The cash crunch at the United Nations has started reflecting in the recent cost-cutting measures that include stalled escalators, cancellation of meetings, limiting official travel among others. The cash crisis has also affected the air conditioning and interpretation of the United Nations’ six official languages. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ordered a slew of measures and wrote a letter to heads of all UN entities informing that the measures “will affect working conditions and operations until further notice.”
The United Nations is facing the worst cash crisis in nearly a decade.
"Member States have paid only 70 per cent of the total amount needed for our regular budget operations in 2019. This translates into a cash shortage of USD 230 million at the end of September. We run the risk of depleting our backup liquidity reserves by the end of the month," Guterres informed the employees of the UN Secretariat through a letter.
According to U.N. management chief Catherine Pollard, more than $1 billion is owed by just the United States for this year and $1.386 billion in total.
“The regular budget has been facing severe liquidity issues in recent years, with a growing downward trend whereby, each year, the situation becomes more dire than the year before,” Pollard said. “The cash deficits occur earlier in the year, linger longer and run deeper,” she added.
Last year as well, the UN Secretary-General had warned about the risk of running out of cash. He had written to the member states informing them about the financial crisis at the UN. “Caused primarily by the delayed contributions of Member States to the Regular Budget, this new cash shortfall is unlike those we have experienced previously”, wrote Guterres to UN staff in July 2018. “Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning: we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer,” he added.