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ECOSOC - Statements in 2000

Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations to the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 on Follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council: (I) Resources and funding of the

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations to the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 on Follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council: (I) Resources and funding of the operational activities for development, and (ii) Simplification and harmonization of programmes, operational and administrative procedures
    New York, 17 July 2000

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the High - Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000
    New York, 7 July 2000


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations to the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 on Follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council: (I) Resources and funding of the operational activities for development, and (ii) Simplification and harmonization of programmes, operational and administrative procedures

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic aligned itself with the EU statement on this item as presented by the French Presidency. We unequivocally share the views expressed in the EU statement. I would like to share with you some additional concerns arising from the experience of the Czech Republicś presidency of the UNDP and UNFPA Executive Board this year. The Czech Delegation attaches particular importance to simplification and harmonization of the operational and administrative procedures. We believe that simplification and harmonization is the way forward in terms of enhancing cost-effectiveness of development aid and reducing the workload on both national authorities as well as UN Funds and Programmes. Simpler procedures should be sought with the aim to improve services to recipient countries and to increase national capacities for managing their development programmes and projects. Diffusion of national execution, greater decentralization, delegation of authority to the field, and requirements for accountability and transparency should be considered as part of the process of simplification and harmonization of procedures.

We also underscore the conclusion made in the SG Report that the progress by the system to simplify and harmonize programming and administrative procedures is still inadequate. We fully agree that a working group to further harmonize the various EB procedures and programming cycles should be set up, as suggested by EU. We believe that the experience achieved in the UNDAF process should be fully utilized for identifying existing obstacles to and exploring necessary pre-conditions for joint programmes across UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies. These issues should be considered within the Trennial Comprehensive Policy Review in 2001.

Mr. President,

It is also our concern that the UN Funds and Programmes are too heavily dependent on a few donor countries. In this respect, let me emphasize that the long-standing commitment of European Union to international cooperation and development deserves the highest credit and appreciation. It is admirable that EU provided 54% of the official development aid between 1995 and 1998 while its share of world GNP accounted for less than 30%. In addition, the so called "Dollar Club of UNDP", e.g. the club of the countries that donate at least 1 dollar or more per capita a year to UNDP, is composed exclusively of European countries, 7 members of EU plus Norway and Switzerland. Almost 70% of UNDP core resources come from Europe.

The nominal increases in European contributions have been, however, often diminished or eliminated by existing unfavorable exchange rate for most European currencies. Taking into account enormous losses caused by currency exchanges between European currencies and strong US dollar, we wonder whether there are technical possibilities for avoiding unnecessary currency exchanges, for instance by opening a UNDP Euro Account for direct payments to programmes in recipient countries.

In this connection, we fully agree that even though the private sector funding represents a substantial proportion of total resources, private sector resources cannot be a substitute for official contributions. The private resources, no matter how important they might be, can be just supplementary to the government contributions and cannot rescue the future existence of UN funds and programmes. Only governments by providing their core voluntary contributions decide on the future of UN operational activities.

According to the data supplied in the Report of the Secretary General, the contributions to United Nations funds and programmes have increased between 1992 and 1999 by almost 50 % in nominal terms. The nominal growth confirms growing demand for UN development assistance and strengthening trust that is being put in UN operational activities. In spite of this encouraging feature, some of development funds and programmes, namely UNDP and UNFPA, are in serious financial crisis. The most critical situation developed in UNDP where the share of core funds has fallen to 28% of the total resources in 2000.

The problem UNDP faces lies in the structure of financial resources and their destination. We all know that, according to the respective decisions of its Executive Board, 88% of UNDP core resources are allocated for programmes in low income countries and 60% go to the least developed countries (LDCs). On the other hand, there is no such a rule in place for non-core resources, the purpose and the destination of which are fully in hands of individual donor countries. As pointed out it the Report, non-core resources tend to be allocated mainly to middle and low income countries and less to LDCs. With core decreasing to 28 % and non-core growing to 72% in 2000, the programme for LDCs can easily fall as low as to 20 % of the total funds this year and even lower in the coming years. This, in fact, does not comply with the overall mission of UNDP which is particularly focused on assistance to LDCs.

