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Guterres raises alarm over UN cash crunch

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday of a serious cash shortfall at the United Nations, telling staff in a message that cost-cutting measures are in store.

Guterres said the cash crunch was caused primarily by the failure of UN member states to pay their dues on time, adding that he had asked countries to quickly pay their share of the UN budget.

"Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning: we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer," Guterres wrote in the message posted to the UN's internal communications website.

The UN chief said "we will need to take measures to reduce expenses, with a focus on non-staff costs" and added that he had tasked the UN management department to come up with ways to cut spending.

The General Assembly in December approved a $5.4 billion two-year working budget for the United Nations, which is separate from the UN peacekeeping budget.

A total of 122 out of the 193 countries have paid their dues in full as of July, but this list did not include the United States, the UN's number one financial contributor.

During last year's gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, President Donald Trump complained that the United States was shouldering too much of the cost of the world body.

The United States pays 22 percent of the UN budget, followed by Japan, China, Germany and France.

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