Nigeria’s 2017 budget moved a step closer on Thursday to becoming law, as it passed its second reading in the upper house of parliament.
The record 7.298 trillion naira ($24 billion) budget is a key part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to pull Nigeria out of its first recession in 25 years, and he needs to avoid the kind of wrangling between government and Senate that delayed the 2016 budget for several months.
Senate President Bukola Saraki has now referred the budget to parliamentary committees, according to the official Twitter feed of the Senate. The committees may call on ministers to clarify details in the spending plan and propose changes, the final stage before it is agreed by lawmakers.
The committees will begin work immediately and lawmakers will reconvene in parliament on Feb. 21, a post on the Twitter feed of Buhari’s All Progressive Congress party said on Thursday. The budget must be agreed by parliament before being sent back to the president to be signed into law.
The delay to the 2016 budget held up much-needed capital projects and worsened Nigeria’s economic slump, which was brought on by low oil prices. Crude oil sales make up around two-thirds of government revenue.
The 2017 budget – based on an exchange rate of 305 naira to the dollar and projected oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day at a price of $42.5 dollars per barrel — would see the deficit grow to 2.36 trillion naira ($7.75 billion) .
Capital expenditure would rise by nearly a quarter to 2.24 trillion naira, largely for investment in roads, railways and power plants.