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Saturday 19 October 2019
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TT among 64 bad-pay countries to UN

THIS country is one of 64 out of 193 yet to pay their mandatory annual contribution to the United Nation’s regular budget and working capital fund for this year. This is the account that allows the international body to conduct its day-to-day activities.

In a statement read yesterday via his spokesman at the regular noon media briefing in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres implored member states to pay their dues or risk the organisation defaulting on payments including salaries and goods and services.

To date, member states have paid US$1.99 billion towards the 2019 regular budget assessment. The outstanding amount is US$1.3 billion. Countries' contributions are scaled, with least developed countries paying the minimum cap of 0.01 per cent of the total budget. TT’s contribution to the UN is 0.04 per cent. The United States, the biggest contributor to the UN's budget with 22 per cent, also has not yet paid its 2019 dues.

According to budget documents, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TT’s estimated contribution to the UN Regular Budget and Working Capital Fund in 2019 was to be TT$5.7 million (US$838,000).

Its total contribution to the different bodies including the International Criminal Court (ICC), UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the UN Peacekeeping Operations was supposed to be TT$14,157,445. Instead, the country paid only $900,300 to the organisation.

Those contributions were to the ICC, the International Criminal Tribunals and the International Seabed Authority Exchange in the Field of International Law. The 2020 total estimates for Ministry of Foreign Affairs payments to the UN are $14,146,000, including $5.7 million for the regular budget.

In 2018, the country paid $11.34 million to the UN, including $5.6 million to the budget fund.

TT also contributes to other UN departments via other ministries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses did not immediately respond to Newsday’s request for comment, nor did a representative of the TT Permanent Mission in New York.

By the end of September, only 70 per cent of total assessments to the regular budget had been paid, compared to 78 per cent at the same time last year. Had the organisation not contained expenditure from the beginning of the year, the SG said, the cash shortfall in October could have reached US$600 million and the organisation would not have had the liquidity to support the opening of the General Assembly, the General Debate and high-level meetings last month.

“To date we have averted major interruption in our operations. These measures are no longer enough. The Secretariat could face a default on salaries and payment on goods and services by the end of November unless more member states pay their budget dues in full… This is a recurrent problem that severely hampers the Secretariat’s ability to fulfil its obligations to the people we serve. We are now driven to prioritise our work on the basis on the availability of cash thus undermining the implantation of mandates decided by governing bodies. The SG therefore looks to member states to resolve the structural issues that underlie this annual crisis without further delay.”

To further curtail spending, the SG has requested cuts in travel, postponing spending on goods and services and discontinuing events scheduled outside official meeting hours, as well as postponing conferences as he reviews further options.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said while the organisation understands that some countries work on different budget cycles and traditionally pay later in the year, “what we are seeing this year is more and more countries are paying much later in the year, which has aggravated the cash crisis.” TT's financial year runs from October 1 to September 30.

“The Secretary General’s message to all countries is they have an obligation under the charter to pay their dues to the UN and all should do it,” Dujarric said.

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