I attended a meeting on February 17 in the Department of Labour at which preliminary examination was given to instructions prepared by the Department of Finance on administrative and financial questions which will be before the 121st Session of the ILO Governing Body. Committee meetings of this Session will get under way next Monday. Those present were: Mr. Paul Goulet, Department of Labour; Mr. M.G. Clark, Department of Finance; Mr. E. de Lotbiniere, Department of Finance, and myself. The Department of Labour had previously made available to the other two Departments copies of documents relating to the meeting of the Governing Body. The Department of Finance was asked for instructions on financial matters and our comments were sought on the political aspects.
We gave major attention at this meeting to the financial instructions which had been prepared in draft form by Mr. Clark. The chief point made in these instructions was that the Delegation should resist any increase In the ILO budget and should strive to uphold the principle of "stabilization". By this I believe the Department of Finance means the adoption of a budget no higher than that of last year, but they realized that this objective may not be achieved.
The suggestion had been included in the instructions that the establishment of two new field offices for technical assistance work might be deferred until another year.1 I thought it unwise to have an instruction given to the Delegation in this form. With India a member of the Governing Body, I felt that it would be inconsistent for Canada to be limiting technical assistance plans in ILO while encouraging them in the Colombo Plan. Mr. Clark agreed to revise this passage so as to emphasize the importance which Canada attaches to technical assistance work. He would ask the Delegation to take the position that a close examination should be made of this proposal to ensure that the funds required for administration were not out of line with the amount spent on actual operations.
Subsequently, Mr. Goulet indicated to me on a personal basis that he was greatly concerned at the rigid position the Delegation was asked to take on the budget increase. There had been an exchange of letters at the Deputy Minister level within the past week on this question but the views of the Deputy Minister of Finance had not altered.
Mr. Goulet informed me the following day, however, that his Deputy Minister had discussed the budget question with the Deputy Minister of Finance and had obtained the latter's reluctant concurrence in an increase of 3 1/2% in the budget. The Delegation could agree to this if it found that there was strong support for such an increase on the part of other members of the Governing Body. Since there was accord on the basic principle of "stabilization" it would be left to the members of the Delegation to determine the tactics they should follow when the budget was up for discussion.
Notre copie du document porte l'annotation suivante ; les mots illisibles ont ÚtÚ mis entre crochets [ ... ] : The following was written on this copy of the document; [...] indicates words which are illegible:Mr. [Bruce] Keith: Your third paragraph. I think the point is whether the particular purpose is in itself sufficiently worthwhile having regard to overall funds available i.e. general question of "priorities". I think we must watch overstressing of stabilization. To be committed to economy does not involve continual resistance to necessary increases for worthwhile projects. I gather we stabilize by cutting out projects not really considered worthwhile. If we reach a point where worthwhile projects go we must reconsider. My idea of stabilization [ ... ] is perhaps more generous than Finance told you but I don't think too far apart. Real question is to what extent [ ... ] projects that can be eliminated without damaging whole scheme. Finance always says there are many. If they are right we need not differ, if however their economy is really preventing agencies from doing a job we must I think fight. G.B. S[ummers]