IMF Chief Christine Lagarde in Nigeria for loan talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as oil prices hit fiscus

LAGOS — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, elected on a pledge to tackle corruption, will hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday as the country seeks to spend its way out of an economic crisis fuelled by plunging oil prices.

The IMF said on Monday MD Christine Lagarde would meet Mr Buhari and his Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun. "I look forward to productive meetings … as they address important economic challenges, most importantly the impact of low oil prices," Ms Lagarde said.

She gave no other details, but the meeting suggests an acknowledgement of Mr Buhari’s efforts to revive Africa’s largest economy.

He was elected in March after a campaign in which he promised to clamp down on the endemic corruption that has left many Nigerians mired in poverty despite the country’s enormous energy wealth.

Mr Buhari announced a record budget for this year, forecasting a doubling of the deficit to 2.2-trillion naira ($11bn) and a tripling of capital expenditure intended to help the country adjust to the downturn in oil, which has lost about two-thirds of its value since mid-2014. Nigeria relies on crude oil exports for more than half of state revenues.

Nigeria had foreign currency reserves worth about $30bn, and planned to borrow as much as 900-billion naira abroad to fund the deficit, equal to about 2.16% of gross domestic product, Mr Buhari said. About 984-billion naira would be borrowed at home.

Ms Lagarde was due to arrive in Abuja on Monday. She would to give a speech to MPs on Wednesday and would also meet business leaders during her visit, the IMF said.

Ms Lagarde will visit Cameroon as well, to meet with President Paul Biya and his economic team. She will also gather with finance ministers from the six countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa.

Reuters

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