Niger increases budget on Boko Haram, 2016 elections - govt

Sept 17 (Reuters) - Niger increased its 2015 budget by 53.40 billion CFA ($92.16 million) to factor in higher spending on the fight against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram and preparations for next year’s elections, the government said on Wednesday.

Niger has taken part in a regional offensive against Boko Haram this year and is contributing troops to an 8,700-strong multinational taskforce due to start operations soon.

The West African country also has a crowded slate of local, legislative and presidential elections next year.

“The...amended finance law aims to take into account external shocks, notably those linked to the security context marked by a war against terrorism, particularly Boko Haram, and preparation for the general elections,” read the statement.

“The 2015 state budget for expenses has been revised to 1.79 trillion CFA from 1.73 trillion, or an increase of 53.4 billion,” the statement said.

This is the second time this year Niger’s budget has been increased. The first adjustment was to include financing for an economic and social development plan, the government said.

The new budget also takes into account this year’s disappointing agricultural production and revenues from telephone companies that were lower than expected.

Economic growth was estimated to be around seven percent in 2014, an increase from 4.11 percent in 2013, while inflation was three percent, according to official statistics.

Over the past two years, 150,000 people have fled militant violence in Nigeria to the Diffa region of southern Niger. ($1 = 579.4200 CFA francs) (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Daniel Flynn)