United Nations cuts corners under worst cash crisis

Updated: Oct 13, 2019, 11:37 IST | Agencies | United Nations

The UN announced a $1.4 billion shortfall on its operating budget this year, blaming the funding gap on around 60 states that had been late paying their dues

United Nations: Stalled escalators, the heating turned down, even the diplomats' bar closing early at 5 pm: already the UN budget crunch, one of the worst in a decade, is making itself felt in a series of measures announced by the world body on Friday.

"We really have no choice," said Catherine Pollard, a top official in the UN's management department. The main priority now is ensuring the next paycheck for the UN employees. In a letter to staff, Secretary General Antonio Guterres laid out the looming cutbacks he said would mean fewer flights and receptions, limits on hiring, fewer documents, reports and translations and even an end to water coolers.

Guterres called the crunch the "worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade." He warned the organisation "runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors."

The UN announced a $1.4 billion shortfall on its operating budget this year, blaming the funding gap on around 60 states that had been late paying their dues. Of those, just seven countries made up 90 percent of the deficit: the United States, whose outstanding payments top a billion dollars, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Israel and Venezuela. Contributions to cover peacekeeping operations —which come out of separate pot—have also suffered from tardy payment. In 2019, France for example owes another $103 million.

37k
No. of employees at the UN

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