP/GC.9/13, he said that the meetings were planned for the African region, that their composition had not yet been decided, but it was intended that they should include as many African experts as possible. The results of the meetings would be communicated to the Governments of all the countries of the region.
494. One delegation pointed out that the higher the programme and programme support costs budget was, the less would be available for Fund programme activities. Proposed programme and programme support costs would constitute 21.6 per cent of a $120 million target for 1982-1983, but about a third of a figure such as $77 million. Tt suggested that an appropriation of $26 million should be approved and that the new posts should also be approved on condition that the programme and programme support costs did not exceed 25 per cent of the resources actually available to the Fund. Several delegations supported that suggestion.
495. The Acting Assistant Executive Director, Office of the Environment Fund and Administration, observed that ACABQ had raised the problem of the relationship between programme and programme support costs and Fund programme activities. The Executive Director was aware of the problem, and agreed that the actual requirements for 1982-1983 must be fixed in terms of contributions and not of the target figure. ACABQ had therefore agreed that the question should be reviewed by the Governing Council at its 1982 session in the light of more up-to-date information on contributions and firm pledges.
496. One delegation proposed a figure of $25,500,000 for the appropriations for 1982-1983, with the proviso that programme and programme support costs should not exceed 33 per cent of contributions actually received during each of the two years. The Executive Director should be requested to report on that matter to the Governing Council at its tenth session. Another delegation pointed out, however, that an indication of percentage would make the size of the 1982-1983 programme and programme support costs budget dependent on funds actualy available, and it was premature therefore to approve a fixed amount for the 1982-1983 budget.
497. The Acting Assistant Executive Director siad that the Executive Director disliked seeing a high and increasing percentge going to the programme and programme support costs budget. However, he reserved his position regarding what constituted administrative and what constituted programme costs. He would work within the percentage recommended. However, the Executive Director wanted to place on record one technical difficulty, namely that he would not know until the end of the year what contributions would actually be received. Consequently, he would have to work with unknown figures for administrative costs.
.498. On concluding its discussion, the Committee recommended to the Governing Council for adoption a draft decision on the programme and programme support costs budget 1982-1983. For the text of the decision as adopted by the Governing Council, see annex I, decision 9/27 B.