Nigeria’s Senate approves 2023 budget padded by N1.32 trillion
- Holds decision on loan-bonds swap
Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday approved the 2023 budget after it was padded by 6.4 per cent to N21.83 trillion about N1.32 trillion more than the proposed appropriation bill.
President Muhammadu Buhari in October presented N20.51 trillion budget for 2023 budget but lawmakers passed an increased budget on Wednesday after they raised oil price assumption to $75 a barrel from $70.
The president will need to sign the revised 2023 budget for it to become law.
The Senate however delayed a request by Buhari to convert central bank overdrafts to his administration to long-term bonds after some lawmakers questioned the plan.
In a letter to parliament dated Dec. 20, Buhari sought approval to turn $53 billion worth of central bank loans to government to 40-year bonds at 9% interest including an extra one trillion naira loan to the government from the bank.
Economists say that Nigeria’s government is spending more money on debt repayments than on education and health, but Buhari has said his government had no choice but to borrow its way out of two recessions in the past seven years.
Some lawmakers in a rowdy session argued that the loan conversion was unconstitutional, prompting the Senate President Ahmad Lawan to suspend a vote on the proposal until a later date.
The IMF has asked Nigeria to phase out central bank financing of the government to reduce double-digit inflation.
Rising debt, weak economic growth, high inflation and mounting insecurity are major issues for Nigeria as voters head for national election in February in which incumbent Buhari will not stand for re-election to due term limits.