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Sam Adeyemi: Land Use Act is a formula for mass poverty…it must go

Sam Adeyemi, senior pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, says Nigeria’s Land Use Act is a formula for mass poverty, and must be removed, for the country to unleash its potentials.

Speaking at The Platform on Saturday, about “unleashing potentials for wealth creation”, Adeyemi said “the elite class makes it difficult, for example, for you to own land, which is the baseline for wealth creation”.

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“When it takes you five years to change the ownershipof landed property to your name at the land registry, how do you derive economic value for it?” Adeyemi questioned.

“You own land, they say you cant own what is under it, they sell what is under it and then spend the money on themselves. You deposit money in banks, and the banks won’t loan you the money; why are you putting your money in the banks?.

“If we want to prosper and see Nigeria develop, we must ensure some deep changes in our economic and political institutions. For the potential of the average Nigerian to create wealth to be unleashed, we need to be given property rights more easily.

“The Land Use Act must be removed from our constitution and must be thoroughly reviewed. To buy a landed property and to wait for years for governor’s consent or the certificate of occupancy, is a formula for mass poverty.”

Adeyemi ended his speech with a message of hope, courage, and prophecies for a developed Nigeria.

“I should say that I see a developed Nigeria. Whatever our situation is, it has been so in other parts of the world. In Europe, yes there was underdevelopment. The elite class ensured there were only a small group of people. They frustrated innovation,” he said.

He said the man who first designed a machine that could mass-produce textile was denied patent by Queen Elizabeth I, and was thrown into jail, when he spoke too much.

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His offence, according to her, was that “she cannot afford to see him destroy the wealth of her citizens. Innovations can be destructive, they destroy old ways of making money”.

Reps query Mortgage Bank over N377m tax

By Musa Abdullahi Krishi
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has queried the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) for not remitting taxes totalling N377.4 million to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

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The committee, acting on the report of the Auditor General of the Federation, said the amount was for both Value Added Tax (VAT) and withholding tax. The queries were raised in 2015.

Members of the panel, headed by Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) during a session with the Managing Director of the bank, Ahmed Musa Kangiwa, said the total amount not remitted could be more than N377.4m based on records of the bank.

Chinda observed that the amount when properly tabulated could be up to N500m. But Kangiwa said the money was paid via e-platform after the auditor general’s query was raised.

Deliberations on the query could not be concluded due to non-availability of some documents.

In another query, the committee also demanded details of three vehicles purchased at N49 million but sold to a former Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Gimba Ya’u Kumo at N4.9m.

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The lawmakers were unhappy that the three vehicles, bought in 2015 were sold to the ex-MD in February 2016, when he was removed; at only 10 percent of the actual amount they were bought.

FCTA to clear illegal settlements as train operations begin

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muhammad Musa Bello has directed relevant FCT agencies to clear all illegal settlements and structures obstructing the FCT railway corridor.
Malam Bello gave this charge during a test ride of the train service recently.

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The minister, who was led by officials of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Ltd, also directed the FCDA to speed up work on the opening of access roads to the 12 railway stations.
The minister said this is to make it possible for passengers access the train services which will start in a few weeks’ time.
At the end of the inspection, the minister expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done and commended the contracts for a good job.


“We hope to open the stations for operations in the next few weeks and we don’t want a situation where the train would be competing for space with illegal structures and settlements,” the minister said.
The Minister also directed the Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Malam Shuaibu Umar to commence sensitization meetings with the stakeholders in the various railway corridors around Kukwaba, Dei Dei, Gwagwa, Kuchigoro and others, with a view to giving them enough time to vacate the railways corridors to create access ways.

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The 12 completed stations are the Metro, Stadium, Wupa, Kukwaba 1 and 2, Gwagwa and Dei-Dei train stations. Others are the Idu, Bassanjiwa, Airport, Kagini, Bazango stations.

FG engages 20 indigenous contractors for N1.3b Sokoto housing estate

The federal government has engaged 20 indigenous contractors for the ongoing construction of 80 housing units at Kwannawa in Dange Shuni local government area of Sokoto state.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola disclosed this while in Sokoto to inspect some ongoing projects being executed by the federal government in the state.

