EL PRESIDENTE: Como ustedes saben, en el informe del 82° período de sesiones del Comité de Finanzas, en los párrafos 3.34 a 3.40 del documento CL 109/4 se examina la situación de las contribuciones a la Organización al 5 de septiembre de este año. Se ha preparado, como ustedes pueden ver, un documento que actualiza esta información, el CL 109/LIM/1-Rev.l para ofrecer al Consejo una actualización de dicha situación al 16 de octubre. Esa información al 16 de octubre indica que se han recaudado más de 201 millones de dólares EE.UU. en relación con las cuotas asignadas de 1995, y que dicha cifra representa el 65, 57 por ciento del total. En general, está en consonancia con la recaudación registrada en el mismo período durante los últimos cuatro años. La recaudación de cuotas atrasadas asciende a 28, 5 millones de dólares EE.UU. Sigue siendo obviamente decepcionante tener que señalar que no obstante los llamamientos del Director General, que ustedes mismos han formulado, 85 Estados Miembros no hayan pagado hasta el 16 de octubre ninguna cuota en relación al año corriente de 1995 y que además 76 Estados Miembros tengan atrasos pendientes de años anteriores. De éstos, 36 deben cantidades que les hacen correr el riesgo de perder su derecho a voto en la Conferencia que comenzará a partir del día de mañana.
Se señala en esos párrafos, a la atención del Consejo, la recomendación incluida en el párrafo 3.40 del informe del 82° período de sesiones del Comité de Finanzas de que las cuotas pagadas por las antiguas Repúblicas integrantes de Yugoslavia, me refiero a Bosnia y Herzegovina, Croacia, Eslovenia y la ex República Yugoslava de Macedonia durante el último trimestre de 1993, se deduzcan de las cuotas pagaderas por Yugoslavia durante ese año en consonancia con la práctica que ha sido adoptada en Naciones Unidas. Ustedes tendrán que expresar su conformidad con la propuesta del párrafo 3.40.
Se estimula también al Consejo a que vuelva a hacer un llamamiento a todos los Estados Miembros para que paguen íntegramente, sin excusa y lo antes posible, sus atrasos y cuotas pendientes.
Mohammed Saleem KHAN (Chairman, Finance Committee): I do not have any additional remarks to make, Mr Chairman. We discussed most of what we had to discuss yesterday. I would merely like to thank the members of the Council who have placed such confidence in the Finance Committee because we are
coming to the end of our term of office. I would also like to thank the members of the Finance Committee who have supported me so ably in trying to work out the difficulties which existed not only on this urgent item but on many other issues over the past two years and in trying to come to the Council with the best possible position for consensus, something which is also in the interest of the Organization.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Vice-Chairman, Ambassador Valenza, and Dr Bommer, who have been good enough to represent me in some of the Council Sessions which I have not been able to attend. I say this now because I will have to leave after this morning's item and I take this opportunity of intervening to thank everybody who has helped me, including members of the Secretariat. I do not have anything else to add because everything is either there in the documents or has been discussed. If there are any specific questions, I am here to answer them.
Jacques LAUREAU (France): Je ne sais pas si mon intervention se situe dans le cadre de la discussion de ce point de l'ordre du jour, mais il me semble que la question des arriérés est une question importante et, à cet égard, il conviendrait que le Bureau de la Conférence réfléchisse une nouvelle fois sur les critères qui permettraient d'exonérer certains pays de leur passif en raison de leur situation économique très difficile mais en ayant soin de renforcer au contraire l'obligation pour les autres. Je pense que cette notion de lever l'obligation devrait être extrêmement restrictive et mieux définie. Je pense que le Bureau de la Conférence saura certainement se pencher sur ce sujet. Je me souviens des discussions qui ont eu lieu sur ce sujet lorsque j'étais au Bureau de la Conférence en 1993. Je pense donc qu'il faut absolument agir dans ce domaine.
La deuxième question que je souhaiterais poser devrait concerner le Comité financier mais cela concerne surtout le Secrétariat. Peut-on savoir quel est le taux exact d'exécution du budget 1994-95 car on a l'impression que ce ne sont pas 673, 1 qui ont été effectués et qui servent de base, mais, d'après des calculs faits par ailleurs, il s'agit plutôt d'un chiffre qui se situerait aux alentours de 653, ou même un peu moins, notamment à cause du facteur de non recrutement du personnel puisqu'il y a un taux de vacance réel de postes de 20 pour cent alors que nous allions accepter une moyenne de 3 pour cent de ce qu'on appelle le "lapse factor". J'aimerais bien avoir des éclaircissements sur cette question de l'exécution du budget 1994-95 parce que cela peut conditionner les discussions ultérieures sur le niveau du budget.
EL PRESIDENTE: Señor Delegado de Francia, noto que usted ha tocado un punto que correspondía a la discusión del día de ayer bajo el tema 10, pero obviamente recibirá usted una respuesta al respecto.
Alvaro Gurgel DE ALENCAR (Brazil): Mr Chairman, it is not my intention to make a statement on this item. I spoke on the most important aspects of it yesterday and I made a lengthy statement as the delgate of Brazil at the last session of the Council on this subject and my position is therefore very clear. All I wanted to do was to seek clarification on one aspect which I think is important. I do this in a way prompted by the observations made by the distinguished representative of France who has just spoken. My understanding, Mr Chairman, - and I wonder if this can be confirmed - is that there is a possibility provided for in the rules for sanctions not to be applied to countries when it is found that their inability to pay their arrears is due to circumstances beyond their control. I understand that this allows for the possibility of dispensing with the obligation of sanctions which are provided for in the rules, but it does not mean - and this is the point I am seeking clarification on - that this constitutes a waiver of the obligation to effect the payments due. In other words, sanctions have not been applied if the circumstances exist which are beyond the countrie's control but that does not mean that these amounts are written off or that there is a waiver in any form of the obligation to pay. Could I have clarification of this?
EL PRESIDENTE: En un momento pediré a la Secretaría que lo haga. Desde luego les hago notar que, como verán ustedes en el informe de la reunión conjunta de los comités y también en discusiones del Comité de Finanzas, - se los puede confirmar el Presidente - hubo una tendencia creciente hacia no ser tan flexibles en la aplicación de esta regla contenida en los textos de la Organización e imponer las sanciones de manera más estricta. Se había notado en dichas discusiones que ello había llevado a muchos países con atrasos a hacer sus pagos antes de perder su derecho al voto en la Conferencia, y que quizás la aplicación más rigurosa de las sanciones estimularía el pago. También se había hecho notar que esa flexibilidad excesiva no había
llevado a que países con atrasos pagaran. Pero, obviamente, ni las sanciones ni las prerrogativas que Estados en circunstancias financieras difíciles implican, los llevan a eximirlos de sus obligaciones frente a la Organización.
Atul SINHA (India): India has had the honour of being on the Programme Committee and we had lengthy discussions before we arrived at the report. We also considered these matters in the joint meeting of the Finance Committee. I will not take long. I would just like to underscore two points which we also thought would be important in the current situation. One was in respect of the management review, about which a brief mention was made yesterday. I would also like to underscore this matter because we want the financial health of the Organization to be good at a point in time when a lot of restructuring has taken place and a lot of time and a lot of initiatives have been taken by the Organization and by the Director-General to ensure there is an effective delivery system for FAO. We must simultaneously ensure that the set-up here is in accordance with our requirements and that there is not even an inch of flab.
A review is called for and it was agreed to and I would underscore the need for that review to be undertaken very quickly. At the same time there was no mention at all of a review being internal or external so I would not like to get into that controversy, but at the same time I would like to underscore the fact that all management reviews are useful provided there is credibility. I am sure that even if an internal review is done the element of credibility can be brought in by serious attempts and I do hope that FAO would be able to ensure that the management review does take place even if it is done internally and has elements and components so that the credibility of that review is clear to all Member Nations.
Secondly about the methods of governments, I recall that certain points were made in the Programme Committee and in the Joint Committees about certain methods about cost reductions that do take place. Certain suggestions were made. We would feel that perhaps the Organization should look into that because no stone should be left unturned to ensure that the costs are brought down from the maximum to the minimum. I am sure there are several Members who have many contributions to make and we cannot let go even a single contribution because we know that every single dollar, counts so I would like to reiterate the facts that we have an initial desire to cut down the administrative costs, it should undertake these reviews in the spirit of openness and dialogue and in a manner whereby the credibility is not lost by Member Nations.
EL PRESIDENTE: Noto que usted, señor Delegado de la India, ha tocado algunos puntos que corresponderían más al 13.2, sobre Otros asuntos planteados en los informes. Les pido que continuemos concentrados en la situación financiera de la Organización y una vez que acabemos con este tema pasemos al 13.2, sobre Otros asuntos.
D. Sands SMITH (United Kingdom): We were not going to intervene on this Agenda Item but I do so lest it should be thought that my delegation does not attach importance to this question. We certainly do attach importance to this question. We are also very conscious of the situation. It is brought out clearly in the documentation before us. I think it is appropriate to reflect on the question of timely payment of contributions and what it means when that does not take place. It can be seen as a reflection of the importance we attach, the value we attach to this Organization. I think we all know from our own domestic household economies that we have priorities and for our top priorities we seek to find the means. I believe that with this Organization if it is a priority, it should be reflected in timely payments. We have seen concern expressed yesterday about the extent to which there are at present heavy arrears. That is not a healthy situation and I know that it leads to cash flow problems for the Organization. The evidence is before us Mr Chairman. I think it is important that we all take it very seriously indeed, and we give priority to our payments in accordance with the priority that we attach to this Organization.
John Bruce SHARPE (Australia): As a member of the Programme Committee I had no intention of coming in here. I think that the report speaks well and reflects the views that are contained and the discussion that took place; but I also realize this may not be the appropriate place to discuss this, but I do want to take the opportunity for supporting my colleague from India and the arrears expressed in regards to management
review. We would like to be associated with those comments and if we were to consider them to be internal or external we would favour it to be an external review.
Suharyo HUSEN (Indonesia): The Indonesian delegation would like to thank and appreciate the work of the Secretariat for preparing and filing the document under discussion.
Secondly we appreciate the efforts made by the Director-General about the collection of contributions by the Member Nations and including those countries who have arrears. It is also to the Council that the Member Nations who fulfil their obligations by paying their contribution and arrears to the Organization means the positive prospect of the work of the Organization in assisting the Member Nations in agriculture especially increasing food production in support of food security.
Mr Chairman, this is the fact that the percentage received of contributions under current assessments in 1995 is the highest level seen in the past years, 64.7 percent (paragraph 5, CL 109/LIM.31-Rev.l). For this achievement my delegation expresses its appreciation to the Director-General for his continued efforts in collecting the payment of contributions of the Member Nations.
Thirdly my delegation would like to share appeals with the Director-General of FAO to all Member Nations for payment of their arrears and outstanding contributions; specifically, the one hundred and six nations who have made no payments or only partial payments of 1995 assessed contributions and to those 76 Member Nations who still owe arrears for 1994 and prior years.
Therefore my delegation strongly urges all Member Nations to pay their outstanding arrears and current assessment contribution in full as soon as possible in order that the Organization will continue to fulfil this mandate.
In conclusion my delegation would like to endorse the report contained in document CL 109/LIM/1-Rev.l as well as in documents CL 109/4.
