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Fifth Committee of the 52nd General Assembly

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  • Statement by Mr. Ivo Sramek, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the United Nations

    New York, October 29, 1997


Statement by Mr. Ivo Sramek, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the United Nations

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, let me congratulate you on your election to the post of the Chairman of the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly. Our delegation is confident that your able guidance will significantly contribute to carrying out the committee's mandate. We also wish to extend our congratulations to the other members of the Bureau.

Mr. Chairman,

As to agenda item 120 - Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the United Nations - the Czech Republic has already associated itself with the position of the European Union. While all the distinguished delegates agree in their statements on the "capacity to pay" as the fundamental principle of the scale of assessments, the views on the fairest and most transparent methodology may differ.

In our view, the scale of assessment should be primarily based on the latest statistical economic data of each Member State. We agree that the share of the world GNP should be the main indicator of the country's capacity to pay. All other adjustments, except per capita income relief, seem to us rather distorting, and should they be applied, it should happen in a consistent manner.

From the point of view of our delegation, the EU position is the most consistent with the principle of the "capacity to pay".

Mr. Chairman,

Let me now address individual aspects of the scale of assessments methodology.

First, our delegation associates itself with the proposal of the Committee on Contributions to use the Gross National Product as a primary basis for scale, taking into account both transparency of this indicator and its statistical availability. We also have the same view as the Committee on the issue of conversion {exchange}rates.

Second, as to the statistical base period, the Czech Republic delegation is in favour of shortening it in order to bring the statistical base closer to actual payments of contributions. We therefore appreciate the recommendation of the Committee on Contributions to shorten this period to six years, although we would rather see it limited to three years, which would lead to closer linkage between country's economic performance and capacity to pay.

Third, our delegation has reservations about including the debt burden adjustment into the scale methodology, since it leads to some double-counting of this element, already partly contained in the Gross National Product. Furthermore, its application, limited only to countries below threshold, distorts the continuity and consistence of this principle. However, taking into account the relatively small extent of this adjustment, the Czech Republic does not view the issue of omitting this adjustment as essential, and is open to compromise.

Fourth, we fully support the significance given to the low per capita income criterion in adjusting Member State contributions. As to the gradient, we support it at the level of 75%, which seems to be a reasonable compromise. Speaking about the low per capita income adjustment, we support the statement of the distinguished representative of Canada proposing to eliminate inconsistency and discontinuity in absorption of relief existing in present methodology. The implementation of progressive transfer from the states below the threshold to the states above it would result in a more consistent fulfilment of the principle of capacity to pay and avoid unreasonable fluctuations in the assessment of the countries that have just exceeded the threshold.

Fifth. Setting any floor or ceiling in the scale of assessments generally leads to some distortion of the principle of the capacity to pay. That is why our delegation supports the proposals to minimise, or even abolish the floor in the scale system completely.

Sixth and last, in view of the above said, our delegation would support the phasing out of the scheme of limits immediately, or in the shortest possible period.

Mr. Chairman,

Our delegation would like to support all previous statements which emphasised the importance of fulfilling financial obligations by Member States. I am pleased to say that the Czech Republic pays all its financial contributions fully and on time. We attach the same importance to this issue as to the methodology of the scale of assessments.

In this regard, we cannot agree with views linking the approved scale of assessments to the payment discipline. Since the scale for any period is based on possible compromise among different views of Member States, it is unacceptable to excuse contribution arrears by additional objections to the agreed scale. The scale approved by the General Assembly must be adopted by Members as their obligation to the Organisation and met fully, on time and without conditions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.