The Council noted that the proposals which had been put to the Programme and Finance Committees at their May 1996 session were broadly responsive to the guidance given by the Conference and the Council itself at its previous session, and represented a realistic compromise. It particularly welcomed the fact that a major portion of the required savings had been identified, either through efficiency improvements or through reductions in administrative areas. In observing that the exercise of adjustment had implied the abolition of a substantial number of posts, the Council agreed with the concern expressed by the Committees that this aspect be handled in a humane manner, in line with the rules and regulations of the Organization. The Council was informed of the humanitarian approach taken in redeploying staff on abolished posts.
A large number of members expressed regret that it had not been feasible to fully protect all the technical and economic activities of the Organization. The Council noted the areas under FAO's technical and economic programmes which had been highlighted in the report of the Committees where, in certain areas of activity, net reductions had been effected from the levels originally foreseen in the proposed Programme of Work and Budget. A large number of members expressed the hope that the cuts would be of temporary nature, and that it would be possible to restore resource levels in future biennia, but that in any event the Organization should adjust its programmes to its priorities and the financial resources available.
In considering the application of the criteria it had elaborated at its Hundred and Tenth Session (Rome, 2-3 November 1995) to support the review of technical and economic activities, the Council was pleased to note that this had been done satisfactorily, while some technical difficulties had been experienced in applying the same criteria to all levels.
In connection with the progress report on the implementation of the adjusted Programme of Work and Budget for 1996-97, received by the Committees at their Joint Meeting of September 1996, the Council expressed satisfaction with the progress made. It looked forward to full implementation of the US$650 million budget approved by the Conference. In doing so, the Council reiterated its appeal that all Member Nations pay their contributions in full and on time.
In conclusion, the Council expressed appreciation of the efforts made by the Secretariat to address the special circumstances of the adoption of the budget level for the 1996-97 biennium by the last Conference, and congratulated the Programme and Finance Committees in accomplishing the difficult task entrusted to them by the Conference.
The Council addressed jointly other issues dealt with by the Joint Meetings of the Programme and Finance Committees in May and September 1996, as well as the other work carried out by the Programme Committee.
The Council noted that the Committees had received a first comprehensive report on a Management Review to determine the appropriate staffing levels and staffing structure of the Organization at their September sessions, following an oral report in May.
The Council recognized that the Review was building on substantial progress made since early 1994, and was scheduled to be completed in 1997. It appreciated in particular the progress made so far in terms of decentralization of technical staff and reductions in established posts. It noted with interest that the Review would incorporate further recourse to external advice on selected aspects, such as the functioning of the Administration and Finance Department and a grade structure review. The Council looked forward to receiving the views of the Committes, when considering a final report on the issue in 1997.
Achieving Savings and Efficiencies in Governance
Review of Statutory Bodies and Panels of Experts
The Council recalled the decisions taken at its Hundred and Tenth Session (Rome, 2-3 November 1995) to include a standing item on Achieving Savings and Efficiencies in Governance on the Agendas of the Joint Programme and Finance Committee meetings, and to carry out a Review of Statutory Bodies and Panels of Experts as part of the approach to improving efficiencies.
With regard to the Review, the Council noted that the Committees had envisaged a two-stage process, initially covering bodies and panels established by the Council, other Commissions and Committees and the Director-General; and then covering bodies and panels established by the Conference.
The Council welcomed the information contained in document CL 111/12 and decided that the Review of Statutory Bodies and Panels of Experts should be carried out in accordance with the procedures and criteria set out in paragraph 40 of that document. The Review, including drawing on written comments by members on Phase I proposals and covering all statutory bodies and panels of experts, should be submitted to the Council at its Hundred and Twelfth Session in June 1997, through the Programme and Finance Committees at their Joint Meeting in April 1997.
The Council endorsed the decision of the Programme and Finance Committees in September 1996 that the views of Governments on the broader aspects of governance should be made available through their regional groups to the Secretariat in consolidated form not later than 31 December 1996. Upon receipt of the written contributions, the Secretariat would organize the views under appropriate headings, identify areas of convergence among the various proposals and record the positions of Member Governments when they differed. The document should be made available to the Committees sufficiently ahead of the Joint Meeting to permit in-depth consideration
The Council noted the support expressed by some Member Governments to establish an Intergovernmental Group on Tropical Fruits. The Council was advised that this issue would be included on the agenda of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) at its February 1997 session. The report of the CCP would be submitted to the Council at its Hundred and Twelfth Session in June 1997.
Work of the Programme Committee
In noting the other work carried out by the Programme Committee, the Council discussed a new programming framework based on an in-depth analysis of one selected Programme as a model to improve programme planning and presentation, and to facilitate programme assessment.
The Council concurred with the positive assessment of the Committee of this modified approach, in that it had the potential to better meet the demands from Governing Bodies for enhanced transparency and accountability; and that it could provide the basis for a clearer presentation of component activities in programme planning documents.