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The minister said the essence of awarding the contract to the indigenous contractors was to boost their capacity, create jobs and boost the nation’s economy.
“As you can see all the contractors and their workers are local people; so also the food vendors at the site,” he said.
Fashola who was represented by the Director of Highway in charge of the northwest in the ministry, Engr. Busari Sikiru, expressed satisfaction with the level and quality of work done so far and the compliance to the local content executive order.
The contract which was awarded at the cost of N1.3 billion including infrastructures, the minister said would be completed in the next few weeks.
Fashola added that the second phase of the 500 housing unit would commence in the state soon.
Minister has also directed the contractor handling the 133.5 kilometres Sokoto-Jega road to complete the project before the raining season.
The road which also leads to the Southwest region was awarded in 2013 at the cost of N10.5 billion.
Inspecting the Tambuwal bye-pass road as part of the project, the Minister said the project had suffered delay due to poor budgetary allocation in the past.
He noted that the contractor had no reason not to complete the project on time because he was getting his money promptly.


In his remarks, the Comptroller of Works in Sokoto state, Engineer Anthony Animelu said their men were working with the contractors to ensure that all the materials used are of high and acceptable standard.
The Project Manager of Triacta Nigeria Limited, Engr. Walid Joude said all the materials being used for the project were locally sourced.

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He added that over 20 Nigerians including three engineers were working for the company in line with the presidential executive order.

 

Society, German firm partner on affordable housing technology

Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

The Perfection Real Estate Investors Cooperative Society is collaborating with a German firm, Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions Company, to bring a technology for fast building construction into Nigeria.

The President of the cooperative society, Mr. Niyi Adeleye, said the plan was to make homeownership and participation in the real estate industry more accessible to Nigerians.
“Our core purpose is to empower people and to provide solutions to the real human problems in the real estate sector of our economy, while our ultimate goal is financial freedom for each and every member through real estate wealth,” he stated.

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Adeleye said in a bid to fulfil its mandate of homeownership for its members, the society met and partnered Betoniq Limited to provide affordable yet high quality housing based on a German precast concrete technology.

He explained that the partnership would also make it possible for members of the PREICS and their children to benefit from various trainings in building technology, Information Technology and agriculture.

The Managing Director, Perfection Betoniq Partnership, Dr. Eke Njoku, said both parties decided to come together and find a way of resolving housing problems for members.

He stated, “What we are trying to do is to use technology to solve housing problems. It is a brick concrete technology that is fast and durable. It is pre-fabricated and makes building construction fast and easy.

“The plan is to build a factory in Lagos; a small factory can help to construct over 5,000 houses yearly. Betoniq already has this technology and we are happy to be working with the cooperative society.”

The Head, Export Finance, Ferrostaal, Mr. Manuel Probst, said the technology was what the country needed to build fast and reduce its housing deficit.

Probst added that the German government was also supporting the funding of the initiative through subsidies.

“The machinery from Germany will enable you to build by yourself and will bring the cost of construction down. We hope to build not just one factory, but many factories to tackle the housing problem in the country,” he stated.

Adeleye added that a special purpose vehicle for delivering the mass housing scheme, known as Perfection Betoniq International Development Company Limited, had been fully incorporated.

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He noted that arrangements were also ongoing for the funding and procurement of the equipment for the establishment of the factory.

According to him, the cooperative society’s partnership with its mortgage bankers and fund managers, Imperials Homes and Mortgages Limited, formerly known as GTHomes, has been concluded with a single digit interest rate of nine per cent on mortgage loans for members.

He said, “Our rent-to-own scheme will take effect immediately after our apartments are delivered in our housing estate locations in Ibeju Lekki, Festac Phase 2, Ikorodu and various other future locations.

“We are on a rescue mission to make homeownership more accessible. In view of the housing deficit, th|e government alone cannot provide housing, which is why all the initiatives seem like a drop of water in the ocean. We cannot keep expecting; we must take our destinies in our hands.”

