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Energy

Nigeria's outgoing president approves 2015 budget

ABUJA, May 20 (Reuters) - Outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the 4.5 trillion naira ($22.6 billion) budget for 2015, which was passed by parliament in late April, the president’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

The budget is 3.2 percent smaller than last year’s as Africa’s biggest oil producer is facing a cash crunch following the halving of global crude prices in the past year.

It was passed later than usual in part due to the presidential election on March 28.

“I can confirm to you that Mr. President had signed the 2015 budget into law some days back without the usual fanfare,” spokesman Reuben Abati said.

There could be supplements to the budget after incoming president Muhammadu Buhari takes office next week. He has yet to outline his economic policy although he is expected to crack down on excessive spending by government officials, including the use of official cars.

The finance ministry was forced to revise down the assumed oil price in the budget several times before submitting it at $65 a barrel in December. Lawmakers ultimately passed the budget at an even lower level of $53 a barrel.

The fuel subsidy, a heavy burden on the nation’s purse, was also subsequently slashed by 90 percent because of low income.

The government relies on oil sales for up to 80 percent of revenues and an expensive election campaign helped drain its already limited rainy day fund.

The finance ministry said earlier this month that it has already been forced to use up half of its budgeted borrowing allowance to pay overheads and salaries and has not released any funds for capital expenditure so far this year. ($1 = 199.0000 naira) (Reporting By Felix Onuah, Writing by Julia Payne; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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