Topnews, Statements

04. May 2021

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 4 MAY 2021, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 2: THE AGENCY’S FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR 2020, INCLUDING THE REPORT ON THE EXTERNAL AUDITOR

Madam Chair,

1.    My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica on behalf of the G77 and China and I would like to make the following additional remarks.

2.    South Africa thanks the Acting Deputy Director-General for his introductory remarks and the Secretariat for preparing the documentation under this agenda item. Similarly, my delegation appreciates the thorough briefing provided during the Workshop on Financial and Budgetary Matters held on 15 April 2021.

3.    Madam Chair, South Africa welcomes the Agency’s Financial Statements for 2020, which indicate the IAEA’s continued strong overall financial health; as well as a high Regular Budget utilisation rate, which reaffirms the Secretariat’s commitment to prudent financial management. However, a few issues need careful consideration moving forward.

4.    Firstly, while we acknowledge the Agency’s overall financial health, South Africa has taken note with concern of the increasing reliance on extra-budgetary contributions for a growing number of activities, some of which are financially significant. We are of the view that should this trend continue to expand it will impact the effectiveness, independence and sustainability of the work of the IAEA.

5.    Secondly, we have noted that travel and training expenses have decreased by a total of €29.7 million and €33.5 million respectively. Moving forward, my delegation cautions against automatically entrenching these savings. For example with regard to travel we have noted that whilst there was a general saving with regard to travel mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we noted in the Director General’s report on IAEA Safeguards Implementation during the COVID-19 Pandemic as contained in GOV/INF/2021/5 that there was a significant increase in travel costs in executing the IAEA Safeguards mandate. This is why it is important moving forward that along with the Financial Statements, and other Programme and Budget documents Member States must be furnished with detailed expenses, as well as an annex detailing the exact savings and efficiencies identified.

6.    Thirdly, we reiterate the importance of in-person training and education, especially in developing countries and we acknowledge that more can be done with less. However, we caution against automatically dismissing a return to in-person training and education once the pandemic has subsided, as a cost-saving measure. In the short-term, practical training cannot be replaced by remote training especially in this field.

7.    My delegation is also concerned about the significant allowance for uncollected assessed contributions, which has increased by € 8.6 million - an indication of the increased amount of contributions that are in arrears. This unfortunate development presents a liquidity risk for the Agency and subsequently, its programmes and activities which many of us rely on. South Africa therefore encourages all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full and on time.

8.    In relation to the Report of the External Auditor for 2020, we welcome the unqualified audit opinion on the IAEA’s Financial Statements for the reporting period. We thank the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia for the independent and professional manner in which it has executed this important task over the past number of years, which is an example of Indonesia’s commitment to the international good governance.

9.    We welcome the recommendations of the External Audit and their acceptance by the Secretariat and look forward to their implementation and hope that we will be kept informed on the progress. We are particularly pleased with Recommendation 13 which talks to the need to expand the VETLAB Network to other regions through intensive outreach efforts. Doing so, is not only in support of ZODIAC but will best serve Member States in the detection, characterisation, diagnosis, tracing and management of transboundary pathogens of zoonotic diseases.

10. With these brief comments, my delegation takes note of the Agency's Financial Statements for 2020, as contained in document GOV/2021/5, and documents GOV/INF/2021/16 and GOV/INF/2021/18. 

Thank you.

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