By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s record 7.44 trillion naira ($23.62 billion) 2017 budget has been received by the presidency for it to be signed into law, a government official said on Friday.
Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on Senate matters, said the spending plan, which is aimed at pulling Africa’s largest economy out of its downturn — had been sent to the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo. It was passed by parliament last week.
The oil producer is in the second year of a recession brought on by low crude prices, which have slashed government revenues, weakened the naira and caused chronic dollar shortages.
The budget must be signed by the president to become law. President Muhammadu Buhari is on medical leave in Britain and has handed over power to his deputy, Osinbajo, who will sign the budget in the president’s absence.
“After I handed the budget, as passed by the National Assembly, to the acting president he said he would assent to it after the laid-down procedure,” Enang told journalists in the capital, Abuja, after leaving a meeting with Osinbajo.
Last year’s budget — passed in May 2016 — was delayed for months due to disagreements between lawmakers and the presidency, which froze the allocation of money for government projects and deepened the economic crisis. Lawmakers had vowed to pass the bill more quickly this year.
The upper and lower chambers of parliament agreed to a larger budget than the 7.298 trillion naira draft submitted by Buhari in December.
The 2017 budget is based on an assumed oil price this year of $44.50 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent crude is currently trading above $50. It also entails debt service for foreign borrowing of 175.9 billion naira and domestic borrowing of 1.488 trillion naira.