Nigerian Lawmakers Raise 2018 Spending Plans to $25 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian lawmakers increased spending plans for 2018 by almost 6 percent from what President Muhammadu Buhari proposed in November.

Of the new suggested budget of 9.1 trillion naira ($25 billion), 3.5 trillion naira is for recurrent expenditure, 2.8 trillion naira for capital spending and 2.2 trillion naira for debt servicing, according to a paper of proceedings in the House of Representatives released Tuesday. Provisions are also made for statutory transfers and other expenditure.

Buhari had proposed record spending of 8.6 trillion naira in a speech to lawmakers on Nov. 7, ahead of next year’s general elections. The approval process has since been delayed as legislators scrutinized the proposal. Both the Senate and the lower chamber have put the budget on their agenda for the week, giving rise to expectations it may be approved this week.

Buhari, the head of Africa’s most-populous nation and biggest oil producer, wants to boost economic expansion to about 3.5 percent this year, partly by investing about a third of the budget in roads, rail, ports and power. Last year, the economy staged a fragile recovery and grew 0.8 percent after contracting in 2016 for the first time in a quarter century.

Boosting Expansion

“Higher revenue on the back of the higher-than-expected oil price, may partly explain the lawmakers’ proposal for a bigger budget,” said Yvonne Mhango, a Johannesburg-based economist at Renaissance Capital.

If Buhari objects to the increase, it may lead to further delays to the passage of a spending plan that has been with the lawmakers for more than five months, according to Abiodun Keripe, analyst at Lagos-based Elixir Investment. “If they can’t find a middle ground, it means the budget passage will be delayed further,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.