Thomas A. FORBORD (United States of America): Yesterday many delegates spoke about the difficult financial situation that faced many countries. In that connection I would like to say a few words about the US payment of its assessed contribution to FAO for 1995. As of this date the US budget process, the appropriation process of the funds that we paid to international organizations and the funds indeed that are used to run the US Government for the current fiscal year, have not been approved by the US Congress. As a result we have made no payment to FAO in 1995. We hope the impasse that currently exists in the US budget process will be overcome in the next month, that we will make our payment to FAO as soon as we have an appropriation. However, as my delegation made clear at the June Council session, given the congressional debate that has taken place and given the reductions that will be mandated in almost all budgetary items of the US Government, both domestic and international, it is most likely that our payment for 1995 will be below the assessment by some 10 percent to 20 percent.
EL PRESIDENTE: Obviamente, distinguido Delegado de los Estados Unidos de América, el Consejo recibe con preocupación la información que usted nos ha dado.
K. SHIMIZU (Japan): My delegation also attaches great importance to the early settlement of arrears. Yesterday we noted some progress in this area. However the situation is still deplorable. We have to pay special attention to the issues under the current constraints of the financial position of this Organization.
My delegation stated yesterday that we should look into other areas and place sanctions on countries which have not paid their dues. We are talking about the basic sanctions of voting the rights of those countries. However, I do not know whether this is the only area to be explored. Perhaps we will be able to develop other areas as I suggested yesterday; for example the suspending of the provision of services such as documentation, Conference services and participation support. My delegation strongly expects substantial improvements in the situation of arrears.
Second, with regard to the management review, there was a suggestion about a third party. The main exercise of the review is that it be an objective review of the programmes of management. Perhaps a third party would be in a more appropriate position to review the management of the programmes. Also, the review could be conducted from a critical point of view. Perhaps we should find a more balanced and more critical assessment of the exercise.
Toivo PALM (Estonia): Yesterday the Estonian Delegation listened very carefully to the statements of member countries which revealed that obviously there are many problems with the funds of the Organization.
When we concluded, there was only one point on which the delegations were unanimous, that there were some methods of achieving the savings proposed but they were very different and sometimes they contradicted each other. In this situation the Estonian Delegation is aware that it is almost impossible to alter the budget for the biennium 1996-97 to make savings. Of course this is a general and emotional proposal. There is a very important programme for replenishing the Organization's budget of unpaid fees. We must conclude that nearly all FAO Members with debts are post-socialist countries. There is one simple reason for this: those countries restored to independence upon the dissolution of the USSR inherited, according to UN regulations, abnormally high fees in a most sensitive period of economic development. Even the former socialist countries have not been able to avoid the continued and lasting influence of the USSR. Perhaps this is not the time and place to discuss the exact figures of our contribution but I would, nevertheless, like to state that the debt of Estonia to FAO is almost the sum we have to finance the whole of our country's agricultural research.
I do not want to say that Estonia does not intend or is unable to pay its debts. We will do our very best but in a democratic country it is rather a difficult task to finance a costly commitment if the majority of the people do not see a real profit from membership in the Organization. This is the main obstacle. We have had much discussion in Estonia about the situation. At the same time we have increased our involvement with FAO to resolve our agricultural problems. A number of projects are ongoing. We are very grateful to the Director-General for this. As a result of the activity in these projects, we hope we will, step by step, diminish our debt to FAO, hopefully up to zero percent. This would be a democratic way of resolving our debt problem.
As a result of this activity, there will be a special attitude taken by Member States which are post-socialist countries and all new Members of FAO. There is a need to strengthen the regional approach to FAO member countries. We therefore strongly support the ideas expressed yesterday by some countries about creating regional bureaux, including establishing local budgets. We are aware that it is impossible to introduce those changes into the budget, as we discussed yesterday, but we presume it might be possible in respect of a budget for the next biennium. It will be possible to start discussions now and reflect on the ideas, with the results appearing in two years' time.
We have a further problem in expressing our views on unpaid fees and this is also a problem for FAO; it is the under-representation of post-socialist countries in the FAO Council. This is where we must provide expertise with projects funded by FAO similar in ideology and practice amongst this group of countries.
There is one further point in support of the idea of creating a regional approach to FAO Member Nations. Nothing which takes place in a country should fail to include the influence it has on its neighbours. This is why I would like to see all the Members of FAO reach the same economic stability as their neighbours. My neighbour, France, is surrounded on all sides by rich and stable neighbours. It is my sincere hope that its neighbours in this Council will one day be as rich and econmically stable. The creation of a regional bureau for Central and Eastern Europe will be a step in the right direction towards this aim. I can assure you of this, Mr Chairman.
EL PRESIDENTE: Obviamente, distinguido delegado de Estonia, la primera parte de su declaración nos hubiera gustado escucharla en el día de ayer. Respecto del tema 12, hemos tomado nota de sus puntos de vista.
Robert F. ANDRIGO (Canada): Participation in a multilateral institution provides benefits to all of the Members by virtue of the multiplier effect of collective action. I think this is one of the main reasons why
most of us participate in such institutions. However, we must also be aware that such benefits carry reponsibilities. Amongst those responsibilities is that of materially supporting the organizations to which we belong.
What we see today in the information before us gives us cause for concern by virtue of the fact that there are altogether too many countries which do not meet their obligations to this Organization. We can only regret the extent to which countries do not meet their commitments. I think this is particularly regrettable in respect indications that we receive from those most able to pay but who tell us about their inability to do so in the current year. To put it euphemistically, this is less than helpful as an indicator. We would urge that all Members meet their obligations on time. Whereas one of the earlier speakers commented on the optimism inherent in the fact that we have received 64 percent of our obligations, I would remind this Committee that the financial obligations are due to the Organization at the beginning of the year and not at the end and that at this point we should be at 100 percent of our obligations. This fact should be kept firmly in mind.
I would also like to comment briefly in support of what the Indian delegate has said. His comments, both in respect to the governments issue and to the management review, are most apt. I would wish to go on record as supporting those comments.
EL PRESIDENTE: Como veo que ningún delegado desea hacer uso de la palabra le voy a pedir al Presidente del Comité de Finanzas que ofrezca algunos comentarios. Luego le pasaré la palabra al señor Hjort.
Mohammed Saleem KHAN (Chairman, Finance Committee): A number of points were raised here both individually and on behalf of the Finance Committee. One cannot agree more with these, particularly the issue of arrears which concerns everyone, and it did concern the Finance Committee. It is an issue which has plagued the Organization for a considerable time.
As you will note from the Finance Committee's Report, the matter of the financial position of the Organization has been discussed and also the incentive schemes. This is not the first session it has arisen. It has arisen in every session under both items.
The Finance Committee, like Council and other Members, expresses concern. You will note from the Finance Committee's Report that some years back we established the incentive scheme but the impact of that scheme has been marginal. This might be coincidental; it might not be because of the incentive scheme. There was a proposal from the Director-General and a number of members that is was time we did away with this scheme. However, some Members felt differently and, in the end, it was agreed that we would retain the scheme and that we would propose to Council that we retain it.
Linked with this is a strong proposal for schemes with harsh penalties being imposed. Amongst those, of course, was the penalty of losing membership or working rights on the restricted committees, the finance programme committees and the CLM. There were also suggestions of merging the arrears in the Special Reserve Account and the Working Capital Fund to work out the net arrears and, based on that, impose penalties.
These suggestions have all been taken into account, but what Brazil has noted is one thing which I think basically impedes such a measure, that is that a number of countries find it very difficult to pay because of their financial position. If it lacks effort, I think one could take them on, but in some cases it is not merely because of a lack of effort but because of the purely difficult situation in which they find themselves. There are others, of course, which are not so placed.
What it boils down to in the end, as Canada and some of the other distinguished delegates have noted, is member countries assuming their responsibilities and paying on their own. Whatever incentive or disincentive scheme you apply, we are talking about sovereign nations. You can keep them out of the Organization, you can take away their voting rights, but if they want to meet their obligations that is something for their own choice. They can even put up with being out of the Organization. That is the first issue that I wanted to
address. The Finance Committee has made certain suggestions and there have been different opinions in the Finance Committee on that point and you will find them under these two items.
The other point which was raised by France concerns the level of the budget. I think the Secretariat will be able to give more detail on the actual level of the budget. As is apparent from the Finance Committee's report on the cash flow figures which were available to us last month - and I believe it also takes into account what the United States have just said in their statement - the implementable size of the budget is expected to be US$20 million less than the figure of US$673 million, which would be about US$653 million, but I am sure Mr Wade will be able to give more accurate figures on that.
On the issue raised by Brazil regarding the possibility of sanctions, as I have already noted, these sanctions are applied in the case of countries with difficulties who, because of force majeure, cannot pay and for whom exceptions are made, but these are made at the time of the Conference. They go to the General Committee of the Conference, they review the situation, and they do not waiver the payments. Normally payment plans are added to it in looking at the special circumstances of each country, and the General Committee then makes recommendations to the Conference which adopts those recommendations and grants waivers. The waivers are always linked to a payment plan by instalments. Again if you want more in the context of the rules from the basic text, I think the Secretariat will be able to give you more details.
The issue raised by the Delegate of India, which has attracted a lot of support all round, is an issue which was also discussed yesterday in which I intervened. It concerns the management review. Most delegates will recall that there was a management review in 1991 but things have changed because obviously there has been a restructuring and you will now have to have an establishment structure which will be in concert with the restructured Organization. Mr Wade told us yesterday in great detail about how the Director-General has proceeded in this account in terms of job descriptions and how the different units are to be staffed in relation to the new works assigned to them.
A management review, as the Delegate of India said, need not lose its credibility because it is an internal management review. Whether it is an external or an internal management review, it can be equally creditable. The issue is basically that this came up also in the Finance Committee and again in the Joint Session of the Finance and Programme Committee. There are a number of vacancies which exist, about 20 percent on aggregate, varying from 13.8 percent on the Headquarters Professional staff to 32.1 percent on the Regional and sub-Regional offices, 2.7 percent on the Headquarters General staff and 13.1 percent on the Regional and Sub-Regional offices General staff. So there were a number of proposals.
One of the proposals which was made in order to reduce the budget level was that these vacancies should be abolished and that adjustments should be made within the remaining Field positions to meet the requirements of the different units. At that time, as a Member of the Finance Committee rather than as Chairman of the Finance Committee, I held the opinion that you cannot arbitrarily or on an ad hoc basis abolish positions. This has to be linked to some reasoned basis and there has to be some data behind the whole process. One exercise could be a management review which would take into context how the restructured Organization should be manned. Based on that, you could then decide what to abolish and what not to abolish. I think several members of the Finance Committee and the Programme Committee noted that a management review would be useful.
However, I think there are other members who expressed the view, which I also share, that we must not impose on the Administration in relation to whether it should have an internal review or an external review. Whereas we do make a recommendation to the Director-General that he should have a management review, I think we leave it to his discretion as to whether it is necessary to have an external management review. If he thinks that it is necessary, then let him have an external management review. Otherwise, I think that an internal management review, as the Delegate of India had noted, could be equally creditable and useful.
Mr Chairman, there is one more issue, the Governance issue. The Committees did look at this and they segregated it into two portions, governance done by management, where most of the committee members felt that we should not intervene, and governance done through Member Nations, and I think that is an area where we should look at.
