CL 115/19


Council


Hundred-and-fifteenth Session

Rome, 23 - 28 November 1998

REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE EIGHTIETH SESSION OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE AND THE NINETIETH SESSION OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE
(23 September 1998)

 

Table of Contents


 

 


 

REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE PROGRAMME AND FINANCE COMMITTEES

Rome, 23 September 1998


 

MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL

Report of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees

Matters requiring discussion and/or decision

Paragraphs

FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015

7 - 22

Savings and Efficiencies in Governance

- Working Procedures of Conference Sessions

 

35 - 41

 

Matters for information

Special Reserve Account

23 - 34

Savings and Efficiencies in Governance

- Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97: Review of   FAO Statutory Bodies

 

42 - 43

 


 

INTRODUCTION

1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.

2. The following Members were present at the meeting:

Programme Committee

Finance Committee

Chairman

Chairman

Mr. D.F.R. Bommer (Germany) Mr. J.A. Thomas (South Africa)

Members

Members

Mr A. Pearson (Australia) Mr R.O. Villambrosa (Argentina)
Mr R. Rose (Canada) Mr K.P. Fabian (India)
Mr G. Redai (Ethiopia) Mr L.M. Fontana-Giusti (Italy)
Mr E. Kitahara (Japan) Mr H. Maltez (Panama)
Mr G. Mansour (Lebanon) 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. Mr. M.M. Seghayer of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Member of the Programme Committee was not present at the meeting. 

5. Mr. M.T.A. Samba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Member of the Finance Committee was not present at the meeting.


 

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND TIMETABLE

6. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved.


 

FAO STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 2000-2015

7. With the benefit of an oral report from its Chairman on the results of the deliberations on this item in the Programme Committee, the Committees jointly considered Version 1.0 of the Strategic Framework.

8. The Committees recognized that the proposal represented the outcome of an important process of analysis within the Secretariat and consultations with members. The need for brevity had prevented the publication of the full analysis of the external and internal environments and of detailed information on the partnerships envisaged for each proposed strategic objective. They recognized that the draft would be the starting point for inter-governmental discussions on further development of the Strategic Framework.

9. The reactions of the Committees to the three main parts of the document are summarized below.

 

Part I

10. Regarding this part entitled Looking Towards 2015, the Committees agreed with the assessment of the Programme Committee that the twelve major trends identified were generally acceptable. They agreed with the Programme Committee that certain elements needed to be spelled out more clearly.

11. In particular, the Committees stressed the far-reaching implications of the current economic and financial crisis, and the need for attention to the effects of such crises on agriculture and food security. Other issues included the increasing role of women; the political tensions resulting from competition for natural resources use; the declining importance of agriculture in many national economies; the importance of reflecting population trends and the rural-urban drift, the socio-economic constraints limiting agricultural development; and the multipolar nature of the emerging global system.

 

Part II

12. The Committees reiterated that Part II, Corporate Strategies and Objectives, represented the main product of the strategic planning exercise, on which further analytical effort and progressive refinement through discussion by the membership should concentrate. However, they emphasized the need to develop a clear statement of FAO’s mission which would give sharper focus to the strategies and objectives of the Organization.

13. The Committees concurred with the Programme Committee’s strong support for the inter-disciplinary approach taken in formulating the five proposed corporate strategies and related twelve strategic objectives. Note was taken of the suggestions made by the Programme Committee as regards possible modifications to the sequence and presentation of the strategies (labelled A to E). In the further development of the strategies, the Committees stressed the importance of clearly stating the nature of the role FAO would be expected to play, in relation both to governments and to its partner organizations.

14. Members of the Committees also identified a number of substantive aspects which deserved greater prominence in future versions, beyond those already highlighted by the Programme Committee, i.e. the role of women in development and technology transfer. Such aspects included: work on food safety and standards and on biotechnology; on sustainable increases in food production and strengthening of food security research and extension in Low-Income, Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs); the desirability of a higher profile for forestry and for land-use in marginal areas; the recognition of the important role of youth; the involvement of FAO in emergencies according to the agreed division of work with key partners; and the continuation of work in support of food and agricultural trade.

 

Part III

15. The Committees were in broad agreement with the identified five strategies to address cross-organizational issues, mainly resulting from the internal analysis carried out by FAO units. It was suggested that even if the analytical material were to be eliminated from or annexed to future versions of the document, the strategies identified merited being included in the Strategic Framework.

16. A number of aspects were specifically supported by members, including the importance of ensuring excellence in the fields of FAO’s specialization; the need for close interaction with others through partnerships and alliances; the continued search for improvements in efficiency and the adaptation of human resources management policies to match the tasks which FAO staff will have to handle in the future; and enhancing emphasis on evaluation of outcomes and results.

 

Further steps

17. Recalling that broad consultations were underway with key external partners on the basis of Version 1.0, the results of which were intended to be covered in subsequent versions of the Strategic Framework, the Committees requested that the Secretariat provide to the Council a supplementary information document summarizing those reactions from partners as may be available closer to its November session.

