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Massive personnel costs weigh down IMO budget

IMO to slim down and increase its efficiency. The consequences of this decision include disbanding two subcommittees. The 2014-2015 budget of GBP 90 million has already been approved. 75 percent is related to staff costs.

Photo: IMO

IMO wants to become a more effective organization, but it'll take some time, according to the Danish Maritime Authority's records from the IMO's council meeting in London, which was held for the 110th time in mid-July.

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One of the ways in which the IMO will become more effective is by reducing the number of subcommittees. Thus the Council supported this process, which means that the nine current subcommittees will be reduced to seven. This structure will come into effect from January 2014.

Secretary General of the IMO, Koji Sekimizu, presented his budget for 2014-2015, at a total of GBP 90.07 million, or around USD 138.3 million. The budget proposal led to "extensive discussions" but was ultimately approved as a majority of the member states supported the proposal. According to the Danish Maritime Authority, the member states supported initiatives presented by the Secretary General aimed at tightening the IMO's budget.

The proposal also led to a series of questions regarding the hiring and firing of personnel as well as personnel costs, which amount to 75 percent of the total IMO budget.

"The Council supported the proposal to reduce the number of positions by 33 while also manning 29 other positions. In relation to discussions concerning personnel costs the Council called for the Secretary General to raise the Council's concerns regarding the general pay raises in the UN system at the UN General Assembly and the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)," writes the Danish Maritime Authority.

Priorities

At last year's Council meeting the Council went through lengthy discussions concerning the best way to prioritize tasks and resources within the IMO, which resulted in a work group headed by Great Britain with the purpose of developing a proposal for a prioritizing method. However, this method has not been completed.

"The Council expressed general recognition of the work group's efforts though there was widespread agreement that the prioritizing method had not yet been sufficiently developed. The Council therefore decided that efforts to find a method for prioritizing the IMO's tasks will be taken over by the Risk Management group, which will meet in early 2014. To make sure that the work group has sufficient time to properly discuss the matter, The Council decided that the group will have three working days this time," writes the Danish Maritime Authority in its records.

Administrative burdens in shipping were also discussed at the meeting, and a steering committee will review the matter until the end of October. The steering group's final report will be ready by the end of 2014. Similarly, the Council also discussed the coming mandatory auditing system of the member states, which will come into effect in 2016. The Council called on member states to provide auditors for the system, and it was discusses whether auditors should be volunteers or whether they should be hired by IMO. In this regard, Denmark asked about the financial consequences of the two possibilities. Secretary General Koji Sekimizu promised to return with more information.

The Council also noted the decreased number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, while it expressed concerns regarding developments in West Africa. The Council thus called on the Secretary General to produce a draft for a resolution for this region.

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