By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government has explained that the recent increase in the land use charge would provide more resources to the state to provide social services and infrastructure to the benefit of the general public.
To increase its internally generated revenue and continue to expand its tax base, the state government recently repealed its 2001 Land Use Charge Law, and replaced this 2001 Law with a new Land Use Charge Law, 2018.
The state government also extended the period for the payment of all annual Land Use Charge, LUC, Demand Notices for 2018, to Saturday, April 14th, 2018. The latter is to enable Property Owners and affected occupiers take the option of enjoying the discounts available for the prompt and early payment of LUC invoices.
Controversy had trailed the review when the Organised Private Sector, OPS, rejected the newly passed UC Law, vowing to fight the law with every legal means at its disposal.
The OPS speaking through the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, posited that the new law would expect property owners in Lagos State to pay an increase of over 200 per cent in Land Use Charge even when the income of the property owner had not experienced significant increase to justify the charge.
However, speaking yesterday, during a courtesy visit to the Corporate Headquarters of Vanguard Media Limited, Apapa, Lagos, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan said the law which is viewed as progressive, exempts pensioners, retirees and those using their properties for charitable and religious purposes in order to protect the poor and the vulnerable sections of the society.
He said the gains from the increase outweigh the pains as the state government is committing more than 20 percent of the 2018 budget to revamping the educational sector to build a better future for our youth.
According to him, “Our classrooms are filled to the brim with children, we need to build more classrooms, we are expanding the spaces in our schools, building more vocational schools and making the Lagos State University a boarding institution for the first time. We are building 181 roads and we are determined to build more roads to ease transportation. We are also working on rail and waterways.”
Bamigbetan stressed that the Administration of Governor Ambode had shown unbeatable track record in timely delivery of people’s-oriented projects which are visible in the state.
The commissioner, who described his visit as home coming for being a former staff of Vanguard, spoke further, “According to the late sage nationalist Chief Obafemi Awolowo, taxation is the best way to go if we must raise resources for development.
“In our own story of the journey started in 2015-16, we realized to build the future for our children we needed to take education seriously and that was we voted 20 billion last year to rehabilitate the schools.
“As a responsive government we have put our self at historical point when we need to respond to the needs of this age and reposition the educational future of our children and create future workforce.
“A sizeable chunk of this year’s budget has been earmarked to service education, so where do we get the money.
“When we looked at our laws we found out that LUC was meant to be reviewed every five years and in the last 15 years we have never reviewed LUC. We felt that if we look at inflation spiral between now and 15 years ago, look at goods and services 15 years ago, the law is overdue for increase.
It’s not just LUC, people have talked about harmonized taxes as a major factor in the ease of doing business. It is a tax that tage three taxes together, the grand rent, the tenement rate, Neigbourhood improvement tax, so when you pay the LUC you do not need to pay the three taxes again.
“The main targets are those making money from property because they make more money they need to pay more, that is the principles of progressive taxation. Those who pay more take care of those who pay less. If you are not using your property for commercial purses or rent it out, you are not likely to be affected by the law this is our narrative.
“We are not a perfect government and in vision to create a new society and respond to the need of our people we will come up with ideas and we will need your understanding and I can assure the intention will be in the long term interest of the good people of the state. The future of this state must be taken care of.”