The United Nations General Assembly has approved a USD 5.53 billion budget for 2014-2015, about one per cent lower than that of the previous biennium.
The new biennium budget is USD 126.35 million higher than the proposed budget unveiled by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in October but USD 34.72 million lower than the final 2012-2013 budget figure of USD 5.565 billion.
Most of the savings in the new biennium's budget would come from a net reduction in staff posts.
The 193-member body yesterday approved the budget for the biennium 2014-2015 by consensus, acting on the recommendation of its committee dealing with administrative and budgetary matters, known as the Fifth Committee.
After heated negotiations that stretched beyond Christmas Day, the Fifth Committee recommended the USD 5.53 billion budget for the 2014-2015 biennium.
"The new budget is lower than the one for the previous biennium, reflecting our shared wish for a fiscally responsible Secretariat," Ban said in a message delivered to the Assembly meeting by his Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, following the decision.
"We will continue to adapt and equip the United Nations to better implement its mandates," he said, adding that he has urged all managers to rethink their business practices, reduce overlap, embrace innovation, encourage creativity and build synergies.
Ban however voiced disappointment that the General Assembly failed to reach agreement on two "critically important reform proposals," namely a managed mobility policy and strengthened arrangements for partnerships with the private sector.
The Assembly decided to defer consideration of these two proposals to next spring.
Ban also stated that it would be unrealistic to presume that any substantial budget reduction will have no impact while mandates keep growing.
"The time may have come for you to consider reviewing mandated activities that may have been fulfilled or overtaken by new developments," he stated.
Fiji's UN ambassador Peter Thomson, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Committee had engaged in intense discussions that had touched on the very fabric of the United Nations.
He said posts had been cut, affecting the lives of people who worked for the organisation, adding that the Group of 77 had always tried its best to protect the interests of staff.