A number of measures were suggested in a small paper which was internally prepared by the Member States of the Finance and Programme Committee based locally here in Rome. Most of those have already been adopted by the Finance Committee in pursuance of the Conference Resolution of 1993, and we have seen that our working has improved. I think that most of them are innocuous and they can bring greater efficiency to our working, for instance.
Since non-presentation by the Secretariat of documents where the information is already contained, more concise reports and more transparency in operations is something which would improve working, bring greater efficiency and cut down on costs. I think that is an area which Member Nations need to address. In my view it really does not need a Council or Conference Resolution for that. I think that each governing body of the Organization can internally look into that and adopt those measures that are necessary.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: First I wish to make reference to the percentage figure that was mentioned by the Delegate from Indonesia which appears in paragraphs 4 and 5 of document CL 109/LIM/1-Rev.l. As the Representative noted, the 64.57 percent current of assessed contributions compares favourably with the percentages over the previous five years.
I would also note that the number of member nations that have paid in full is higher than in any of those preceding years.
I would also note that the number that have not paid anything, 85, is well below what it was a year ago and below the figures for 1993 or 1992. I make reference to this not to indicate that all is well but simply to be able to acknowledge and express appreciation to those member countries that have responded in this year to the calls of the Council, the Finance Committee and the Director-General for the payment of their obligations. I am particularly appreciative of those countries which have responded in the last three months. You will remember that yesterday the Director-General read out the names of those countries.
Next a comment on the point made about late payments. This point cannot be over emphasized. We note that 64.57 percent of the current assessed contributions have been received. At the end of September we had completed 75 percent of the year. At the end of this month we will have completed 83 percent of the year. We unfortunately are in a situation where each day in order to meet our payment obligations we are having to tap our Reserve Funds. If the major contributor cannot make its payment in November we may have to exercise the authority to borrow externally. We hope that we do not have to do so, but late payments put us in a very difficult cash flow situation.
Thirdly, there have been comments about the criteria with respect to voting rights associated with arrears. I wish again to remind this Session of the Council, as I did at the last Session of the Council, that at your 107th Session on the recommendation of the Finance Committee you agreed that a more restrictive approach should be taken to the restoration of voting rights envisaged in Article III.4 of the Constitution. I do not wish to read the entire paragraph 208 of your report but you have pending before the Conference a proposed change which, inter alia, would say that voting rights should be restored only in exceptional cases and only on the basis of a formal request by the member nation concerned specifying the circumstances which in its view constituted "conditions beyond its control". This proposed change will be considered by the General Committee on its way to Plenary, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday 24 October.
A question was asked if the obligation remains for those who are in arrears. The answer is yes.
A question was raised about the authority to spend versus estimated expenditures. These figures were reported to the Council yesterday. The total effective working budget as approved by the Conference in 1993, which is the authorized level for expenditures, is US$673.1 million. The current estimate of actual expenditures is around US$653 million. The shortfall is due to the fact, as the Director-General said yesterday that it became eveident that the arrears payments would not be on the order as planned when the budget was approved.
Related to this was a comment about the vacancy rate. I would simply note that one should consider the total provision and the total resources for human resources which represent in the proposed Programme of Work and Budget before you 77 percent of the entire amount of US$697.8 million that is being proposed.
Finally, with respect to the management review, Mr Wade may wish to address this. He did so yesterday, and he may wish to augment that response. I would simply note, as the Deputy Director-General, that I believe we have been engaged in such since January 1994 and the management review has been completed for all except the AF and GI Departments. It is underway with respect to the GI Department and it will be taken up very soon with respect to the AF Department but it certainly is past the review stage for the bulk of the Organization and is being implemented. The savings are being reflected in the documents before you.
Tony WADE (Officer-in-Charge, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation): I am not sure if the question from the distinguished delegate of France was fully responded to. There was a question of how much was going to be spent and there was a question relating to the lapse factor. I think this was a reference to the fact that the lapse factor averages approximately 3 percent whereas the savings are considerably more than that. May I have a clarification from the delegate of France?
EL PRESIDENTE: Distinguido delegado de Francia: le pido que aclare su pregunta.
Jacques LAUREAU (France): Ma question était simplement une constatation à partir du rapport du Comité financier qui nous informait que le taux de vacance réel de postes, dans le recrutement du personnel, était aux alentours de 20 pour cent. On sait que la restructuration a conduit au ralentissement du recrutement du personnel. Mais appliqué à 77 pour cent du budget, comme le disait M. Hjort, on arrive à un chiffre fabuleux, aux alentours de 65 ou 70 millions de dollars. Il faut déduire de 20 pour cent les 3 pour cent en moyenne de lapse factor accepté par le précédent Conseil. Il reste 17 pour cent. Si vous multipliez par 77 pour cent du budget, vous arrivez à un chiffre très élevé. C'est très important parce qu'il y a là une réserve potentielle, un gisement, ou quelque chose de ce genre, dont les membres du Conseil aimeraient connaître la destination. Est-ce-que l'on va accélérer ensuite? Est-ce-qu'il y a un potentiel d'économie dans ce facteur?
Tony WADE (Officer-in-Charge, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation): That is very clear now. This has in fact been raised in the Programme and Finance Committees and I have a feeling that we have not responded to it in a sufficiently clear way because there is still doubt in the minds of some delegates. Perhaps we should include in future reports on budgetary performance some ratio of vacancy to cost savings on salaries because the arithmetic does not follow if you take the flat statistics from the personnel report. This is partly because the personnel report is giving you established posts and then filled established posts. It is not giving you the temporary posts or other actions taken to overcome the fact that a post is vacant. As a matter of interest, our net forecast for savings on salaries in 1994-95 - so this is the whole biennium - is around US$33 million versus the original appropriation, so versus the figures shown in Annexe 2 of the Programme of Work and Budget for 1994 to 1995, we expect savings of around US$33 million.
Of course, you will remember that at the 106th Session of the Council we specifically proposed savings of US$16 million to US$18 million which were to be applied to the restructuring process and that, of course, has gone ahead as planned. The additional savings are contributing to the net under-expenditure in this biennium and they are attributable, as you say, partially to delays in recruitment arising out of the restructuring process but are also because the Director-General has been very hesitant to recruit externally at all. Since January 1995 there has been very little external recruitment, none on the general service side and very little on the professional side, simply because we can see that the resource flows were not as originally anticipated. In particular, we again go back - and I am sorry to keep beating the same old drum - to the fact that the US$38 million which is relied upon for the 1994-95 budget was not going to be paid, and we were advised of this in January.
The relationship to the lapse factor is a problem. People see this vacancy rate of 20 percent and a lapse factor of 3 percent and ask how this can be. The lapse factor, of course, as the methodology developed by the external auditor brings out, is about the process of separations, that is, when staff leave the Organization, the time it takes to replace them under normal circumstances. That is calculated at 4.24 percent for professionals and 1.32 percent for general service, an average of about 3.2 percent. It does not attempt to take into account the fact that you intentionally recruitment people. It cannot take that into account. The reason you intentionally do not recruit people is to save money against the budget for one reason or another, mainly in
this case because we do not have the income coming in to support it. I do not think we should try to reconcile vacancy rates to lapse factors because there are more reasons for vacancy rates than for lapse factors.
I wanted to add a little on the question of the management review, if I may, Mr Chairman. This is a little worrying because it has emerged as a result of a discussion initially in the Finance Committee, as clearly explained by the Chairman of the Finance Committee. If it is that that we are searching for, i.e. a response to the idea that programme cuts could come from a reduction in posts and that the reduction in posts must rely on vacancies and that you need a management review to rationally determine which vacant posts you should freeze, then I am afraid we are on a collision course because this is not the way the Director-General would manage a programme cut. He would not start from vacancies. His view is that you examine the programmes against those criteria by which you establish priorities, determine the programmes which score less against those criteria, and then look at the opportunities that may exist to reduce costs on those programmes. Those opportunities can, of course, include vacant posts but you do not start from vacant posts. In fact, the understanding was that you were not asking for programme cuts at this stage, that is, that the majority of this body and the majority of the Programme of Finance Committees were not asking the Director-General to do that. If you are now asking him to do that through a management review, then it should be made very clear, but it is not our understanding that this is the case. In fact, during the conversation which has occurred in this Council the purpose of this management review seems to be changing. It was the distinguished delegate of India who started talking about a management review to produce savings. Here I think he is referring to cost savings that would not reduce the programme rather than cuts in posts which would reduce the programme as implemented. Again, I would endorse what Mr Hjort has said, which is that that is what is precisely under way at the moment, and that is what the Director-General is doing. That is where the US$43.4 million came from. I wonder what it is you are asking for in addition to the process that is currently under way.
The Joint Committee Report is even more confusing because it actually says that it wants a detailed management review to determine the appropriate staffing levels and structure of the Organization. As I said yesterday, that is what the Director-General has been doing over the last 18 months and I went through it in some detail as to what was being performed.
I have to raise another element of this issue. The basic texts require that the Director-General be appointed, and then say in Article VII.4: "Subject to the general supervision of the Conference and the Council the Director-General shall have the full power and authority to direct the work of the Organization. " If you are going to propose that he carry out an external management review to carry out all the things he is already doing, what precisely are you saying? Surely it is the Director-General's prerogative to decide first of all whether such a review should be internal or external and it is his prerogative to perform the very things that he is performing at the moment. I issue this note of caution because I think we are moving into an area where you are questioning your confidence in the Director-General at this time, and I do not think that is your intention. As you can see from the budget proposal and what is been achieved so far, he is in fact meeting the very needs that you are stating.
K. SHEMIZU (Japan): I am sorry to take the floor again about the management review but I think it is still valid. The programme review has been completed, as Mr Hjort has said, except for the Finance Department and the OIG Department. However the management review is a different aspect of the exercise. I suggested yesterday for example the merging of two departments, the AF Department and the GIC Department, and the reduction of one ADG post. That is a different exercise. Perhaps the same thing might happen in other departments. We now have 13 ADG posts and we could look into the justification for these posts from different angles.
This is a kind of exercise really, as a result of the management review. So maybe we do not need entering direct linkage between the Programme review and the management review. The management review should be an exercise a bit different from the programme review.
Atul SINHA (India): Thank you Mr Chairman I would like to respond very briefly to what Mr Wade had remarked about our intention about stressing this particular point. Certainly we have been saying, and I reiterate it now, that the programmes of the Organization as proposed in the Programme of Work and Budget, which have been scrutinized in detail by the Programme Committee which this body has elected and has some
faith in, has already found that there is no scope for cutting down on those programmes and therefore they have a right to remain. The management review is a little different. The management review would basically look at structures and procedures and basically look at the exact levels which are required to decision making and see whether there are overlappings. It would see where other delegations can take place so that a more flab-free Organization can implement those programmes which have already been scrutinized by the Programme Committee and which Programme Committee has been elected by the FAO Council. Therefore I would reiterate that India's position is that the programmes are okay they have to remain that way, the only thing is that in a lot of delegations there is a lot of level jumping and other methods can be gone into, which the delegations know about and I am sure a lot of savings can be made thereby.
