UN: Guterres Limits Operating And Travel Expense Amidst Cash Crisis

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The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has ordered all UN facilities and operations around the world to deal with the UN' worst cash crisis

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has ordered all UN facilities and operations around the world to bear in mind the organisation's worst cash crisis so far on October 12, and find more ways to contain the situation. He cancelled meetings, issued orders to limit official travels and also plans to reduce the use of air conditioning and heating in all facilities. Additionally, it has been reported that escalators have also been stopped, as part of the measures to save up on electricity.

The UN chief said in a letter to the heads of all UN entities that the emergency measures "will affect working conditions and operations until further notice." UN management chief Catherine Pollard told the General Assembly's budget committee on Friday that 128 countries had paid USD 1.99 billion in dues for the UN's 2019 operating budget by October 4. She said USD 1.386 billion is owed for this year by 65 countries including more than USD 1 billion by the United States. 

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Earlier on Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the world organisation is facing a severe liquidity crisis, reaching its deepest deficit of the decade and will not have enough cash by next month to cover payrolls. As he sounded a dire warning on the world organisation's financial situation, Guterres called on the 193 Member States to pay their financial dues on time.  

"The Organisation is facing a severe financial crisis. To be more specific, a severe liquidity crisis. The equation is simple: without cash, the budget cannot be properly implemented, Guterres said Tuesday in remarks to the General Assembly's Fifth Committee, which deals with administrative and budgetary issues, on the Proposed Programme Budget for 2020. 

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Budget implementation depending on cash availability

The United States is responsible for 22% of the USD 5.4 billion regular budget for 2018 and 2019 and more than 28% of the USD 6.7 billion peacekeeping budget until June 30, 2019. Guterres said for the current biennium, budget implementation is no longer being driven by program planning but by the availability of cash at hand. 

Among the stringent measures being put in place to deal with the financial situation, Guterres said that in 2019, managers have been instructed to adjust their hiring and non-post expenditures owing to liquidity constraints. This undermines mandate delivery and goes against our efforts to focus less on inputs and more on results, he said.  

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No unnecessary event after 6 pm 

The UN Secretariat will also no longer be able to support any non-mandated events after 6 pm, a decision that affects operations in New York, Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi and at the regional commissions. Our work and our reforms are at risk, he said. Guterres said that the money could not be spent, as and when it was required, because the UN did not receive it on time. 

He reiterated his call to the Member States to not reduce the requirements for 2020 based on past expenditure patterns. He also said that this would only worsen an already alarming situation. Instead, I urge you to allow us to use the unspent balances -- even if they are small -- to supplement our liquidity reserves.  

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(With agencies input)

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