Organización de los estados americanos oea/Ser. G consejo permanente cp/acta 1257/00



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Nos parece que ha llegado el momento en que el Secretario General alerte públicamente sobre la situación que estamos atravesando y haga un llamado a los Estados a cumplir con sus obligaciones. Se encuentra en duda la credibilidad de la Organización, justamente a unos meses de que se celebre la Cumbre de las Américas en Quebec, de la que se espera surjan nuevos mandatos o la renovación de los actuales.
Eso es lo mínimo que podemos hacer en este momento y además pedirle al Secretario General y al Secretario General Adjunto que continúen adelantando sus gestiones de alto nivel con los Estados Miembros, a fin de encontrar una solución adecuada y no un mero “parche” a estas situaciones que atravesamos cada seis meses o cada año.
Creemos que es el momento de afrontar esta situación de manera pública. De allí depende, en gran medida, el futuro de la Organización.
Muchas gracias, señor Presidente.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you, Ambassador, for your comments and your proposal, which have been duly noted.
I give the floor to the distinguished Representative of Antigua and Barbuda.
El REPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE DE ANTIGUA Y BARBUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My delegation takes the floor to express its support for the draft resolution and for the request by the Assistant Secretary for Management with regard to the establishment of a line of credit in the amount of $12 million.
Mr. Chairman, we do not believe that it is appropriate for staff to give of their time to an institution. We believe that staff should be paid for their time. We do not believe that staff should be told at Christmas that there is every possibility that they may not receive their salaries. We believe that that is neither just nor fair.
The British sovereign used to have a court of equity that was called on frequently to make decision that were equitable or fair but may not necessarily have been in accord with the strict rules laid down by the law. My delegation is of the view that the Permanent Council serves as a kind of court of equity, so our decision to support such a draft resolution would, in large part, be equitable, especially to the 560-odd employees of the Organization. At Christmas time, it is not fair to suggest to employees here at the OAS that they may not be paid.
Thank you very much.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you, Ambassador. The distinguished Representative of Honduras has the floor.
La REPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE DE HONDURAS: Gracias, señor Presidente. Agradecemos que se haya llamado nuestra atención sobre la alarmante situación de iliquidez del Fondo Regular de la Organización y, asimismo, la información brindada por la Subsecretaría de Administración.
En mi calidad de Presidenta de la Comisión de Asuntos Administrativos y Presupuestarios, y conociendo la situación que se presenta, me siento enormemente comprometida en brindar apoyo a la Subsecretaría de Administración en la búsqueda de soluciones. Sin embargo, así como en las actuales circunstancias estamos obligados a tomar decisiones que nos permitan disponer de fondos de una manera inmediata, también nuestro diario quehacer debería estar orientado a no recaer en un estado de iliquidez como el actual.
Según estimaciones previas, realizadas sobre la base de los compromisos de pago de cuotas a realizarse por parte de los Estados Miembros, podríamos haber cerrado el año con cifras modestas, pero positivas, que nos habrían permitido honrar nuestros acuerdos.
Vemos con suma preocupación que la situación que se está generando es muy distinta: los ingresos percibidos por concepto de pagos de cuotas al final del año serán incluso inferiores a los del año anterior y, por supuesto, mucho menores de lo previsto para este año.
Es cierto que el 60% de los Estados Miembros se encuentra al día en el pago de sus obligaciones. Sin embargo, el 90% del valor adeudado por el 40% restante recae sobre dos de los países miembros. Enfrentamos momentos de crisis, una vez más, como en los últimos tres años.
Deseamos reconocer el incesante esfuerzo realizado por los Representantes Permanentes de los países involucrados en el mencionado 90%. A pesar del enorme interés que han demostrado, sus países no han logrado resolver algunas dificultades que les impiden estar solventes con la Organización como lo habrían querido.