FG to hasten infrastructure development in north-central housing project

The Federal Government says it will deploy more resources to boost infrastructural development in the on-going National Housing Programme (NHP) in the North central part of the country.

NHP Zonal Director, North Central Zone, Mr Julius Olurinola made this known on Sunday in an interview with HOusing News in Lafia.

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Olurinola was on inspection tour of the NHP sites in the North Central Zone with other top officials of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

The Director told Housing News that the contract for the infrastructure was awarded to various contractors at the project sites located in Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau States.

Some houses at the project site located at Ungwan Rere, Kilometre 10, along Shendam Road, Lafia, Nasarawa State had been completed but waiting for occupancy while others are nearing completion.

Housing News gathered that the Federal Government awarded contract for infrastructural provision in NHP site in Lafia in 2017 but contractors were yet to start work.

The Director said that government had queried three contractors handling the infrastructural projects, which include electricity, water and road, for delays in execution.

He said that the contract would be revoked if the contractors failed to commence work at the sites at the end of a month grace.

Olurinola expressed delight that some of the flats in Lafia were completed and waiting to be occupied while some were almost completed.

“In the next two months, hopefully the project will be completed and eligible Nigerians will have access to the houses when completed.
“The government is yet to come out with the modalities for accessing the housing project. It would soon be opened to all to access,’’ he said.

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During the inspection, Gov. Tanko Almakura of Nasarawa State also pledged to collaborate with the Federal Government to encourage full participation in the programmes.

Represented by Mr Aliyu Kuyanbana, Director, Public Buildings in the state Ministry of Works, Housing and Transportation, Almakura commended the initiative aimed at addressing housing deficit in the Nation.

“Though there are total package of 19 contractors and 78 housing units, but we are asking for more. We have many hectares of land earmarked for Federal Government projects, so we are ready,’’ he promised.

Chief Godwin Obiora, Chairman of the contractors handling the project, noted that the project has benefitted many indigenes of the state who worked as artisans at the project site.

“Initially we had some challenges, which made us to involve security agents and this enhanced the ongoing construction,” he said.

Obiora noted that all the contractors complied effectively with the use of made in Nigeria building materials to promote local content in the country.

He lauded the government for granting them the contracts, adding that it created jobs for the large number of youths in the state.

It could be recalled that the Federal Government set aside N35.4 billion to address the housing needs of its workforce under the NHP in 2018.

(NAN)

How artisans, others find succour from National Housing programme

Artisans, farmers and suppliers in the country are getting more empowered through the National Housing Programme aimed at providing affordable houses in Nigeria.
A number of artisanal job opportunities have been created following the speed the current administration has approached the project.

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Okabua Joseph who is one of the labourers, said he was able to earn a job through the project.
Okabua said before now he had nothing doing but that he now earned about N2,000 daily from which he took care of his family.
Under the National Housing Programme, each state government provides land where the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, provides physical housing units in the 36 states.
The Ministry of Works, Power and Housing recently took a tour of some states in the North Central; particularly FCT, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau, where projects under the National Housing Programme handled by various contractors are ongoing.


The monitoring team, led by the North Central National Housing Programme Zonal Coordinator, Engr. Julius Olurinola, began with the FCT project located at Dukwa in Gwagwalada Area Council.
The Gwagalada project consists of 72 housing units, according to Leo Chao a contractor at the Gwawalada site, who added that with the fast disbursement of funds the project which was already 40 per cent done would be completed in due course.
The ongoing projects in Lafiya, Nasarawa state are semi-detached bungalows consisting of one, two and three bedrooms. The housing estate which is located at Ungwar Rere, Kilometre 10, along Shendam Road consists of 78 housing units.
Engr. Olurinola said the first phase of the Nasarawa housing project was almost at completion stage, adding that the project would be completed in the next two months.
But by the time the inspection team arrived the Makurdi housing project at the Mobile Police Barracks Road, New Layout, the site had been taken over by protesters claiming to be the actual owners of the land which the Benue State Government provided for the housing project.
They blocked the entrance to the estate calling on the Federal Government to immediately compensate them.

