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Nigeria cuts 2020 budget by only N71bn, despite oil slump

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Nigerian Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said that the Cabinet approved a revised budget of N10.52 trillion, just N72 billion less than the N10.59 trillion approved in December by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The budget revisions approved at Wednesday’s ministerial meeting assumed an oil price of $25 per barrel along with output of 1.94 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N360 per $1, according to the Finance Minister.

The proposals require the National Assembly’s approval before being signed into law by the president.

With global oil prices plunging, the government had said this year’s budget would shrink by about 15 percent and that it would switch to domestic naira borrowings. However, Ahmed said on Wednesday that the smaller reduction was to “adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The IMF expects the economy, which recently recovered from a 2016 recession, to shrink by 3.4 percent this year.

Africa’s largest economy recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case in late February. There have been 4,787 recorded cases and 158 deaths out of 200 million inhabitants.

Ahmed said the budget would be financed from local and foreign borrowings as well as proceeds of privatisation to the tune of N5.36 trillion.

International lenders include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which last month approved $3.4 billion in emergency financial assistance for Nigeria, the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and Afrexim Bank, Ahmed said.

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