U.N. reform is aimed at drawing U.S. dues Annan plans to reduce administrative spending, boost aid to poor countries

March 02, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

UNITED NATIONS -- In an effort to end the United Nations' financial troubles by persuading Congress to pay the United States' overdue dues, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is working on a plan to eliminate some $200 million a year of administrative spending and shift the money to aid for poor countries.

The new secretary-general hopes to secure these savings in the administrative budget by eliminating 500 jobs from a work force that has already shrunk from 12,000 to 9,000 since 1985.

The moves would slash administrative spending nearly in half and reduce administrative costs from 38 percent of the United Nations' $1.3 billion budget to 20 percent.

The economies that Annan is considering will be the centerpiece of the package of changes he plans to propose this summer in an attempt to make the unspecified reforms the Clinton administration and Congress are demanding in return for paying the $1 billion the United States owes in unpaid dues.

While the Clinton administration has asked Congress to make an immediate payment of $100 million to the United Nations, it wants the remaining $900 million appropriated now but held back until 1999, when it has had time to judge the changes Annan makes.

The bureaucratic pruning the secretary-general has in mind falls well short of the "50 percent cut in the entire U.N. bureaucracy" demanded last year by Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the most powerful congressional critic of the United Nations.

But the economies he proposes might well be judged excessive by other members, many of whom deeply resent the United States' attempt to put conditions on payments it has a legal obligation to make.

The secretary-general's proposals will be one element in a wider debate on overhauling the United Nations.

While Annan has considerable discretion over how he spends the secretariat's budget, five working groups of the 185-nation General Assembly are working to prepare recommendations for change in other areas. Members are debating a new scale of assessments under which the rest of the world would pay a larger share.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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