I am delivering this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and my own country, Norway.
Let me start by thanking the Deputy Executive Director and the Comptroller for the presentations at the beginning of this session.
We would like to express our appreciation for the unqualified audit opinion of the Board of Auditors for 2012. Reaching an unqualified audit opinion in the first year of implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) is a commendable achievement.
We have, however, also noticed the emphasis of matter and the recommendations of the Board of Auditors related to the relationship between UNICEF and the National Committees. It is appreciated that UNICEF will follow up on the recommendations of the Board of Auditors, including in terms of making appropriate amendments to the cooperation agreements with the National Committees and strengthening the monitoring of their implementation. Let us, however, also take this opportunity to recognize the important contributions of the National Committees to UNICEF’s incomes, in particular to regular resources.
We welcome the information provided by the Comptroller in this session on the rectifying measures introduced. We would also appreciate information on whether UNICEF sees any challenges. One such challenge, in our opinion, is how to account for advocacy activities promoting the rights of the child carried out by the National Committees.
We request for UNICEF’s view on whether these could be considered part of the National Committees’ contributions to UNICEF, as effectuating the agency’s universal mandate, rather than administrative costs.
Some additional efforts still seem necessary to ensure full compliance with the regulations for procurement and inventory management.
On the Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers (HACT), we welcome the inter-agency work underway to address the recommendations of the joint audit team. We encourage UNICEF and the other agencies to prioritize the finalization of the revised framework and to ensure its full implementation.
In line with the recommendation of the Board of Auditors, we urge UNICEF to implement stipulated quality control tests of pharmaceutical and nutrition products to avoid that products that do not meet acceptable standards are distributed.
It appears that UNICEF needs to clarify further which costs are directly attributed to programmes and which are considered part of Management costs and other supportive activities, especially at the level of Country Offices. This is key in the strive for full cost recovery and for compliance with the Executive Board decisions on cost recovery and harmonized cost classification categories.
We have noticed that the Board of Auditors underscores the need to improve evidence-based planning, budgeting and reporting. We assume that the Integrated Results and Resources Framework of the Strategic Plan 2014-2017 will form the basis for making the recommended improvements in all parts of the organization and also that necessary guidance will be provided to the entire organization.
Lastly, let me take this opportunity to encourage UNICEF to make more information about financial irregularity cases, including imposed sanctions, publicly available.