WHO Proposes Charging Member Nations in Swiss Francs

(Corrects to remove reference to budget deficit in first and second paragraphs of story published Nov. 26.)

The World Health Organization proposed requiring nations to pay half of their membership fees in Swiss francs instead of U.S. dollars as it seeks to reduce an imbalance between its income and expenditure in the franc.

Charging 50 percent of the biennial assessment in the Swiss currency and half in dollars would reduce the gap between the WHO’s income and expenditure in francs to $700 million from $1.2 billion, according to a document posted on the Geneva-based agency’s website today. Charging the full amount in francs would cut the shortfall to $200 million, according to the document. In both scenarios the WHO’s budget would be balanced by income and expenditure in other currencies.

The WHO has about 75 percent of its payroll costs in francs and gets all of its mandatory contributions in dollars. Additional voluntary contributions are made in dollars and other currencies. The organization’s purchasing power dropped by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010 because of the strength of the franc and the weakness of the dollar, the WHO said.

“Assessment in Swiss francs would allow the organization to match income to expenditure in Swiss francs in the long term and reduce the need to purchase Swiss francs, and thus significantly reduce its biggest currency risk,” the WHO said in the document.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Geneva at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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