Nigerian legislators have finally signed off the nation’s much-delayed budget for this year but the president warned their changes would make it difficult to implement.
The 9.12trn naira ($29bn) spending plan for 2018 was approved by the parliament on Wednesday and signed into law by president Muhammadu Buhari the following day – six months late . It was first presented by Buhari in November.
However, shortly after signing the budget, Buhari said the budget “would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement” because of the national assembly’s changes to the spending plan.
Changes demanded by legislators increased the total budget to 9.12trn naira from the 8.6trn naira plan Buhari originally put forward.
Lawmakers said the higher budget was affordable because of increased oil prices, which affects Nigeria as one of the region’s top oil producers.
However, the legislators have also refocused where the funds will be directed. According to Buhari, they cut 347bn naira for 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own, funding them with 578bn naira.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation,” the president warned.
“Some of the new projects inserted by the national assembly have not been properly conceptualised, designed and costed, and will therefore be difficult to execute.”
Buhari also noted that the parliament had increased its own budget from 125bn naira to 139.5bn.
“I have decided to sign the 2018 budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget,” he said after the signing.
“It is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget, which I hope the national assembly will be able to expeditiously consider,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian parliament said the changes were made because some projects put forward “do not meet the needs of the common man”.
“The additional costs and projects to the budget were done in good faith for the sole purpose of improving the lives of Nigerians,” they said.
Buhari is pushing to boost growth in Nigeria before the presidential election in February, in which he will seek a second term.