THE Land Use Charge Law 2018, LUC, recently enacted by the Lagos State House of Assembly to replace the LUC of 2001, has understandably kicked off a firestorm of protests across the state because of what many see as its shylock provisions that if implemented, will be very oppressive on property owners, tenants and long-term property users in the state.
The LUC is a consolidation of all property and land-based rates and charges payable under the Land Rates Neighbourhood Improvement Charge and Tenement Rates Laws of Lagos State. It is perhaps a major effort at raising the $50 billion which the Lagos State Government says it needs within the next five years to transform the infrastructural landscape of the nation’s melting pot and former capital.
When it comes into operation, property owners will find themselves saddled with charges that could rise to over 400 per cent of what they are currently liable to pay. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode explained that the increase is justified by the steady improvement in the infrastructure of the state in the past 20 years. He also pointed to the fact that since 2001, no rate increases have been imposed contrary to the requirement of the law which recommends an increase every five years.
Several organisations – including the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Lagos Branch and some groups in the Organised Private Sector – have protested and threatened to drag the state government to court. Some landlords associations are also considering class action suits to get the law repealed.
There is no arguing the fact that government has the right under the law to seek ways of shoring up its Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, to continue to provide services to the people. The Lagos State Government has been a pacesetter and a source of inspiration not just to other states but also the Federal Government in the aggressive pursuit of IGR.
We are pleased and relieved that the LASG is already responding positively to the call for another look at the LUC. Also, Governor Ambode has offered to reduce some of the charges between 15 per cent and 50 per cent. This is highly commendable and expected of a responsive, democratically-elected government.
We call on the LASG to take this law back to the drawing board and consult more widely before re-enacting it into law. LASG should also be mindful of the crushing economic situation the people are passing through because it is the common man that will ultimately bear the brunt of the increase in charges.
Let this law properly reflect Governor Ambode’s mantra that Lagos is for all.