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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN May Slash 1,000 From Payroll

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali proposed Monday to take a big step in pulling the United Nations back from the brink of financial insolvency by cutting 1,000 people from the world body's 10,000 permanent employees.

In a budget proposal for 1996 and 1997, Boutros-Ghali said that these personnel cutbacks, combined with other belt-tightening economies, would save the UN's $140 million.

If the savings are realized, they would cover nine-tenths of the $154 million shortfall between what the UN secretariat originally proposed to spend in the two years, and the no-growth budget of $2.6 billion approved by the General Assembly.

Top UN officials had warned in February that the staff eventually might have to be reduced by up to 1,150 positions because of the budget crunch. But until now, Boutros-Ghali had been publicly committed to target only 200 posts for elimination.

In his new proposal, the secretary general calls for finding 800 additional positions that would be left vacant for the indefinite future, although they would not be eliminated from the secretariat's organizational chart.

The vacancies would come from both the professional staff, which runs the organization, and general service workers such as secretaries, clerks and maintenance personnel. To create the vacancies, the United Nations would rely first on attrition, strict enforcement of retirement age, a freeze on hiring and voluntary buyouts. But, Boutros-Ghali warned, if these measures are insufficient, he would be forced to fire people from the staff, which employs citizens of all 185 member states.

Boutros-Ghali also said substantial sums could be saved by eliminating construction projects, streamlining paperwork and canceling many of the meetings held by the United Nations. All are measures that have been urged by the Clinton administration, which is trying to persuade Congress to help ease the worsening UN financial crisis by paying the $1.5 billion that the United States owes in back dues.

However, Boutros-Ghali stressed that reducing expenses also will mean a cutback in many of the programs and services that the world, particularly in developing regions, has come to expect from the UN.

"No programs would be terminated, but delays and postponements caused by resource reductions are to be expected," he said.

James Rubin, spokesman for the U.S. delegation here, said while the United States does not agree with all aspects of Boutros-Ghali's report, the administration views it "generally as a positive step ... It shows that the United Nations has taken a serious step down the road to making hard choices in budget reform."