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Antonio Guterres says UN is running out of cash, warns member countries to pay mandatory contributions on time

United Nations: The United Nations (UN) is at risk of running out of cash, the UN chief has warned, urging member states to pay their mandatory contributions on time and in full to ensure that the world body can continue to deliver on its key mandates.

In a letter to UN staff, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had “written to member states regarding the troubling financial situation facing the UN”.

 Antonio Guterres says UN is running out of cash, warns member countries to pay mandatory contributions on time

File image of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. AP

“Caused primarily by the delayed contributions of member states to the regular budget, this new cash shortfall is unlike those we have experienced previously,” he wrote in the letter. “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,” the letter stated.

As of 26 July, as many as 112 member states, including India, have paid their regular budget dues in full. India made a payment of 17.91 million dollars on 29 January, 2018.

At the end of June 2018, the amount of money paid by member states for the 2018 assessment stood at around $ 1.49 billion. In the corresponding period in 2017, the amount paid to the regular budget was just over $ 1.70 billion.

So far this month, Iraq, Moldova, Japan, Lithuania and Mexico have paid their contributions, leaving the outstanding amount owed for 2018, at nearly $810 million.

A total of 81 nations are yet to pay their regular budget dues. These include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Maldives, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Syria, the US and Zimbabwe.

The US is the biggest contributor to the UN, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had said that other countries need to "step up" and pay a bigger share, adding that Washington's contribution will be capped at 25 percent. In 2017, the UN had agreed on $5.4 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The US had negotiated a reduction of over $285 million from the budget, saying the "inefficiency and overspending" of the UN are well known and it will "no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked".

Guterres said he has appealed to member states to pay their assessments on time and in full, and highlighted the risk the current situation poses to the delivery of mandates and to the reputation of the organisation.

His spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists here that the UN fully understands that some member states operate on different fiscal timetables, but unlike in previous years, the cash flow has never been this low, so early in the calendar year.

He also said the UN does not have much financial flexibility and relies on member states to pay their dues on time and in full.

Dujarric added that the UN Secretariat would now be looking into ways of reducing expenses, with a focus on non-staff costs.

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Updated Date: Jul 27, 2018 13:28:20 IST