Niger revises 2015 budget higher on defence spending

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's parliament on Monday revised the country's 2015 budget to 1,732.4 billion CFA francs ($2.90 billion) from 1,707 billion approved in December, to meet higher defence expenses as its troops battles Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgents. Niger, alongside Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon has deployed some 3,000 soldiers to fight the radical militants whose six-year insurgency aimed at carving up an emirate in northeast Nigeria is threatening the stability of the Lake Chad region. "The amended finance law of the 2015 budget, balanced in revenue and expenses at 1,732.4 billion CFA francs, received 77 votes for and 22 votes against, and has been adopted," Amadou Salifou, president of the National Assembly, said on state radio. Salifou said additional financing was needed to improve military equipment. Some 33 billion CFA francs in the budget will be allocated to defence and security, he said. The crude and uranium-producing West African country is also one of the world's poorest. The International Monetary Fund has forecast Niger's economic growth to slow down to 4.3 percent this year from nearly 7 percent in 2014, but will gather steam again in 2016 at 7 percent, boosted by public investments and its resources sector. ($1 = 597.4700 CFA francs)