BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
THE United Nations (UN) is facing its “worst cash crisis” in nearly a decade following the non-payment of US$1,38 billion in membership contributions.
As of Tuesday, only 129 out of 193 UN member States had paid their regular budget dues amounting to US$1,99 billion towards the 2019 regular budget assessment.
While Zimbabwe paid its dues, it could be severely affected by the UN cash crisis as it faces one of its worst food security crisis since independence due to drought, exacerbated by macro-economic challenges.
“The secretary-general (Antonio Guterres) has written to member States about the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade. The Organisation runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors,” UN spokesman for the secretary-general, Stéphane Dujarric, said while speaking at the international body’s headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
“Stressing the Charter obligation of member States, the secretary-general thanked the member States who have paid their regular budget assessments in full, which is now up to 129, and urged those who have not paid to do so urgently and in full. This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally.”
He added that the secretariat could face a default on salaries and payments for goods and services by the end of November unless more member States paid their budget dues in full.
“The secretary-general has, therefore, requested additional steps to be taken immediately, including further reduction in official travel, postponing spending on goods and services and discontinuing events scheduled outside official meeting hours at headquarters duty stations,” Dujarric said.
“In addition, conferences and meetings may have to be postponed or services be adjusted. The secretary-general is reviewing further options. The secretary-general noted that this is a recurrent problem that severely hampers the Secretariat’s ability to fulfil its obligations to the people we serve. We are now driven to prioritise our work on the basis of the availability of cash, thus undermining the implementation of mandates decided by inter-governmental bodies.”
Currently, the most urgent matter the UN is addressing in Zimbabwe is assisting the southern African nation in securing US$331,5 million in humanitarian funds for the period July 2019 to April 2020.