Dear Mr Chairperson, Distinguished Members of the ABAF,
I would like to extend to all of you a very warm welcome to the Fifty-Third Session of the ABAF.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your very important service to the OPCW and to acknowledge the engagement of the newest ABAF member, Mr Ashutosh Jindal.
I would like to take this opportunity also to introduce to you Mr Adam Boys, our new Head of Budget and Finance at the OPCW, who in keeping with past practice will serve as Secretary of the ABAF.
A number of important topics are before you this week, principally the audited 2021 OPCW Financial Statements, the Long-form Report of the External Auditor, and the Mid-Biennium Draft 2023 Budget Update.
2021 OPCW Financial Statements and Long-form Report
As you will be aware, the 2021 financial closure is the first such closure in the OPCW’s new ERP system. A financial closure in a new ERP system is a very challenging task under the best of circumstances, but in the case of the OPCW we also faced a substantial tenure-driven turn-over of staff in the Budget and Finance Branch – including the Head of Accounts – coinciding with the closure and reporting period.
Against this backdrop, I heartily commend the outstanding work of our Accounts Team, not least the new Head of Accounts, Riadh Jribi, for their tireless and skilful efforts that produced once again an unqualified audit opinion from the External Auditor on both the 2021 OPCW Financial Statements and the 2021 Provident Fund Statements.
I would also like to recognise the extraordinary efforts of the External Audit team to complete their very thorough audit on a substantially tighter than usual schedule, owing to the additional time the Technical Secretariat required to produce the 2021 financial statements in the new system for the first time.
You will recall that allowing for this extra time was recommended by the previous External Auditor, requested by the Technical Secretariat, endorsed by ABAF, and approved by the Conference. The new External Audit Team subsequently faced and mastered a rigorous schedule to complete its work.
In this connection, I am very pleased that Mr Satish Sethi, Leader of the 2021 External Audit Team for the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), will be able to present the CAG’s audit report during this meeting.
Draft Mid-Biennium 2023 Budget Update
The Director-General introduced the draft midbiennium 2023 budget update proposal contained in EC-101/DG.1 on 11 July, consistent with the biennial budgeting principles and Financial Regulation 3.3.
The primary considerations of the Technical Secretariat in its review of the budgetary requirements for 2023 are the impacts of unforeseeable significant global inflation above central bank projections in 2021, and the evolving physical security requirements of OPCW facilities.
The financing for the 2023 draft budget revision includes proposals for timely and effective use of the 2020 cash surplus. These proposals for States Parties’ consideration address the 2019 cash deficit, avoid any changes to assessed contributions in 2023, and provide for the periodic and necessary replenishment of the special funds for OPCW equipment and infrastructure.
We look forward to receiving the benefit of your reflections and advice on these and other key topics for the Organisation.
Allow me again to extend my welcome and my appreciation for the important contributions you make to the work of the OPCW.