Nigeria set for ‘steady economic growth’

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NIGERIA’s economy is set to grow 6.75% this year, even though oil theft has cut official output by 400,000 barrels a day and political turmoil is intensifying ahead of 2015 elections, its finance minister says.

Africa’s second-biggest economy is drawing increasing foreign investment, but investors are wary of the violence and rampant spending on patronage that often happens during election cycles.

“Of course I’m worried about elections … but we’ve put in place a tight fiscal framework,” Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Friday.

“Our country needs … macroeconomic stability.”

She did not comment on what kept growth going, but it has been driven by high oil prices, agricultural output, banking, telecoms and a surging population of 170-million.

Nigeria’s economy expanded 6.5% in 2012, and last year’s figure is expected to be roughly the same.

Next February’s vote will be the most closely fought since the end of military rule in 1999, and it will be tempting for rival politicians to spend cash buying loyalties.

President Goodluck Jonathan already faces a crisis in his ruling People’s Democratic Party that has led to mass defections.

The budget presented in December is stalled in the lower house, after defections cost the ruling party its majority there last month.

The opposition All Progressives Congress ordered its members to block the budget over an unrelated spat in the volatile, oil-producing Rivers state.

Nigeria can use half of last year’s budget again. After that the government goes into shutdown. — Reuters

This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times

Picture: THINKSTOCKPicture: THINKSTOCK

NIGERIA’s economy is set to grow 6.75% this year, even though oil theft has cut official output by 400,000 barrels a day and political turmoil is intensifying ahead of 2015 elections, its finance minister says.

Africa’s second-biggest economy is drawing increasing foreign investment, but investors are wary of the violence and rampant spending on patronage that often happens during election cycles.

“Of course I’m worried about elections … but we’ve put in place a tight fiscal framework,” Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Friday.

“Our country needs … macroeconomic stability.”

She did not comment on what kept growth going, but it has been driven by high oil prices, agricultural output, banking, telecoms and a surging population of 170-million.

Nigeria’s economy expanded 6.5% in 2012, and last year’s figure is expected to be roughly the same.

Next February’s vote will be the most closely fought since the end of military rule in 1999, and it will be tempting for rival politicians to spend cash buying loyalties.

President Goodluck Jonathan already faces a crisis in his ruling People’s Democratic Party that has led to mass defections.

The budget presented in December is stalled in the lower house, after defections cost the ruling party its majority there last month.

The opposition All Progressives Congress ordered its members to block the budget over an unrelated spat in the volatile, oil-producing Rivers state.

Nigeria can use half of last year’s budget again. After that the government goes into shutdown. — Reuters

This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times

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