Rome, 23 - 28 November 1998
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE SEVENTY-NINTH SESSION OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE AND THE EIGHTY-NINTH SESSION OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE (6 May 1998)
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE PROGRAMME AND FINANCE COMMITTEES
Rome, 6 May 1998
1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.
2. The following Members were present:
Programme Committee Finance Committee
Mr. D.F.R. Bommer (Germany) Mr. J.A. Thomas (South Africa)
Mr A. Pearson (Australia) Mr R.O. Villambrosa (Argentina)
Mr R. Rose (Canada) Mr M.T.A. Samba (Congo, Dem. Republic)
Mr G. Redai (Ethiopia) Mr K.P. Fabian (India)
Mr E. Kitahara (Japan) Mr L.M. Fontana-Giusti (Italy)
Mr G. Mansour (Lebanon) Mr H. Maltez (Panama)
Mr M.M. Seghayer (Libya) Mr L. Micek (Slovak Republic)
Mr P. Paredes Portella (Peru) Ms E.F. Eltom (Sudan)
Ms M.R. Castillo (Philippines) Ms L.J. Tracy (USA)
Mr V. Moe (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ms S. Nyamudeza (Zimbabwe)
3. Mr. S. Baharsjah, the Independent Chairman of the Council, was present at the meeting.
4. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved.
5. With the benefit of an oral report by its Chairman of the results of the discussion of the same item in the Programme Committee, the Committees jointly addressed document JM 98/1.
6. The Committees took note of several actions under way, and of the indicative timetable of future activities which would culminate in the submission of the Strategic Framework document for consideration by the next session of the Conference in November 1999. The timetable provided for an extensive process of intergovernmental review through existing structures of progressively refined drafts of the Strategic Framework. The Committees also accepted the planned actions with a view to obtaining inputs from a broad range of external institutions and other partners of FAO.
7. In noting that a questionnaire would soon be issued to Member Nations, the Committees urged that it be carefully designed to elicit substantial inputs from individual Governments. They invited prompt and comprehensive responses from the entire membership.
8. The Committees recalled the strong interest of Member Nations in the preparation of the Strategic Framework. Accordingly, they sought an enhanced flow of information and encouraged the Director-General to also use informal means for this purpose.
9. The Committees recalled that the Council at its Hundred and Fourteenth Session had requested the Joint Meeting to review the procedures and methods of work of the Conference under its standing item "Savings and Efficiencies in Governance". To assist the Committees in their discussions, document JM 98/2 provided factual information.
10. The Committees made the following preliminary suggestions:
11. The Committees agreed to bear in mind that any reduction in costs should not affect the substantive way in which items are dealt with nor the content of the discussions. The Committees expressed their appreciation to the Italian Government for the electronic voting equipment that would be available in the Plenary Hall for the next Session of the Conference.
12. The Committees suggested that any additional proposals from Members and Regions should be sent to the Secretariat by 30 June 1998 for consolidation into a document for submission to the Joint Meeting at its September 1998 session. The Committees encouraged the Secretariat to put forward views and ideas on how to improve the working procedures of Conference sessions. The document would also be submitted to the next session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters scheduled for 29-30 September for its consideration together with the report of the Joint Meeting thereon, in accordance with the decision of the Council at its Hundred and Fourteenth Session.
13. The Committees also noted that, under the standing item on savings and efficiencies in governance, the Secretariat would submit a first progress report on the implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97 "Review of FAO Statutory Bodies" to the September 1998 Session of the Joint Meeting. A further report would be submitted to the Council at its June 1999 session through the Programme and Finance Committees in May of that year in the light of the outcome of consultations with parent bodies and other organizations, as requested by the Resolution.
14. The Committees addressed the document prepared on the subject (JM 98/3), together with the annual report of the JIU (CL 115/INF/8).
15. The Committees confirmed the pertinence of the current arrangements for consideration of JIU reports in FAO intergovernmental fora, as established by the Council at its Eighty-second Session in November 1982.
16. In order to facilitate consideration in each Committee, the Committees agreed that, at the beginning of each session, individual members should communicate to their respective Chairperson their interest in discussing specific JIU reports listed on the agenda.
17. The Committees also took note of the annual report of the JIU for the period July 1996-June 1997.
18. The Committees recalled the origins of the Special Reserve Account (SRA), the purpose for which it was established and its intended utilization. They examined the proposal to approve, in principle, the utilization of the SRA to cover, to the extent necessary, the unexpected increase in General Service salaries arising out of the ILO Administrative Tribunal ruling to set aside an earlier decision of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to eliminate the language factor.
19. The Committees were informed that this meant that the ICSC decision to reduce gradually the salaries of General Service staff by offsetting one percentage point of each subsequent ICSC approved inflationary increase was over-turned and would have to be reinstated at an estimated cost of US$ 5.1 million in 1998-99.
20. Some members were concerned that they did not have information to determine the programme impact whereas others had received the documents too late for a full exchange with their capitals.
21. The majority of members were in favour of approving in principle the utilization of funds from the Special Reserve Account to cover up to US$ 5.0 million or such lesser amount as may prove necessary emphasizing that failure to cover these additional expenditures could impair the implementation of approved programmes. However, in the search for consensus, the Committees agreed to postpone a decision until the September 1998 session of the Joint Meeting when further information on the impact on programmes and possible offsetting savings would be made available. They asked the Director-General to consider delaying actions which would have a negative effect on the implementation of the Programme of Work.
22. The Committees requested that a report on the use of the US$ 12 million spending authority included in Conference Resolution 7/97 be submitted to the next session of the Finance Committee. This proposal was accepted.
23. The Committees emphasized again the need for all Member Nations to meet their financial obligations to the Organization in a full and timely manner.
|MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL|
|Report of the Joint Meeting of
the Programme and Finance Committees
Matters requiring discussion and/or decision
|Strategic Framework 5 - 8
Savings and Efficiencies in Governance: Working Procedures
of Conference Sessions 9 - 13
Arrangements for Consideration of JIU Reports 14 - 17
Special Reserve Account 18 - 21
Any Other Business 22 - 23