By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS (AA) - Faced with its worst cash flow crisis in a decade, the UN will start axing fancy cocktail soirees for ambassadors, an official told reporters Friday.
The UN will also switch off its iconic fountain, elevators and heating beginning Monday in a bid to cut costs.
Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, Catherine Pollard, told reporters of “very dire” cash shortages because of $1.3 billion that member states owe in 2019 dues.
“For the second successive year, we’ve exhausted all the regular budget liquidity reserves despite several measures we already put in place to try and reduce expenditures and to align them with available cash reserves,” said Pollard.
Tightening their belts ever-further, the suites that UN ambassadors use to wine and dine fellow diplomats, politicians and policy wonks will be closed for cocktail parties and other events scheduled after 6 p.m. (1000GMT), said Pollard.
“I know that many of you also go to some of the functions that are hosted by delegations in the delegates’ rooms. Those functions are going to be curtailed from next Monday,” Pollard said.
“We had several events that were in the pipeline, and we are currently reviewing all of those with the sponsors to see how we can accommodate them.”
UN staff will only be allowed “essential travel,” said Pollard. There will be cutbacks on interpreters, translators and the issuing of documents, while radiators and escalators will be switched off to save power.
Even the landmark fountain in the plaza in front of the UN secretariat building, a 100-foot (30-meter) illuminated circular pool that was donated by American schoolchildren in 1952 , will be switched off in the economy drive.
Although most of the UN’s 193 members have paid their 2019 dues in full, more than 60 countries still owe cash, including its top contributor, the United States. This has left the world body with a 30 percent hole in its budget.