Pension Fund Welcomes General Assembly resolution

The Chairman of the 63rd Pension Board and the leadership of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, welcomed the draft General Assembly resolution of 13 December 2016 submitted by the Chair of the 5th Committee to the United Nations General Assembly. It is expected that the resolution will be adopted by the end of the year.

The UNJSPF is an inter-agency entity administered by its Board in accordance with the Fund’s Regulations and Rules. The Fund’s assets are administered under the fiduciary responsibility of the UN Secretary-General who appoints his representative to manage the investments. The Fund’s assets and liabilities are administered separately from those of the UN Secretariat. The Pension Board is responsible for the administrative and other rules of the Fund and reports to the General Assembly.

According to the governance structure of the Fund, the GA is responsible, among other matters, to review and monitor the financial status of the Fund, including its investment performance, to endorse recommended amendments to Fund Regulations and the Pension Adjustment System, and to approve the Fund’s budget.

Every odd year the Pension Board recommends to the GA for approval a biennial operating budget. In even years, as was the case in 2016, the Board reviews a wide variety of topics related to the actuarial valuation of the Fund’s assets and liabilities, the administration of the Fund, and makes recommendations, inter alia, for changes to Regulations.

This year’s draft GA resolution (A/C.5/71/L.6) took into account all of the recommendations that the 63rd Pension Board made in its Report (“Report of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund” (A/71/9)). The GA approved the suggested amendments to the Regulations of the Fund, on article 24 (restoration of service) and article 41 (medical standards), and approved an amendment to the Pension Adjustment System (paragraph 26).

Exceptionally for a non-budget year (2016), the Board recommended that the GA authorize additional resources for the Fund to respond to the surge of new separation cases that coincided with the implementation of the new ERP system (the Integrated Pension Administration System or IPAS) and resulted in delays of payment of initial pension benefits.

In this respect, the Chairman of the 63rd Board, Vladimir Yossifov, was disappointed that the 5th Committee did not fully recognize the urgency of the Board’s recommendation for new temporary posts to respond to the critical situation with the implementation/stabilization of the IPAS system and the surge in new separations.

During its 63rd session, held last July in at the IAEA in Vienna, the Board considered that the extraordinary circumstances merited an extraordinary response, which is why it decided on several measures (details to be found in the Board’s report to the GA) and also requested additional resources for additional posts in a non-budget year.

The Fund is pleased that the GA resolution recognized the successful implementation of IPAS and welcomes the end-to-end review undertaken by the Fund’s Secretariat in cooperation with the UN and other member organizations, and requests heads of UNJSPF member organizations to take appropriate steps to ensure that the administration of retiring staff is not delayed.

Misconceptions
As part of its Administrative Rules, and in line with the Governance structure of the Fund, the Pension Board approved the Fund’s Financial Rules during its 63rd Session. The GA, as stated above, has no role to play in accepting or endorsing any of the Fund’s administrative rules, which are decided by the Pension Board. The GA had approved an amendment to article 4 of the Fund’s Regulations in 2014, which made reference to such Financial Rules, which the GA had also welcomed.

The GA resolution, reconfirmed what the Board stated in its report, and in line with the newly approved Financial Rules of the Fund, that UN Financial Regulations and Rules continue to cover the administrative services provided by the United Nations’ Secretariat to the Fund, in areas related to procurement, property management and internal and external audits (internal audit services provided by OIOS).

Since the CEO of the Fund works under the authority of the Pension Board, the Board would never ask the GA to endorse the evaluation of the CEO of the Fund. The Board’s evaluation (see below) would simply be noted by the GA or its subsidiary body (in this case the ACABQ).

“In the report on its sixty-third session, the Pension Board took note of the evaluation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund and approved the conclusions and recommendations of the Evaluation Panel, including that his overall performance has been effective and successful, and that reappointing the current Chief Executive Officer would provide for the critical continuity of programmes already under way and the required institutional memory.”

Paragraph 19, ACABQ report to the GA (A/71/621)

The Fund also welcomes the fact that this GA resolution has convinced critics that the Pension Fund will not distance itself from the United Nations (“privatize”) and that it will continue to use the UN machinery to service its administrative needs, which includes the OIOS, as highlighted in the GA resolution. The Board have reiterated this fact for a number of years.

Conclusion
The leadership of the Fund and the Pension Board are pleased that 2017 is starting with the Fund secretariat processing more cases than at any time in its history – monthly rates of over 1,400 cases compared to a monthly average of 800 cases until beginning of 2015. At present rates the Fund should be able to process new separation cases within four weeks in early 2017.

“This year, 2016, was a transition year at the Fund, as noted by the GA, and too many people waited too long and both the Board and the GA recognize this fact. We have turned a corner, the new IPAS system is up and running, new services are being made available, and the Fund is working on streamlining a number of measures,” stated Chairman Yossifov.

The Fund welcomes the on-going interest of participants and retirees and calls on all interested parties to read the documents linked to this report and to reach out to Associations of Former International Civil Servants (AFICS), the local Staff Pension Committees or the Fund’s Secretariat both in New York or Geneva, if they have any questions. Factual and accurate information about the Fund and its activities is found in these documents and on the Fund’s website.

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