ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES OF ESCAP AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF INTENDED CONTRIBUTIONS
(Item 8 of the provisional agenda)
TECHNICAL COOPERATION ACTIVITIES OF ESCAP AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF INTENDED CONTRIBUTIONS
Note by the secretariat
UNDERTAKEN BY THE SECRETARIAT
1. The Commission, at its previous sessions, while commending the initiatives of the secretariat in the implementation of technical cooperation activities within the framework of technical and economic cooperation among developing countries (TCDC/ECDC), had expressed the view that fully functioning TCDC national focal points constituted a fundamental and essential element of successful TCDC activities. In that connection, due emphasis was to be given to strengthening the TCDC national focal points of least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition; the participation of these countries in promotional and TCDC activities was also to be expanded. The secretariat's technical cooperation programme in 1998 adhered to the decisions and directives of the Commission as well as the priorities set by it.
A. TCDC/ECDC-related activities undertaken by the secretariat
in 1998 and planned for 1999
2. In 1998, the secretariat implemented a total of about 100 promotional TCDC/ECDC-related activities within the framework of its subprogrammes on regional economic cooperation; environment and natural resources development; social development; transport, communications, tourism and infrastructure development; statistics; population and rural and urban development; and development research and policy analysis. In line with the recommendations of the Commission, the activities involved member and associate member governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. In addition, the secretariat promoted and facilitated the participation of approximately 65 officials in 23 operational TCDC activities, which included training, seminars, study visits and workshops. Participation in these activities has contributed to enhancement of the technical capabilities of officials, particularly from the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition, in a broad spectrum of areas, including biogas technology, solar energy application, biotech industry, environmental protection and environmental technology, renewable energy, customs computer applications, transport environment, urban management, desert control science and technology, sustainable development, food processing, women entrepreneurship development, population information technology, statistics (measurements of poverty), water resources management, trade promotion and foreign investment.
3. The beneficiary countries of operational TCDC activities included Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Viet Nam, while the capacity countries included China, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
4. In follow-up to the cooperation arrangement signed between ESCAP and the Government of Malaysia for a third country training programme, ESCAP financed the travel costs and living expenses of one participant each from Bangladesh, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal and Samoa in the training course on economic development, management and poverty eradication, and one participant each from Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Samoa and Tonga in the training course on integrated project planning and management, both of which were held at Kuala Lumpur from 6 July to 1 August 1998.
5. For 1999, plans are under way to finalize the participation of least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as economies in transition, in a number of training courses scheduled for implementation towards the later part of 1999, within the cooperation arrangement between ESCAP and the Government of Malaysia. Similarly, within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between ESCAP and the Government of Singapore, two training activities will be implemented in Singapore; the first, entitled "Developing an effective placement service for people with disabilities", will be a joint ESCAP/International Labour Organization activity and is scheduled to be held from 1 to 4 March 1999 for participants from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam, while the second, entitled "De-seasonalization of time series" will be held from 15 to 26 March 1999 for participants from China; Hong Kong, China; India; Indonesia; Macau; Malaysia; Philippines; Republic of Korea; Sri Lanka; and Thailand.
6. The secretariat will continue to finance the participation of least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as economies in transition, in TCDC activities implemented by the Governments of China, Malaysia and Singapore under their respective TCDC programmes, in follow-up to the TCDC sensitization workshops for TCDC national focal points.
B. Strengthening the TCDC national focal points of least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as economies in transition - action by the secretariat in 1998 and plans for 1999
7. In 1998, the secretariat continued with the sensitization of the TCDC national focal points of selected least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as economies in transition, in the Asian region.
8. In cooperation with the Department of Aid to Foreign Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of China, and with financing provided by the Government of Japan, the secretariat conducted a workshop on TCDC national focal points for selected least developed countries and disadvantaged economies in transition in the Asian region, at Beijing from 20 to 23 July 1998. Through that workshop, TCDC national focal points from Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam were sensitized to the benefits of TCDC; they were also briefed on the roles, functions, organizational structure and financing of the TCDC national focal points of China, Indonesia and Singapore as well as their respective TCDC programmes, including the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme, and on how the countries could access these TCDC opportunities with assistance from the ESCAP TCDC supplementary fund.
9. A number of the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition, have subsequently participated in the various training courses implemented by the Governments of China, Malaysia and Singapore under their respective TCDC programmes. Participation in TCDC activities organized by Indonesia under its TCDC programme will also be facilitated.
