The General Assembly on 22 December, in concluding the current segment of its fifty-second session, appropriated $2.532 billion for the 1998-1999 budget and approved a scale of assessments for 1998-2000, which maintained a ceiling rate of 25 per cent, but lowered the floor rate from 0.01 to 0.001 per cent. The world forum took those actions on the recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
The Assembly also decided to consider reviewing the scale for 1999-2000 at its resumed session in 1998, based on such factors as the status of Member States' contributions to the regular budget.
That provision was an "open door to permit a revisiting of the scale" for 1999-2000, Ambassador Bill Richardson of the United States told the Assembly after the vote. His country would work over the next months to bring about circumstances that made sure that its entrance through that door was welcomed by other Member States, he added.
Jean-Luis Wolzfeld of Luxembourg, who spoke on behalf of the European Union, Cyprus, Norway, as well as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, said the European Union would agree to reopen discussions on the scale of assessments only after the United States had adopted legally binding provisions to clear its arrears in full and to respect its financial obligations under the United Nations Charter. Any unilateral reduction of the amounts owed by the United States to the Organization could not be accepted, he stated.
The Assembly, in approving the 19981999 budget, stressed that the reform proposals would be implemented with full respect for its relevant mandates, particularly the medium-term plan for 1998-2001. The budgetary effects of some of those proposals were legislated in the budget. The Assembly also decided, among other things, to provide for the post of Deputy Secretary-General and its salary and emoluments, and to increase the total to about $13 million in the development account.
It also agreed that the new Department of Disarmament Affairs and the Office of Communications and Public Information should be led by Under-Secretaries-General, and reaffirmed that the United Nations reform and reduction of posts must not entail involuntary separation of staff.
In some other matters, the Assembly acted on the UN common system, human resources management, pattern of conferences, financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors, review of the United Nations efficiency, and the financing of the International Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. …