UN / BUDGET SHORTFALL UPDATE

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11-Oct-2019 00:02:51
Facing a severe cash-flow shortfall, the United Nations is suspending some services and “curtailing official travel of staff to only essential activities,” Catherine Pollard, the UN management chief told reporters in New York on Friday. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / BUDGET SHORTFALL UPDATE
TRT: 2:54
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 11 OCTOBER 2019, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE

1. Exterior shot, UN Headquarters

11 OCTOBER 2019, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
3. Med shot, podium
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy, Compliance:
“For the second successive year, we’ve exhausted all the regular budget reserves despite several measures we’ve already put in place to try and reduce expenditures and to align them with available cash reserves.”
5. Med shot, podium
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy, Compliance:
“There is going to be delays in issuing official documents. We have put on hold publishing and translating treaties and publications, we are curtailing official travel of staff to only essential activities. We are not going to be able to host events such as receptions before eight in the morning and after six [PM]. Cooling and heating services are going to be reduced and some escalators to floors already serviced will be shot down, as well as the main fountain in the circle.”
7. Wide shot, press room
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy, Compliance:
“We are looking at this in terms of all member states who are obliged to pay their contribution in full and on time and we have been in touch with member states who owe significant amounts of money to the organization to see and to encourage them so that we can have that cash forthcoming so that we will be able to meet our obligations both for salaries and for vendors by the end of the year.”
9. Med shot, podium
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, United Nations:
“Essentially we are trying to ensure that we have enough cash to be able to settle the vendors’ bills for October and November and we expect the situation to hopefully ease by then. So, in a nutshell therefore we are looking at a compliment at about 200 to 250 million dollars, which is the gap that we have experienced because of the slowing down of the money that was supposed to come. If it had come on time based on all the measures that we have taken, we would’ve been able to ride out the storm.”
11. Med shot, podium
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, United Nations:
“Now we are at the point where I still need a 135 million dollars to pay the salaries and I cannot even afford to pay 40 million dollars. So, I have to save every penny that I can save and what choices do I have? Do I say now don’t pay the air charter bills that we have to have in Afghanistan? That’s the kind of calls we are making on a daily basis. So, we don’t have a complete visibility so that I can pick and choose and say this is going to save me this amount of money. Clearly, we are trying to save all the non-post costs, that anything that can be postponed minimizing the impact should be postponed, so that we can see globally where we stand.”
14. Zoom out end of press conference

STORYLINE:

Facing a severe cash-flow shortfall, the United Nations is suspending some services and “curtailing official travel of staff to only essential activities,” Catherine Pollard, the UN management chief told reporters in New York on Friday (11 Oct).

“For the second successive year, we’ve exhausted all the regular budget reserves despite several measures we’ve already put in place to try and reduce expenditures and to align them with available cash reserves,” said Pollard and went on to detail which services will be curbed: “There is going to be delays in issuing official documents. We have put on hold publishing and translating treaties and publications, we are curtailing official travel of staff to only essential activities. We are not going to be able to host events such as receptions before eight in the morning and after six [PM]. Cooling and heating services are going to be reduced and some escalators to floors already serviced will be shot down, as well as the main fountain in the circle.”

By the end of September, Member States had paid only 70 percent of the total assessment for the regular budget of the United Nations, compared with 78 percent at the same time last year. The Secretariat had put in place multiple measures since the beginning of the year to align expenditures with cash inflows. These included adjusting hiring and other non-post expenses based on expected cash availability.

Had it not contained expenditures globally from the beginning of the year, the estimated cash shortfall in October could have reached $600 million and the Organization would not have had the liquidity to support the opening of the General Assembly debate and the high-level meetings last month.

Catherine Pollard, who is the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy, Compliance said “we have been in touch with member states who owe significant amounts of money to the organization to see and to encourage them so that we can have that cash forthcoming so that we will be able to meet our obligations both for salaries and for vendors by the end of the year.”

Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, said, “Essentially we are trying to ensure that we have enough cash to be able to settle the vendors’ bills for October and November and we expect the situation to hopefully ease by then. So, in a nutshell therefore we are looking at a compliment at about 200 to 250 million dollars, which is the gap that we have experienced because of the slowing down of the money that was supposed to come. If it had come on time based on all the measures that we have taken, we would’ve been able to ride out the storm.”

Channdramouli described the problems that cash shortfall is causing: “Now we are at the point where I still need a 135 million dollars to pay the salaries and I cannot even afford to pay 40 million dollars. So, I have to save every penny that I can save and what choices do I have? Do I say now don’t pay the air charter bills that we have to have in Afghanistan? That’s the kind of calls we are making on a daily basis.”

To date, Member States owe almost USD 1.4 billion of their contribution to the organization. Among them is United States - the UN’s biggest contributor with a total debt of about one billion USD.
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