18. They also recommended that the Council receive an updated analysis of the replies to the questionnaire addressed to Member Nations, taking account of subsequent returns not yet reflected in Annex II of Version 1.0.

19. Further, they considered that an explanation of the rationale for the grouping and sequencing of the proposed corporate strategies and objectives, as currently reflected in Version 1.0, would be of assistance to the Council in its consideration of Part II of the document and the Committees’ comments thereon.

20. Finally, the Committees discussed the possible scope of Version 2.0 of the Strategic Framework, with a view to advising the Council in this regard. They recognized that different approaches could be followed. One of these could consist of a document with a structure similar to that of Version 1.0 (i.e. in three parts), which would incorporate all the inputs and comments received since the latter was issued. This would have the merit of keeping a maximum of background information and analysis within a self-contained document. However, with constraints on document length this approach may lead to issues not being sufficiently spelled out. To address this, another possible approach would be to limit subsequent versions to presenting the needed further elaborations of the Strategic Framework proposals, leaving the analytical material to be shown either in Annexes or in separate documents.

21. While drawing these possibilities to the Council’s attention, the Committees did not express any preference, considering that the Council, with the assistance of the Secretariat, would need to seek the best compromise taking into account the requirements of readability, comprehensiveness and cost containment.

22. Irrespective of what format might be decided upon for Version 2.0, and building on the discussion in the Programme Committee, the Committees proposed the need for developing well focussed, brief vision and mission statements. Bearing in mind the debates and decisions at the last Conference and the sensitivity of the matter, the Committees confirmed that such statements should be based upon, and could in no way amend the existing constitutional mandate of the Organization. They requested the Secretariat to draft such statements, and recommended to Council that the mission/vision statements be included in Version 2.0.


 

SPECIAL RESERVE ACCOUNT

23. The Committees considered document JM 98/5 which provided the additional information sought by the members at their last meeting. They noted that the additional information provided addressed the requests made.

24. A question was raised concerning the report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report of Budgetary Performance in 1996-97 which stated that "the overall budgetary outturn for 1996-97 had resulted in total delivery of US$ 652.7 million, which was US$ 2.7 million more than the approved budget of US$ 650 million" and the consistency of the overrun with Financial Regulation 4.1. The Committees noted that this overrun of US$  2.7 million had been attributed to the retroactive payment of US$ 4.1 million in additional General Service salaries in accordance with the decision of the ILO Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT), dated 28 January 1998.

25. In addressing the issue of the relationship between an ILOAT award and the Financial Regulations of the Organization, Legal Counsel advised the Committees that the Organization was legally bound to execute the judgements of the ILO Administrative Tribunal. This was clear from the Statute of the ILO Administrative Tribunal which states that "… judgements shall be final and without appeal" and which provides that "any compensation awarded by the Tribunal shall be chargeable to the budget of the international organization against which the complaint is filed".

26. The binding nature of Administrative Tribunal judgements has been formally recognized by the International Court of Justice, in respect of the UN Administrative Tribunal, in its Advisory Opinion on the Effect of Awards of Compensation in 1954.

27. In the recent language factor case, the ILO Administrative Tribunal ordered the Organization to pay the language factor retroactive to 1 November 1995. Awards of compensation are normally payable within one month of receipt of the judgement. In accordance with normal accounting principles, the retroactive element of the compensation award relating to salaries paid in the 1996-97 biennium would automatically be charged against the Regular Programme budget for that biennium.

28. Legal Counsel concluded that should such a case of over-spending arise, the only means by which the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees could resolve the contradiction would be to retroactively approve the use of the Special Reserve Account (SRA) to cover the amount in question.

29. However, the Committees were informed that, in the case of 1996-97, the Appropriation of US$ 650 million had not been exceeded and therefore no action was necessary on this occasion. Attention was drawn to Audited Accounts 1996-97 and , in particular, to Statement IV which was designed to satisfy Financial Regulation 11.1 (b) in providing the Governing Bodies with the status of the appropriation for the financial period. The Committees noted that Statement IV of the Audited Accounts showed an Unutilized Balance US$ 2.9 million for the Total Effective Working Budget and therefore that there had been no breach of Financial Regulation 4.1. This amount rises to US$ 4.8 million after adding US$ 1.9 million from receipts of Government Counterpart Cash contributions which were credited to Miscellaneous Income instead of crediting expenditure under Major Programme 3.4 as assumed in the Appropriation Resolution.

30. In explaining the contents of the Finance Committee report on the Annual Report of Budgetary Performance, the Committees were informed that the figures in the report attempted to give the Finance Committee and the Council an overall picture of the budgetary outturn for the biennium and not just the budgetary performance vis vis the Regular Programme Appropriation. The schedule in Appendix A to the Annex I of the Report showed a sub-total entitled "Grand Total Regular Programme Expenditure" of US$ 645 196 000 which was consistent with Statement IV of the Audited Accounts for the biennium. However, this Appendix also showed an additional line recording the "1996-97 Support Cost Deficit (i.e. excess of expenditure over income)" of US$ 7 479 000 bringing the grand total to the figure of US$ 652.7 million referred to in the report of the Finance Committee.

