By Nagesh Narayana
The United Nations has delayed the shift to international accounting standards to 2012 though it was supposed to have started in 2010 while the UN secretariat said it would implement it from 2014.
The issue came up during the introduction of financial statements of the United Nations and its funds and programs last month when representatives of the Board of Auditors and the Advisory Committee had expressed their concern to the Fifth Committee.
The board has also expressed concern that the unrealized profit and losses were not separately disclosed in the statements on pension fund investments. The board has taken exception to the fund's realized and unrealized losses which it said were excessive and showed no fixed tolerance level.
Warren Sach, the Secretary-General’s Representative for Investments, however, defended that risk control was high on their agenda and implementation of 128 controls, outlined in the Risk Management Manual, were under way.
Otherwise, the United nations Joint Staff Pension Fund which suffered its first actuarial setback in 2007-09 biennium bounced back from the turmoil in global financial markets reporting 32.2. percent jump in assets to $38.3 billion as of March 2010, said a report. Its market value jumped to $40.4 billion by October 2010, up from $26.7 billion it reported at the end of March 2009.
Set up more than 60 years ago by the General Assembly, the Fund provides retirement, death, disability and related benefits for 180,000 United Nations staff participants. The Fund is administered by the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board, which reports to the Assembly on the operations of the Fund and the investment of its assets.
The Fund’s first negative actuarial result last year was partially offset by cost-of-living adjustments, which were lower than expected, Chairperson Susan McLurg said as she introduced the report.
Vladimir Yossifov, Chairman of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board, said the Fund’s net loss of $467 million during 2009 was tackled primarily from the disposal of poorly performing assets.
The representative of Group of 77 and China, said the ongoing financial crisis made it imperative that the Fund should diversify geographically when investing.
The representative said developing countries were underrepresented in the Fund’s portfolio. “Investment in the developing world could provide balance in the market and avoid negative impacts and setbacks of markets,” he said and urged the Fund to diversity its investment by increasing investment in developing regions.