Deseo reiterar lo que antes había afirmado: esta situación seguirá presentándose mientras no asumamos todos, administración y Estados Miembros, un mayor compromiso con la Organización. Es indispensable que exista la voluntad política de cada uno de los Estados Miembros para levantar esta Organización y proveerla de los recursos financieros necesarios para su buen funcionamiento.
Este es un momento en que, con la mayor objetividad posible, debemos estudiar las opciones que se nos presentan en el documento CP/doc.3378/00, puesto a consideración de este Consejo Permanente por la Secretaría General.
Ciertamente, es indispensable y esencial motivar a todos los Estados Miembros, grandes o pequeños, para que cumplan con sus obligaciones de pagos. Debe recordarse que por muy buena voluntad que haya por parte de los Estados Miembros, existe la posibilidad de que no contemos con los recursos con la prontitud requerida para pagar empleados, becarios, acreedores y llevar a buen término nuestra labor cotidiana.
La solución que podría procurarnos recursos de una manera inmediata, para cumplir con estos compromisos, sería la aprobación de una línea de crédito por un período no mayor de 90 días. Estamos de acuerdo con lo expresado por el distinguido Representante de México acerca de la dificultad que ofrece esta opción. En ese sentido deberán hacerse prontamente las gestiones al más alto nivel para ver si es posible resolver esta situación de otra manera. Paralelo a ello, debemos seguir considerando otras medidas que provean alivio a más largo plazo y que contribuyan a disminuir el déficit; ellas podrán significar cifras pequeñas pero sumadas pueden resultar en cifras significativas.
Como ya se ha señalado antes, debe haber mayor austeridad en algunas áreas. Es importante y necesario que se realice una evaluación de puestos y salarios dentro de la Organización. El reto, señor Presidente, es grande. Sin embargo, si todos tenemos verdadera voluntad y buena disposición, lograremos salir adelante, sin las crisis de fin año que de ninguna manera deben volverse costumbre.
Gracias, señor Presidente.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you, Ambassador. I give the floor to the Representative of Trinidad and Tobago.
La REPRESENTANTE ALTERNA DE TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Once again our organization is in financial crisis, and my delegation calls on all member states, particularly those member states that are in arrears, to demonstrate a greater commitment to meet their financial obligations to the Organization. In the absence of such commitments, our lofty praises to inter-American cooperation appear meaningless.
I say this, Mr. Chairman, because whilst we assign a greater role for the OAS in several areas, this organization will only be as effective as we allow it to be, particularly insofar as funding is concerned. In the current hemispheric environment, the OAS must have the institutional, structural, and financial wherewithal to effectively and efficiently manage the challenges we collectively face. As member sates, we must realize the convergence between the expectations placed on the Organization, the resources allocated by member states to fulfill these expectations, and the political will of member states to fulfill these expectations. Without such convergence, the prospects for success are, indeed, limited.
In addition, we do concur with the view expressed by the Ambassador of Mexico that this perennial financial crisis harms the public image of the Organization. I have personally found that personnel in other multilateral organizations do not have a very positive view of the OAS, and I am certain that our ongoing financial crises do not help.
As I pondered the situation, I am reminded of a scene from Alice in Wonderland. When the White Queen chastised Alice for her insufficient imagination, the Queen recommended to Alice that she should practice daily exercises in expanding her capacity to imagine. The Queen said: “My dear, sometimes I think six impossible thoughts before breakfast.”
As I sat down to breakfast this morning, I had but one thought, not six like Alice’s White Queen, and I hoped against all hope that at this meeting this morning, there would be announcements of imminent payments to the Regular Fund. But alas! My one hope has not been fulfilled.
Like the Delegation of Mexico, the Delegation of Trinidad and Tobago is not in a position to support the resolution as drafted. We are concerned about the issue of the Secretary General securing a loan, because we believe it would represent the thin edge of the wedge. As the delegations of Mexico and Honduras stated before me, this financial crisis is perennial. We would therefore be facing a very similar situation perhaps six or eight months down the road. Do we then agree to take another loan? Too often in the OAS, approval on an exceptional basis becomes the norm. If this organization does not currently have any assets in reserve, how are we going to repay this particular loan or subsequent loans that I realistically see coming?