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Leader of the group, Deunion Akombo, said the Utu Mega Layout community demanded a quick response from the Federal Government to compensate everyone affected by the scheme.
In Jos, residents of Laminga in Jos East Local Government Area of Plateau State expressed joy over the new national housing programme sited in their community, saying that the programme had been boosting the economic lives of the people.
The project involves two blocks of one-bedroom semi-detached flat (four units), 24 blocks of 3- bedroom semi-detached flats (48 units), 14 blocks of three-bedroom semi-detached flats (28 units), giving a total of 40 blocks (80 units).
The District Head of Laminga, Adagwom Izang Abok, said the project had empowered the community by providing menial employment opportunity to labourers, food and drink sellers, suppliers, among others.

FG spends N771 million to build 80 houses in Plateau

The Federal Government is sinking N771 million into building 80 houses in Plateau under the Federal Housing Programmed (FHP), according to Mr Julius Olurinola, FHP Zonal Coordinator (North-Central).
Olurinola, who inspected work on the housing project located at Laminga village in Jos on Sunday, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was “very impressed” with the quality of work at the site.

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He commended the Plateau government for donating the 5.04 hectares of land for the project, and particularly lauded its collaboration with the federal government to execute the project.
Olurinola urged the handlers of the project to keep up the good work, and also encouraged them to strive to meet the deadline for the completion of every unit.

He said that the housing scheme was a collective dream that must be supported to minimise the shortage of houses in Plateau.

The official said that infrastructural facilities were already being provided to the estate, saying that special attention was being paid to road construction which had been the major challenge for the handlers.

A representative of the contractors, Mohammed Jalige, commended the Lamingo community for being hospitable, and attributed the speed of the job and its good quality to the peaceful working environment in the area.

Jalige said that the handlers had employed more than 1,500 youths and trained many of them on various skills.

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A food vendor, Mrs. Rebecca Yamg, who spoke with NAN, said that she makes N7,000 daily, from the site.

“Business has been good since the building project took off. There are many workers which has enhanced patronage,” she said.

Physically challenged persons will benefit from N217m housing project – FG

The Federal Government has said physically challenged persons interested in the 2016 National Housing Programme (NHP) will benefit from the scheme as soon as it is completed in six months.

Zonal Director, North Central, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Julius Olurinola, disclosed this during an inspection of 72 units housing project, at the weekend in Abuja.

He said every Nigerian is eligible to purchase the flats at a cost to be unveiled by the ministry.

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Speaking at the phase one of the project site in Gwagwalada, Abuja, Olurinola who is the ministry’s Director of Engineering, said the project implementation which already commenced in 33 states including the Federal Capital Territory have created both direct and indirect jobs across the chain.
He said the three apartment houses have 72 units of flats to be occupied by interested individuals at an affordable cost, adding that the project is a reality of campaign promises of the present administration.

The FCT Condominium Type A Project is a block building consisting of 4 units of 1 bedroom, 16 units of 2 bedroom and 4 units of 3 bedroom with a parking space available to occupy 50 cars.

The Project Manager, Mr. Liu Chao, said the needed infrastructures for the project such as access road, water, power among others are 95 per cent completed while the building is 40 per cent completed.

He said about 200 workers have been engaged apart from suppliers and food vendors, who on daily basis provides meal for the workers.

Chao, representing the contracting firm, City International Dimension assured that the project will be delivered in six months.

Ministry Project Team Leader, Architect Toyin Faturoti added that, “Ramp was constructed mainly for the physically challenged and there is high rail for protection of the occupants. There are 2 bedroom flats and 3 bedroom flats where each bedroom has its toilets and kitchen good enough to make them comfortable.

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“The doors of the physically challenged are wider and the kitchen bigger, while the building allows every strata of the society to live together under a roof.”

In his remarks, the contractor in charge of potable water, Mr. Adeleke Seyi said the property was provided with water treatment facility good enough to serve the occupants all year round.

