US trip: Buhari puts Nigeria on hold, budget waits

US trip: Buhari puts Nigeria on hold, budget waits

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 7:25 pm

President Buhari: Budget will wait till he returns

President Buhari: Budget will wait till he returns

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will keep Nigeria on hold when he leaves Nigeria tomorrow to attend a nuclear summit in Washington D.C.

Tis because the National Assembly may not meet his request for details on the 2016 budget approved by it.

President Buhari’s aides have said the president will not sign the appropriation bill into law unless lawmakers provide more details of the legislation, a government official said on Tuesday.

The bill was sent to the president today, with only highlights, without details.

The overall budget is 6.06 trillion naira ($30.47 billion), N17 billion less than what Buhari presented in December.

The move spells further delay of the record $30 billion budget aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy, hit by a slump in oil prices.

Buhari, a former military ruler, had presented the bill in December before withdrawing it due to an unrealistic oil price assumption and flaws in the draft.

“As a result, the president has been unable to sign the bill because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly must have made to the proposal sent to them,” the official said.

Buhari will travel to Washington on Wednesday returning on Sunday, his office said, which makes it unlikely the bill will get signed this week.

The budget debated by a joint session of both chambers had left open how it would be financed.

Officials previously suggested up to half of the estimated deficit of 3 trillion naira would be funded though the sale of Eurobonds or loans from China and international agencies. But no such deal has publicly emerged.

The new budget, which is based on an oil price of $38 a barrel, aims to recharge the economy by trebling capital spending compared with 2015’s plan.

A deepening crisis slowed gross domestic product growth to 2.8 percent in 2015, Nigeria’s weakest in decades.

Oil revenues, which make up about 70 percent of Nigeria’s income, have slumped, hammering the currency, halting development projects and leaving budget funding uncertain.

In January, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said Nigeria planned to borrow up to $5 billion from multiple sources, including the Eurobond market, but officials have not provided an update since then.

Nigeria has in recent months held exploratory talks with the World Bank and tried to secure funding from the African Development Bank and China’s export bank, but no deal is known to have resulted.


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