Nigeria proposes $ 3 bn for oil exploration and production

Nov 24, 1999 01:00 AM

Nigeria's president proposed a new budget that earmarks a quarter of the country's annual spending this year for its oil industry. President Olusegun Obasanjo told lawmakers that the proposed $ 12 bn budget would allot the equivalent of $ 3 bn for oil exploration and production.
Obasanjo said heavy spending on the oil sector - Nigeria's main foreign exchange earner - had been based on government expectations of oil revenues worth $ 8.4 bn in 2000.
Although Nigeria is the world's sixth-largest producer of oil, most of the country's people live in desperate poverty. The oil-rich Niger Delta region remains poor.
"It constitutes a major source of international embarrassment," said Obasanjo, whose election earlier last year ended 15 years of brutal and corrupt military rule. He said the proposed 2000 budget has as top priorities poverty alleviation, education, agriculture and jobs for the nation's 150 mm people.
But while he detailed spending for the oil industry, Obasanjo did not say how much would be spent on his other priorities. Obasanjo's budget proposals must still be approved by both houses of the Nigerian legislature.
The president also announced that since coming to power in May, his government has recovered millions of dollars' worth of funds siphoned from state coffers by officials of previous governments. Nigeria is famous the world over for its corruption, and earlier military rulers and top officials are thought to have stolen the equivalent of billions of dollars.
He said his government had recovered more than $ 120 mm in cash and confiscated property worth $ 3.2 mm. Foreign bank accounts holding another $ 600 mm had been frozen, Obasanjo said. Obasanjo's government also announced a public works project worth $ 50 mm for the Niger Delta.
The program will focus on building a network of roads and upgrading the electricity system throughout the Delta's Bayelsa state. Money set aside under earlier junta governments to help the Delta was often squandered or stolen by corrupt government officials.

Source: AP
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