He said a 75, 000 cubic meter lower tank has been provided as well as 45, 000 upper tank which is being pumped by 7.5 horse power vertical power machine after the treatment.

One of the workers, Ukaba Joseph, lauded the federal government for the project stressing that it has empowered him and served as a reliable source of livelihood.

Ashade: There’s Urgent Need to Fast-track Infrastructure Devt in Lagos

The Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, spoke with select journalists on the recently passed 2018 budget, the urgency for infrastructure renewal in the state, and the aggressive drive to boost internally generated revenue, among others. Chika Amanze-Nawchuku presents the excerpts:

Lagos State Government has just passed a budget of over one trillion Naira into law. This is certainly a first for any state in Nigeria. What informs this level of mega budgeting and what guarantee can you give that this budget will be fully implemented? Are you not being a little over-ambitious?

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When you examine the requirements of the state especially from the point of provision of social and physical infrastructure you will find that there is still a huge vacuum that needs to be filled. And this is despite what has been done over the years especially since 1999. Take a look at any area whatsoever, from roads to public housing to education to security and healthcare and education. There is still so much that needs to be done. And perhaps that is why you will see that His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is so anxious to turn things around and to do so in a systematic manner.

And as you would have obviously already witnessed, there is so much that is going on currently in Lagos in terms of infrastructural development. In fact, it is a full infrastructural renewal that is going on. The reconstruction and total redevelopment of Airport Road into a 10-lane expressway is underway and progressing very well. Oshodi is being completely overhauled into a modern transport interchange that will not only facilitate movement but also drive business and commerce and provide jobs for people. Like the Ajah and Abule-Egba flyovers, which Governor Ambode built in record time, the Pen Cinema bridge is also being aggressively worked on. The Pen Cinema bridge will help to provide relief to the millions of citizens who live in the Agege-Ogba-Oke-Ira areas of Lagos and their neighborhoods from the traffic congestion that has for decades been associated with the rapid expansion and population growth in that entire axis. His Excellency’s promise is to deliver that project this year.

You may have probably heard of the embedded power project as well. This is a unique power project and will deliver independently produced power to Lagosians. Target completion date is 2018 and this project will deliver regular electricity to Lagosians. Now, can you imagine how that singular project on electricity will impact the lives of Lagosians? By how much it will help to unleash the entrepreneurial energy of the people and drive the efficiency of businesses and make life more convenient for the people? And there are lots of other projects in Education, public housing, healthcare, security and other areas.

So you see, the budget is a reflection of the enormity of work that needs to be done by a responsive and responsible government.

But some people have complained that despite the huge annual budgets, development hardly seems to get to their immediate localities. Some say they contribute to grade their streets and repair their transformers and even provide their own water.

I think this question in a way provides some answer to your first question. The N1.046 trillion budget may be huge indeed, but it remains insufficient to really drive development in the optimal manner that the state deserves especially given the fact that we have for many decades considerably under-invested in infrastructure. What I’m saying here is that even for such a relatively huge budget, there are still limitations as to what it can achieve. That is why government has to be exceedingly painstaking in the overall budgeting process. The idea is to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of people and ensuring that in as many ways as possible everyone enjoys the dividends of good governance. That is why you will find that all of the projects that are being implemented are those that will deliver the greatest impact to the highest number of people. This is not to say that we will not take projects everywhere. Ultimately, every ward, every street will benefit from one project or the other. Many of the projects I have mentioned are the big signature projects of this administration but there are lots of others. For instance, a BRT Lane will be constructed from Oshodi to Abule-Egba. There’s an 8 Kilometer regional road to connect VGC with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase One and alternative routes to connect Lekki-Epe Expressway from Oke-Ira in Etiosa Local Government. Also in this budget, housing projects in Ajara-Badagry, Igbogbo, Iponri, Gbagada, Omole Phase I, Igando and Sangotedo will be completed on a rent-to-own basis.