31. The Committees were advised that support cost transactions were not included in the Appropriation Resolution voting the 1996-97 Regular Programme budget and therefore not reported as such in Statement IV of the Audited Accounts for the biennium. However, as the Director-General had prudently planned to set aside US$ 7.5 million because of the anticipated shortfall in support cost income, it was felt more complete to report the relevant amounts in the same schedule. The Secretariat regretted the misunderstanding that had arisen because of this approach.

32. In conclusion on this point, the Committee agreed with the summarization given in paragraph 27 of C 99/8 Programme Implementation Report 1996-97 which states:

The expenditures/commitments in relation to the original approved 1996-97 Regular Programme Budget and approved transfers are shown in Table 2.3. Expenditures under the Regular Programme totalled US$ 645.2 million against a budget of US$ 650 million, with a residual amount of US$ 4.8 million being used to partially offset the US$ 7.5 million deficit in Support Cost income for the biennium.

33. The Committees approved the use of the SRA for up to US$ 5 million or such lesser amounts as may prove necessary to cover the unbudgeted extra costs arising from the award of the ILOAT with respect to General Service salaries. Two members informed the Committees that their authorities had fundamental difficulties with the use of the SRA for the purpose proposed and therefore could not join a consensus.

34. The Committees noted the Director-General’s assurance that in implementing such a decision, he will make every effort to absorb this unbudgeted cost to the extent that he can do so without impairing the implementation of approved programmes. Some members expressed the wish that this use of the SRA not result in an additional assessment on Member Nations. Some members also recommended that the Conference elaborate the conditions under which the SRA may be used in the future.


 

SAVINGS AND EFFICIENCIES IN GOVERNANCE

Working Procedures of Conference Sessions

35. The Committees reviewed document JM 98/6 and most members agreed to recommend that:

a. The Conference should delegate further authority to the Council in order to reduce the number of items on the Conference agenda;

b. the present Conference duration should be maintained;

c. Commissions should not meet when items of special and wide interest, such as the Director-General’s Statement or the McDougall Lecture, were scheduled in Plenary or when votes were being taken;

d. the item State of Food and Agriculture should be dealt with within Commission I rather than Plenary;

e. the number of Commissions should be reduced to two: Commission I on substantive and policy matters and Commission II on programme and budget matters. Commission III should be abolished;

f. the Nominations Committee should be abolished and its role taken over by the Council;

g. preparatory work on the validation of Credentials should be carried out as far as possible prior to the Conference by a Credentials Committee designated by the June Council but subsequently confirmed by the Conference;

h. no voting should be required when the number of candidates equals the number of vacancies or when there is only one candidate for one post.

36. With respect to the validity of credentials, the Committees noted that those submitted by facsimile could possibly be accepted on the understanding that they would be confirmed by signed originals. This matter could be discussed further by the CCLM.

37. The Committees noted that the electronic voting system recently installed in the Plenary Hall was geared to handle only show-of-hands and roll-call type votes requiring a yes/no/abstention response. Manual voting would continue to be necessary whenever the Conference had to elect two or more candidates. Accordingly time would be saved only for those elections where the system could be used. The Committees agreed to revert to this matter in the light of the experience gained with the Conference in 1999.

38. As regards the processing of draft resolutions for the Conference, the Committees suggested that the Resolutions Committee be maintained with the same terms of reference to ensure that resolutions were kept to a minimum. However, they agreed that in addition to institutional matters (such as the approval of conventions, appointments and adoption of the PWB), draft resolutions which were submitted well in advance should be considered, provided they were broadly supported.

39. The Committees considered various options for the modification of the general debate by Heads of Delegation in order to allow for greater interaction among Ministers. These options included:

40. The Committees did not agree to any specific recommendation on this issue. Resource and programming constraints, as well as the limited time available to Ministers and Heads of Delegation, made it difficult to decide on a clear course of action. The Committees concluded that broader consultations among Members were required. The implications of the above options for the good functioning of the Conference should be carefully assessed.

41. The Committees noted that document JM 98/6 together with their report on this item would be considered by the CCLM which would report to the Council in November 1998. Subsequently, the document Arrangements for the Thirtieth Conference Session, to be examined by the June 1999 Council Session, would be based on the outcome of the Hundred-and-fifteenth Council discussion on this subject.

Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97: Review of FAO Statutory Bodies

42. The Committees took note of the Progress Report on Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97: Review of FAO Statutory Bodies, and decided to annex it to the Report of the Joint Meeting for the information of the Council.

43. The Committees expressed appreciation for the progress made by the Secretariat in implementing the provisions of Conference Resolution 13/97, and urged that the necessary consultations be carried out in order to complete the Review as soon as possible.


Appendix to CL 115/19-JM98/INF/4