I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union under agenda item 118, Programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009 Capital Master Plan.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
At the outset, let me thank Mr. Michael Adlerstein, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan Project, for introducing the report of the Secretary-General A/63/477, Mr. Jun Yamazaki, the Controller, for introducing the report of the Secretary-General A/63/582, Mr. Imran Vanker, Director of External Audit of South Africa and Chairman of the Audit Operations Committee, for introducing the Board of Auditors report A/63/5 (Volume 5), Ms. Susan McLurg, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing the relevant report of the Advisory Committee A/63/736 and Mrs. Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, for introducing the report of the Office for Internal Oversight Services A/63/266.
The European Union would like to reiterate its strong support for this important project, and has been delighted to witness the progress that is now daily evident in the construction activity on the North Lawn. We welcome the opportunity to finally consider in detail the reports before us, particularly the Sixth Annual Progress Report and the report on associated costs related to the Capital Master Plan.
We are encouraged by the ongoing success of the Secretary-General’s value engineering initiatives and the healthy cash balance that the Capital Master Plan budget enjoys. Given the present economic climate, we trust that the Secretary General will continue to pursue ways to bring the costs of contracts and operations down in a manner that boosts the efficient progress of the renovation, and the European Union will seek further details on this in informal consultations.
The European Union shares the concerns voiced by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions regarding ongoing slippage with the construction of the temporary conference building on the North Lawn and in the schedule for the relocation of Secretariat officials to office swing space, and we wish to be brought fully up to date with the current schedule and on steps being taken to mitigate further delays.
On the subject of the associated costs, the details of which we will pursue in informal consultations, the European Union regrets that these were not built into the original budget proposals for the Capital Master Plan, but we stand ready to move forward so that necessary expenses may be met and the success of the project will not be compromised. Yet we are not convinced that there is no scope for the absorption of these costs from within the approved budget of the Capital Master Plan, particularly given current market conditions.
As I said at the outset, the European Union has been and remains a staunch supporter of the Capital Master Plan, and we commend the leadership of Assistant Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein. This enormous undertaking, as much a project of historical preservation as it is of security, environmental sustainability and general refurbishment, is finally underway and we must not now let its progress falter. We will continue to work to ensure that it is managed effectively and efficiently, and look forward to our consultations on the matter.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Croatia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.