Apart from these, there’s also the issue of social infrastructure, which we must also bear in mind. This year, for instance, we are making a provision of N126 billion for Education which essentially represents 12 percent of the overall budget. Now, this is a record as I do not know any other state that is devoting as much to education. But then it speaks to the sophistication of the thinking of Governor Ambode. He is driving an aggressive infrastructure renewal across the state in order to deliver a Lagos of the future. But what is the future without Education? What is the future if our children are not availed quality education to keep them apace with their counterparts elsewhere in the world? So education is being taken very seriously and this affects all our children. Another key area is healthcare to which N92b or roughly 9 percent of the budget is being devoted. So provision of social infrastructure is an area into which the government is investing heavily and which impacts the lives of all of us, much more than we probably realize.

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What about the size of government? There is a general view that government size is too large which is why government always tends to devote so much to recurrent expenditure which is really about paying salaries of people in government while capital expenditure suffers.

Let me talk about the capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure ratio and assure you that in Lagos state, it is a very healthy one. In fact in the 2018 budget, the ratio is two to one. 67 percent of the budget is going to capital expenditure while 33 percent goes to recurrent expenditure. And that’s a very realistic and healthy ratio. So we are devoting far more to capital expenditure than to recurrent here in Lagos. This is not to downplay the importance of recurrent expenditure, which also has a critical role to play in the economic value chain. Governance as you know, still must be carried out by functionaries at different levels. However, we continue to watch the government headcount very keenly but more importantly, Governor Ambode will always emphasize efficiency. It’s not just about the headcount, it is also about how much the government is empowering its own people to deliver at their best, how much it is providing them with training, tools and facilities to operate the machinery of government efficiently.

This brings me to the key question of funding this budget of N1 trillion. How do you plan to fund this overly ambitious budget?

Well, you are right to call it an ambitious budget. But I’m sure that the scenario I have painted in our discussion so far, justifies why it needs to be ambitious if it is to truly deliver a better tomorrow to us and our children.

To fund the budget, we are looking primarily at internally generated revenue. As you very well know, dating back to the days of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, IGR has been a mainstay of our local economy in Lagos and that has been very critical to the progress we have continued to make as a state and set us apart from all other states in Nigeria.

But people are beginning to complain about your taxes. In fact, some people say you are over-taxing…

I very much appreciate where all of this is coming from, especially against the backdrop of the current economic situation. None of us, no matter how wealthy, is immune to the current economic situation. Even if you are, you must have friends, and relatives who are affected. But I assure you that everything we are doing is based on a fundamental premise which is not to burden any citizen with more than what he can conveniently shoulder. That is the explicit instruction of His Excellency, Governor Ambode. That is why you will find that in every instance, we have incorporated a feedback mechanism so that any citizen who legitimately believes that what he’s being charged may be excessive has a right to seek clarification and even appeal.

What has happened in the recent past is that government has made an effort to enhance the efficiency of the tax regime in the state as part of the overall reforms in the financial management of the state. You may probably have heard the LIRS frequently complain that the tax burden in the state is shouldered by a small fraction of people. Many people who ought to pay tax do not pay. And this creates a problem for everyone. You may have read press reports of the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly lamenting recently that of the more than 2million taxable properties in Lagos, only about 300,000 were actually paying Land Use Charge. In fact, this was one of the motivations for the review and repeal of the old Land Use Charge Law.

So what has happened basically, has been an attempt to redress this. For instance, there are taxes or levies that had over the years become obsolete. If you were paying a tax or levy of N50 in 2001 for instance, that may have been quite significant at that time, but certainly much less significant in 2018. So on one hand, some of these taxes and levies had become obsolete.

On the other hand, there was also the question of the inefficiency in the collection process. This is an area which we are aggressively striving to ramp up. For Land Use Charge, for instance we are enhancing the enumeration of properties across the state. We are doing this physically but also supporting it with the use of GPS technology.

But the complaint is that the Land Use Charge has gone up astronomically. Quite a few people have complained bitterly that the new rates under the land use charge regime may have negative impact on future property development in the state because of the land use charge rate.

When the old Land Use Charge law was repealed by the Lagos State House of Assembly recently, one of the complaints the Assembly had was that there was a bit of opacity in that whole regime. So for instance you could be paying far more than someone living in a much bigger house on the same street because the method of calculation of Land Use Charge tended to be very subjective.