We therefore support the proposal by the Representative of Mexico that informal consultations be held among various delegations, that the Secretary General personally become involved in this issue as a matter of great urgency, and that reports be then submitted to all delegations with a view to resolving the situation in as expeditious a manner as possible.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you very much. The Representative of Jamaica has the floor.
La REPRESENTANTE ALTERNA DE JAMAICA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
While I thank Mr. Harding for presenting the documents, we wish that the Assistant Secretary for Management was not the bearer of bad tidings. Obviously, it is unfortunate that we have yet again returned to this issue as a result of the nonpayment of contributions by some member states.
The last special session of the General Assembly adopted very flexible measures, we believe, to encourage member states to pay their contributions to the Regular Fund. This seems to have had very limited success, since the major contributors still are indebted to the Organization.
Mr. Chairman, with respect to the options before us, the most desirable for my delegation is the first option, wherein member states would be urged to make good on their obligations and responsibilities to the Organization. In this regard, my delegation wishes to support the proposal by the Delegation of Mexico that the Secretary General make a clear and public statement drawing attention to the financial crisis facing the Organization and calling on member states to reaffirm and demonstrate their political commitment to the Organization by honoring their obligations.
Nevertheless, we do recognize the immediate problem facing the Organization. In this regard, my delegation would not object if the membership decides that we approve a line of credit or give the Secretary General authority to seek a line of credit. However, we wish to emphasize that if we were to choose this option, the Government of Jamaica would not be in a position to accept responsibility for interest payments that would be incurred. We believe that such interest payments should fall squarely on those member states who are indebted to the Organization.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you. I give the floor to the Representative of Canada.
La REPRESENTANTE ALTERNA DEL CANADÁ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We find ourselves faced here again with what is described as a cash-flow problem, but it is such a perennial and repeat problem of serious magnitude that we would rather much more accurately term it a question of political will.
We note that option 2, which is a commercial loan, poses serious difficulties, some of which were addressed by delegations that spoke before us, particularly but not only by Trinidad and Tobago.
We heard earlier this morning in another meeting related to this issue that the loan of 90 days would cost us $1,700 a day. A quick tabulation of that would bring us to $153,000 for the 90-day period. I would venture to add that this is more than the annual quota assessment of 24 of our 34 member states. If we have difficulties in terms of paying the actual quotas, where would this organization be if we find ourselves, as pointed out by the Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, in a situation where we cannot pay the interest on the loan? We will be proceeding down a very slippery slope that puts the credibility of this organization at serious risk.
We sympathize very much with the members of the Secretariat who have been working very hard in support of OAS activities and priorities throughout the year, as they have consistently for many years. However, at this stage we wonder whether we need to muster more political will to protect their salaries.
As such, we strongly support the Mexican proposal tasking the Secretary General with redoubling the excellent efforts he has engaged in throughout this year, issuing an urgent statement regarding the critical stage we have reached once again, and perhaps seeking a more permanent solution with the member states who are in arrears. We propose that they explore various modalities, and those member states in arrears may wish to tap into their specific funds or look at other possible approaches. However, we urge that this be done on an urgent basis.
In summary, therefore, we support the Mexican proposal wholeheartedly. Thank you.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you. The distinguished Representative of Ecuador has the floor.
El REPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE DEL ECUADOR: Gracias, señor Presidente.
En el informe está registrado el modesto pero significativo abono que mi país ha hecho en los últimos días para iniciar el proceso de evasión de la categoría en que se encuentra, no obstante, en muy conspicua compañía. Esto quiere decir que de parte de mi Gobierno existe una voluntad firme de regularizar la situación en la que lamentablemente nos encontramos frente al financiamiento de la Organización. Con este antecedente podemos opinar respecto al tema que se discute.
