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$5.15b UN budget, a drop from 2010, gets OK

UNITED NATIONS - The General Assembly has approved a budget of $5.15 billion to cover the United Nations’ regular operations in 2012-2013, cutting its two-year budget for the first time in 13 years by 5 percent.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who proposed a 3.2 percent budget cut in October, thanked the 193-member world body for agreeing to “cut fat’’ at a time when governments and people everywhere are struggling.

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He said he would instruct all managers to find new ways “to do more and better with less.’’

Joseph Torsella, US deputy ambassador, called the budget agreement historic, saying it was the first time since 1998 and only the second time in the last 50 years that the UN’s regular budget declined from the previous budget’s actual expenses. The UN spent $5.41 billion in 2010-2011.

The United States pays 22 percent of the UN’s administrative budget, and Torsella said the new budget “saves the American taxpayers millions of dollars and sets the United Nations on the path of real fiscal discipline.’’

UN peacekeeping operations are funded separately.

The regular operating budget was adopted Saturday after an all-night session.

Ban proposed changes to improve the UN’s efficiency, a reduction of 44 staff posts, and cost-cutting for operations, supplies, and equipment.

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