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COVID-19 giving rise to unexpected UN spending

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is giving a rise to some unexpected spending at the United Nations and the world body's liquidity crisis is continuing, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Monday at the daily virtual news briefing.

"The COVID-19 is giving a rise to some unexpected spending, including supply chain distribution, construction-related costs that will have to be managed. Officers are still assessing these," said Dujarric.

"Our liquidity crisis is continuing as, unfortunately, arrears at the end of 2019 had hit an all-time high and those arrears have only been cleared partially," he noted.

Talking about the austerity measures, the spokesman said that the top UN executive body has "asked managers to prioritise spending and also to halt any new recruitment."

"The bottom line for us is that we have to continue to keep expenses to a minimum to ensure cash, there's cash for salaries and invoices, both for the regular budget and for peacekeeping. And we're continuing to speak to member states at all levels to get greater certainty on their payments," he said.

On the payment of this year's regular budget operations, Dujarric said "the collections for 2020 for the first quarter are, unfortunately, trailing behind estimates that we had and we're still awaiting confirmation from a number of member states about their timing of their payment."

The UN accords its members 30 days from the beginning of the calendar year to pay their dues. But only 34 of the 193 member states settled their tabs within the 30 days allotted. As of April 3, only 78 member states had paid their dues, said the spokesman.

The secretary-general said last week in his letter to all member states that unpredictable cash inflows, exacerbated by the global crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, seriously threaten the UN's ability to do its work.

(Latest Update April 7, 2020

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