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With $230 million deficit, United Nations could run out of money by October end, warns UN chief Antonio Guterres

Guterres stated that unspecified "additional stop-gap measures" would be needed to pay salaries and entitlements to employees. Member states have only paid 70 per cent of the total amount needed for regular budget operations in 2019.

The United Nations is running a deficit of $230 million and could run out of money by the end of this month, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

In a letter addressed to the 37,000 employees at the UN secretariat, Guterres said unspecified “additional stop-gap measures” would be needed to pay salaries and entitlements to employees.

“Member states have paid only 70% of the total amount needed for our regular budget operations in 2019. This translates into a cash shortage of $230 million at the end of September. We run the risk of depleting our backup liquidity reserves by the end of the month,” he wrote.

The UN Secretary-General Guterres said member states of the international body have only paid 70 per cent of the total amount needed for regular budget operations in 2019.

In a bid to cut costs, the UN chief also proposed postponing conferences, meetings and also reducing services. He also mentioned restricting official travel to only essential activities along with taking measures to save energy.

Reportedly, Guterres had asked member states earlier this year to increase contributions to the world body citing cash flow problems but the proposal was rejected. He said the ultimate responsibility for the UN’s financial health lies with the member states and only their funding can help sustain operations.

Besides the amount it pays towards peacekeeping operations, the report stated that the UN’s operating budget for 2018-19 is close to $5.4 billion.

Early in January, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres had warned of a liquidity crunch situation and had held te member nations responsible. Guterres had stated that U.N. member states owe nearly $2 billion in peacekeeping funds and the USA is responsible for a third of that amount.

The United States is responsible for 22 per cent of the $5.4 billion regular budget for 2018 and 2019 and more than 28 per cent of the $6.7 billion peacekeeping budget for the year to June 30.

According to UN officials, the United States owed $381 million to the regular budget as of January 1 and $776 million to the peacekeeping budget.

However, President Donald Trump had lamented that Washington is shouldering an unfair burden of the cost of the United Nations and had advised the UN to reform its operations.

Adding to that, the United Nations owes money to some contributing countries. The UN owes India $38 million, the highest it has to pay to any country for the peacekeeping operations as of March 2019. As of March 31, 2019, the total amount payable to troop- and police-contributing countries with respect to active peacekeeping missions was $265 million.

The top contributing countries are India, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Rwanda. The respective countries pay their troops according to their national salary scales and are reimbursed by the United Nations. As of July 2018, the UN paid $1,428 a month per soldier.

According to a report written by UN chief Guterres in April this year, the UN owes $38 million to India, followed by Rwanda ($31 million), Pakistan ($28 million), Bangladesh ($25 million) and Nepal ($23 million).

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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