The United Nations 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 United Nations”.
“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 July 26, 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 January 29 this year.
At the end of June this year, the amount of money paid by member states for the 2018 assessment stood at around USD 1.49 billion. In the corresponding period last year, the amount paid to the regular budget was just over USD 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 USD 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 United States and Zimbabwe.
The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 per cent of the USD 5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 per cent of the USD 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 per cent. Last year, the UN had agreed on USD 5.4 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The US had negotiated a reduction of over USD 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.