Recognizing the excellent financial health and operational performance of the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF), the 69th session of the UN Pension Board concluded today, approving the Fund’s 2022 administrative budget, its 2020 financial statements and assumptions for the next actuarial valuation at 31 December 2021. The Pension Fund also made recommendations to the UN General Assembly on governance reforms to improve the effectiveness of the Board and changes in the Fund’s Regulations.
“The Board had a full agenda and made decisions on key items,” said Mr. John Levins, Chair of the Pension Board. “Importantly for our participants, retirees and beneficiaries, the Board was pleased that despite the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more than 90% of initial pensions were processed within 15 business days; pensions were paid on time; and investments showed a real rate of return of 4.84%, well above the 3.5% long-term target.”
“I thank the Pension Board for its continuous support to our modernization efforts,” said Ms. McClean, Chief Executive of Pension Administration, “The 2022 budget is aimed at strengthening our frontline services for the benefit of the Fund’s clients, with more staff dedicated to this function and a modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.”
“I am grateful to the Board for endorsing our investment strategy, in a volatile environment where safe performance becomes more challenging,” explained Mr. Guazo, Representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the Assets of the Fund. “We need now to combine profitability and sustainability, consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Board approved the 2020 audited financial statements, after reviewing the report of the United Nations Board of Auditors (BoA). “The BoA issued an unqualified (clean) opinion on the Fund’s financial statements, so everyone can have full confidence in the Fund’s accounts,” stated Chief Financial Officer Mr. Karl-Ludwig Soll.
The Board endorsed the assumptions for the next actuarial valuation as at 31 December 2021, which will be reviewed by the Board in 2022. The Board took note that the Fund’s Solvency Monitoring Dashboard as of 31 December 2020 had no high risks requiring immediate action.
On governance, the Board adopted a series of proposals on attendance of Board members with and without voting rights, frequency of meetings and efficiency measures aimed at improving the effectiveness of its oversight and decision-making process. Changes to the regulations were adopted to establish an ethics policy that complements its code of conduct.
The Board approved updated terms of reference for the Chair, responsibilities for Board members, as well as terms of reference for some of its committees to more clearly delineate their roles and accountabilities.
The Board also approved changes to regulations and rules related to the pension plan. This included measures to streamline the administration of disability cases, a framework for addressing cases where a beneficiary of a disability benefit is engaged in paid activities while remaining incapacitated, and in respect of its Pension Adjustment System.
The Board requested a study to be undertaken by the Chief Executive, with the support of member organizations, on pension cases that did not meet the benchmark and those for which not all three required documents have been received, and the reasons for the delay. Once this study is received, a decision will be made as to whether to request the Pension Administration to examine implications of making provisional payments. The Board also decided to grant additional discretionary authority to the Chief Executive to make advance payments in exceptional circumstances.
The outcome of the Board session will be communicated to the UN General Assembly (UNGA), which will review the Board’s report, taking into account the views of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The UNGA will then make final decisions on pension matters in a resolution to be expected in December 2021.
Representing the 25 Member Organizations of the UNJSPF, including the United Nations, the Pension Board is a subsidiary organ of the UNGA. It is responsible for the administration of the Fund, setting strategic goals and policies, providing general oversight and monitoring of the Fund’s operations in the best interests of its stakeholders.
 The benchmark refers to the target of Pension Administration to process initial pension cases within 15 business days.