No cabe duda de que el planteamiento del distinguido Representante Permanente de México tiene una lógica y hasta un fundamento ético indiscutible. Es imposible que la Organización siga afrontando indefinidamente la situación financiera en que se encuentra. No cabe explicarle al mundo que esto sucede, no obstante que le ocurre lo mismo a la Organización de las Naciones Unidas y a casi todos los organismos internacionales.
Sin embargo, el distinguido señor Representante de Antigua y Barbuda hizo una reflexión, que no puede ser desoída y ante la que no podemos ser indiferentes. El personal administrativo de la Organización no puede sufrir las consecuencias por los conflictos de carácter técnico, político, administrativo o financiero que afrontan los Estados Miembros, especialmente en la época en que, supuestamente, debe descender el maná del cielo y no las cuentas de los acreedores.
Esto debería conducirnos a una solución intermedia en relación con los planteamientos que se han hecho, que podría consistir en fijar un plazo para que la Secretaría General, y concretamente el señor Secretario General, efectúe las gestiones, formule las declaraciones y haga todo aquello que le parezca conveniente para conseguir la regularización de la situación de la mayor parte de los Estados deudores. Al mismo tiempo se contaría con un plazo dentro del cual, de no obtener resultados favorables, el Secretario General tendría la autorización suficiente para optar por otra alternativa que podría ser la del endeudamiento. En este caso habría que establecer quién asume el costo de este endeudamiento porque no es justo que lo hagan todos los Estados o solo unos pocos pues ello resultaría desproporcionado en relación con las diferentes situaciones específicas.
En resumen, señor Presidente, mi Delegación propone que la Secretaría General efectúe las gestiones que estime del caso para la regularización de esta situación pero que, vencido un plazo de ocho o diez días, por las razones que nos expuso con tanta lógica el señor Subsecretario de Administración, pueda optar por una solución de emergencia que lógicamente tendría que ser la última de las mencionadas.
Gracias, señor Presidente.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you Ambassador. The Representative of the United States has the floor.
El REPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE DE LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In the past year we have rightly expended a great deal of time and attention on the budget and the priorities of the Organization. This has produced a new and productive dialogue at the highest levels, extraordinary efforts by member states to pay their quotas, and the approval of resolutions that address these financial issues. But we must do more.
It is important to realize that the current “financial crisis” is rooted in many factors. While the United States greatly values the work of the OAS, this organization’s over-reliance upon the United States to provide nearly 60 percent of the cash flow of the Regular Fund inevitably contributes to financial difficulties whenever we experience even a slight delay in our payment. This delay, as all of you are aware, is due to the nature of our system, our budget cycle, and other political issues; these problems are experienced by each one of our countries.
I would like to emphasize that the United States, which pays 60 percent of the Regular Fund, is slightly more than six months in arrears in its quota payments to this organization. I also want to emphasize that we remain committed to our obligations and are working very hard to meet them.
The lack of an adequate reserve fund to carry the Organization through periods such as these contributes to the problem we are facing. Although this organization took $6.5 million more in quota collection as of October of this year compared to October 1999, and obligations are the same, we still are confronting today a so-called “financial crisis.”
We must have greater restraint in our decisions if we truly want to financially strengthen the OAS. Potential shortfalls must be identified and brought to the attention of member states early in the year so that we do not have to worry about Christmas time. Rather than shut down at year end, we could implement austerity measures earlier so that they do not culminate in this so-called crisis. My fellow ambassadors, this crisis, panic-management technique is simply not acceptable to the United States.
Six scenarios are currently before us. Clearly, we would all like to see option 1 occur, and we are committed to work on that option. If this does not occur and the option of external borrowing is the favored option of this body, we will not and cannot join the consensus, but we will not block that consensus. Our Congress feels very strongly that organizations such as the OAS should live within their means.
We feel that emergency external borrowing, interest payments, and the numbers that we have just heard from the distinguished Representative of Canada would set an unfortunate precedent and encourage regular external borrowings, an easy answer. We cannot support this option.
