[Nigeria] Lagos appeals for cooperation as land use charge implementation begins
Lagos State has begun the distribution of the 2018 Land Use Charge demand notices for properties across the state.
The distribution which commenced last week ought to have been carried out much earlier in the year, but was delayed by a review of the Land Use Charge Act by the State House of Assembly.
The review process entailed a repeal of the old law, public hearings and enactment of a replacement by the House of Assembly on January 28, before it was signed into law on February 8.
According to Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, the state's Commissioner for Finance, the State House of Assembly decided to review the law in the light of some of the inefficiencies that had become associated with the old Land Use Charge act. "
As noted by the Honourable Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, only a small fraction of taxable properties were actually remitting Land Use Charge to the government," said Ashade. "To make matters worse, the land use charge rates had over time gradually become rather obsolete."
In addition, he said, determination of the rates payable by property owners was often questionable because the formula could be applied in a subjective manner.
The new Land Use Charge regime, said Ashade, sets out to correct the shortcomings in the previous regime. For instance, the new regime allows for property owners to calculate by themselves the rates payable by them, once they have determined the market value of their properties.
"This way, rates payable are transparent and standardized such that property owners are charged identical rates for properties of identical dimensions being used for identical purposes in the same locality."
Ashade added that the State Government is very mindful of the impact of the current economic situation in the country on residents of the State, pointing out that the new Land Use Charge regime has several inbuilt reliefs for Lagosians.
For instance, senior citizens (citizens aged 70 years and above) who live in their own houses, are exempted from paying Land Use Charge. The same applies to properties owned by religious and not-for-profit organizations where such properties are not profit-yielding.
Physically challenged citizens also enjoy considerable discounts on their computed charges. In the same light, every Land Use Charge bill benefits from a discount of 40 percent and an additional 15 percent discount if the bill is paid promptly.
"The new Land Use Act as recently passed by the House of Assembly is designed to enhance the overall efficiency of the Land Use Charge regime to enable government become even better equipped to continue the infrastructure regeneration that is currently being aggressively implemented across Lagos State," he emphasized.
"We have been very encouraged by the responses we have received so far as a good number of Lagosians have since gone ahead to make payment. This is very commendable and we extend our thanks and appreciation to them for discharging their civic responsibilities promptly."
Ashade acknowledged that some others have raised questions about their bills. "We are also engaging a handful of Lagosians who have raised legitimate concerns about their bills. We have a full-fledged Help Desk manned solely dedicated to managing and resolving such complaints," he said.
He advised Lagosians seeking more clarity about their bills to contact the Lagos Land Use charge Help Desk adding that the Help Desk contact details including email and telephone numbers are clearly stated on the demand notices.
Property enumerators, Ashade added, are also being deployed across the state to verify not only the dimensions and reasonable market value of properties but also the use to which these properties are deployed.
The essence, he explained, is to enhance the accuracy of Land Use Charge determination. "I want to appeal to my dear fellow Lagosians to kindly avail these enumerators of as much cooperation as possible to ensure accurate determination of Land Use Charge for all."
While again acknowledging that the times are difficult, Ashade sought the understanding and cooperation of Lagosians, adding that the state's consistently peerless performance not only in the area of providing infrastructure but also prompt payment of workers' salaries among others, is attributable to its formidable internally generated revenue model which is now being copied by all.
"We crave your support and understanding as we jointly strive to continue to build a mega city of the future for which our children shall be proud.