Statement on PFA/1 made by China on behalf of ASPAG at the 347th Session of the Governing Body of ILO
2023-03-13 18:47

(GB.347/PFA/1: P&B proposals for 2024-25, 13th March 2023)

Part 1(Section I Executive overview & IV draft decision on budget level):


1. I am speaking on behalf of ASPAG. I would like to start by thanking the Office for preparing the Director-General’s Programme and Budget proposals for the biennium 2024-2025.

2. The world of work is undergoing multifaceted and intertwined challenges such as unfolded impacts of Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, geopolitical conflicts, food and energy crises and high inflation. The global economic recovery is fragile and the inequalities within and between countries is exacerbating. As pointed out by World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023, in the midst of these challenging circumstances, major decent work deficits persist around the world, undermining social justice. In this demanding context, ASPAG together with all other tripartite constituents have high expectations for ILO to uphold mulilateralism and take an agile, impactful and human-centred approach to achieve social justice through decent work and ensure progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.    

3. ASPAG sees the merits of the current structure of the P&B with 8 policy outcomes with integrated policy responses and the 3 enablers aiming to build the Office as the global centre of excellence for knowledge, innovation, advocacy and outreach on all issues related to the world of work. While appreciating gender equality is re-identified as a dedicated policy outcome, we noted that skills and lifelong learning which used to be a standing-alone policy outcome has been merged into other relevant outcomes. We reiterate that skills and lifelong learning is a priority to our region and request the Office to ensure adequate budgetary resource in this area without any compromise comparing with the current biennium.  

4. ASPAG welcomes the ambition of the P&B to modernize the ILO’s normative system, build strong social dialogue and tripartism, advance the Decent Work Agenda with a human-centred approach and forge a Global Social Justice Coalition with enhanced policy coherence. We continue to support the training arm of ILO, the Turin Center, to strengthen its efforts in knowledge, innovation and capacity building including digital training. We also welcome the priorities identified for each region. In particular, as for the Asia and Pacific, we appreciate the focus given to transition to formal economy and development cooperation activities. Nevertheless, we would also request the P&B to pay closer attention to other priorities confirmed in the Singapore Statement concluded by the 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting which encompasses but not limited to skills and lifelong learning, gender equality, just transition and social and employment protection.

5. Chair! As a region accounting for more than 60% of the world working population, we stress our request to apply proportionate allocation of regular budget resource, in particular the regular budget technical cooperation resources to this region. We observed an estimated increase of 80 million extrabudgetary resources for the next biennium and ask the Office to realize this estimation by further implementing the Development Cooperation Strategy. We appreciate the movement of resources from administrative and support functions to frontline technical support to better accommodate the needs of the constituents on the ground and encourage the Office to accelerate this movement in future planning and programming activities.

6. ASPAG commends the Office for the efficiency gains with a total amount of US$18.4 million. Nevertheless, we also noted the proposed growth of the budget level including a 4.6% nominal growth and a 0.2% growth in real term which represent the largest cost increase since the last decade. We are grateful for DG’s mindfulness about the financial constraints faced by Member States due to the consequences of multiple challenges and crises. While ASPAG strongly supports the mandate of ILO, we are consistently in favor of a zero-growth budget. We encourage the Office to step up its efforts to absorb the increased cost by redeploying the efficiency gains, adjusting the expenditure, exploring more possible areas for future efficiency saving and ensure value for money across the Organization. At this stage, we are keen to hear the views of other GB members as well as the response from DG on the budget level proposed in the draft decision before we finalize our position. 

Part 2(Section II Policy outcomes & III enablers):

7. ASPAG supports the Office to modernize the normative action and advance strong social dialogue elaborated in outcome 1&2. We welcome the Office to  provide technical assistance and capacity building, in close consultation with the relevant Governments, in ratification and application of International Labour Standards. We also support the work of SRM and efforts to equip the ILO with a cclear, robust and up-to-date body of standards. ASPAG appreciates the efforts to achieve effective social dialogue and capacity building for tripartite constituents, in particular, the output 2.3 and 2.4 to strengthen the capacity of member states.

8. ASPAG strongly support the outcome 3 as full and productive employment for just transitions is the key to achieve sustainable economic recovery. Among others, we attach great importance to output 3.2 to increase capacity of member states to develop skills and lifelong learning systems. We also register our support to the promotion of sustainable enterprises outlined in outcome 4 and commend the creation of enabling environments for entrepreneurship, decent work and productivity growth set out in output 4.1. We recognize the Office’s proposal to deliver capacity building measures in relation developing more resilient supply chains in our region under output 4.2. We welcome outcome 5 to promote gender equality and equality of treatment and opportunities for all. Safe and healthy working condition is essential to achieve decent work, we support outcome 6 focusing on OSH, wage, working time, groups of workers facing a high risk of exclusion and labour migration. We also renew our support to outcome 7 aiming to promote universal, comprehensive, adequate and financially sustainable social protection systems, including floors.

9. Furthermore, we noticed quite a few output targets set for our region in policy outcome 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lack ambition and are lower or even have no target at all compared with the baseline. In our region, more than a third of targets are lower, or even have no target, compared with the baseline today. We understand the baseline and target in the Result Framework is preliminary and indicative but we are especially concerned about not having targets on priority areas for our region including the transition to the formal economy and gender equality. We ask the Office to provide further information on how these issues will be progressed, monitored and measured   to ensure areas of focus for the Asia and Pacific region in para 27 will be addressed with sufficient resources.

10. ASPAG acknowledges the value of integrated policy and institutional responses for social justice through decent work. We also see the merits for establishing 4 priority action programs. We note with great interests to the proposed Global Coalition for Social Justice as a framework to improve policy coherence.. We request the Office to ensure balanced geographical representation and tripartite structure in the Coalition partner composition. We are glad to share more detailed comments on this Coalition during the discussion of INS/4.  

11. ASPAG welcomes the reformulated 3 enablers. For Enabler A, we fully support the evidence-based approach and innovative practices applied in research, knowledge sharing and training. We encourage the Office to further expand its development cooperation partnership including through South-South and Triangular Cooperation and enhance its engagement in the UN development system at the country level. For Enabler B, we endorse the focus on improving ILO’s leadership and governance with increased organizational impact, well-informed decision-making as well as transparent and accountable management. For Enabler C, ASPAG strongly request the Office to adopt concrete and targeted measures to improve the geographical diversity and gender balance of the staff. However, we noted with regret that the Result Framework do not incorporate any indicators in this regard. Therefore, we ask the Office to take into full account those relevant indicators in the Human Resources Strategy for 2022–25 when implementing this Enabler.    

12. ASPAG is also aware of the various opinions expressed by GB members during the last session relating to the language used to describe population groups affected by discrimination and exclusion. While all views should be respected and taken on board, ASPAG calls upon all GB members, in the spirit of cooperation, to engage in constructive communications with a view to coming up with a pragmatic and consensual solution.

Thank you, Chair!