April 7, 2016 / 10:22 AM / a year ago

Nigeria's president receives breakdown of long-awaited budget

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has received details of the long-awaited 2016 budget bill which he wanted to check before signing into law, his assistant said on Thursday, as lawmakers blamed delays on "sloppy" work by government officials.

Buhari withdrew his original budget bill in January because of an unrealistic oil price assumption and flaws in the draft. Lawmakers approved an amended proposal last month but only submitted highlights, rather than the whole document, to the president's office.

This prompted Buhari to say he would only sign the bill after checking it "ministry by ministry", and requested lawmakers to submit the document in its entirety.

Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, is facing its biggest crisis for years after oil revenues, which make up about 70 percent of national income, slumped along with global oil prices.

"The budget details have been transmitted to His Excellency, Mr President today. The constitutional process begins thereafter," Senator Ita Enang, Buhari's senior special assistant, told reporters.

A government official who wished to remain anonymous said the president would set up a team to scrutinise the bill for changes on Thursday or Friday.

"It is when this is done that we can talk of when it will be signed into law," said the official.

It comes a day after the chairmen of the budget committees in the upper and lower houses of parliament issued a statement in which they blamed the budget delays on government officials, saying "most of the figures simply did not just add up".

The task of balancing projected revenue and spending was "made very difficult by the sloppy manner in which the 2016 Appropriation Bill was prepared by the executive," they said.

Last month the information minister said there was no rift between the executive and legislature on details of the budget.

Nigeria has said it wants to raise about $5 billion abroad to cover part of its 2016 budget deficit which could be as high as 3 trillion naira ($15 billion).

The president's spokesman on Wednesday said Buhari will, during a visit to China next week, sign a deal for a loan to help fund infrastructure projects. He did not disclose the sum involved.

Nigeria has also said it wants to raise $1 billion from Eurobond investors, however no deal has been announced.

Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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