D. Sands SMITH (United Kingdom): I think that we should listen carefully to what our Indian colleague has said. Certainly the Director-General has already done a great deal. However, as I said in my statement yesterday, we do face a difficult budget situation that is one factor. There may also be scope for more that can be done for the Organization. In those circumstances we believe that it could be valuable to have somebody from outside the Organization to look neutrally to see what more might be possible. I think that it is that type of exercise which would be helpful to the Organization. I do not think that the Organization should feel defensive about this. I believe it should be something that the Organization should welcome as being something to help them to see what more might be done to give them, if you like, a seal of approval on what they have done already but to look to see what scope there is for more to be done.
I do not think that the Organization needs to feel defensive about this. I hope they would deem it to be something that could strengthen their position.
Adel Mahmoud ABOUL-NAGA (Egypt) (Original language Arabic): I believe Sir that we have discussed the question of an internal or external administrative review. We discussed it at length in the Finance Committee and I believe that the opinions you made then were very clear. We leave it up to the administration of the Organization to review the matter. We do not believe that there is need for an external review. If we trust our Secretariat and the Administration of this Organization, I believe they have the necessary expertise and ability to take the necessary measures. We wish also to stress another point to consider the reduction of posts in a manner that is isolated from the programme related to it and it would be unpractical and ineffective. If we decide in fact to compress or cancel certain programmes we could then abolish certain posts. There is another point that needs to be referred to now that we have opened the subject and I thought we would not be re-opening it considering the length of time we have, but what has happened in this Organization over the past period, that is to say, leaving vacant posts because countries have been unable to fulfil their commitment is something which the Organization can no longer go on doing. Staff members in effect have been forced to assume a great deal of pressure and responsibility and we are grateful to them for that, but we cannot continue in this way. If this situation continues these valuable staff members will either leave the Organization or fail to fulfil their job completely.
Mr Chairman, I am not only speaking on behalf of Egypt, but on behalf of the entire Group of 77.
Thomas A. FORBORD (United States of America): I simply want to try to reinforce the very wise words we have just heard from the representative of India and the representative of the United Kingdom. An outside management review that can save money to the Organization and to the Member Nations is not something that the Secretariat should feel defensive about. It is not something that should be feared. Outside management review is a very common practice carried out periodically by major cooperations, by government agencies. Just in the past 18 months or so we, the members present here in Rome, have authorized management reviews of the World Food Programme and International Fund for Agriculture Development and have received extremely useful reports that have been of great assistance to those two organizations in their operation. There are professional organizations that have a great deal of cross organizational experience where lessons learned in one organization can be introduced into another organization. It is that type of outside knowledge that an internal review cannot achieve.
Turning to another subject that Mr Wade was attempting to answer earlier on the vacancy rate and the lapse factor, I am aware there is a difference. I think the key point the delegate from France was trying to get
across but it does not seem to have been understood yet, is that if the Organization has a 20 percent average vacancy rate and 70 percent of its budget is on personnel costs there would seem to be a great deal of savings that could have been made by not paying the personnel costs. If I do a quick calculation of the difference, take out the lapse factor from the 20 percent because that is already accounted for in the budget but there is a remaining 17 percent of personnel budget that is not accounted for. If I multiply that by the 1994-95 budget I come out to US$81.5 million that would have been paid to the personnel had they been employed but they were not employed. We have been told that US$20 million was saved because of a reduced programme, that still leaves US$60 million. What happened to the US$60 million, how was it spent during the biennium if it was not spent for the personnel.
EL PRESIDENTE: Yo debo advertir que aunque fui observador en algunas de las discusiones que tuvieron los Comités del Programa y de Finanzas al hacerse estas preguntas se había aclarado por parte de la Secretaría cuál era la situación. Entre otras cosas, obviamente, si la Organización mantiene plazas vacantes las funciones mismas no necesariamente desaparecen. Se utilizan mientras tanto consultores y otros servicios para sustituir algunos casos, como ha sido mencionado. El Director General por razones de prudencia, y en vista del retraso, o el no pago de los retrasos que estaban incluidos en el paquete presupuestario del 1994-95, tuvo que llevar a cabo ahorros forzosos.
No me corresponde a mí aclarar este punto y creo que el señor Hjort debería contestarlo.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Mr Chairman, I do not have much to add to what has been said about the management review, I would point out for the record that the Governing Body authorized the Organization to have an external management review in 1986 and it was conducted in 1987. We, as I have stated, have been going through a management review since January of 1994, an internal review. I have been in the Organization through both and have found the latter to be far superior to the former. Of course we had the benefit of the previous external reviews when we engaged upon the process that was initiated in January of 1994. I would add also for the record that a statement was made that Governing Bodies had authorized management reviews at WFP and IFAD. Well certainly you authorized a fundamental one here in June of 1994. This body already authorized a management review and we had been engaged upon it even prior to then and since then. The Secretariat has been accused of being defensive on the matter. I think you should be proud, and you have expressed appreciation, of the initiatives that the Director-General has taken to improve the management structure. Substantial savings have been obtained and have been reprogrammed in this budget. Perhaps one needs further explanatory information for those points in paragraph 124. The point was made that a management review would involve the cancellation of certain posts, perhaps and streamlining and so forth. You will note that there are quite a few managerial level posts that are cancelled, that are proposed to be abolished by this Conference.
I also do not know that there is more to be gained by reviewing the 20 percent vacancy rate versus the expenditures on human resources. We have gone through this so many times. We have tried to explain that we have resources for human resources. Some of those human resources are on established posts. Some of the staff are not on established posts. Human resources are contracted. They are obtained through reimbursable loan agreements. Consultants are contracted through Special Service Agreements, Authors contracts and through a whole series of mechanisms that you have authorized.
Please do not take a 20 percent vacancy rate for some posts, i.e., established posts, and somehow assume that that is equal to the human resource effort that has gone behind the implementation of the programme. This implicit assumption is always there and no matter how often we explain it, it does not seem to come through. A 20 per cent vacancy rate on some posts, i.e., established posts, does not mean that we have had a 20 percent reduction in human resources used to implement the programme. Please keep that in mind. For example, in the proposals before you the provision for salaries and common staff cost is US$407 million. Other human resources are US$132 million. It is a substantial provision. A 20 percent vacancy note does not mean that we have a 20 percent reduction in human resources.
I hope this explanation helps to clear the matter up. I must state that I am not very optimistic because we have tried to make the point in the Programme Committee, in the Finance Committee and at the joint meetings of the Finance and Programme Committee and before this Council, but the same erroneous implicit assumption
keeps coming into the comments and questions. If anybody has any suggestions as to how we can more effectively address this misconception I would appreciate having them so that we can make certain that you understand and thereby avoid taking any decision that would be extremely detrimental to the Organization.
You cannot arbitrarily cut posts and simultaneously expect to implement the proposed programme, or even obtain the savings that are there for us to grasp in the next biennium through the implementation of the redeployment and restructuring decisions. If you cancel those posts you put a big road block in the way of moving forward with restructuring and capturing savings. The cost of the wrong decision would be high.
EL PRESIDENTE: Si no hay ninguna otra observación me voy a permitir resumir nuestros trabajos sobre el punto 13 de la siguiente manera:
Aunque ninguno de ustedes lo mencionó explícitamente, creo que queda claro que el Consejo ratifica el párrafo 3.40 del Informe del 82° período de sesiones del Comité de Finanzas referente a que las cuotas pagaderas por las antiguas repúblicas integrantes de Yugoslavia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croacia, Eslovenia y la ex República Yugoslava de Macedonia durante el último trimestre de 1993 se deduzcan de la cuota pagadera por Yugoslavia durante ese año, en consonancia con la práctica que ha sido adoptada en las Naciones Unidas. Esta recomendación se incluirá, obviamente, en el Informe del Consejo para su aprobación por la Conferencia.
Se indicó que las disposiciones contenidas en los textos de la Organización respecto a que las sanciones o estímulos a aquellos países que tengan atrasos, se estudien ulteriormente.
Se reconoció que ello ha sido tema de discusión y de estudio por parte de los Comités del Programa y de Finanzas en sus reuniones conjuntas.
Se indicó que países para los cuales se comprueba que no están en condiciones para pagar sus atrasos y cuotas por circunstancias más allá de su control, debía aplicarse esta regla con un mayor rigor, puesto que la situación financiera de la FAO y el alto apoyo político reiterado a su mandato y objetivos así lo exigía.
Se reiteró que ningún país está exento de sus obligaciones hacia la Organización.
También hubo mención a que países que pagan a tiempo no tienen porque sufrir las consecuencias de los atrasos de otros, ni tampoco esperar a que ellos cubran los pagos atrasados o los no pagos de otros contribuyentes.
Este asunto, creo que hay acuerdo al respecto, se transferirá a la Conferencia para su discusión.
El mayor contribuyente a la Oganización indicó que, su Congreso no había decidido todavía sobre el proceso de presupuestación y, por tanto, ello involucraba los pagos a la FAO. No obstante, advirtió que era muy probable que los resultados de ese proceso lleven a pagos por debajo de la cuota obligada, entre un 10 a un 20 por ciento. Recuerdo que los faltantes de pagos atrasados y cuotas pendientes de este bienio, representan aproximadamente dos tercios del total.
El Consejo expresó su preocupación por la situación de los atrasos, en particular por la del mayor contribuyente, y consideró inaceptable que ningún país no pague o atrase sus cuotas.
Se indicó que muchos países que no pagan, reciben en particular beneficios extraordinarios de la FAO y deberían hacer, en consecuencia, un esfuerzo mayor.
Hubo países que recordaron inclusive a aquellos contribuyentes que lo hacen durante los años en curso, que las cuotas son pagaderas desde el inicio del año corriente y no a mitad o a finales de éste.
Se tomó nota de la gravedad de la situación financiera de la Organización y de que ello podría llevar a una situación tal que exija que el Director General tenga que recurrir al crédito.
Se recordó, asimismo, y perdón que vuelva a este tema, que existían varios esquemas de estímulo y penalización que han sido estudiados aunque la tendencia es la de ejercer un mayor rigor, en particular referente a las salvedades previstas en los textos de la Organización.
El Consejo renovó su llamamiento a todos los Estados Miembros para que paguen íntegramente y lo antes posible sus atrasos y cuotas pendientes a fin de que la Organización pueda seguir cumpliendo su mandato.
En otros aspectos, hubo puntos de vista distintos respecto a la propuesta de llevar a cabo un examen objetivo de la gestión de la FAO. Algunos propusieron que esto se realizara por la vía de una auditoría externa y otros justificaron las razones para que fuera por la vía interna. Algunos miembros mencionaron que tal examen de gestión aclararía, entre otras cosas, la situación de las plazas vacantes y que dicha situación debía llevar a la eliminación de las plazas que aparentemente eran redundantes y a la identificación de la tasa de vacantes real. También mencionaron que la intención de tal gestión era llevar a cabo cambios en la estructura de la Organización que permitieran ahorros adicionales.
La Secretaría reiteró que desde enero de 1994 ha implantado un proceso de revisión de la gestión y, en particular, a partir de la situación de las propuestas del Director General aceptadas en el Consejo de junio. Informó que tal examen estaba a punto de concluirse y que los resultados estarían a disposición de los Estados Miembros.
Se aclaró que había habido ahorros forzosos debido a que no se pagaron los retrasos de 38 millones de dólares, como habían estado comprometidos al adoptar el Programa de Labores y Presupuesto 1994-95, y que el Director General, prudentemente, había tenido que realizar ahorros presupuestales como resultado de esa situación.
