Thursday, August 21, 2008

COMMENT: How Much Discretion? U.N.’s Anti-Poverty Program Wants Unlimited Spending Power

Um, On First Glance, I Vote Not Only “No,” But “HELL NO!“

Especially when you get facts like these:
  • The United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s anti-poverty agency, which systematically ignored its own financial rules and regulations while funneling millions of dollars to North Korea, wants to give its chief operating officer the right to make out discretionary checks of unlimited amounts, without normal budgetary approval.
  • That’s up from the current limit of $50,000 which can be dispersed without regulatory oversight.
  • UNDP argues that the new ability to write such checks without normal authorization would only bring its discretionary powers into line with those currently exercised by other U.N. programs, like UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP).
  • The problem is that at the Rome-based WFP, the use of the same unlimited discretionary authority to pay off job-eliminated contract employees was condemned just last year as a $90 million abuse of authority and a violation both of U.N. payment rules for contractors, and of fairness to longer-term employees.
  • The condemnation was issued by the only budget oversight committee that includes the entire membership of the U.N. It was ignored both by WFP bureaucrats and by the WFP’s 36-nation governing executive board.
  • UNDP’s desire to have the same unlimited discretionary power for its No. 2 bureaucrat, Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, is contained in support documents for the next meeting of its own, similarly-sized executive board, which meets in New York City from September 8 to 12.
  • The discretionary money is known in technical parlance as “ex gratia” funds, which UNDP describes as “payments which are made where there is no legal liability to UNDP, but the moral obligation justifies making such payments, which are in the interest of UNDP.” The question of what defines that interest is left to top administrators to decide.
  • The whole article is filled with examples of UN malfeasance or potential malfeasance, which - trust me! - is just as bad, from what I read.

Not only “No!” but “HELL NO!”

1 comment:

External said...

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was paid $1500 a month by the UN Development Program earlier this decade, on top of his official presidential salary, UNDP has told Inner City Press. UNDP says the goals of these payments, in which the Swedish government and financier George Soros joined, were to allow the Georgian "government to recruit the staff it needed and also to help remove incentives for corruption."

While receiving these $1500 monthly payment, Saakashvili committed to increase tax collection in Georgia. Deals were signed with , among others, British Petroleum, for the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan oil pipeline. UNDP, and presumably its two co-funders, applauded this development.