Execution of the approved programme for 1988-89
359. The Conference recognized that it had adopted the Programme of Work and Budget for 1988-89 for implementation by the Director-General in accordance with Financial Regulation III, However it was concerned by the possibility of major shortfalls in the payments of assessed contributions, which would create problems of liquidity not permitting full implementation of the Programme of Work as authorized.
360. Under the circumstances, the Conference agreed that it would be prudent to establish a flexible legal mechanism that would permit the Director-General to proceed with programme adjustments and initiate savings as required, but with a view to ensuring the fullest possible implementation of the Programme of Work and Budget in a timely and orderly manner.
361. A number of Member Nations stressed that as a matter of principle, when the Conference had adopted a Programme of Work and Budget for the coming biennium it was illogical for it to deliberate on its reduced implementation.
362. Some Member Nations expressed their doubts as to the wisdom of the Conference delegating its important prerogative of decisions regarding budgetary matters to the Council, since in their view all Member Nations had a right to share in decisions on such matters. Several Member Nations also expressed doubts as to the proposal that all Member Nations be provided with frequent and regular detailed financial reports.
363. After a full discussion, the Conference adopted the following Resolution:
EXECUTION OF THE APPROVED PROGRAMME FOR 1988-89
Considering the concern expressed by certain Member Nations regarding the possibility that. as in the current biennium, the Organization's financial resources could prove insufficient to cover the cost of the full and timely execution of the approved programme for the 1988-89 biennium,
Recognizing that in such a regrettable eventuality serious liquidity problems could require immediate decisions and measures that did not fall within the statutory authority of the Council or the Director-General,
Conscious of the importance for Member Nations of making advance arrangements to cope with such a situation if it should arise,
Calling again on all member countries to pay their assessed contributions promptly,
1. Delegates to the Council on an exceptional basis, for the duration of the 1988-89 biennium, the power to decide on the savings and related programme adjustments that the situation may require:
2. Requests the Director-General to consult at the appropriate time the Finance Committee and the Programme Committee at the earliest possible stage if it appears likely that savings and programme adjustments may be required, with a view to recommending timely and urgent measures for consideration by the Council;
3. Requests the Director-General if necessary to advance the date of the regular session of the Council scheduled for November 1988, or to call a special session of the Council:
4. Requests the Director-General to provide all Member Nations with a quarterly report on the financial position of the Organization and in particular on the availability of funds, cash spending, the status of arrears and short-term forecast.
(Adopted 27 November 1987)
Italian government contribution in support of the technical cooperation programme
364. The Conference heard a special intervention by the Delegate of Italy, H. E. Ambassador Pascarelli. He recalled the Host country's constant support to FAO, and pointed out that at the June session of the Council his Delegation had suggested that the major donors make a collective effort to provide special assistance for an amount corresponding to 5 percent of the budget. That suggestion had not met with a response, but his Government was now ready to discuss and provide supplementary financing for a still larger amount.
365. He informed the Conference that the Government of Italy was ready to finance, on a grant basis, the Technical Cooperation Programme of the Organization in amounts of up to US$15 million during 1988 (in respect of approved TCP projects available for implementation) and US$15 million in 1989. The objective was to examine with FAO and, when needed, with the interested countries, and then jointly select TCP projects from among those already earmarked by the Organization in 1987 with a view to the financing being taken over by Italy. The choice would be made according to the priorities of Italy, in which Latin American and the Caribbean countries take an ever increasing share. Since the Italian planned grant for 1988 would not cover all TCP projects approved, there would be a wide possibility of choice in forthcoming discussions with FAO. For 1989, FAO and Italy would together tackle some of the new projects that would be planned thus relieving the Regular Programme budget of part of its heavy burden, in a period of obvious budgetary uncertainty. This would not alter the multilateral character of TCP.
366. The Director-General expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Italy through its Ambassador for this extraordinary and generous contribution, which would help alleviate the present and future financial difficulties of the Organization. He recalled the other important contributions made by the Host country to provide free and adequate accommodation, to alleviate the current shortfall in the level of cash flow and to support the FAO Trust Fund Programme where Italy had lately become the strongest multilateral donor.
