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Sat Jul 23 23:18:19 CAT 2016

Nigeria's Buhari requests withdrawal of 2016 budget to make changes: sources

REUTERS | 18 January, 2016 11:13
A source at the upper house of parliament, the Senate, said Buhari had written to the National Assembly, which consists of both houses, to request the withdrawal of this year's budget. File photo
Image by: Carl Court / Getty Images

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has written to parliament requesting the withdrawal of the 2016 budget in order to make changes, sources at the presidency and Senate said on Sunday.

Buhari unveiled the budget for Africa's biggest economy in December, which included a tripling of capital expenditure, as the continent's top oil exporter tries to overcome its worst economic crisis in years caused by the fall in crude prices.

The president said spending would be 6.08 trillion naira and the deficit would double to 2.2 trillion naira ($11 billion) under his administration's plans.

With Brent crude, which gives Nigeria around 95 percent of its foreign earnings, falling to $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years, the naira has dropped to record lows against the dollar on the parallel market amid dwindling FX reserves.

The 2016 budget assumed an oil price of $38 per barrel, whereas lawmakers passed last year's budget at $53 a barrel.

"Mr president has written to the Senate and the House of Representatives to withdraw the 2016 budget to enable him to affect some amendments following the further dwindling price of oil among other areas," said a presidency source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Buhari's spokesmen, who have travelled with the president to the United Arab Emirates for the World Future Energy Summit, were unavailable for comment.

A source at the upper house of parliament, the Senate, said Buhari had written to the National Assembly, which consists of both houses, to request the withdrawal of this year's budget.

"The Senate received the letter on Saturday but it does not specify what is to be corrected," said the source, who wished to remain unnamed.

Ita Enang, the president's senior special assistant on National Assembly matters, on Sunday issued a statement confirming that a message had been sent.

"Mr President has sent a communication to the National Assembly on the 2016 Budget," said Enang. "The content is as will be read on the floor in plenary." He added that the reading would take place on Tuesday.

Last week the naira NGN=D1 - pegged at around 198 to the dollar on the official interbank market - slid to a record low of 305 on the parallel market, fuelling speculation that Nigeria will soon have to devalue it currency. And stocks posted their biggest fall in eight years.

Senate members have summoned Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele to explain the naira's plunge on Tuesday.

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