EL PRESIDENTE: Se informó, por otro lado, que la tasa de descuento por vacantes que se promediaba para el presupuesto 1996-97 era de 3, 5, como había quedado claro después del examen por un auditor independiente. Se aclaró que, las vacantes no debían ser el punto de partida para realizar recortes a la Organización y que, en última instancia, ello debía hacerse a partir de los programas y acciones de la misma. Sin embargo, el Consejo coincidió en que no podía ser éste el objetivo del examen de la gestión, sino lograr ahorros y eficiencias mayores, sin afectar el programa.
Varios miembros indicaron y reconocieron que eso era precisamente lo que el Director General había tratado de realizar en estos dos años.
El Consejo consideró que tal examen de la gestión de la FAO era una acción importante y útil, aunque, en suma, no hubo acuerdo respecto a que ese examen fuera externo o interno.
Finalmente, en cuanto a la propuesta de mejorar los métodos de trabajo de los órganos de gobierno, algunos delegados mencionaron que era necesario discutirlo y desatar acciones relativas. Sin embargo, se informó que muchas de las propuestas que se discutieron en los Comités del Programa y de Finanzas habían sido ya implantadas y otras estaban en estudio.
Con esto concluimos el tema 13 y, si no tienen ustedes ninguna otra observación, pasaríamos al tema 7 de nuestra agenda. Reconozco que Estados Unidos tiene algún punto sobre el tema 13.
Thomas A. FORBORD (United States of America): You had indicated earlier this morning that you wanted to deal with the financial position of the Organization first and then take the other matters. I realize that some other matters did get mixed in. However, my delegation was waiting for other matters in order to bring up the question of the Incentive Scheme. It was mentioned primarily from the podium and really discussed from the floor and I do not think that the Council has had an opportunity to express its view on a very concrete proposal that the Director-General has made to us.
At the last meeting of the Council, we asked the Director-General to examine ways of increasing Miscellaneous Income and his proposal to eliminate the Incentive Scheme is a concrete response to that request. As indicated in the report of the Finance Committee, the incentive scheme has not been proved to
have any impact on early payments to the Organization, yet it is a very expensive item and it has reduced Miscellaneous Income considerably. If the incentive scheme as proposed by the Director-General were eliminated, miscellaneous income would rise by almost 10 percent, somewhat more than US$1 million.
The United States would like to express its strong support for the Director-General's proposal. The Scheme was originally adopted on a trial basis. It has not proved to be effective and we believe that the Director-General's recommendation that it be abolished should be supported by this Council.
EL PRESIDENTE: Efectivamente, en vista de que el debate había mezclado los dos puntos, ya no quise reabrir el 13.2. Pensé que ustedes habían debatido hasta la saciedad estos puntos, pero pregunto, si hay alguna otra delegación que desea intervenir sobre el tema 13.2. En todo caso, tomamos nota de lo que usted ha dicho, señor delegado de los Estados Unidos. Yo entendía que, de acuerdo al informe de los Comités del Programa y de Finanzas, el Consejo aceptaba ese punto de manera unánime, de tal suerte que se apoyaba la decisión del Director General de eliminar el plan de incentivos, como aparece en el informe del Comité.
Hay un observador que desea hacer uso de la palabra. Le pido que sea breve.
Igor MARINCEK (Observer for Switzerland): It is true that the incentive scheme is a costly scheme and that it reduces Miscellaneous Income, but this is the only way to differentiate between good and bad payers. We for our part would prefer a Disincentive Scheme for bad payers. They should pay for the interest costs which arise to the Organization. So far there has not been a possibility for a Disincentive Scheme and we believe that the incentive scheme is therefore the only alternative by which to maintain this difference. If you abolish the incentive scheme, we believe that we will open an invitation for bad paying.
EL PRESIDENTE: Otras delegaciones desean hacer uso de la palabra. Espero que no reabramos el debate sobre el tema 13.2.
Alan AMEY (Canada): I too do not wish to prolong the debate. But I recognize the contributions from other members. However, these incentive schemes have worked in other United Nations Organizations and have been successful. Without further debate, I think we would be reluctant to abolish the Scheme at this point.
EL PRESIDENTE: Bien, por eso en mi resumen había indicado que estas cuestiones y los distintos esquemas sobre incentivos y castigos se pasaran a la Conferencia para su discusión. No ví que hubiera ningún país que se opusiera a la propuesta de Estados Unidos y me atreví, por tanto, a mencionar que por unanimidad el Consejo apoyaba la adición del Director General. Recogemos su punto de vista de que, sin una discusión, esto no debe aprobarse y por tanto, este tema se pasa a la Conferencia. Les recuerdo que ha sido ya tratado y vuelto a tratar en tantas ocasiones que, quizá nunca vamos a llegar a una conclusión final respecto de cómo incentivar o desincentivar a los países que pagan y que no pagan. Es una historia que tiene ya muchos años.
Con esto concluye el tratamiento del tema 13.
EL PRESIDENTE: Esta norma no se sometió al COAG en su 13° período de sesiones debido a que, como ustedes saben, en aquel momento no parecía posible alcanzar un consenso sobre el texto. Dada la importancia que se atribuye a esta norma, el COAG pidió que se aplicara un procedimiento acelerado en lugar del procedimiento aceptado para la aprobación de normas. En consecuencia, la Conferencia tendrá que decidir si este procedimiento acelerado es aceptable en este caso excepcional y si desea aprobar la norma. El procedimiento acelerado consiste básicamente en un examen entre el Comité de Expertos sobre Medidas Fitosanitarias, el CEMF, y un examen por autoridades de protección fitosanitaria de los miembros de la FAO, seguido de un examen por el Consejo, con la finalidad de que éste presente la norma a la Conferencia para su aprobación.
El CEMF examinó y enmendó sustancialmente la norma, durante su segunda reunión de mayo de 1995. La norma revisada se envió entonces a las autoridades de protección fitosanitaria de los Estados Miembros en julio y, hasta la fecha se han recibido muy pocas observaciones. Sea por tanto procedente que este Consejo transfiriera este asunto a la Conferencia para que ésta aprobara la norma, si así lo consideran ustedes apropiado. Esto contribuiría en gran medida a la aplicación de la cuarentena internacional de plantas, especialmente al acuerdo sobre medidas sanitarias y fitosanitarias de la Organización Mundial del Comercio. Reconocemos que el proceso de consultas ha sido lento, ha sido limitado, pero es probable que algunos países tengan objeciones válidas y si no se aprueba ahora la norma habrá que presentarla de nuevo al COAG y luego al Consejo y de nuevo a la Conferencia de 1997. Este retraso tendría consecuencias negativas para la labor relacionada con otras normas conexas. Lo que se les pone a su consideración es que, recomienden a la Conferencia la aprobación del texto revisado de la norma y que la Conferencia decida sobre ello. Reconozco que hay dos delegaciones que desean hacer uso de la palabra. Les hago notar que estamos atrasados en nuestros procedimientos. Les pido que sean breves en sus observaciones.
John Bruce SHARPE (Australia): On this question involving Phytosanitary Standards my delegation strongly supports the adoption and endorsement by the Conference of the Standards, Guidelines and Codes proposed. We urge other members to do the same. These Standards are the International Guidelines for Pest Risk Analysis, the Code of Conduct for the Import and Release of Exotic Biological Control Agents, the recommendations from this Council on the deletion of Step 9 of the Steps in the Development of Harmonized International Standards and Guidelines, and the Requirements for the Establishment of a Pest Free Area.
The Pest Risk Analysis Process plays a key role in ensuring that Plant Quarantine Standards are justified scientifically, are transparent and are open to challenge if not soundly based. These standards will have very significant benefits to all member countries who trade in or aspire to trade in agricultural products.
A key role of the requirements for the establishment of a Pest Free Area Standard is in meeting the quarantine security requirements of importing countries in a way that does not involve the post-harvest treatment of commodities, thereby ensuring better quality and safer exports. These standards will assist all countries to better protect their agriculture from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases.
I also have some comments to make in a similar vein but I will wait until Item 8 when I understand we will be discussing the International Plant Protection Convention.
Sra. Ileana DI GIOVAN BATTISTA (Argentina): Con relación a las directrices para el análisis del riesgo de plagas, la delegación argentina desea recordar que el Comité de Sanidad Vegetal del Cono Sur propuso oportunamente algunas enmiendas menores y modificaciones gramaticales que mejoran la versión en español de estas directrices. En ocasión de la reunión del Comité de Agricultura y en el 108° período de sesiones del Consejo, la delegación argentina se asoció a propuestas y a algunas reservas presentadas por la delegación de Uruguay. Vemos con satisfacción que la mayoría de tales propuestas fueron recogidas por el documento C 95/22-Rev.l. Subsisten, sin embargo, algunos errores en la versión en español, como, por ejemplo, en la frase "Zona libre de una demostrado plaga", que no quiere decir nada en español, y que deben ser redactadas correctamente y adecuadas a los textos inglés y francés porque se encuentran algunas significativas diferencias en la redacción de las tres versiones.
Mi delegación presentará estas propuestas por escrito. Sin perjuicio de ello, la delegación argentina está dispuesta a aprobar en términos generales las directrices para el análisis de riesgo de plagas y, considera que es una excelente contribución de la FAO a la estandarización de estos conceptos y procedimientos.
Yukio YOKOI (Japan): Before making specific comments on the draft standard on pest free areas, Japan would like to add its voice in appreciation of the substantial contribution made by the IPPC Secretariat and members of CEPM to develop a serious of standards for phytosanitary measures. The standards to be developed through this process will not only guide the IPPC member countries, but also result in setting up obligations on WTO members through the WTO/SPS agreement, which came into force at the beginning of this year. From this point of view, Japan recognizes the importance of the development of standards for phytosanitary measures.
Responding to the letter from the Secretariat asking for views, Japan submitted its comments on the draft standards on pest free areas, which it hopes are helpful. Since most comments on that paper are for final polishing, e.g., in order to maintain consistency in the text, I do not think it is a good idea to discuss them here. I would rather ask the Secretariat to find the appropriate way to incorporate them along with comments made by other colleagues.
There is one issue I would like to mention here though which could effect the substance of the draft. Specifically, Japan is not fully convinced of the appropriateness of including the notion of the PFA in importing countries which was introduced during the CEPM discussion. To my understanding, the concept of PFAs in importing countries was not included when the WTO/SPS agreement was drafted and agreed. Looking at this issue practically, when a pest free area is established by an exporting country the relevant conditions are considered and agreed between the importing and exporting countries concerned in the normal way based on the guidelines before us. However, my question is what sort of consultation process will take place in the case of PFA to be established in an importing country? I wonder whether an unilateral declaration will be enough without any consultation process.
Japan has no intention of delaying the approval process in this Council in raising these issues but would like to draw your attention to views which other countries may share and issues we could find a way of addressing.
Suharyo HUSEN (Indonesia): With regard to the draft standard on pest free areas, my delegation would like to inform you that the Indonesian Government has reviewed the latest draft made available on the outcome of the second meeting of the Committee of Experts on Phytosanitary Measures held in May 1995. In general, we are happy with this latest draft on the matter now under discussion. In view of the future advantage of pest free areas for many FAO countries, including Indonesia, my delegation would like to recommend that this Council endorse the final draft on the "Requirements for the Establishment for Pest Free Areas" and pass it to the 28th Session of the Conference for final approval.
