WHO proposes workaround to deal with strong franc

Some currencies are more desirable than others... Keystone

The strong Swiss franc is adding to the problems of the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), which is expecting a budget deficit of over a billion dollars in the next two years.

This content was published on November 28, 2012 - 14:02 and agencies

Three-quarters of WHO salaries are paid in francs while most states’ contributions are made in US dollars, which has been struggling against the Swiss currency. The body has therefore suggested its members pay at least half of their contributions in Swiss francs rather than in dollars.

One US dollar is currently worth 93 Swiss cents. Five years ago it was worth SFr1.1.

The WHO secretariat has put forward two currency options, according to the Swiss News Agency. The first, which it recommends for adoption, says that if states were to pay half their contributions in francs, this would reduce the predicted deficit from $1.2 billion to $700 million. It they paid entirely in francs, it would cut it to $200 million.

The impact of the strong franc has made itself felt elsewhere too. The WHO began a series of reforms two years ago. It already cut 350 of its 2,400 jobs in Geneva last year.

The executive council will discuss the new contributions proposal in January. If it is approved, it will go to the WHO general assembly in May. The new system would not come into force until 2014 at the earliest.

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