The United Nations has been left with “no choice” but to cut down on expenses such as flights and recruitments in a series of measures due to its budget crunch, AFP reported on Saturday. “We really have no choice,” said Catherine Pollard, a top official in the UN’s management department. The question before the UN is how to pay salaries of 37,000 employees.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the cutbacks will mean fewer flights and receptions, limits on hiring, fewer documents, reports and translations and even an end to water coolers. He added that this was the “worst cash crunch facing the UN in a decade”. Guterres said the organisation “runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors”.

The $1.4-billion shortfall in the UN’s operating budget this year has been blamed on seven countries – the United States, with a debt of over a billion dollars, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Israel and Venezuela.

Guterres had said on October 7 that the world body is running a deficit of $230 million (Rs 1,630 crore) and may not be left with back-up reserves by the end of this month. Guterres told employees in a letter that the ultimate responsibility for the United Nations’ financial health lies with member states.

“Member states have paid only 70% of the total amount needed for our regular budget operations in 2019,” Guterres told 37,000 employees at the UN Secretariat.

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