Nigerian lawmakers pass 2024 budget after Tinubu seeks extra funds

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian lawmakers approved a 28.77 trillion naira ($34 billion) budget for 2024 on Saturday, accepting a funding increase which the government had sought due to higher revenue forecasts and a weaker currency.

President Bola Tinubu had initially presented a 27.5 trillion naira budget to lawmakers, projecting a deficit of 3.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) and assuming an average exchange rate of 750 naira per dollar.

But at a special sitting on Saturday, the Senate and House of Representatives separately debated the budget and resolved to adopt it with the changes sought by the government.

The government said it expected more revenue from government-owned enterprises and now expected an average exchange rate of 800 naira to the dollar, which would boost export income. Economic growth is forecast at 3.88%.

Tinubu campaigned on a promise to revive the country’s struggling economy but Nigerians have endured increased hardships this year after the president removed a decades-old petrol subsidy and scrapped currency controls, helping to push inflation to its highest level in two decades.

The budget will be sent to Tinubu on Monday to be signed into law.

Nigeria has struggled with high deficits over the years due to low tax revenue and falling production of oil, its biggest export, forcing the government to borrow more.

Africa’s biggest economy is also in the grips of widespread insecurity, which has worsened in some places since Tinubu came to office. He is yet to spell out how to tackle the problem.

The lawmakers separately debated last week’s attacks by suspected herdsmen in central Plateau state, which left at least 140 people dead and resolved to invite security chiefs to explain the circumstances around the incident.

(Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Helen Popper)