May 21st, 2009 22:52 EST
UN Facing $1.5 Billion Budget Gap
UN NEWS CENTRE
The United Nations regular budget for 2008-2009 is facing a $1.5 billion gap, almost all of which is caused by nine countries in arrears, a top official with the world body said today.
Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, told a press conference in New York that the countries in arrears " and accounting for more than 90 per cent of the budget gap as of 7 May " are Brazil, China, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The UN Controller`s office listed the arrears, as of 7 May, as: $993 million (US), $121 million (UK), $104 million (Germany), $53 million (Republic of Korea), $33 million (China), $21 million (Brazil), $19 million (Norway), $13 million (Iran) and $13 million (Mexico).
The remaining outstanding arrears amount to $85 million, according to the office.
Ms. Kane said as of 7 May, 76 countries had paid their regular budget assessment in full, as opposed to 86 countries by the same date last year.
She said she understood that in the present financial and economic climate some Member States are having a harder time meeting their financial obligations.
Last December the UN General Assembly approved an almost 17 per cent increase in the current UN budget for the 2008-2009 period to $4.87 billion from $4.17 billion, including nearly $500 million for six months for peacekeeping operations in Sudan`s war-ravaged Darfur region.
Ms. Kane said there had been significant improvement in contributions to the UN`s peacekeeping budget, with two Member States accounting for 60 per cent of the outstanding arrears, and high expectations that the largest payments would be made very soon. In addition, 21 Member States were fully paid up on the peacekeeping budget, with the rest owing partial payments.
As for the UN`s $1.8 billion Capital Master Plan, which includes among other items extensive renovations for the Headquarters building, Ms. Kane said 84 Member States had either paid in full or are paying on time through an instalment plan, while 101 others had made partial payments.
The UN has a membership of 192 countries. The General Assembly has voted to allow seven countries to retain their voting right despite their not having paid their dues.
Asked about recent media reports alleging cases of sexual harassment at the UN, the management chief said the world body had a zero-tolerance policy on the matter, citing a recent dismissal of a staffer accused of sending and receiving pornographic e-mails, and a forthcoming revision of procedures which will allow sexual harassment accusers and the accused access to professional legal advice.