UN General Assembly approves $5.5 bil. budget for 2014-2015, down from last year

The United Nations General Assembly onFriday approved a $5.53 billion UN budget for 2014-2015, down1 percent from the total spending during the previous two years.

The new biennial budget includes a 2 percent staffing cut,or some 221 posts, and a one year freeze in staff compensation.

The so-called core UN budget that was adopted does notinclude peacekeeping, currently running at over $7 billion ayear and approved in separate negotiations, or the costs ofseveral major UN agencies funded by voluntary contributionsfrom member states.

As in past years, the biennial budget negotiations weremarked by a tussle between poor countries seeking to raise UNdevelopment spending and major developed countries, which arethe biggest budget contributors, trying to rein in the figuresas they struggle to reduce expenditures in their own nationalbudgets.

Fiji's UN Ambassador Peter Thomson, speaking on behalf ofthe Group of 77 developing nations, said the 2014-2015 budget"represents the best that we as member states can muster at thistime of continuing austerity in the world economy."

He said the G77 bloc supported the budget "with deep concernthat budgetary austerity may negatively effect the developmentpillar of the work of the United Nations."

Critics of the United Nations, especially in the UnitedStates, have long charged that it is a bloated and sometimescorrupt bureaucracy that wastes taxpayers' money.

US Deputy Ambassador Joe Torsella, who focuses on UNmanagement and reform at the US mission, said the 2014-2015budget marked a "new commitment to real fiscal discipline at theUnited Nations at a tough time for hardworking families aroundthe world."

"Our shared goal should be to ensure that the United Nationscan maximize the results that it delivers with the amount ofresources that member states are collectively able to provide,"Torsella said.

The United States, which pays 22 percent of the UN budget,is the biggest financial contributor to the United Nations.

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