National Assembly Passes $2.9B Extra Budget

Nigeria's national assembly on Tuesday approved a supplementary budget for 2015 of 574.53 billion naira ($2.89 billion), mainly to cover fuel subsidies and ensure gasoline supplies across the vast country into the new year.

Despite being Africa's biggest oil producer, Nigeria imports almost all its gasoline needs because its refineries have been neglected for years. Fuel queues have been growing over the past weeks as importers found their credit lines shrinking and awaited payment from the government.

The supplementary budget is 108.9 billion naira more than President Muhammadu Buhari requested in November, and lawmakers said it would cover fuel subsidies into next year.

"We decided to approve the additional 108 billion naira in order to have an uninterrupted supply of fuel across the country throughout the Christmas, New Year and beyond," Senator Danjuma Goje said after the vote.

Buhari approved a payment of 413 billion naira ($2.1 billion) in early November for gasoline importers, before sending the request to the Senate on Nov. 18.

Under the administration of his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, the supplementary budget to cover subsidies was slashed by 90 percent, as government revenues had shrunk dramatically with the slump in world oil prices.

The 2016 budget is expected to be presented before the end of the year and it is unclear whether the expensive subsidies will be kept.

More than 90 percent of the supplementary budget will be spent on the subsidy. Part of the rest will go to fund a military operation to crush militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast of the country.

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