Annan Plan to Aid Poor Nations Hit as Unsound
Pisik, Betsy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
NEW YORK - A fund created by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to win the support of developing nations for his keynote reform proposals has been dismissed as "technically unsound" by an influential financial committee.
Mr. Annan proposed to streamline the bloated U.N. bureaucracy for an annual savings of nearly $200 million, which would cut administrative costs from 38 percent of the regular budget to 25 percent.
But rather than reducing members' dues, he would treat the savings as a "development dividend" that the General Assembly would spend to benefit the organization's poorest members. Just over $12 million has already been allocated to the account from the 1998-99 budget.
Now, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) has weighed in with a report that finds the plans for the fund to be "flawed by the lack of a clear concept."
Under Mr. Annan's proposal, most of these savings would come from unspecified cuts in the budgets of the departments overseeing public information and conference services.
But the ACABQ report questions the underlying assumptions behind Mr. Annan's plan and defends the two departments, whose responsibilities include issuing press releases, overseeing the organization's burgeoning computer sites and translating documents into the six official languages.
"A case has not been made that administrative expenditures constitute 38 percent of the program budget," says the report, which includes suggestions for savings and a timetable in which to implement them.
"Nor has it been demonstrated that a one-third reduction in administrative expenditures will yield cumulative savings of $195 million."
The ACABQ, the most important panel charged with overseeing U.N. spending, is made up of financial experts from 16 nations, who are elected to three-year terms. The United States had been on the committee since the organization's beginning but lost its seat last year because of resentment over unpaid dues totaling more than $1 billion. …