United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again sounded a warning that the world organisation is facing a financial crunch and may run out of funds by the end of this month.
With only 128 of the 193 member countries having paid their dues in full as of October 3, he has reportedly warned UN staffers that the organisation faced a shortfall of $230 million. The UN's regular budget for the year is $5.4 billion and it is separate from the peacekeeping budget of $6.5 billion.
India paid up its $23.25 million dues for the regular budget on January 30 itself, one of the few countries to pay up on time. If the funds don't flow in this month from more of the nations in arrears, the UN will likely continue its operations by dipping into its working capital fund temporarily.
One of the reasons for the shortfall is the US, which funds 22 per cent of the UN's regular budget amounting $674 million, not having paid up in full so far. Because members do not send in their dues at the beginning of the year and the funds trickle in, the UN faces periodic budget crises. The number of countries paying in full has fallen significantly this year compared to previous years.
Only 127 countries had sent in their contributions this year by the end of September compared to 141 last year. Guterres had told the General Assembly's budget committee in May, "We are at a tipping point and what we do next will matter for years to come."
"Despite numerous efforts to contain expenditures this year, we are likely to run out of cash in August and, therefore, borrow from the Working Capital Fund," he had warned, but the UN managed to coast along till now. Guterres wrote to member countries in July last year when its finance went into a crisis mode, "An organization such as ours should not have to suffer repeated brushes with bankruptcy."
The UN has a separate budget for peacekeeping operations, which also operates consistently in a deficit mode. As India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin has repeatedly pointed out, this affects the countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping operations that are owed millions to offset their expenses and salaries of the peace-keepers. While India can absorb the delay, it can badly hurt smaller countries like Nepal and Rwanda.
(By Arul Louis)