10. In the light of the positive feedback received from the TCDC national focal points concerning the sensitization workshops organized by the secretariat, the secretariat and the Department of Aid to Foreign Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of China has scheduled the implementation of another sensitization activity for a broader spectrum of countries in 1999. Plans are also under way for a study tour by TCDC national focal points of selected least developed countries and economies in transition in the Asian region to the TCDC national focal point of Indonesia in 1999, within the framework of the Agreement between ESCAP and the Government of Indonesia on Technical and Economic Cooperation, signed on 29 September 1997. In addition, the secretariat will carry out in-country consultations and sensitization visits to some TCDC national focal points at their request, and as follow-up to the workshops and study tours implemented by the secretariat. Through such efforts, the secretariat hopes to further enhance the role of TCDC national focal points in the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition, in their efforts to expand their participation in TCDC activities, and to benefit from the experience and expertise available from the more advanced developing countries.
11. The generous contributions by the Governments of China, the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea to the ESCAP TCDC supplementary fund have greatly facilitated the implementation of operational TCDC activities by the secretariat. In line with the Commission's decisions, the secretariat has devoted regular budget resources for the implementation of TCDC/ECDC activities within the framework of tripartite arrangements and it will continue to mobilize additional resources for the implementation of activities aimed at further strengthening the TCDC national focal points in the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition, and enhancing their participation in TCDC activities. The recipient countries, on their part, are also expected to meet certain requirements; for example, the allocation of resources for TCDC activities, submission of their TCDC needs to the secretariat, speedy response to invitations from the secretariat, nominating qualified participants to the training courses, and ensuring timely submission of evaluation reports upon conclusion of the training courses. As TCDC activities are usually tripartite in nature, involving the beneficiary countries, the partner countries and ESCAP, the extent of the success of such endeavours depends upon the full cooperation of all the parties involved. The extent of the benefits to each individual country would thus depend on the efficiency of the TCDC national focal points.
II. EXTRABUDGETARY-FUNDED TECHNICAL COOPERATION
ACTIVITIES OF ESCAP
12. Extrabudgetary assistance is provided to ESCAP on a voluntary basis by individual governments, organizations and agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, in the form of cash contributions (funds-in-trust) or assistance in kind through the secondment of experts on a non-reimbursable loan basis, the provision of host facilities, equipment, and so on.
13. This section reports on the source and composition of the extrabudgetary funding of the Commission's technical cooperation activities in 1998. The evolution of extrabudgetary resources of ESCAP from 1982 to 1998 is presented in figure I.
14. For 1998, extrabudgetary resources represent about 37.20 per cent of the resources available to ESCAP, as can be seen from figure I. These resources provide a major source of funding for the implementation of the ESCAP technical cooperation programme as well as the programme and institutional support of the subsidiary bodies of the Commission.
1. Cash contributions
15. In 1998, ESCAP received US$ 16,387,043.65 in cash from several sources within and outside the United Nations system for the implementation of its technical cooperation activities. This amount represents a decrease of US$ 5,794,919.87 (or about 26.12 per cent) compared with the previous year's amount of US$ 22,181,963.52.
16. A summary of the cash contributions in 1998, by source, is given below:
a/ See annex II.
b/ See annex I.
17. The sources for the above contributions are further illustrated in figure II.
18. The United Nations system contributed a total of US$ 5,717,509.44, representing 34.89 per cent of the total extrabudgetary resources received.
19. The United Nations regular programme of technical cooperation provided US$ 2,204,800.00 for advisory services and fellowships. In 1998, 96 advisory missions to 40 developing members and associate members were undertaken by a corps of 13 regional advisers (138 work-months) and by secretariat staff. Similar services were rendered by advisers who were made available by donor countries on both a funds-in-trust and a non-reimbursable loan basis.
20. ESCAP received an allocation of US$ 726,769.92 from UNDP in 1998, as compared with US$ 2,949,282.00 in 1997, under its intercountry programme for Asia and the Pacific. The 1998 allocation represents a substantial decrease of US$ 2,222,512.08, that is, about 75.36 per cent compared with the 1997 allocation.
21. The UNFPA allocation amounted to US$ 2,248,675.00 in 1998 for 13 projects executed by ESCAP, as compared with US$ 2,366.711 in 1997. This represents a decrease of US$ 118,036, that is, 4.99 per cent over the previous year's allocation.
22. Contributions by other United Nations agencies and bodies to the ESCAP programme of work totalled US$ 537,264.52.
23. Donor and participating developing countries contributed US$ 10,302,708.55, or 62.87 per cent of the total cash received in 1998, as compared with US$ 13,013,861.57 in 1997. Contributions from eight developed donor countries (Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden) account for 80.62 per cent (US$ 8,305,661.08) of the total bilateral assistance received. Among developing countries or areas, the Republic of Korea, China, India, Macau, were the largest contributors, providing US$ 718,538.77, US$ 298,442.00, US$ 289,000.00 and US$ 179,000.00 in cash respectively. The extrabudgetary assistance in cash (funds-in-trust) is listed by donor in annex I.
