NIESV laments exclusion from Abia land use charge operations
Efforts by the Abia authorities to enhance its internal generated revenue through property taxation have come under fire for excluding professional estate surveyors and valuers from its implementation.
Members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) faulted the Abia State Property and Land Use Charge Law of 2014, describing it as not properly articulated.
They expressed their opinion at its 2016 Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) Seminar held at Mater Dei Cathedral Hall in Umuahia, the state capital under the theme ” Property And Land Use Charge As A Veritable Source Of State Revenue: The Role Of Estate Surveyors And Valuers”.
NIESV’s grouse is that sections five and seven of the said law failed to name who will be the assessors. “The appointment of Assessors in Section 5 of the law by the Chairman, is an open appointment, since the law only said ‘qualified assessors’ without stating who the qualified assessor is”.
They stated that the implication of not qualifying the assessors in the law, ” is that any person(s) can be appointed by the Chairman and tagged” qualified assessors or consultants. It is an undisputed fact that only trained estate surveyors and valuers are qualified to handle such an assignment. Failure to appoint estate surveyors will automatically result in ill-prepared assessment which will mean over-taxation and its effect on property can only be imagined”.
Similarly, they said: “Section 7, the law only provides for the rate payable annually on each type of property without any hint on the methods or procedure (s) to determine the assessed value. This means that the so-called qualified assessors or consultants can come up with any figure, which can be called, assessed property value without any basis.
” By failing to state the method, the lawmakers (who enacted the said law), were trying to avoid the several criticism and pitfall which was associated with the Lagos State Land Use Charge Law 2001 for which they copied.
” Land-based taxes usually have clear basis and defined methods of assessment which allows for verification and objection, thus the Abia State Property and Land Use Charge Law 2014 cannot be said to be properly articulated”.
Speaking at the forum, Prof. Joachim Onyike who is a member of the NIESV Registration Board and Head of Department of Estate Management at Imo State University, Owerri, noted that following the dwindling federal revenue allocations, many states turned to land-based tax and the Land Use Charge as a major way to improve their internally generated revenue (IGR).
In this regard, he said that Abia State passed the Property and Land Use Charge Law in 2014 to enable her take advantage of this new source of revenue and corroborated that ” application of this law will surely improve the revenue of Abia State provided estate surveyors and valuers are engaged to correctly determine the taxable values of landed property as well as assist other professionals in the Assessment Appeal Tribunals to settle appeals from aggrieved taxpayers”.
According to him, estate surveyors and valuers will also help aggrieved taxpayers make better appeals thereby cutting down in the number of frivolous appeals even as senior valuers will take advantage of the exercise to train younger ones in valuation thereby improving the human capital of Abia State and Nigeria”.
NIESV Chapter Chairman, Chief Jude Arukwe said that the forum was aimed to highlight the role of estate surveyors and valuers in the assessment and implementation of the said law and how the body would also increase public confidence in the administration of the tax.
He said: “Estate surveyors and valuers are involved in the management of most of these property and the issue of prescribing values to property is the constitutional prerogative of estate surveyors and valuers as contained in the relevant laws establishing the profession.
” We have always received petitions and asked questions from many property owners in Aba and Umuahia on the fairness or otherwise of the charge on the demand notices sent to them because, the public knows us as custodians of property values in the country.
” We have therefore carefully chosen this topic to emphasize our role in this exercise and sincere intention to collaborate with the state government in its drive to increase her internally generated revenue through property and land use charge regime, especially in the present economic realities.
” We are, as a matter of fact, willing and ready to partner with government in this direction and would continue to look inwards as a branch of a professional body on how we can assist our host government to increase her IGR at all times”.
Consequently, the NIESV National first and second Vice Presidents, Chief Rowland Abonta and Mr. Emma Wike and a trustee/past President, Mr. Nweke Umezurike including the Registrar of NIESV Registration Board, Mr. Ifeanyi Uzonwannne in their submissions, urged the government to be engaging professional assessors in matters of estate surveying and valuation.
A former State Commissioner, Chief Tony Ururuka, an estate surveyor, stressed the imperative need for government to amend the said law, the serving state Lands Commissioner, Mr. Uche Ihediwa, who was represented by his ministry’s Director of Planning, Dr. Sylvester Ibeleme agreed that things would be better effected using the right professionals adding that institutions would hardly make meaningful progress without the growth of its members.