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CL 99/PV/19



Ninety-ninth Session

Quatre-vingt-dix-neuvième session

99° período de sesiones


(21 June 1991)

The Nineteenth Plenary Meeting was opened at 14.45 hours
Mr Antoine Saintraint. Independent Chairman of the Council, presiding

La dix-neuvième seance plénière est ouverte à 14 h 45
sous la présidence de M. Antoine Saintraint. President indépendant du Conseil

Se abre la 19a sesión plenaria a las 14.45 horas
bajo la presidencia del Sr. Antoine Saintraint. Presidente Independiente del Consejo

LE PRESIDENT: Je déclare ouverte la dix-neuvième et dernière seance de notre Conseil.

Je voudrais saluer tout spécialement la presence du Directeur général de la FAO, M. Edouard Saouma, qui a bien voulu être des nôtres et auquel je passe immédiatement la parole en le remerciant de sa presence.

DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Mr Chairman, distinguished delegates, I regret that I am obliged to leave you before the Council concludes its work. I do not propose to review all the items you have discussed but I do want to say a few words before you close on some important issues which will, I am afraid, still be facing you when you next meet. They are the food situation in Africa, UNDP support costs, the financial situation, and the Programme of Work and Budget for 1992-93.

The food situation in Africa. First, I must reiterate my great concern about the spread of famine in Africa. I do not want to minimize the size of problems and the needs for help in some countries in other continents, but those of Africa must take first place in our concern. Overpopulation, pressure, drought, and above all war, these are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in Africa. If mass starvation and millions of debts are to be avoided, more aid and more food aid is desperately needed. Through our Global Information and Early Warning System and our System of Special Alerts, we shall continue to keep the donor countries and the world at large informed as the situation evolves.

Support costs. Beyond emergencies, however, lies another imperative. We must improve the efficiency of national, international and multilateral development efforts. National execution has long been an accepted goal for FAO. However, the decisions of the Governing Council on new measures concerning national execution should not ignore the different levels of readiness among countries. They should be precise and clear enough not to prejudice their chances of actually producing the benefits expected. This applies particularly to the Agency’s costs and transitional arrangements. As the Council has noted, the current situation is a result of a compromise which has been interpreted in different ways, as often happens. Without knowing the final decisions, particularly on the transitional arrangement, I cannot predict with certainty the implications for FAO. When things are clear we can prepare a report for you. In fact I have already set up a task force. Of course, we will do our utmost to avoid a new burden on the Regular Programme arising from the UNDP decisions, but what concerns me is the obligation to ensure fair treatment of a large number of affected staff and what means we will have to meet this obligation.

Financial situation. Talking of potential damage to the Regular Programme brings me back to the question of the current financial situation. After I opened the question at the beginning of the Council I gratefully received assurances of early payment of arrears from several countries, some of whom are substantial contributors. I wish to thank them again. At the same time, I still have no word from the two largest contributors, not even a skittle of debts for prospective payment, so the Regular Programme continues to suffer under the punishment of insufficient and uncertain income.

Mr Chairman, I appeal again for recognition of the damage that is being done to the interests of the rest of the membership. I will continue to press the case but my duty, as a good manager of the programme entrusted to me, is plain; I must have recourse to all legal means open to me to preserve this Programme and, with it, the Organization.

Programme of Work and Budget - and this is my last remark. Some Member Nations at the last Conference considered that the proposed provisions for costs in the current budget were too high, yet, as you have seen in the first half of the biennium alone personnel costs exceeded their approved budgetary provision by no less than 16.6 million dollars, and there is more to come.

As regards the Summary Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennnium, I promised the Council last November that we will not overestimate them. In fact, as I indicated in my opening address to the Council, I have deliberately absorbed some. We ha/e explained our calculations on costs with full transparency to those contributors who have requested more information. The same is true for the Technical Cooperation Programme. I have headed views about the level of the Programme. I have now proposed les than what is required to rehabilitate the Programme from the damage of inadequate resources made available in the last two biennia.

Mr Chairman, how can we put the basic needs of the Organization as a whole, with its generally endorsed priorities, at further risk of irreparable damage. I repeat, I still hope for a consensus of all aspects of the Programme of Work and Budget, and I will certainly continue to press hard for it.

In conclusion, I thank the Council for the excellent debates and decisions on all the members on the agenda. I wish you all a pleasant summer - today is the first day of summer but not yet summer - and look forward to our next meeting next November. Thank you.


LE PRESIDENT: Je voudrais remercier très chaleureusement le Directeur général d’avoir bien voulu être des nôtres et d’avoir synthétisé brillamment les travaux de notre Conseil qui est en train de se clore. Ce fut un Conseil particulièrement intéressant, particulièrement utile, et particulièrement charge. Les matières que nous avons eues à examiner furent nombreuses et multiples. Nous sommes sur le point de terminer notre tâche dans les délais prévus. Il était important que nous menions tous nos travaux à bien. C’est important à la fois pour l’institution, pour l’exemple que vous avez donné, exemple à la fois de collaboration, de volonté de travailler pour et avec l’Organisation car, comme l’a dit souvent le Directeur général, cette Organisation est votre Organisation.

Michael KIMA TABONG (Cameroon): Mr Chairman, thank you for giving me the floor. I have listened with interest to the intervention of the Director-General. First, I wish to thank him very sincerely for his own best wishes to us for this summer. He has drawn particular reference to two important matters - food shortage in Africa and financial contributions.

Mr Chairman, when we opened this Conference, Cameroon took the floor on this particular item of food shortage in Africa, and we made contributions and expressed that food aid is not enough to solve the problems of food shortage in Africa. It is necessary to have a massive food production programme, and I went as far as suggesting that the monies that are now being spent in producing very destructive weapons could be diverted to manufacturing food machinery. I think that is in the verbatim record.

Now on the second point, financial contributions. I would just wish to announce that Cameroon’s arrears of financial contribution to the FAO, now totalling US$47 617 and 10 cents, will be paid in full on or before the middle of July 1991. Thank you Mr Chairman.

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