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Archived updates for Monday, October 03, 2005

WIPO Members Approve $410 Million Budget and Audit Committee

Here are a few highlights from the Program and Budget for 2006/2007 approved at the opening of the meetings of the Assemblies of the World Intellectual Property Organization running through October 5, 2005: According to WIPO's press release, Mrs. Carlotta Graffigna, WIPO Financial Controller, stressed that the program and budget introduced, for the first time, a policy based on budgetary balance after four consecutive biennia of budgeted deficits. "This, with no increase in the fees levied on the services provided by WIPO, no deficit, no surplus, reserves at the level set by member states, and efficiency gains in various areas," she said. Mrs. Graffigna emphasized that the financial situation of WIPO had been restored and that the financial biennium 2004/2005 will close with expenditure matching income.

Member states also approved the establishment of a WIPO Audit Committee and a WIPO Internal Audit Charter. The action was a formal response to recommendations made earlier this year by an independent U.N. Joint Inspection Unit ("JIU") team whose investigation in late 2004 found fault with WIPO’s practices.

According to William New writing for Intellectual Property Watch on October 2, 2005, JIU Inspector M. Deborah Wynes told the WIPO General Assemblies on 30 September that the Director General should hire independent external experts to perform a “desk-by-desk” needs assessment of the organisation’s human and financial resources. She also recommended approval of a 2006-2007 budget at the 2004-2005 level, and urgent consultations with other organisations such as the European Patent Office to determine the cost of processing applications under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty, its chief source of revenue.

Another recommendation was to limit transfers between programmes to five percent of the smaller programme involved. Wynes told the General Assembly on September 30, 2005 that the Director General should not have the ability to transfer up to five percent of the entire WIPO budget from one section to another, as even the U.N. Secretary General does not have the authority to transfer any funds. The concern at the U.N. level is that it is “tantamount to changing political priorities,” she said.

On personnel, the JIU recommended an immediate hiring freeze, an end to the transfer of positions with posts, approval of post reclassifications via the budget process, and the establishment of a comprehensive human resources strategy.

Uta Harnischfeger writing for The Associated Press on October 7, 2005 reported that the audit was precipitated by allegations of mismanagement and bribery, the latest of which concern the award of a contract for a building project at WIPO's headquarters in Geneva. The allegations center on Michael Wilson, a Ghanaian businessman and former vice president of Cotecna, a Swiss company mentioned in the investigation into the United Nations' oil-for-food scandal. Other allegations of mismanagement have been raised this year by media. The Geneva-based daily Le Temps has accused WIPO of wasting over 100 million Swiss francs (US$77 million; euro64.5 million) between 1998 and 2003 on two computer projects that were later discreetly abandoned. Other accusations have surfaced over the financing of a swimming pool on Idris' property.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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November 14, 2005 3:47 AM  
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