Thu, Mar 24, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Nigeria planning to spend US$1.7bn to revive economy

Reuters, LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria’s government plans to pump 350 billion naira (US$1.76 billion) in the next quarter into Africa’s biggest economy hit hard by a slump in oil revenues, Nigerian Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun said on Tuesday as parliament prepares to pass a much-delayed budget.

Africa’s top oil producer is grappling with its deepest economic crisis in years, brought on by the fall in crude prices.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari presented a record US$30 billion budget in December last year, but asked for its withdrawal a month later to make changes after a further drop in oil prices.

The total budget has not changed, but the deficit has risen to 3 trillion naira from 2.2 trillion.

Giving details of the amended draft, Adeosun said the government plans to spend 350 billion naira in capital expenditure in the next quarter alone.

“Companies that had laid off staff and those that had abandoned projects are going back to sites and the economy will bounce back,” she said in a statement, without saying how the spending would be funded.

Senior Nigerian lawmakers on Tuesday said they expected parliament to pass this year’s budget this week, after a three-month delay to allow for revisions after a decline in oil prices.

Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Twitter that parliament would ensure the budget was passed this week.

Voting on the budget was postponed last month because ministers could not agree on revised public spending plans.

Nigerian central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said the bank’s monetary policy committee had urged “speedy passage of the 2016 budget to halt the depressing effect of the uncertainty that engulfs the waiting period.”

Nigeria has held talks with the World Bank and has looked at borrowing from the African Development Bank and China Exim Bank to plug the budget gap as oil trades at about US$30 a barrel, down from more than US$100 in 2014.

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