ABUJA, DECEMBER 5, 2017 – Nigerian lawmakers approved the government’s $74 billion expenditure plan for the next three years, paving the way for the adoption of the 2018 record budget aimed at spurring economic growth after a slump.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration proposed a budget of 8.6 trillion naira ($23.9 billion) next year, and 9 trillion naira in both 2019 and 2020 for Africa’s biggest oil producer and most-populous nation. The benchmark crude price in the budget is $47 a barrel, higher than $45 initially submitted by the government, according to the version approved by lawmakers in the capital, Abuja.
More than a third of the 2018 spending, which is a 16 percent increase on this year’s, will go into roads, rail, ports and power to help spur business and expand an economy that contracted by 1.6 percent last year. Economic growth is forecast to reach 7 percent in 2020, according to the three-year plan.
Buhari’s administration wants to plug a projected budget deficit of 2 trillion naira with 1.7 trillion naira of new debt, half of which will come from external sources. It will draw more funds from the planned privatization of non-oil assets worth 306 billion naira, Buhari told lawmakers earlier this month.
While Nigeria’s budget calendar runs from January through December, approving spending proposals has been delayed by more than four months in the past as lawmakers and the executive haggle over allocations. This has reduced policy predictability and slowed some investments, according to the budget office.