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Nigeria's Buhari unveils record budget

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AFP) — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unveiled a record budget plan to lawmakers, ramping up ambitious spending goals for his second term in charge.

The draft budget increased more than 13 per cent from last year at 10.33 trillion naira — around US$33.8 billion at an official exchange rate of 305 naira to the dollar.

It was based on a projected price for crude oil of US$57 per barrel and output of 2.18 million barrels a day from Africa's leading producer.

Nigeria is one of Africa's biggest economies but it has struggled to improve growth after emerging from its deepest recession in decades in 2017.

The Government put the growth rate at just over 2 per cent for the first half of 2019 and predicted it would rise to 2.93 per cent in 2020.

Buhari was elected for a final four-year term in February on pledges to boost the economy and create jobs for Nigeria's young and rapidly expanding population.

But the Government has consistently failed to fulfil its ambitious spending targets in previous years.

The focus for 2020 remained on infrastructure spending with housing, power, and transport receiving major chunks of the budget.

The authorities are trying to increase revenues as they look to wean Nigeria off oil and aim to increase value-added tax from 5 to 7.5 per cent.

The budget — which has to be approved by lawmakers — put estimated federal government revenue at 8.16 trillion naira for next year, leaving a deficit of some 2.18 trillion naira.

Debt servicing was predicted to gobble up 2.45 trillion naira of expenditure in 2020.


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