That was why the House of Assembly decided that in making the new law there would need to be some standardisation. That was why they decided that going forward, properties would be valued at market rate. As you know, market rate is very much standardized and if you use the services of a professional valuer you will find that these professionals do actually provide very accurate valuation of properties based on market rates.

So using market value in property valuation is helping to eliminate some of the opacity that used to be associated with the Land Use Charge regime. It is also helping to ensure that obsolete rates are brought fairly up-to-date.

Another thing it also does is that now, you do not necessarily need to wait to receive your annual demand notice before you pay your Land Use Charge. If you wish, you can value your property with the help of a professional valuer and calculate the value of Land Use Charge yourself and then go ahead to make payment.

But the market rate approach for determining Land Use Charge has also led to very steep increases in Land Use Charge. Some people have said that they got increases of over 200%. Is this increase not too high?

First, I think that the use of percentages can be very misleading. Someone who has been paying say N1,500 since 2006 and who is now requested to pay N5,000 today, 12 years later, may say it’s a 300% increase but you and I know what the value of N1,500 was 12 years ago versus what it is today.

But more importantly, I want to say that the State Government has been very encouraged by the responses so far to the Land Use Charge. The officials started distributing the demand notices just a few weeks ago and so far the responses have been very good. Very many property owners have proceeded to make payments. And we would continue to encourage property owners and those who have up to 10-year leases on properties to go ahead and pay as soon as possible because in doing so, you benefit from an additional 15% relief on the Land Use Charge, which is one of the additional reliefs in the new Land Use Charge regime.

What do you mean by “reliefs” are you talking about discount? Is the Land Use Charge discounted?

By relief, I am referring to the several buffers that the law has put in place in order to reduce the amount that is eventually paid. So even though properties are valued at market rate, in calculating the Land Use Charge rate to be paid, a general relief of 40% is applied. And then of course, if payment is made promptly there is an additional 15% relief. So in essence, one is paying just about 45% of the chargeable rate if one pays in good time.

Apart from this, retirees who are aged 70 years and above and live in their own houses are exempted. They do not pay any Land Use Charge. The same applies to properties that are used for religious and not-for-profit activities. They are also exempted. There are categories of exemptions and reliefs for the physically challenged as well.

And as I said earlier, the majority of property owners have gone ahead to make payments.

But this is not to say that all those who are complaining about the new Land Use Charge regime have no case. This is a system that is man-made, so it is not necessarily perfect. This is why we have a Help Desk office at the Ministry of Finance, specifically dedicated to handling such complaints. And I encourage every citizen with a legitimate complaint to please contact the Land Use Charge Help Desk. The Help Desk is very accessible and can be reached by phone and email. All the contact details of the Help Desk are on the demand notices. Any property owner disputing his bill may simply contact the Help Desk to resolve these issues. The Help Desk is manned by trained professionals, human beings like you and I, who live in the same Lagos, so they empathise. I assure you that once a legitimate case is established, then of course, a remedy will be instituted promptly.

As I said earlier and I must continue to re-emphasize this: the new law was not designed to punish anyone. The sole objective was to make it more realistic and functional. Where any property owner may feel that the computation of his bill is wrong, please feel free to contact the Help Desk of the Land Use Charge office.

So you are looking at funding the N1.04 trillion budget using IGR basically?

Well, IGR alone will not be able to completely fund this. In terms of IGR and what we receive from the centre we project that the state will receive about N897billion. The balance will have to be funded through budget deficit financing. So you can see that in the face of the developmental challenge that we are confronted with, we all have to be extremely committed and creative to generate the funding to surmount this. We will need to make sacrifices from time-to-time, and thankfully, Governor Ambode is clearly demonstrating that these sacrifices are not in vain. His commitment to infrastructure renewal across the entire state is very palpable and the evidence is there for all to see.

I will continue to appeal for cooperation and understanding from my fellow Lagosians in this journey towards building a mega city of the future; a city that our children will be very proud of.

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