367. The Conference joined the Director-General in congratulating the Italian Government on its generosity. Delegates responded to the generous announcement with many extending their personal thanks and the thanks of their Government to the Permanent Representative of Italy for all his and his Government's efforts to assist the Organization.
368. The Conference highlighted the importance of the announced contribution made in support of the TCP and of the assistance such a contribution would provide to many Member Nations and welcomed the assurances given in the announcement of Italy's continued support for multilateral assistance and the substantial support the new contribution of Italy would have in strengthening the multilateral character of TCP.
369. Special recognition was given to the generous announcement and the Permanent Representative's statement that this action was a further contribution of Italy to the ailing finances of FAO. Accordingly, the Conference supported a suggestion that a special message be addressed by the Chairman of the Conference to the Italian Prime Minister expressing recognition of this most important contribution and of the sincere appreciation of the entire Conference. The Conference expressed its sincere appreciation to the Government of Italy for the effective collaboration by Ambassador Pascarelli.
370. The Conference noted the latest developments reported by the Council.
371. As regards the new structures to be built within the Caracalla complex, the Conference was informed that the necessary legislative instrument authorizing this work had been delayed due to the premature termination of the parliamentary session, subsequent Italian national elections, and finally the November referendum.
372. The Permanent Representative of Italy advised the Conference that all efforts were being deployed so that legislative approval would go forward, on a "preferential lane", including the provision of the necessary financial resources shifted to the period 1988-90, and that any supplementary appropriation needed to cover cost increases would present no major problem.
373. While the restructuring of the Caracalla complex would bring about a solution for the future, the Conference was informed of the action taken to arrange for rental of office space to meet the interim requirements of the Organization and, in this connection, noted the completion of negotiations with the landlord of Building F with the signature of a new contract on 10 September 1987.
374. The Conference was also made aware in this regard of the generous action of the Italian Government in 1986-87 in meeting the entire cost of the rental of premises housing FAO and WFP
375. The Conference noted that the Organization was experiencing a major outflow of long-serving, experienced staff who were resigning or leaving on early retirement, and that its capacity to attract qualified new staff was much less than a few years ago. It was informed that this was due to the deterioration in the overall terms and conditions of service of staff as a result of decisions taken by the UN General Assembly, and that field staff had been especially hard-hit.
376. The Conference further noted that the Council at its Ninety-first Session had urged Member Nations to be alert to the serious economic difficulties faced by the staff of the Organization and to the need to safeguard their conditions of employment.
377. The Conference appreciated the detailed explanations provided by a representative of the Professional and Field Staff Associations of the effects on staff of the deterioration in the overall terms and conditions of service.
378. The Conference recognized that the Organization's most valuable asset was its staff, without whom the approved Programme of Work could not be carried out. It expressed its full support for the staff and the Director-Generals efforts to safeguard their conditions of service and resolved to take the following actions:
(a) Member Nations of the Conference would bring the concern of the Organization about its staff to the attention of their respective Governments;
(b) Those Member Nations which were represented in the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly would alert their delegates to the need to improve the conditions of employment of staff within the Common System.
(c) Those Member Nations which were represented in the International Civil Service Commission would urge their representatives to adopt a positive stand on issues concerning the terms and conditions of service of staff in the Specialized Agencies, such as FAO;
(d) A telegram expressing the Conference concern would be sent immediately by the Director-General on behalf of the Conference to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, requesting him to bring its contents to the attention of the Fifth Committee during its current session.
379. The Conference furthermore encouraged the Director-General to continue his efforts to ameliorate the conditions of service of the staff through his participation in the appropriate common system fore. It also welcomed the assurance that all appropriate measures within his purview would be taken by the Director-General. It noted that reports on developments in the field of personnel matters would be submitted to the sessions of the Finance Committee and Council.
380. Many Member Nations, while noting the United Nations General Assembly target of 30 percent of women professionals in the United Nations Secretariat, sought information about employment of women in the FAO Secretariat and requested that a similar effort be made by FAO.