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UN warns it may default on salaries by November in a cash crisis

David Wainer, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the global body is facing its worst cash crisis in about a decade and runs the risk of defaulting on payments to staff and vendors.

Many members are behind on their payments, forcing the U.N. to cut back on travel, purchases of goods and services and conferences, Guterres said. The cash crunch is "undermining the implementation of mandates decided by inter-governmental bodies," he added in a statement on Tuesday.

This year, 129 of the U.N.'s member states have paid $2 billion toward the organization's 2019 regular budget, the U.N. said. But about $1.4 billion remains outstanding. Among the 64 nations that have yet to pay their 2019 dues in full are Argentina, South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and the U.S.

Earlier this year, Guterres warned the U.N. was struggling with a worsening funding shortfall for peacekeeping operations as well as its regular budget due to member states failing to pay what they owe and byzantine budget rules that constrain the U.N.'s ability to move its money between accounts.

The U.N. already has been cutting back since the beginning of the year, holding off on hiring and containing expenditures globally to keep the cash shortfall from growing. Without those measures, Guterres said, the shortage in October could have reached $600 million and the organization wouldn't have had the liquidity to support the opening of the General Assembly debate and high-level meetings last month.

 

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