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Vol 38 No 3

Published 31st January 1997


Budget block

Bold plans to privatise and liberalise seem to have been shelved until the military leave

The soldiers have blocked Finance Minister Anthony Ani’s bold plans to open up the economy. So is the argument over? Not yet, according to well-placed sources. They say General Sani Abacha believes in sweeping privatisation of state-owned assets and still wants Ani to liberalise the economy. Yet no one would guess this from the budget that Abacha read out on 18 January: the talk was of 'guided deregulation' but not of moves to scrap the dual exchangerate policy, which allows ministries (and the army) to buy dollars at a 75 per cent discount. The only mention of privatisation was the formation of a committee to discuss it. Major economic reform must wait, it seems, until Abacha has dealt with more pressing issues, such as the military’s exit from government next year.

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