Thursday, March 15, 2018

Land Use Charge: House of Assembly keeps mum as Lagos bows to pressure

The state government bowed to pressure after public outcry over the 400 percent charges, as contained in the Land Use Charge Law of 2018.

After marathon meetings which started on Wednesday, the State Executive Council, chaired by Ambode, yesterday, reduced the tariffs.

Critical stakeholders, including the organised private sector, civil society organisations, Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries and several other professional groups, in the past few days, had expressed reservations over the reviewed tariffs

They insisted the reviewed law would aggravate the sufferings of Lagosians, in their personal lives as well as in their businesses.

Daily Sun’s attempts to know whether the Assembly was on the same page with the state government on the tariff slash and whether the members were in the know of the slash hit a brick wall.

Calls to the mobile line of the Chairman of Committee on Information, Tunde Braimoh, yesterday evening, went unanswered.

Regardless, Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, addressed a press conference, yesterday, where he disclosed that the rates payable on commercial properties were reduced by 50 percent; in response to the demands of the people, as well as waiver on penalty for late payments.

He said the state government has also reduced charges for owner-occupier with third party, including industries and manufacturing concerns by 25 percent, while tax credits has been given for LUC charges already paid in addition to introduction of instalment payment system.

He said: “The Lagos State government, in its desire to build world-class infrastructure and improve the well-being of its citizens, reviewed the Land Use Charges payable by all property owners. This exercise was received with mixed feelings by various interest groups who expressed serious concerns.

“In line with this administration’s tradition of inclusive governance and civic engagement, and as a government that is committed to the welfare of its citizens and understands the importance of continuously engaging the populace, we undertook extensive dialogue with various stakeholders on the Land Use Charge revised law and its implementation. Consequently, we received a wide range of responses from our dialogue with various stakeholders on the amended LUC Law 2018.”

For example, a property valued at N20 million, earlier billed N91,200 will now pay N45,600 per annum.

A property occupied by owner, third party and property used for industrial and manufacturing purposes, valued at N20 million, will now pay N23,040 per annum as against the earlier N30,720 based on the 25 percent discount.

The commissioner explained that for owner-occupied property valued at N20 million, only N7,752 will now be paid per annum as against N9,120 earlier demanded based on 15 percent discount.

“Other rates and reliefs, apart from the ones stated above, will remain unchanged and will be implemented as stipulated by the law. These include 40 percent general relief, 10 percent for 70 years and above, 10 percent for property owned by persons living with disability and 10 percent for property that are 25 years old.

“Owners of property across all categories will now be allowed to make payments by instalments. This will help to reduce the burden of taxation on our citizens.

“We appreciate and commend property owners of all categories who have performed their civic duties faithfully by paying the LUC.

“As a result of the new measures, those who have paid the original amount will be awarded tax credits to the extent of the excess amount paid and carried forward to next year,” Ashade said.

The commissioner said the reduction would be implemented immediately as there were provisions within the LUC law which empowered the government to carry out necessary adjustment to cushion the effect of implementation.

Meanwhile, Ikeja Lagos branch of the NBA outrightly rejected the reduction.

Chapter chairman, Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, simply said the reduction is “unacceptable…The rumoured reduction is not acceptable. The reduction is arbitrary and lacks legal basis…”

In his reaction, Vice President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, praised Ambode as a listening and sensitive governor.

“It is a sign that the current government in Lagos is sensitive to the complaints of the people. It is a welcome development which should be appreciated and commended,” he reiterated.

However, Awobodu urged the governor not to hesitate to return the amended copy to the House of Assembly, just as he charged them to call for further public hearing on the issue.

Source: The Sun

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