Nigerian president outlines first budget after reforms

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Nigeria’s president said Wednesday economic growth and national security were among his main concerns as he outlined his first budget since coming to power and launching an ambitious reform agenda.

In a speech to lawmakers in the capital Abuja, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said attracting investment and addressing Nigeria’s cost-of-living crisis were also cornerstones of his 27.5-trillion naira ($34.84 billion) budget proposal for 2024.

“The proposed budget seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security,” he said according to a presidency statement.

Nigerians are struggling with a tripling of fuel prices and higher food costs after Tinubu ended a fuel subsidy and floated the naira currency after taking office earlier this year.

But he insists the negative impacts will be temporary and has repeated calls for patience, saying the move will benefit the country in the long run and attract more foreign investment to Africa’s largest economy.

He also outlined plans to expand a scheme to “provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.”

“Our government remains committed to broad-based and shared economic prosperity,” he said.

Inflation in Nigeria has skyrocketed, reaching more than 27 percent over the past year. Tinubu said the government expects it to come down to 21.4 percent in 2024, and believes the economy will grow by at least 3.76 percent.

Nigeria also faces deep security challenges, from jihadists to bandit militias carrying out mass kidnappings.

“Defence and internal security are accorded top priority,” Tinubu said. “Internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities and safeguard lives, property and investments across the country.”

He said the country would seek to reduce its budget deficit from around 6.1 percent of GDP this year to just under 3.9 percent in 2024.

Parliament still has to pass the budget proposal, and is expected to do so before the start of the new year.