Monday, January 30, 2017

UN Pension - cost of living increase, 30 January 2017


From: AFICS <> 
Date: Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 3:04 PM 
Subject: Pension Increase

Dear Colleagues, 
Further to my earlier note and based on the official USA CPI data, the April 2017 increase for monthly UNJSPF pensions paid on the US-dollar track will be 3.6% (i.e. 0.1% higher than the estimated 3.5% mentioned in my earlier note).

hn Dietz, President



"Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 3:02 PM
Subject: CPI increase on US dollar track

"GREAT NEWS. Under the UNJSPF Pension Adjustment System, for monthly pensions on the US dollar track there will be a cost-of-living (CPI) increase of at least 3.5%, effective 1 April 2017; this increase will be reflected in the  monthly benefit paid by the Pension Fund at the end of April 2017. (For recent retirees, the CPI increase will be pro-rated, based on the starting date for the UNJSPF pension entitlement.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

UN Pension Fund off-course: Who’s at the helm? 28 January 2017

The UN Dispute Tribunal cites “unlawfulness” in the Fund’s selection for a vacant D1 post; low investment performance continued in 2016; there are concerns about outside consultants, performance of the Pension Board Chair and Board members, including FAFICS, the UN retiree representative organization, and participant representative elections. Guterres must be firmly at the helm if our Fund is to correct course.

General Assembly resolution 71/265, adopted on 23 December 2016, took to task the Pension Fund leadership on both sides (Secretariat and Investment Management Division, IMD) for serious managerial deficiencies (see link). The resolution calls for remedial action from the Secretary-General and the Fund leadership in order for the Fund to correct course.
Five weeks after adoption of the resolution and almost a month since the Secretary-General took up his duties, has there been any progress?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pension Fund: UN Staff Unions to SG Guterres at Global Townhall: "We count on you to change our fund's leadership.", 9 January 2017

UN Staff Unions to Secretary-General Guterres at global townhall: We count on you to change our Fund's leadership.

"And for staff who retire, the current two months wait to get paid, even if down from six months last year, is too long. The fund’s staff work so hard. But its leadership stumbles from one mess to another. The General Assembly heard us and blocked the fund’s exit from the UN. We now count on you to change the fund’s leadership."

"Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today held his first global townhall with UN staff (video here). [link below to UN webtv video).
A representative of staff unions, speaking at 16.25, called for major reforms concerning staff selection, performance management, gender balance, mobility, staff safety, the pension fund, whistleblower protection, management accountability and impact on the ground. Staff representatives from Bangkok, Nairobi, Beirut, Addis Ababa and Santiago followed, with an emphasis on the reviewing plans for the global service delivery model. The statement text is below. We look forward to working closely with Guterres on these matters. . . "


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

UN Pension Fund: Now the truth is out, where does it go from here? 3 January 2017

Note: Click on the link (below) to Susan Manuel's Passblue article to see Lee Woodyear's comment (Senior Communications Officer, UN Pension Fund), and UN Pension Blog's response, both posted on 6 January 2017

Susan Manuel’s Passblue article, see link below, concerning the recently adopted General Assembly resolution, (S/Res/71/265, linked in the article) notes that the  resolution in "sharply rebuking the Pension Fund", reaffirms the Secretary-General’s control over the fund’s financial rules and regulations; requests the Secretary-General to “make all efforts to improve the Pension Fund’s performance”, including low investment performance and $3.4 billion foreign exchange losses over 2014-2015; provide a performance evaluation of the RSG for investments; and entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services with conducting a comprehensive review of risk management, investment management, and other administrative processes at the Fund.

The Board of Auditors report (A/71/5/Add.16, paras. 86 and 88) noted that in 2011, the Fund decided to treat the selection of external investment managers as an investment decision rather than a procurement exercise. Yet, at the end of 2015, no guidelines for their evaluation or selection had been finalized, thus "the Fund may have to renew the contracts with the existing fund managers and therefore miss the opportunity to hire better external managers and negotiate more favourable terms and conditions.”

We understand from reliable sources that the Investment Management Division has never compared its brokerage commission fees with its peers, although such data is widely available through custodians. If this is correct, it seems negligent. One of the actions that must happen is the comprehensive OIOS audit called for by the GA resolution must include an audit of brokerage commissions paid for each region to ensure that IMD is paying reasonable commissions compared to industry peers. 

While they're at it, OIOS might wish to look into why the CEO insists on selecting (twice so far) an OIOS staff member for the D1 post of Chief, Information Management Systems Service, despite findings of unlawfulness (twice so far) by the UN Dispute Tribunal.

UN General Assembly Urges the $54 billion Pension Fund to Shape Up, 3 January 2016

The United Nations General Assembly sharply rebuked the United Nations Pension Fund, which it oversees, reaffirming control of the $54 billion account by the UN Secretariat and calling on the fund to improve its problematic performance and service to its 72,000 beneficiaries.
The strongly worded resolution came amid other resolutions being finalized at the tail end of the assembly’s 71st session in late December. The pension fund has been embroiled in problems affecting both investments and payouts to beneficiaries. (See PassBlue’s article in September 2016.)
The fund’s recent inability to pay thousands of recent retirees — some waiting for more than a year — after initiating a new software system has been one of many thorns in the side of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he prepared to leave office on Dec. 31, 2016. (António Guterres became the new secretary-general on Jan. 1.)
Addressing retirees in May, Ban promised that the payment delays would be cleared up by the end of that month. But the fund is still struggling to catch up.
For more than two years, UN staff unions and retirees have protested a series of changes proposed by the fund’s chief executive officer, Sergio Arvizú, charging that he was moving the fund from UN oversight into an environment prone to risk, corruption and exploitation by outsiders. The fund, which had long been managed by internal staff members, has in recent years turned 15 percent of its portfolio over to commercial investment managers. . .