Nigeria leader presents 8.83 trln naira 2019 budget to raucous lawmakers
* Budget proposal assumes $60 per barrel oil price
* Spending plan assumes 2.3 mbpd oil production
* President to seek second term in February poll
(Adds quotes, analyst, bullet points)
By Paul Carsten and Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Nigeria's President Muhammadu
Buhari presented an 8.83 trillion naira ($28.80 billion) budget
for 2019 on Wednesday, laying out plans to drive growth to a
raucous parliament that highlighted divisions two months before
The spending plan for Africa's top oil producer assumes
crude production of 2.3 million barrels a day, an oil price of
$60 per barrel and an exchange rate of 305 naira to the dollar.
Buhari's handling of the economy - which emerged from its
first recession in 25 years this year but remains sluggish - has
become a campaign issue.
The main opposition candidate, businessman and former vice
president Atiku Abubakar, has criticised policies implemented by
Buhari since taking office in 2015 and vowed to double the size
of the economy to $900 billion by 2025 if elected.
Coming months after dozens of lawmakers defected to the
opposition, Buhari received a rowdy reception with many of his
statements greeted by jeers and chants of "lies", while
supporters at times stood to applaud.
"We are supposed to be above this," said Buhari at one
point, in response to boos.
Buhari said 2.28 trillion naira had been allocated to
capital spending and 2.14 trillion naira for debt service, of
which 80 percent was domestic debt that he said accounted for
about 70 percent of the total debt.
"Although our national debt is within sustainable limits, we
need to increase our domestic resource mobilisation to bring
down our debt-revenue ratio over the medium term," he said.
LOWER THAN 2018 BUDGET
The spending plan is smaller than the record 9.12
trillion-naira budget for 2018 that he signed into law in June.
The 2019 budget must still be approved by parliament, a
process that can take months.
Previous budgets have been delayed by wrangling and next
year there will be the added complication of the presidential
election followed by gubernatorial elections weeks later.
"The proposal is unlikely to be approved before February’s
election, meaning that both the assembly and Mr. Buhari himself
might be replaced mid-way through the process," said John
Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics.
"Even once the budget is finalised, it may not prove an
accurate guide to actual spending," he said, adding: "More
broadly, today’s speech underlined the fact that another term
for Mr. Buhari would mean policy stability."
Nigeria's economy grew by 1.81 percent in the third quarter
of this year. Inflation rate rose slightly in November to 11.28
percent compared with a year ago.
($1 = 306.6000 naira)
(Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by
Andrew Heavens and Andrew Cawthorne)
First Published: 2018-12-19 14:41:54
Updated 2018-12-19 18:58:19
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