Nigerian Budget Gap May Narrow to 1.18%: Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s budget deficit may narrow to 1.18 percent of gross domestic product this year after adjustments were made by the National Assembly, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

That compares with the 2.17 percent target estimated by President Goodluck Jonathan in October, Okonjo-Iweala said today at a conference in Lagos, the commercial capital. She didn’t elaborate on what changes were made by lawmakers.

The National Assembly on Dec. 20 approved a 4.98 trillion naira ($32 billion) budget for 2013, higher than the 4.92 trillion naira spending plan presented by Jonathan. Lawmakers increased the benchmark oil price by $4 to $79 a barrel, providing more funds to the government to spend. The country expects to produce 2.53 million barrels of oil a day this year, according to the budget.

The government will create a housing finance institution that may begin operating by the end of the year with investments from the government, businesses and multilateral finance institutions, Okonjo-Iweala said. The World Bank is providing $300 million liquidity finance for the project, she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Emele Onu in Lagos at eonu1@bloomberg.net; Maram Mazen in Abuja at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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