UPDATE 2-Nigeria's Buhari approves record 2020 budget, on time for his first time

(Adds Buhari comment)

LAGOS, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari approved a record 10.59 trillion naira ($34.6 billion) budget for 2020 on Tuesday, marking the leader’s first spending plan not beset by major delays.

The president’s signature paves the way for a likely return to the international debt market next year as Nigeria still struggles to shake off the impact of a 2016 recession it emerged from the following year.

The administration will send parliament a borrowing plan for 2020-2022 to help finance the deficit budget, Buhari said, without giving further details.

The budget, passed by lawmakers earlier this month, assumes a deficit of 1.52% of the estimated gross domestic product - representing around 2.18 trillion naira - to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing.

Crude production is assumed at 2.18 million barrels a day with an oil price of $57 per barrel, according to the spending plan. Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer.

Buhari acknowledged the delays that plagued his first term’s budgets, as well as those of other administrations in the 20 years since Nigeria returned to democratic rule.

“This will be just the fourth time that the federal budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest,” he said.

Buhari’s first-term budgets were only approved well into the spending plans’ affected years, after tussles with opposition lawmakers and ruling party politicians who disagreed with the presidency’s fund allocations.

But since Buhari’s re-election last February those days have ended. His win came with parliamentary victories for loyalists in his All Progressives Congress party.

Economists say Nigeria’s budgets, while large, are not always realistic, with the amount disbursed each year often falling short of the projected spending. ($1 = 305.9 naira) (Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Paul Carsten, Editing by Angus MacSwan)