The time has come to make difficult decisions. Increasing our debt is not the solution to the deeper problems that exist. We need to get serious about financial reforms, create a reserve fund for real crises, start to live within our means, and project our cash-flow problems earlier in the year. Only in this way can we avert a similar situation year after year.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you, Ambassador. Three other delegations wish to speak, following which the Chair will offer a course of action and some conclusions. The Representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis has the floor.
El REPRESENTANTE ALTERNO DE SAINT KITTS Y NEVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I doubt very strongly that this is a case of “The Grinch who Stole Christmas.” This is a systemic problem that we have been battling since I have been here. We have been working at a tremendous amount of solutions and remedies that seem to fall on deaf ears. To steal the words of the Representative of Canada, it is not necessarily a cash-flow crisis, but moreso a crisis of commitment.
I am encouraged by the Assistant Secretary General’s comment this morning about his 45 years of service, during which the improbable and the impossible became practical and eventually led to results. We cannot expect to solve these very serious systemic problems by going to the bank and asking for a short-term loan that will place additional burdens on those of us who have been paying our quotas regularly and on time. I am sure that when new quotas are assessed, we will end up having that allocated in our small contributions.
I think the best way forward is for us to subscribe to the wisdom of the Ambassador of Mexico and to call on the Secretary General and to address this matter at the highest level with the heads of government. In that way, we can address this problem, which keeps coming back to bite us year after year. It is not simply a case of our inability to pay salaries at Christmas. We have increasing mandates and diminishing resources, and we have to find ways to address this problem in a serious way.
Yesterday, as a matter of fact, I saw the approved budget for 2001 and there was a red paper on the top. One of my colleagues said: “Can you imagine? It has already been approved, yet it is in the red.” That speaks volumes, because this is what we have been dealing with for the last few years.
Based on the meeting we had this morning, a number of member states have indicated that they are working on ways to pay their arrears. I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, granted that in the past we have had very few reasons to feel any sense of solace. But, as I said, the Assistant Secretary General reminded us that things can happen, and because these member states are committed to making things happen, we should subscribe to what the Representative of Mexico has said.
Thank you kindly.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you very much. I give the floor to the distinguished Representative of Chile.
El REPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE DE CHILE: Gracias, señor Presidente.
En primer lugar, quiero decir muy claramente que apoyo la moción presentada por el distinguido Representante de México. Solamente quiero hacer un par de reflexiones sobre el tema que nos ocupa. La primera tiene que ver con la vieja y conocida frase, que no está de más traer de nuevo a colación, según la cual “los chinos tienen un solo símbolo para representar las ideas de crisis y oportunidad”; ellos son un pueblo muy antiguo y, por lo mismo, muy sabio.
No haríamos algo peor que tratar de soslayar la crisis con medidas que, frente al problema de fondo, escamoteen la búsqueda de una solución inmediata, clara y precisa. Es mejor llamar a la crisis “crisis” que ponerle otro nombre.
En segundo lugar, creo que los montos de que hablamos son realmente modestos. El presupuesto ordinario de la OEA suma alrededor de 80 millones de dólares. Ese es un monto modesto para 34 países entre los que se encuentran algunos de los más poderosos del mundo. Ese es el presupuesto de uno entre los más de 30 municipios de mi ciudad, Santiago. Es también el presupuesto de una universidad de tamaño medio en los Estados Unidos o Europa.
El asunto de fondo, señor Presidente, es el que señalaba la Representante del Canadá: este es un problema de voluntad política. Los Estados Miembros tienen que resolver si existe la voluntad política para que la OEA siga existiendo o no, y tienen que hacerlo ahora.
Esta mañana en una reunión informal yo me permití recordar que los líderes de nuestro hemisferio están hoy reunidos en la ciudad de México con motivo de la asunción del nuevo Gobierno de dicho país. Concuerdo con la moción de encargarle a nuestro Secretario General que haga este llamado. Pero también recogí la información suministrada por su Jefe de Gabinete en el sentido de que esta toma de mando probablemente le da poco espacio al Secretario General para atraer la atención de los señores Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno allí reunidos.
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