E. Wayne DENNEY (United States of America): As Mr Hjort noted yesterday, we have just begun to adopt phytosanitary standards under the guidance of FAO's Secretariat to the International Plant Pretection Convention. We are most anxious to see more standards develop. Well the inclusion of the language regarding importing countries does not fit well with the overall thrust of the pest free areas standard in our view, we have no problem with respect to its speific content. Therefore, Mr Chairman, we are pleased to support this standard as amended by the CPEM and recommend that the Council forward it to the Conference for adoption.
TANG ZHENGPING (China) (Original language Chinese): Generally speaking, we think it is necessary to use the draft "Requirements for the Establishment of Pest Free Areas" drafted by FAO as a measure to coordinate and promote the settlement of internationally phytosanitary problems. However, we think some of the documents contents need to be further revised and elaborated and we would like to offer our comments. First, we think the standard should take into account the prevailing situation in both the developed and
developing countries we hope that the standard can be fully executed. For that reason, we proposed that fully consideration be given in particular to the current situation, the actual difficulties, in developing countries.
Second, we think that PFA types one and two are based on scientific and rational reasons. However, type three, which refers to an uninfested part of a country located within a generally infested area, means that while most parts of the country are infested, only a small part remains pest free. It would be very difficult to maintain a small part as a pest free area. Those countries will face great risks if they import farm products from this small area. Under such circumstances, it would be difficult to handle such a complicated situation in quarantine activities. However, in most cases what we find are type one and type two only, and therfore we propose that the PFA type three be removed from this proposed standard.
G.P. PAPA (EC): The European Community welcomes the Committee of Experts consensus on the standard concerning "requirements for the establishment of pest free areas". The Community attaches great importance to the development of this standard and is of the opinion that these requirements form a good framework for the establishment of pest free areas. The Community believes that this standard is of key interest in the context of the Agreement Application of Sanitary and Measures contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round negotiations. The most recent version submitted to Conference represents a significant improvement, in particular since it accepts the principal that the requirements apply to both importing and exporting countries and has a reference to pest risk analysis. In general, the Community is satisfied with the revision of this standard and proposes that it be forwarded to Conference.
Nevertheless, there are still some concerns we would like to raise concerning sections 1.3 and 2.3.4. Based on the consideration that the service responsible for a pest free area should be competent to establish an overall plan and to ensure regular review and evolution without subjecting it to approval by bilateral agreement, we would like to propose two modifications to the draft standard, as follows. In the last paragraph of section 1.3 delete the words "based on a bilateral agreement". In the last paragraph of section 2.3.4 delete the sentence "as this type of PFA is likely to involve an agreement between trade partners, its implementation would need to be reviewed and evaluated by the National Plant Protection Office of the importing country" and replace it by "This evidence should be subject to regular review and evaluation and should, on request, be available to the NPPO of importing countries".
Marcos I. NIETO LARA (Cuba): Queríamos referirnos a que nuestra delegación apoya firmemente toda la revisión que se ha hecho de las normas, y que esto nos ayudará a facilitar incluso las actividades de comercio internacional con mucha más claridad. Nuestra delegación considera, sin embargo, que hay algunos aspectos de carácter mecanográfico, errores de expresión, que deben ser rectificados.
Alan AMEY (Canada): Mr Chairman, I think we have a good point of departure here. As Mr Hjort has indicated, as have the delegate from Australia and the delegate from Indonesia, this is an important moment in adopting new standards. There has been a thorough aring of the issues at the CPEM in May this year and I believe there was agreement at that time by countries which perhaps still have some reservations. I am wondering if they can consult with representatives who attended the CPEM meeting. I would very much like this Council to endorse these new standards and to forward them to the Conference for final adoption. If there are any problems, we could perhaps work them out in the next week but I think we should move this forward as from this meeting.
José ROBLES-AGUILAR (México): De manera muy breve, queremos unirnos a los países que han expresado el apoyo a la norma propuesta. Ese tema fue ampliamente discutido en el marco de los trabajos del reciente período de sesiones del Comité de Agricultura y, posteriormente se pidió que el Comité de Expertos sobre Normas Fitosanitarias diera su opinión. Vemos que esta versión está totalmente de acuerdo con los diversos planteamientos que se hicieron en el Comité de Agricultura. En ese sentido lo apoyamos, a la luz de su importante contribución que facilitará el comercio en el área respectiva.
Dato' Ahmad Zabri IBRAHIM (Malaysia): Mr Chairman. As regards to the standard " Requirements for the Establishment of a Pest Free Area", my delegation believes there are merits for its consideration. This standard has reached consensus at the Committee of Experts on Phytosanitary Measures (CEPM) at its second sitting in May 1995. My delegation lauds the achievements of the Committee and shares the views of its Asian-Pacific Representatives at the CEPM. However, there remains the question of the role of COAG in standard setting procedures, as mandated by Conference.
My delegation views that if the mandate of Conference is still valid, and the standard has to be tabled before COAG, then procedural amendment needs to be made. The Conference has to, firstly, give the exemption. It has also to decide that by giving that exemption it shall not be a precedent for other Committees of experts to disregard the opinion of Technical Committees, which are established for the specific purpose of seeking wider intergovernmental opinion. If the exemption is given and exemption shall not be a precedent, this statement of fact must be properly recorded.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: I wanted to take the floor to express appreciation for the comments and the suggestions that have been made and to inform the Council that in meetings with the Chairman of the SPS this week, and with the Deputy Director-General of WTO last week, this particular standard is identified as one of two that are top priority for being able to move forward with the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Therefore I am very encouraged that the consensus here is to move the matter on to the Conference for approval. I have noted the suggested amendments or possible changes, but I think those could be handed in, accumulated by the Secretariat and we could be therefore as well prepared as possible to facilitate the final approval process at Conference.
E. Wayne DENNEY (United States of America): Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am encouraged as to what Mr Hjort said and I think we need to realize when we discuss this again at Conference, a lot of countries are not going to have a lot of experts so the modifications that are being offered by Japan perhaps China and EU are needed to be sure we have those comments very specifically and go back to our authorities so that we can wrap this up at Conference and accommodate our interests.
EL PRESIDENTE: Con esto concluyen nuestros debates. Permítanme, antes de resumirlos, proponer dos cuestiones: la primera, que los países, como lo han indicado aquí y posiblemente inclusive observadores que tengan recomendaciones específicas que hacer al texto ya sean de fondo o de forma, las entreguen a la brevedad posible a la Secretaría de la FAO con miras a distribuirlas entre los Estados Miembros que participarán en los trabajos de la Comisión I. De esta manera los expertos que estarán presentes en nombre de sus países podrán estudiarlas y actuar en consecuencia. La segunda propuesta que les hago, es que este Consejo recomiende a la Conferencia que establezca un grupo de contacto en la Comisión I para que estudie de inmediato las recomendaciones de modificación formuladas por parte de los países representados en este Consejo y, quizás, por los observadores. Este grupo de contacto, obviamente, se beneficiará de contar con la información de sus recomendaciones a la brevedad posible. Permítanme entonces, si ustedes aceptan estos dos procedimientos, que los mismos aparezcan en el Informe.
Finalmente, resumiendo los debates, les participo que el Consejo apreció la forma en que el Comité de Expertos sobre Medidas Fitosanitarias estudió este asunto y el texto que se derivó de ello. Tras estudiar el mismo y hacer, por parte de algunos delegados, recomendaciones ulteriores para el cambio, recomienda a la Conferencia la aprobación del texto revisado de la norma sobre requisitos para el establecimiento de zonas libres de plagas.
EL PRESIDENTE: Les quiero advertir que de aquí en adelante, salvo el tema 14.1 y el tema 16, todos los otros son para información y para tomar nota y quizás eso nos permita tratarlos más rápidamente. Ya les
informé que los temas para tomar nota recibirán una breve presentación por mi parte. Los temas para información, salvo que haya alguna información adicional por parte de la Secretaría, no se presentarán y simplemente se pondrán a su consideración de inmediato.
Respecto del tema 4: Estado mundial de la agricultura y la alimentación, muy brevemente les informo que la Secretaría ha introducido una serie de nuevas modalidades de procedimiento para el examen por la Conferencia de este tema. El Dr. De Hans nos va a hablar al respecto. Ustedes saben en primer lugar que se examinará este tema por primera vez en la Plenaria de la Conferencia, y no en la Comisión I como era tradicional.
En segundo lugar el examen de dicho tema se basará en un documento que se ha abreviado, el C 95/2, en el que se estudian las tendencias principales y los problemas recientes en los mercados internacionales de productos básicos. El documento centra la atención en la difícil situación de los mercados de cereales, característica que puede tener repercusiones graves en la Seguridad Alimentaria Mundial.
Se presentará a la Conferencia a la vez, y el Dr. De Haen nos va a hacer el favor de mencionarlo, una actualización de este documento con las novedades más recientes por lo que respecta a la disponibilidad de alimentos en relación con las necesidades.
Se facilitará también a los señores Ministros presentes en la Plenaria y a los jefes de delegación el Informe anual completo del Director General sobre el Estado Mundial de la Agricultura y la Alimentación.
Deseo pedirle al señor De Haen que haga uso de la palabra.
H. DE HAEN (Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Department): Thank you very much Mr Chairman. I will be brief. The publication on the state of food and agriculture 1995 has a special theme: Agriculture Trade Entering a New Era, and has just been published and the first copy of it is in my hands and I hand it over to you symbolically so to speak because the delegates will not have it at their disposal right now. You will find it in your pigeon holes on Monday, in the various languages. So it is fresh off the Press this moment. We hope that this book will draw the attention of governments of the public, and of experts to the main issues on world agriculture development and regional development and in particular to initiate the issues of trade. The fact that this book is before you in final form published at the time of the Conference is abbreviation from the past practice and I was asked to give you an explanation for that. In the past you would have received this as a Conference document and discussed it in Commission I, then the comments would have been collected and worked into the final publication which was then issued after the Conference. This had the advantage, of course, that your comments could be taken into account before the book was finalized, but it had also a disadvantage, one being that it was costly because we had two editions so to speak, one as a conference document and one as a final book. The other disadvantage was in the view of some participants, that the debate in Conference was referring to all aspects of the so-call document and therefore tended to be broad and general and not well focused.
The new arrangement introduced for the first time this year implies a change in both venue of the debate and format. The new venue means that it is proposed that this item now appears on the Agenda of the Plenary and not of Commission I any more. The new format is the so far situation of food and agriculture publication in itself would be available but will not be the subject matter in its full range. In view of the debate it has not been available so there was no chance of reviewing it and referring to it in the debate.
Instead there would be a more focused special document, much briefer, and one which respects the new limitations and length of documents before governing bodies of FAO. This document is available as C 95/2. As the Chairman said, it highlights specific issues which are recommended for the special attention of ministers. The topics raised in this very brief document refer to the process towards food security in the light of the forthcoming World Food Summit; the tight supply situation of the world cereal market, which we considered to be of such importance that we recommend particular attention be given to it during the debate in Plenary; the implementation of the agreements under GATT, ICN, UNCED and the Social Summit; structural adjustment and its implications, in particular with regard to the greater reliance on markets and the greater role of prices as indicators of scarcity; and finally very briefly we would recommend that the ministerial
debate in Plenary will also concentrate on the assistance expected from FAO. You will find that in document C 95/2.
