Nigeria’s leader on Wednesday presented a 27.5 trillion naira ($34.8 billion) spending plan for 2024 to federal lawmakers, with a focus on stabilizing Africa’s largest but ailing economy and tackling the nation’s deadly security crisis.

The primary objective of the proposed budget is to sustain the “robust foundation for sustainable economic development” that the new government has set in motion, President Bola Tinubu said in Abuja, the capital. Lawmakers plan to deliberate before voting on the plan.

Tinubu projected the economy would grow by at least 3.76% next year and listed infrastructure and social welfare programs among the government’s priorities to reduce hardship in the country of more than 210 million people.

NIGERIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL BUDGET THAT COVERS PRESIDENTIAL YACHT, SUVS FOR TOP OFFICIALS

During his six months in office, Tinubu introduced economic reforms that the government said would grow the economy and attract more foreign investment. Those reforms — including the removal of costly gas subsidies — have instead worsened the hardship for many in the West African nation where surging inflation of 27.3% is already squeezing families.

Bola Tinubu

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, center, inspects honor guards in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2023 (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga, File)

The 2024 spending plan also would focus on improving the capacity of overstretched security forces to fight the extremist violence and rebel attacks that have destabilized Nigeria’s north for more than a decade, Tinubu said.

At least 8.25 trillion naira ($10.4 billion) in the proposed budget was earmarked to service Nigeria’s high debt. Almost the same amount is planned for capital expenditures, highlighting once again the problem the country has faced for years as loan repayments continue to limit financing for key projects.

“Projected debt service is 45% of the expected total revenue” next year, the president said.

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He added that the government will focus on greater transparency and accountability and work more closely with development partners and the private sector to improve its effectiveness.

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