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Again, stakeholders differ over new Lagos land use charge

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PHOTO: Jumia Travel

Amid the unabating controversy trailing the recent reduction of the Lagos land use charge, opinions are still varied on the action of the state government.

While some professional bodies like the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) and Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) welcomed the development, others such as Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) and a firm – Omais Investment Nigeria Limited are demanding that the government revert to the former rates.

NIESV Chairman, Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Olurogba Orinmalade, hailed Governor Ambode’s gesture in slashing the new land use charge for commercial property by 50 per cent.

At a stakeholders meeting held at Protea Hotels, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Mr. Orimalade described the Ambode led government as a listening government and pledged his association’s support for the new law and all other progressive decisions of the government.

He said: “We are committed to working with the present Lagos State administration to make the new law succeed and we have already set up a technical committee to come up in ten days, with directions, recommendations and position of the Institution on the law in order to collaborate with the government for a better society.

NIA Vice President, Ifeoma George said: “This is a listening government and propose that stakeholders should continue to be carried along in all government dealings.”

But the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) said the reduction goes to no issue, urging government to admit that the whole exercise is faulty and rethinks.

The group’s position was contained in a report released by its committee, comprising seasoned professionals from the seven built environment professional bodies and headed by the National Financial Secretary of BCPG, who is also the immediate past Lagos NIESV Chairman.

According to them the foundation of the assessment, which is the crux of the matter has not been touched.

“The major question is who did those valuations to arrive at those capital values. The example of N20 million adopted by government does not show how it was arrived at, where it situates and what constituted commercial or owner occupies. Assuming part is rented for residence than shop where do we stand”, it noted.

BCPG therefore called for reversal of the law, saying that government has about 300 heads of taxes and this is quite a huge burden on the citizenry.

The body also said the government has not respected her own laws nor complied with the processes as the assessment appeal tribunal ha snot been set up before demand notices, therefore hampering appeal within 30 days stipulated by the law.

They stressed that the tax formula though a known one should be based on annual equivalent and not on capital value amongst other suggestions.

Also in a tacit acquiescence with BCPG position, a real estate developer and President/Chief Executive Officer of Omais Investment Nigeria Limited, Chief Omochiere Aisagbonhi urged the Lagos state government to revert to the old rates and start conversations on what will be the rate from next year.

He said it was completely irresponsible for any government to make things more difficult for the citizens, especially in a situation where renters cannot pay even their basic rents, with many of them moving out of commercial buildings as a result of low businesses.

While puncturing government’s argument that property has appreciated, he said, those who are giving those impression did not consider that a property bought in 1995 for N30 million, when Naira was about N120 to a dollar and sold at N70 million, when a dollar is N360 cannot be said to have appreciated, because the valuation did not consider current realities.

On the announced discount on the charge, Chief Aisagbonhi said, the discount was deceitful because a discount does not mean downward review as it can still return after some times.

Chief Aisagbonhi, threatened to challenge the increase in court as well as mobilize a mass movement of Lagosians with like minds against the LUC, until government do the right thing, stressing that the government also owe him some basic obligations and not only the citizens that should owe government obligations.


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