These are the new arrangements, Mr Chairman. I thought I should bring the arguments in favour of such an arrangement to your attention. We hope that Council Members find the new procedure helpful. I should add that an update, as I think you mentioned, Mr Chairman, will be available at Conference with the latest information on the various markets. I would also like to inform you that on Monday, when we present this book to the public, we will hold a press Conference here in FAO.
EL PRESIDENTE: Me siento muy honrado por haber recibido este libro.
Como ustedes pueden reconocer, este tema era para información pero había importantes actualizaciones de las cuales ustedes tenían que estar al tanto.
Como veo que ninguna delegación desea hacer uso de la palabra, me permito en nombre del Consejo, agradecer al Dr. De Haen su información y reconfirmar la gratitud del Consejo por la forma en que se están tratando estos temas, la profundidad y la seriedad y también el reconocimiento de que esto se trate en la Plenaria de la Conferencia.
Con ello me permito cerrar este tema.
EL PRESIDENTE: Sobre este punto les recuerdo que ya el Consejo ha revisado este tema en dos ocasiones, en el 107° período de Sesiones y en el 108°. En esta última ocasión discutió el Informe del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria que a la vez había tratado ampliamente el primer esbozo del documento de políticas y de plan de acción que podría presentarse para su adopción en la Cumbre de noviembre de 1996.
Con base en dichas discusiones la Secretaría de la FAO presentó al Consejo un documento que contenía elementos para su posible inclusión dentro de estas dos grandes líneas. Al endosar las conclusiones del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria el Consejo de junio, como recordarán ustedes, hizo ulteriores observaciones e instó a la Secretaría de la FAO a preparar proyectos de texto para negociación por los gobiernos desde la reunión que celebrará el Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria en enero de 1996. También ustedes están al tanto de que los Estados Miembros se han mantenido informados de otros aspectos de la preparación de la Cumbre a través de reuniones entre los presidentes de los Grupos Regionales, otras también directas con el Director General, y a través de notas informativas que han sido distribuidas de manera periódica a todos ustedes. La última de estas notas, y me permito llamar la atención respecto del documento C 95/17, se encuentra como un anexo de dicho documento y en él aparece la propuesta del Director General a la Conferencia.
Hago notar al Consejo que la preparación de la Cumbre está muy avanzada, en particular a la luz de los debates que los señores Ministros y otros jefes de delegación, sostuvieron en la Reunión ministerial de Quebec que acaba de concluir. Se produjeron allí importantes insumos a las consideraciones generales para alcanzar una seguridad alimentaria mundial y se destacó, obviamente, el papel de las inversiones en la agricultura y la alimentación. En ese sentido la FAO preparó la documentación que sirvió de base para los debates en Quebec y que constituyen el cuerpo principal para la elaboración de los borradores correspondientes para la Cumbre.
Al transferir el Consejo este tema a la Conferencia se espera que ésta decida formalmente sobre la propuesta del Director General de celebrar la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación en noviembre de 1996 y también que defina los parámetros y los procedimientos preparatorios de dicha Cumbre.
El Director General ha preparado un breve documento que contiene tal resolución respecto de la cual los Estados Miembros deberán pronunciarse.
Este Consejo no tiene seguramente tiempo suficiente para discutir esta cuestión a fondo, de tal suerte que como ustedes pueden reconocer del programa adoptado, este tema es para tomar nota y transferirlo a la Conferencia.
En lo personal yo considero, en vista de lo que hemos podido observar, que existe un apoyo unánime a la celebración de la Cumbre y que el entusiasmo expresado en la reunión de Quebec y las declaraciones allí formuladas, reconfirman la altísima importancia que este tema tiene.
Pregunto si alguna delegación desea hacer uso de la palabra.
John Bruce SHARPE (Australia): Australia, as it has stated previously, supports the World Food Summit. We look forward to participating actively in it. However, on receipt of the paper, C 95/17, we had some concerns.
The paper was received late in my country, in fact, just before my delegation left for Quebec. At that time we were to find that it contained a draft resolution for consideration at this Conference. On checking with other delegations in Quebec, we found that they were in a similar situation, or some were; they had not received the document or it had only just come into their possession.
We believe that the process which has been adopted has not allowed governments sufficient time to consider fully the resolution proposed. There are a number of areas which will cause concern. First, it calls upon governments to be represented at the level of heads of state or government. I am surprised that this has appeared.
Australia and other countries in FAO fora where the Summit has been discussed have indicated that they are not in a position to commit heads of government and indeed specific ministers 12 months ahead. In our own country there will be an election before the timing of the Summit. This would be the case, I would assume, for many other countries.
Another is the proposal to open a special trust fund to mobilize contributions from public and private sources. What is this trust fund? We need details. At the time the Summit was first proposed many countries asked what the cost was likely to be. We were told that it would be in the vicinity of US$1 million; I think, from memory, it was about US$900 000. The amount set aside for this purpose in the Budget has shown an increase. We have since heard that a significant contribution will be made by the Italian Government and informally we have heard that the targeted level of the proposed Trust Fund is in excess of US$6 million. Our understanding, from information we have received other than from FAO, is that the cost of the Summit now stands in excess of US$13 million.
What actually is the cost? We would like to have some indication from the Secretariat as to what we are being asked to agree to. At paragraph 5 we are being asked to approve the arrangements made by the Director-General for the preparation of the Summit. Mr Chairman, you have just indicated - and it is news to me - that there is now an Annex to document C 95/17 which sets out what the arrangements are, and I would be very interested to get a copy of that. Mr Chairman, without the detail that I have mentioned, serious consideration cannot be given to the Resolution attached to this paper.
Fernand ROBICHAUD (Canada): I can join in noting this document and I certainly look forward to a discussion of it and the issue as a whole at the Conference. However, I should note that, like Australia, I have some concerns about the Resolution and particularly the commitment on the level of representation, a commitment which is difficult for us to make on simply practical grounds. I would certainly be interested in an amendment to that section of the Resolution. Perhaps if other delegations agree, it might be useful early in the Conference to set up an ad hoc working group to look at the Resolution.
EL PRESIDENTE: Tomamos nota de su propuesta. ¿Hay alguna otra delegación que desee hacer uso de la palabra?
Akihiko UDOGUCHI (Japan): I shall be brief. As my delegation has repeatedly expressed, my country has supported the convening of the World Food Summit in November next year. We still support it but we just want to say now that we join the previous speakers, Australia and Canada, in expressing some concern about the Draft Resolution which has recently been shown to us. We are ready to discuss fully the Draft Resolution in the forthcoming Conference. That is all I wish to say briefly about this at this time.
Ms. Lynette M. WAGNER (United States of America): I would like to say that the United States associates itself with the concerns raised by the other Member States at this time. We would like to suggest that this debate be deferred for Conference.
Srta. María Cristina FERRARI (Argentina): Al igual que lo hicieran las delegaciones de Australia, Canadá, Estados Unidos y Japón, Argentina manifiesta preocupación por los costos que señala este proyecto de resolución respecto a la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación, y compartimos el criterio de discutir este proyecto de resolución en la próxima Conferencia. Respaldaríamos la propuesta de Canadá de formar un grupo ad hoc.
EL PRESIDENTE: Si no hay ninguna otra delegación u observador que desee hacer uso de la palabra, le voy a pedir a la señora Killingsworth que responda a las cuestiones aquí planteadas.
Ms. Kay KILLINGSWORTH (Secretary-General, World Food Summit): We have taken note of the questions and concerns expressed here. As was stated by several delegations, probably a full discussion will only be possible at the Conference, but the Secretariat appreciates this opportunity to clarify a few matters in response to the questions first of all raised by the Delegate of Australia. I would like to do it this morning in the hope that it will facilitate discussion informally and formally in the next few days.
First of all, the Secretariat apologizes for the fact that the document was late getting to you. The reason, as you might imagine, is that we had to do quite a lot of work internally to come up with what we thought was the appropriate proposal to you of what should be in a Draft Resolution for the Summit. Naturally, explanations could be given and we could do this informally with you for every single paragraph, keeping in mind of course that it is a proposal to you and it will be the Member Governments at the Conference who will decide on the final text.
Just to pick up on the phrase "calls upon member governments to be represented at the levels of Heads of State or Government" we understood from the dictionary definition that the phrase "call upon" is an appeal or an invitation, certainly not a commitment. The words "call upon" do not to us imply a commitment. However, if you feel that it does and you feel that other words should be used, you would have to discuss that. I would, however, seize the opportunity to say that the French translation of the Resolution came out with the word "engage" which implies a greater degree of commitment. We have put out a corrigendum of the French version of the document. In any case, the phrase was put in simply on the basis of the earlier Resolutions adopted also in other fora inviting governments to be represented at the level of Heads of State or Government.
On the question of the Trust Fund: as you know, it is within the prerogative of the Director-General to open a Trust Fund to which he would invite contributions from Member Nations and others. This would, of course, be entirely voluntary. We thought, however, that it would be important for the Conference to indicate the desirability of having some facility for receiving voluntary contributions to assist the participation of the poorer developing countries in the Summit and in its preparatory process. We are imagining that this would be a possibility, as it was indeed for the International Conference on Nutrition and as it has been in other major Conferences. Again I would stress that the Trust Fund would simply be opened and contributions would be invited from all governments who would be prepared to contribute to it.
With regard to the arrangements for the Summit, the reference that I believe you, Mr Chairman, were making in your introduction was to the Appendix to document C 95/17, which contains the latest version of the information note which we have been periodically up-dating and circulating widely to member nations and
others. This describes the preparations so far undertaken by the Secretariat, the discussions in the Council, the support expressed by other bodies, the technical documents under preparation and the calendar of intergovernmental meetings for 1996, which has been defined through your own discussions and the discussions of the CFS earlier this year. All that information is in the Appendix to the document containing the Draft Resolution, which is before you and for consideration by the Conference.
I am not quite sure where figures such as six million dollars have come from. The budget proposed for the Regular Programme for the World Food Summit is contained in the document that you have for the Programme of Work and Budget. You may recall that at the Council in June, Mr Wade indicated that we would be seeking extra-budgetary assistance and support for the Summit, and also some sponsorship from private firms and organizations if possible. We have been pursuing that and we expect to have some assistance from the Government of Italy and hopefully from other Governments who have expressed support for the Summit. Perhaps if we put all those wish lists together of what we would like to get, we might come to over six million but I do not think that we could consider that by any means to be a budget. The budgetary figure for the Summit is the one that you have in the Programme of Work and Budget.
John Bruce SHARPE (Australia): Firstly on the comment about calling upon Heads of State and Heads of Government, I am sure that there are many amongst us who feel that if Ministers who are present at this Conference are asked to endorse that, then there is an implied commitment on their behalf to send the relevant Head of State. As I said, nobody certainly in our system would be prepared at this stage to make such a commitment or to be seen to be supporting a commitment that they may not be able to fulfil. Hopefully they will be able to fulfil it but we just cannot say at this stage.