As a result, we must fully agree with the conclusion of the Report that "the continuing decline or stagnation of core funds poses a serious challenge to the ability of the funds and programmes to undertake the task they are mandated to do". We would, therefore, like to see in the ECOSOC decision on funding operational activities a strong appeal to increase the core contributions, to reduce the overdependence on a limited number of donors and to ensure fair burdensharing as the only way how to preserve UN operational activities for the years to come. In our view, these are the most responsible steps to be taken in response to the current development needs in the globalized world at the beginning of the 21st century.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the High - Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council in 2000

Mr. President,

Let me also start by congratulating you and the members of the Bureau on the excellent preparation of this year´s ECOSOC meeting and express our full confidence in your able leadership and support for your efforts.

The of the Czech Republic is aware of the key importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the economy as well as the social development and pays great attention to promotion and application of these technologies.

The fundamental strategic document, approved in May 1999, is the state Information Policy. Through the Policy the Government sets out basic goals in the area of informatics that all together are aimed at fulfilling the concepts of e-business and e-government, i.e. the thorough usage of IT in the area of public administration and in commerce. The Policy also sets out certain specific goals, which reflect the transformative character of current political and economic processes, leading to better transparency, security and trustworthiness of the economic environment. Similarly, the Government responded immediately to the e-Europe initiative "Information Society for All" and embedded its theses into projects of the Policy.

We have already experienced positive effects of the ICT in our economy. For instance, the cross-border outsourcing and subcontracting has already been evident. According to the "Online shopping 2000" survey the turnover of the top ten Czech Internet businesses was approximately US$2m, which is expected to double by the end of this year.

The use of ITC for environmental protection, connected with the concept of sustainable development and standards of the European Environment Agency (EEA), is increasing.

In the social sphere, the undoubtedly positive impact of ICT is visible in generally broader access to information and, consequently, the increase of the social activity of the citizens. At the present time 15 per cent of the Czech population between the ages of 15 and 79 use the Internet. This is a progress, however, the access has still not been equal for all. We do recognize the so-called "digital divide" even throughout our own society. The initial phase of full liberalization of the telecommunication market will commence at the beginning of the year 2001, after which a decrease in the telephone services prices will make the Internet accessible to a wider public.

On one hand, the information and communication technologies have a fundamental impact on the protection of the nations´ cultural heritage and its accessibility by all citizens (as in libraries, archives, museum and gallery collections). We also hope that the Czech creativity and specific cultural activities will contribute to the global culture. On the other hand, the Czech Government understands possible risks of the spread of violence and criminality through the Internet and searches for a balanced way of their reduction within the frame of respect for basic human rights and freedoms.

Active and specific state support for creation of the information society is also pledged as well as investment into e-education and cooperation with the private sector.

Institutionally, these tasks have been delegated to the newly established Government bodies - State Information system Office and Personal Data Protection Office.

In addition to this, by the end of the year 2003 each school in the Czech Republic will be equipped by an ICT workroom with an access to the Internet. In terms of an official policy of full employment, emphasis on requalification and life-long education, the ICT development functions not only as a means of professional education but also as a job qualification itself.

The Czech Parliament is currently discussing a draft law on Public Administration Information Systems and the law on essential registers. The projects of public budgets and public procurement information systems have already been adopted. The nation-wide communication network is also already partly in place, satisfying the needs in the priority areas of taxation and customs administration. The final project of the nation-wide communication infrastructure will be completed by the end of this year. Although the full electronic administration (e-Government) is still a distant goal, we have already experienced to what extent the e-governance can eliminate redundant bureaucracy and make the work of both the state and municipality more transparent, secure from corruption and closer to the individual citizen.

Besides the support to knowledge-based business activities, the Czech Government acknowledges its responsibility for security and transparency of their performance. The Electronic Signature Act and Personal Data Protection Act have been adopted several weeks ago.

Mr. President,

We feel committed to the outcomes of the Beijing World Conference and the Copenhagen Summit and the recent follow-up special sessions in terms of social integration and equalization of development opportunities for all vulnerable groups in our own society, as well as to the solidarity with the less developed countries. In view of better management and distribution of resources for the ICT development, the Government of the Czech Republic welcomes present initiatives for closer cooperation among the UN and world financial institutions and other specialized agencies, such as the WTO. We welcome the declared willingness to focus on the social aspects of the economic transformation. The Government of the Czech Republic is ready to participate with its own capacities in the international and regional projects for ICT development in the spirit of good governance and commitment to eradication of poverty and development for all.

Thank you, Mr. President.