Saturday, August 12, 2006

U.S. Gets as Much as it Gives to the U.N.

The United States, which pays 22 percent of the U.N.'s regular annual budget of 1.8 billion dollars, has arrogantly demanded a dominant voice in management and administration -- primarily because it is the biggest single financial contributor to the world body.

"U.N. member states, and particularly its largest contributors, want to know if they are getting the most value for the dollars they contribute," says Mark P. Lagon, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for international organisation affairs.

"People who look to the United Nations for help want to know that, too," he told the Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives early this year. But what he failed to tell the committee is what the United States, in turn, extracts from the United Nations -- financially and politically.

According to the latest figures released by the U.N., the United States has consistently held the number one spot in grabbing U.N. procurement contracts, averaging over 22.5 percent of all U.N. purchases annually. "On a cost-benefit ratio, the United States gets as much -- or even more -- than what it gives to the United Nations, "says one senior U.N. official who deals with procurement.

In 2002, the United States received 24 percent (194.3 million dollars) of all U.N. contracts, which totaled 812.6 million dollars. In 2003, the corresponding figures were 21.8 percent (194.5 million dollars) out of a total of 891.8 million dollars.

In 2004, the United States took in 24.1 percent (315.8 million dollars) of all U.N. contracts, amounting to a total of 1.3 billion dollars. In 2005, the percentage was 20.4 percent (331.0 million dollars) out of total U.N. purchases of 1.6 billion dollars.. Trailing far behind in second place is Russia, whose contracts were well below the United States: 13.3 percent in 2002 (108.2 million dollars); 10.1 percent in 2003 (90.3 million dollars); 10.7 percent in 2004 (139.9 million dollars) and 7.7 percent in 2005 (125 million dollars).

And Russia pays only 1.1 percent of the U.N.'s regular budget compared with the 22 percent paid by the United States. The scale of assessments for each of the 192 member states is determined every three years on the basis of "capacity to pay" -- including gross national product.

Ranking behind the United States in budgetary payments are Japan (19.5 percent of the U.N.'s regular budget), Germany (8.6 percent), Britain (6.1 percent), France (6.0 percent) and Italy (4.8 percent). The 25-member European Union, on the other hand, claims it is the largest contributor because collectively it accounts for 37 percent of the budget.



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