The other question that I asked was, what is the total cost of this Summit? We hear about the amount that is in the regular budget programme. It is about US$1.2 million, from memory, but we understand that there is a commitment also by the Italian Government. I do not know what that figure is but I understand that it is fairly high. We have opened a Trust Fund, which we are hoping to fill up, but what is the total figure? What are we actually aiming for? What is the cost of the proposed Summit? I ask the question again.
EL PRESIDENTE: Obviamente, lo que aparece en el documento para la Conferencia, Presupuesto para el Programa de Labores y Presupuesto, se refiere al Programa Ordinario, pero hay otros recursos que se están proponiendo para celebrar la Cumbre, como ha indicado la Señora Killingsworth, y quizá eso dependerá de las contribuciones al Fondo que se han propuesto. Pero no quisiera yo confundir los debates. Si la Señora Killingsworth tiene alguna observación que hacer respecto del costo total, refiriéndose, según entiendo al delegado de Australia, no sólo al impacto sobre el Programa Ordinario, sino a otros efectos derivados de la celebración de la Cumbre. ¿Es eso lo que pregunta usted?
Ms Kay KILLINGSWORTH (Secretary-General, World Food Summit): It is a question that I find very difficult to answer because one question is how much will it cost to actually hold the Summit in this building in November 1996 for 5 days preceded by a meeting of senior officials? There we have budgeted what we need to hold the Summit here, and that is in the Programme of Work and Budget because obviously if the basic cost of holding this event is not ensured by the Regular Programme, we cannot undertake to have it. How much more it might cost if we are able to obtain contributions to facilitate the participation of poor countries, if we are able to obtain sponsorship to give a much wider distribution of our technical documents as part of the preparatory process, if we are able to obtain funds to translate the documents into several non-official languages, if we are able to obtain extra-budgetary funds (or other types of contributions in kind, let me add), to give wide publicity, to launch an important information effort to reach people all over the world with the messages of the Summit. All these activities, involving costs which we will not be able to fully cover through the Regular Programme, will of course add to the impact of the Summit if we can get funding from elsewhere, but that will depend on the willingness and interest which we think there will be on the part of donors to come in and help us give it added resonance.
We do not have a total budget because we consider that the budget is what we need to actually ensure that the event takes place. The rest will depend on you, and if we can get a critical mass of additional extra-budgetary help, we think it will add greatly to the impact but we can have it without the extra funds. That is what we
have to keep in mind when talking about how much it will cost. For extra contributions, we do not have a minimum or maximum.
EL PRESIDENTE: Quizá a lo que se refiere también el señor delegado de Australia es al hecho de que la preparación de la Cumbre tiene otros impactos sobre las actividades de la FAO, en cuanto a que algunas funcionarios tendrán que trabajar al respecto; hay servicios que están acompañando a estos procedimientos con tiempo que deberían dedicar a otras áreas. La forma en que se hacen los presupuestos impide o dificulta la identificación de estos gastos adicionales que son parte de lo que hace la FAO, pero para una aclaración adicional, le doy la palabra a la distinguida delegación de Australia.
John Bruce SHARPE (Australia): I thank Mrs Killingsworth for that explanation. I am just puzzled. We want this summit to be a success. There have in recent times been many similar conferences and summits run by UN organizations that have been a success. Surely, in consultation with them, we would be able to get an overall figure of what a successful Conference of this type would cost. That is all I am looking for.
Wilberforce SAKIRA (Uganda): Mr Chairman, we would like to thank you for giving us the floor and thank the Secretariat for the concise and clear introduction of the issues related to the proposed World Food Summit.
Available records should reveal to you, Mr Chairman, that Uganda supported the proposed Summit from its inception because we believe that access to food is a basic human right and that there is need to arrest the rampant malnutrition and famine existing in certain parts of the world, especially in Africa.
At the moment, our delegation would like to address only one issue, that is, the implementation mechanism which should address food security after the World Food Summit. In our view, the 1974 World Food Conference possibly failed to achieve its objectives because there were no clear guidelines to Member Nations regarding implementation of what had been proposed. It is our considered opinion, therefore, that wherever possible Member Nations should have an implementation mechanism to implement the Policy and Plan of Action which will be adopted at the end of the Summit.
We note that the Secretariat has proposed that each country nominates a National Secretary to coordinate the activities of the Summit. In our view, instead of having a National Secretary, each country should have a Secretariat within the relevant Ministry/Body comprising of different officers given specific roles to play in addressing food security and the Secretariat should be permanent, so that it may address food issues even after the Summit.1
EL PRESIDENTE: Creo que la respuesta al respecto que ha recibido de la Secretaría es la información que tiene a la mano, pero este tema no se ha agotado aquí. Se le ha pedido al Consejo que tome nota de que este tema se va a tratar en la Conferencia. Es útil este debate preliminar, porque ha permitido identificar algunas áreas oscuras, tanto en lo que se refiere al financiamiento como en lo que se refiere al contenido y la preparación de la Cumbre, y también en lo que respecta a la propuesta de resolución que se someterá a los señores Ministros.
Antes de resumir los debates, les pregunto si es aceptable para ustedes que el Consejo recomiende a la Conferencia lo que propuso el distinguido delegado del Canadá, es decir, la creación de un grupo ad hoc que estudie la propuesta de resolución del Director General sobre la Cumbre Mundial para la Alimentación. ¿Ustedes estarían de acuerdo en que el Consejo haga esa propuesta a la Conferencia? ¿Alguna delegación se opone?
Adel Mahmoud ABOUL-NAGA (Egypt): We already have a Resolutions Committee which is responsible for these things. Why do we need such an open-ended group? This would be a complication which would be
1 Statement inserted in the verbatim records on request.
regrettable. Conference already has a Resolutions Committee to find a resolution. I think that would be the right procedure and we do not need a further committee. We must remeber that we only have a short time and to add a lot of things now would not be helpful, so I hope we do not do it.
EL PRESIDENTE: Ustedes han escuchado lo que ha dicho el distinguido delegado de Egipto. Creo, en consecuencia, que este Consejo no puede hacer una recomendación al respecto. El Comité de Resoluciones podría encargarse eventualmente de estudiarlo. Quizá, la idea del grupo ad hoc era facilitar que el propio Comité de Resoluciones llegue a un trabajo más efectivo en cuanto a que incorporaría a otros miembros que no están en el Comité de Resoluciones.
LEGAL COUNSEL: I just want to bring to the attention of the Council that the terms of reference of the Resolutions Committee are somewhat limited and deal more with the form of the resolutions than with the substance. The substance of the resolutions is a matter for the relevant commission and for the Conference itself rather than the Resolutions Committee.
EL PRESIDENTE: Teniendo en cuenta estas observaciones, le pregunto al distinguido Delegado de Egipto si se opone a que se haga esta propuesta por parte del Consejo a la Conferencia. Creo, que ayudaría el Grupo ad hoc a una aceleración en vista de que, como ha mencionado el Dr. Moore, el Comité de Resoluciones se encarga más de la forma que del contenido.
D. Sands SMITH (United Kingdom): For us this is an important question. Indeed, a very important question. We have a draft for a resolution which many of us did not see until about 24 hours ago. That Resolution makes very specific proposals. There are certain of these proposals which we would want to look at with great care and which cause us considerable difficulty. I think there will be others who will wish to make a significant input into the discussion and who may well, like us, wish to see a considerable amendment to what is being proposed. We will have, as I understand it, the opportunity for all of us to do that in the discussion which will take place during the Conference at the appropriate Commission. That is most important; it is necessary that all of us have that opportunity. As Mr Moor has pointed out, the Resolutions Committee has a role on form but not on substance.
There is another point; the Resolutions Committee has a restricted membership, so although it has a role, it is a limited role.
As to the question of whether a working group would be valuable, if there is going to be a working group, I think it will have to be an open working group. The question in my mind is, if we have a working group, we will effectively be simply duplicating the work that we will in any case be undertaking at the Conference itself. We should only do the work once. We need to do it thoroughly, and all of us who have something to say need to have that opportunity.
EL PRESIDENTE: En verdad, el asunto que estaba yo planteando es, si hacía una recomendación el Consejo. El Consejo puede hacer una recomendación y la Comisión I, cuando discuta este tema, decidir si es necesario un grupo de trabajo. Obviamente, podríamos haber facilitado las cosas a la Comisión I haciendo una recomendación. No es ni prerrogativa del Consejo ni limitativa de la Comisión I establecer ese grupo. Permítanme indicar, respecto de lo que se ha debatido aquí, en primer lugar, que el Consejo tomó nota del tema 6 sobre la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación y el estado que presenta el proceso de preparación al respecto.
El Consejo tomó nota también de que el arribo tardío de la documentación, en particular aquélla que se refiere a la actualización de la nota informativa sobre la preparación de la Cumbre y, asimismo del proyecto de resolución presentado por el Director General, dificultaba su adopción por la Conferencia. Sin embargo, expresó la importancia definitiva de llegar a un acuerdo y dar indicaciones claras y resolutivas sobre este asunto durante el 28° período de sesiones de la Conferencia, con miras a que se celebre la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación en noviembre de 1996, y esto se formalice en la Conferencia.
Varios delegados, hicieron diversas preguntas respecto de los elementos tanto de sustancia como de carácter financiero, sobre los debates y los procesos preparatorios de la Cumbre y esperaron que se ofrezcan informaciones ulteriores durante los debates de este tema en la Comisión I.
El Consejo toma nota de este punto y lo transfiere a la Conferencia para su discusión y resolución.
Bien, distinguidos delegados, creo que hemos agotado el tiempo que teníamos para debatir durante esta mañana. Lamento que tenga que convocarlos de nuevo a las 14.30 horas. Nosotros tenemos interpretación hasta las 17.30 horas. El Comité de Nominaciones se reunirá a las 17.00 horas de la tarde y el de Redacción trabajará hasta esa hora para presentarnos el proyecto de informe que no podrá ser aprobado antes de las 20.30 horas del día de hoy. Siento mucho estos inconvenientes. Espero que estén presentes, aunque me digan algunas delegaciones que no. Tienen que tomar las providencias para que podamos adoptar esa parte del informe y remitirlo a la Conferencia desde el inicio de sus trabajos.
Adel Mahmoud ABOUL-NAGA (Egypt): We agreed to have the meeting at 2.30, and I have a grave doubt that we will have anything to adopt by 8.30 pm. You may refer back to the Ambassador for that but we decided that we do not have enough time to read the documents by 2.30 so how are we going to finish the report ready for it to be adopted by 8.30? It is up to the Chairman and the Secretariat but I just raise this doubt that we will be able to adopt it tonight.
EL PRESIDENTE: Es una duda. Nosotros obviamente estaremos al tanto de los avances del Comité de Redacción. Espero que no sean tan pesimistas las informaciones que tengamos hacia las cinco de la tarde de hoy y que, efectivamente, como está previsto, podamos convocar la Plenaria el día de hoy, en la noche, para la adopción de esa parte del informe. Espero, distinguido Delegado de Egipto, que usted y los otros miembros nos ayuden a que este Consejo pueda terminar con esta primera fase de su informe en el día de hoy. Suspendemos la reunión y les convoco a que estén en punto a las 14, 30 horas para la celebración de la cuarta sesión.
The meeting rose at 13.00 hours.
La séance est levée à 13 heures.
Se levanta la sesión a las 13.00 horas.