50.The Council took note of the second Progress Report and the broad range of actions undertaken and under way. It reiterated the importance of actively pursuing implementation of decisions it took at its Hundred and Sixth Session (Rome, 30 May - 1 June 1994) in a cost-effective manner, aiming at a more responsive and efficient organization.
51. In particular, the Council recognized the high priority accorded to the Special Programmes for Food Production in Support Of Food Security Low Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). The Council supported the Director-General in his appeal for adequate extra-budgetary support to sustain momentum, and expand their geographical and substantive outreach, as agreed previously.
52. The Council reconfirmed the need for strengthening Regional Offices and setting up of Sub-Regional Offices, recruitment and deployment of expertise as early as possible, including the appointment of National Professional Officers (NPOs) to strengthen national capacities, further administrative streamlining, and continue the pursuit of cooperation agreements in a pragmatic manner.
53. The Council endorsed the Programme Evaluation Report 1994-95 as an informative positive contribution to the programme management process in the Organization, and transmitted it to the Conference for its consideration. It emphasized, however, that the analytical and evaluative content of the Report should be further strengthened, and it endorsed the recommendations of the Programme Committee in this regard.
54. The Council underlined the importance of maintaining a judicious balance between normative and operational activities so as to strengthen the Organization as a centre of technical excellence and as to ensure that field activities were selective and efficient.
55. The Council expressed strong support for the sub-programmes covered by the Report as high priority areas of FAO: "Conservation and Management of Plant Genetic Resources (Sub-programme 126.96.36.199) and Animal Genetic Resources (188.8.131.52); Food Information and Early Warning System (184.108.40.206) and World Food Security (220.127.116.11); Community Forestry Development (18.104.22.168); and(22.214.171.124) and Animal Health (126.96.36.199)."
56. The Council underlined the importance of evaluation as a management tool in improving the relevance and effectiveness of FAO's programmes and operations through feedback to programme planning and implementation, as well as sharper identification of the priorities and comparative advantage of the Organization. In this connection, it endorsed also the recommendations of the Programme Committee.
57. The Council invited the Director-General to prepare the full Programme of Work and Budget 1996-97 in accord with the recommendations of the Programme and Finance Committees but taking fully into account the opinions expressed by the Council itself, with a view to paving the way for consensus in the adoption of the budget by the Conference. To this end, it invited further dialogue among Members and with the Secretariat.
58. The Council, noting the concerns expressed over the foreseen increase in assessments, called for a further determined search for economies in order to limit assessments, while preserving the basic mission of the Organization as stipulated in its Constitution.
59. The Council recognized that the increase in assessments in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget was linked essentially to two different factors: the anticipated cost increases, and the return to the normal practice for financing the budget.
60. The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Programme and Finance Committees that arrears payments should be excluded from the determination of assessments of Members. In doing so, it recognized the continued financial difficulties confronting the Organization, which were exacerbated by persistent problems of arrears. The Council made, therefore, a renewed and pressing call for the prompt settlement of contributions and arrears by all Members.
61. As to the level of the budget, the Council noted that there was a diversity of views and that these could not be reconciled at this stage of the process.
62. The majority of Members highlighted the need to retain the principle of zero real growth at a time when the Organization was in a delicate phase of transition. They stated their readiness to consider further efforts by the Director-General to reduce assessments through some absorption of cost increases or additional economy measures. However, they expressed concern over the damage which would be inflicted on FAO's programmes and the assistance it provided to Members, if real reductions in the budget level were to be enforced.
63. Other Members sought the exclusion of US$38 million in arrears and maximum absorption of cost increases with a view to minimize the increase in assessments. They suggested that further rationalization and streamlining of the Organization would be necessary, as well as additional measures to reduce costs through pruning of lower priority activities.
64. A few Members, sharing the views of the latter group furthermore stressed serious constraints on public budgets and also urged FAO to propose a budget involving a substantial reduction in real terms so as to aim at a level of assessments for 1996-97 which could be realistically met by all Members. These Members advocated a vigorous review of activities to focus the Organization's action on those areas where it had a clear comparative advantage.
65. Responding to the statement of the largest contributor that deep cuts had been proposed for its international programmes, a significant number of Members indicated that, if that occurred, they would not be in a position to offset, through additional contributions, the contraction of the budget.
66. The Council, in considering priorities, endorsed the recommendations specified in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget, as amended by the Council Committees.
67. The Council endorsed the sections of the Reports of the Seventy-first and Seventy-second Sessions of the Programme Committee that covered topics other than the Outline and Summary Programme of Work and Budget 1996-97, which were to be addressed under item 16.
68. The Council also endorsed the Committee's recommendation to adopt a more flexible approach for future reviews of FAO activities and the selection of the specific subjects for 1996 and 1998, as stated in CL 108/14 and the proposed on-going review of activities under budgetary Chapter 2, Technical and Economic Programmes.
