The Executive Secretary introduced the draft programme and budget (A/AC.241/65), which seeks further guidance from the INCD to help shape the Secretariats final budget proposals. 1999 is expected to be the first full year in which the Secretariat would be financed by a core budget. Envisaged staffing requirements for 1999 are 34 posts. The budget includes two special-purpose funds, the Supplementary Fund, to support the participation of NGO representatives, and the Special Fund, which would finance travel of affected developing country delegates.
The G-77 and China had not developed a common position yet, but later made a statement indicating they approved of the Secretariats document.
Staffing requirements were a concern for the OECD group of countries. They supported current staffing levels as the basis for the establishment of the Secretariat. Uganda, Benin and Antigua and Barbuda noted the expanded activities that are envisaged and called for a larger staff. Bolivia and Brazil were concerned about the criteria for determining how many staff would focus on each region. The Executive Secretary responded that the criteria took into account the number of countries covered in each regional annex. Tunisia said more staffing was needed for the implementation of the regional annexes.
The OECD group of countries and Benin requested information regarding seconded staff from international organizations. The Executive Secretary noted that international organizations are currently cutting their staffs.
In response to several inquiries about costs for the Global Mechanism, the Executive Secretary noted the need to know who is responsible for the costs. The G-77 and China proposed that the cost of the Global Mechanism be met by the host institution. The OECD group of countries and the G-77 and China looked forward to a fully-costed preliminary budget.
The OECD group of countries noted several times that the participation of NGOs is important, but expressed unease with the creation of a special fund for their participation. Benin, Tunisia, Haiti and Indonesia stressed the importance of support for NGOs and the Executive Secretary noted that someone must shoulder the responsibility for NGO participation. The G-77 and China supported both the Special and Supplementary Funds.
The OECD group of countries supported the establishment of a working capital fund, the level of which should be reviewed regularly. Benin, supported by Tunisia, said UN practice is well established and should be retained. Antigua and Barbuda stated that the problem experienced by the Convention on Biological Diversity with its working capital fund was due to host institution-Executive Secretary relations. Benin asked what the link between the Regional Coordination Units and the Secretariat would be, and the Executive Secretary asked for suggestions for arrangements.
The Chair concluded that he would prepare a procedural draft decision taking into account the views expressed and inviting the Secretariat to submit a full-fledged budget to COP-1. The decision (A/AC.241/WG.I(X)/L.3) requests the Secretariat to circulate, at least 90 days before COP-1, the necessary draft decisions related to the programme of work and budget of the COP, as well as detailed budget estimates for the biennium 1998- 1999. The Interim Secretariat will take full account of comments made at INCD-10 and earlier sessions as well as any comments from Member States received by 15 February.
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