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India concerned over proposed changes to formula for dividing UN peacekeeping bill

India concerned over proposed changes to formula for dividing UN peacekeeping billUNITED NATIONS: With the US and the EU proposing significant changes to tally each UN member state's share of peacekeeping financing, India has expressed concern over such efforts to introduce the element of maximum ceiling in paying for peacekeeping budgets.

During a session of the General Assembly's Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the representatives of the US and the European Union proposed significant changes to the way in which each Member State's share of peacekeeping financing is tallied up.

Setting out her government's position, the representative of the United States — which accounts for 28.47 per cent of the USD 6.7 billion peacekeeping budget for 2018/19 — said no other international organisation depends on one country for more than one quarter of its assessed resources.

India expressed concern at the efforts by delegations to introduce the element of maximum ceiling in the peacekeeping scale.

"The peacekeeping scale must continue to clearly reflect the special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Security Council for the maintenance of peace and security. The current system of discounts applied to the peacekeeping scale for developing countries based on low per capita income must continue," First Secretary in The Permanent Mission of India to the UN Mahesh Kumar said at the session Wednesday.

The American delegate Cherith Norman-Chalet said that as President Donald Trump noted in his recent address to the General Assembly, the United States is calling for a 25 per cent ceiling on the peacekeeping scale of assessments, adding that such a ceiling would be in the organisation's best interests while reducing its reliance on any single member state. She said her delegation looks forward to working with all Member States to negotiate an equitable share of the burden.

"We recognise this will not be easy, but we believe there is a way if there is a will," she added.

The European Union's representation, emphasising that the bloc's member States are the largest collective financial contributors to the United Nations, said that — like the regular budget — peacekeeping rates of assessment should reflect Member States' capacity to pay while taking into account the special responsibility of the five permanent Security Council members. Specific additional peacekeeping discounts should be based on justifiable, objective and comparable criteria that would provide relief to countries with low per capita income, the EU delegate said.

Kumar further said that India calls for reform in the Security Council, and reiterated its readiness to fully assume financial responsibilities arising out from India's permanent membership of the Security Council.

"Our insistence on efficient utilization of resources and the entire current reform exercise would not mean much if assessments are not paid on time. All the members of the United Nations should honour financial obligations arising out of the membership in full, on time and without any conditions," he said.

Kumar noted that more than USD 3.3 billion assessed amount is outstanding and this is roughly one third of the annual assessment of the organisation.

"This hampers efficient deployment of resources in the service of mandates given by the member states. This situation put those member states that would have benefitted from the efficient implementation of mandates, and the member states that would have paid their assessments on time to a serious disadvantage,” he said.

He also noted that contributions of several developing countries including India are due for significant increase, based on the current methodology. He voiced India's commitment to fulfilling its financial responsibilities. India has paid in full its regular budget assessment for the year 2019 in advance.

Kumar said that despite the upcoming appreciable increase in India's assessed contribution, India believes that the current methodology has worked well and must continue.

The principles of "capacity to pay" and the "low per capita income adjustment" are fundamental criteria in the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations.

"They are not negotiable," he said adding that core elements of the current methodology of the scale of assessments, such as base period, Gross National Income, conversion rates, gradient, floor, ceiling for Least Developed Countries, and debt stock adjustment must be kept intact.

As the largest cumulative Troops and Police contributor to the peacekeeping operations, India is "acutely aware" of the role of adequate resources in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates.

"The failure to honour financial obligation in full towards the peacekeeping operations has over the years resulted in the prolonged and unacceptable situation of some closed peacekeeping missions ending in financial deficit," he said.

He expressed concern that Troop and Police contributing countries, who render the greatest service in maintaining international peace and security, are forced to wait endlessly for their payments.

"There are large amounts due to India both from the closed and active peacekeeping missions," he said.

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