24. Information on the contributions of United Nations systems agencies and other organizations is provided in annex II.
2. Contributions in kind
25. In 1998, donor countries and developing members of ESCAP provided a total of 317 work-months of the services of experts on a non-reimbursable loan basis in various disciplines, as compared with 312 work-months of such services received in 1997. A list showing extrabudgetary assistance in kind is provided in annex III.
26. The cash contributions received can be divided into two categories:
(a) Cash contributions for projects implemented by the secretariat under the ESCAP programme of work: US$ 12,579,086.72, equivalent to 76.76 per cent of total cash contributions received;
(b) Cash contributions for the Pacific Trust Fund and ESCAP/POC and the institutional and programme support of the three regional institutions, APCTT, the CGPRT Centre and SIAP, as well as RNAM: US$ 3,807,956.93, or the equivalent of 23.24 per cent.
27. The allocation of the total extrabudgetary cash contributions received in 1998 for the two categories is illustrated in figure III. As noted in paragraph (a) above, 76.76 per cent, orUS$ 12,579,086.72, remained available for operational activities to be carried out by the substantive divisions or units of ESCAP under the programme of work of the secretariat. This represents a substantial decrease of US$ 4,188,664.68 (or 24.98 per cent), as compared with US$ 16,767,751.40 in 1997.
28. The allocation of total extrabudgetary cash contributions (bilateral and multilateral) in 1998 over the various sectors of activity (excluding special projects and regional institutions), is illustrated in figure IV.
29. In 1998, 86 projects under the programme of work (excluding special projects and programme support to regional institutions) were approved by bilateral donors in the amount of US$ 6.65 million. The allocation of the bilateral cash contributions over the various programmes is illustrated in figure V.
30. The comparative programming pattern of bilateral cash contributions for the various programmes during the period 1995-1998 is illustrated in figure VI.
31. The allocation of the multilateral contributions in 1998, amounting to US$ 5.93 million over the various sectors of activity (excluding special projects and regional institutions), is illustrated in figure VII.
32. Funding requirements for new project proposals awaiting bilateral donor support out of the 1998-1999 contributions for implementation in 1999 amounted to about US$ 6.7 million.
III. EXTRABUDGETARY RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS FACED BY THE ESCAP TECHNICAL COOPERATION PROGRAMME
A. Extrabudgetary constraints on fuller implementation of the ESCAP technical cooperation programme
33. ESCAP continues its efforts to assist developing members and associate members, in particular the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, as well as the economies in transition, through its technical cooperation programmes. The economic and financial crisis facing South-East Asia will continue to have an adverse impact on the region. The Commission may wish to request all donors, from both developed and developing countries, to at least maintain the level of their extrabudgetary contributions to the work of the secretariat.
B. Institutional viability of the regional institutions and the Regional Network for Agricultural Machinery
34. As regards the extrabudgetary requirements of the three regional institutions, APCTT, the CGPRT Centre and SIAP, and RNAM, contributions by the donors and participating countries to their institutional support have fallen short of requirements.
35. The inability of the regional institutions to ensure their institutional viability has seriously affected their efforts to obtain adequate resources for the implementation of their respective programmes of work. At its fifty-third session, the Commission recommended that member countries increase their efforts to meet the institutional costs of the regional institutions, in order to ensure continued implementation of the very beneficial and useful activities carried out by those institutions. The Commission also recommended that participating countries should consider increasing the minimum level of contributions to US$ 2,000 by the least developed countries and US$ 30,000 by the other developing countries. The Commission may wish to reiterate this proposal.
36. The Governing Board of APCTT at its thirteenth session held at Manila in November 1998, critically reviewed the feasibility of setting up an "Endowment Fund". In that regard, it recommended that the Commission should adopt the recommendation "to build up the agreed Endowment Fund as an interest-free loan to the Centre". Specifically, it recommended that member countries should provide, annually over a period of five years, US$ 5,000 by the least developed countries and US$ 20,000 by the other developing countries, in addition to the institutional support currently being provided to the Centre. The Commission may wish to consider and decide on this recommendation.
EXTRABUDGETARY RESOURCES PROVIDED BY BILATERAL DONORS IN CASH (FUNDS-IN-TRUST)
EXTRABUDGETARY RESOURCES PROVIDED BY THE UNITED NATIONS
SYSTEM AND BY NON-GOVERNMENTAL AND
EXTRABUDGETARY (NON-REIMBURSABLE) ASSISTANCE IN KIND