Buhari Holds Off on Nigeria's Stimulus Budget Pending Review

  • Lawmakers passed record spending last week after delays
  • President says he will look for alterations in spending plans

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he needs to review the 2016 budget passed by lawmakers last week before he can accept it.

“Some bureaucrats removed what we put in the proposal and replaced it with what they wanted,” Buhari said in Washington on Thursday at a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, according to an e-mailed statement from the Nigerian presidency. “I have to look at the bill that has been passed by the National Assembly, ministry by ministry, to be sure that what has been brought back for me to sign is in line with our original submission.”

Buhari did not say how long that would take. He presented a record 6.1 trillion naira ($30.7 billion) spending plan to lawmakers on Dec. 22, saying expenditure needed to increase around 20 percent from 2015 to stimulate the economy of Africa’s biggest oil producer, which has been hammered by the slump in crude prices to around $40 a barrel. Growth fell to 2.8 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1999.

The budget was delayed after politicians alleged in January that the document contained several mistakes and discrepancies.

The fiscal deficit may be as high at 3 trillion naira, which would also be a record. The government intends to plug most of the gap by borrowing about $10 billion in local and foreign currencies. That includes a Eurobond of as much as $1 billion, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said last month.

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