The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Committee of continuing consultations before considering the full application of the revised approach for future biennia. While noting that the PWB 1998-99 would continue to be presented on the basis of the present form, it looked forward with interest to the results of a parallel exercise applying the revised approach to Programme 2.1.1, and being presented to the Governing Bodies at the same time as the PWB 1998-99, thus allowing Member Nations to assess the two approaches.
The Council reviewed the reports of the three sessions of the Finance Committee.
The Council noted the comments of the Finance Committee and endorsed the Annual Report of Budgetary Performance to members for 1995.
Budgeting for Support Cost and Other Income
The Council noted the Finance Committee comments on the proposed approach to the consolidation of income into the Regular Programme budgetary process, and welcomed the consistency of the proposals with the recently-adopted United Nations accounting standards.
The Council noted the External Auditor's recommendation that support cost income be consolidated into the General and Related Funds column of the Financial Statements, and the Finance Committee's agreement in principle with the proposal to consolidate support cost income and expenditure into the Appropriation Resolution in the same manner.
Recent Developments in the Activities of
the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)
and UN Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB)
The Council noted the information provided on the outcome of the ICSC and UNJSPB sessions and that if these recommendations were to be approved by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), every effort must be made to absorb these unbudgeted cost increases within the approved budget to the extent that this could be done without impairing the implementation of the approved programmes of work.
The Council considered the financial position of the Organization at 3 October 1996, and noted that the trend of receipt of current assessments had improved compared with the other years in consideration and that 63 Member Nations had paid their current assessments in full. A further 24 Members had made partial payment, whereas 87 had made no payment towards their 1996 assessment (Appendix D). The largest contributor informed the Council that its contribution for 1996 would probably be less than the full amount assessed, although the actual amount that would be paid was unknown at the present time and that payment would be forthcoming in November 1996.
The Council, noting the Director-General's appeals to members for payment of contributions due, urged all Member Nations 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.
The Council took note of the status of the implementation of the new resourcing and long-term financing of the World Food Programme.
The Council noted that the Report of the Eighty-fifth Session of the Finance Committee, which included the recommendation that the Council submit to the Conference the FAO 1994-95 Audited Accounts for adoption, had just been approved.
The Council accordingly recommended the following draft Resolution for adoption by the Conference:
Considering the report of the Hundred and Eleventh Session of the Council,
Having examined the 1994-95 FAO Audited Accounts and the External Auditor's Report thereon,
Adopts the Audited Accounts.
The Council reviewed paras 3.44 and 3.45 of document CL 111/14, and took note of the External Auditor's recommendation that the final accounts of the Staff Commissary Fund be formally adopted by a Governing Body of the Organization in the absence of a specific delegation to the Finance Committee. It decided unanimously to recommend the following draft Resolution for adoption by the Conference:
Having noted that the accounts of the Commissary have been regularly brought to the attention of, and reviewed by, the Finance Committee without being formally approved by that Committee,
Recognizing that approval by the Conference would lead to delays of up to three years in that it meets only once every two years in November, while the Commissary accounts are produced annually as of 31 December,
Decides that, with effect from 1 January 1998, the annual accounts of the Commissary be submitted to and approved by the Finance Committee.
The Council approved the Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 1996-97, as amended and reproduced as Appendix E to this Report, recommending that the duration of sessions of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the Hundred and Twelfth Session of the Council and the Twenty-ninth Session of the Conference in 1977 be reduced following, in the case of the meetings of the Council and Council Committees, consultations between the Director-General and the relevant Chairmen, in the light of the Council's discussions on achieving savings in the meetings of Governing Bodies and related committees. The Council recalled that this principle of achieving savings should not adversely affect the quality of the work of the committee meetings. In seeking to minimize costs, those borne by members as well as by FAO should be considered.
1 CL 111/14; CL 111/15; CL 111/PV/3; CL 111/PV/4; CL/111/PV/9.
2CL 111/14; CL 111/15; CL 111/PV/4; CL 111/PV/9.
3CL 111/14; CL 111/15; CL 111/PV/4; CL 111/PV/9.
4 CL 111/12; CL 111/14; CL 111/15; Directory of FAO Statutory Bodies and Panels of Experts 1996; CL 11 l/PV/4; CL 111/PV/9.
5 CL 111/4; CL 111/14: CL 111/15; CL 111/PV/4; CL 111/PV/5; CL 111/PV/9.
6 CL 111/15 paras 3.13-3.18; CL 111/LIM/1; CL 111/PV/4; CL 111/PV/5; CL 111/PV/9.
7 CL 111/INF/20; CL 111/PV/4; CL 111/PV/5; CL 111/PV/9.
8 C 97/5; CL 111/15; CL 111/FV/5; CL 111/PV/9.
9 CL 111/14; CL 111/PV/5; CL 111/PV/9.
10 CL 111/11; CL 111/PV/5;CL 111/PV/9.