69. The Council agreed with the Committee's suggestion that it might be more appropriate to await the conclusions of such major events as the ministerial meetings foreseen during the year, as well as the proposed World Food Summit, in order to put the formulation of a long-term plan on a firmer basis, and noted that the Medium-term Plan 1996-2001 would be submitted to the Governing Bodies in the autumn.
70. The Council reviewed the reports of the two sessions of the Finance Committee.
71. The Council considered the financial position of the Organization at 8 June 1995 and noted that the trend of receipt of current assessments compared favourably with that of recent years and that 44 Members had paid their current assessments in full, which represented a significant increase compared to the other years in consideration. A further 18 Members had made a partial payment whereas 107 had made no payment towards their 1995 assessments. The largest contributor informed the Council that it was virtually certain that the payment of its contribution for 1995 would be less than the full amount assessed. The Council, while appreciating the often difficult financial situation of some countries, underlined the responsibility of all Members, irrespective of size, to honour their financial commitments towards the Organization, which stemmed from their international obligations.
72. Concern was expressed over the high level of arrears outstanding and the possible detrimental effect of this fact on the implementation of the Programme of Work. Ninety-one Members still owed arrears for 1994 and prior years. Furthermore, 43 Members owed arrears of contributions equal to or in excess of amounts due for the two preceding years which could cause them to lose their right to vote at the Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference in October 1995.
73. The Council considered the various provisions contained in the rules and regulations of the Organization to ensure that contributions were paid on time and in full. It reconfirmed the recommendations made at the Hundred and Seventh Session of the Council as regards voting rights procedures and practices.
74.The Council, noting the Director-General's appeals to Members for payment of their arrears and outstanding contributions, urged all Members to pay their outstanding arrears and current assessed contributions in full as soon as possible, in order to enable the Organization to continue to fulfil its mandate.
75. The Council was informed that document CL 108/LIM/1 would be updated to include receipts of assessed contributions received through 12 June 1995 and reissued as CL 108/LIM/l-Rev.l (see Appendix F).
76. The Council noted the comments of the Finance Committee and approved the Annual Report of Budgetary Performance to Members for the year 1994.
77. The Council noted that in accordance with the decision of the Eighth Session of the Conference (1955), the FAO Scale of Contributions for the years 1996-97 (Appendix G) had been derived directly from the UN Scale of Assessments, in this case the one in force during the year 1995, as established by General Assembly Resolution 49/19B adopted on 23 December 1994.
78. The Council accordingly agreed to forward the following draft resolution to the Conference for adoption.
Draft Resolution for the Conference
Scale of Contributions 1996-97
Having noted the recommendations of the One Hundred and Eighth Session of the Council, Confirming that as in the past, FAO should follow the UN Scale of Assessments subject to adaptation for the different membership of FAO,
1. Decides that the FAO Scale of Contributions for 1996-97 should be derived directly from the UN Scale of Assessments in force during 1995;
2. Adopts for use in 1996 and 1997 the Scale as set out in Appendix G of this Report.
79. The Council noted that the Scale of Contributions as set out in Appendix G was provisional and would be modified at the time of the forthcoming session of the Conference in the event of new Members being admitted to the Organization.
80. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had decided to form a working group, consisting of its Rome-based members and chaired by the Vice-Chairman, to review the presentation of financial information to the Committee.
81. The Council noted the comments of the Finance Committee on the decisions taken by the General Assembly on the annual reports of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) and the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB), on changes in salaries and allowances and on recruitment and retention difficulties.
82. The Council noted the progress made on the policies and procedures review and the Finance Committee's comments regarding the high priority of need to replace FINSYS and to replace or enhance PERSYS.
1 CL 108/21; CL 108/PV/11;CL 108/PV/14.
2 C 95/4; CL 108/14. paras 2.6-2.28; CL 108/PV/6; CL 108/PV/7; CL 108/PV/14.
3 CL 108/3; CL 108/3-Sup.l; CL 108/4, paras 8-41; CL 108/6;
4 CL 108/7; CL 108/8; CL 108/8-Corr.l; CL 108/9; CL 108/9-Sup.l; CL 108/9-Sup.2; CL 108/14, paras 1.3-1.12 and 2.29-2.93; CL 108/LIM/3; CL 108/PV/9; CL 108/PV/10; CL 108/PV/14.
CL 108/4: CL 108/ 14: CL 108/PV/7: CL 108/PV/14.
5 CL 108/4; CL 108/14; CL 108/LIM/3; CL 108/PV/7; CL 108/PV/8 CL 108/PV/14.
6 CL 108/14, paras 3.28-3.47: CL 108/LIM/1; CL 108/PV/7: CL/108/PV/14.
7 CL 108/14; paras 3.5-3.10; CL 108/PV/8; CL 108/PV/14.
8 CL 108/14, paras 3.52-3.55; CL 108/PV/8; CL 108/PV/14.
9 CL 108/PV/8; CL 108/PV/14.