The Lagos State Government in its bid to demonstrate an inclusive, responsive and responsible government, conducted a public hearing on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium, inside the Lagos State Assembly complex.
It will be recalled that the re-enacted Land Use Charge Law had gone through a second reading, and a downward review was announced by the Lagos state government, various reactions have trailed the law, thereby prompting the government to call for a public hearing.
A six-man committee was set up weeks ago to look into the repealed law in order to identify the grey arrears of the law. The committee extracted from the 37 sections of the law 8 sections identified to tally with the peoples’ concerns and demands, these 8 sections have now been put forward for amendment.
Addressing the hearing, Speaker, House of Assembly, Honourable Obasa who gave a keynote address mentioned that this will be the first time since 2003 the house will witness such a crowd in any bill passing process, which simply indicates that the Land Use Charge issue concerns the majority of Lagos residents. ‘It has been said that the Lagos state population will increase over the next years and so the state needs to look inward for means of revenue generation as we cannot solely rely on federal allocation alone’, said Hon Obasa. He also noted that it is the contribution we make as citizens that will pave way for the future generation.
Stakeholders in various fields in the state came with their observations and recommendations, which led to a robust argument on the Land Use Charge Law 2018.
Mr. Okpabio, who represented Organized Private Sector (OPS) after submitting their memorandum, recommended that assessment of properties for valuation should be carried out by professional bodies alone, and the process should carry on for about 3 to 5 years, this is to give room for an accurate valuation. He further advised that empty properties should be exempted from taxation. Also, that pensioners, as represented in the law, should not be limited to Lagos State pensioners alone, it should cut across other retirees in the state as well. He further went ahead to express support for Government proposition on further reduction of rates as stated earlier by the Hon. Commissioner for Finance in Lagos state, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade.
Chukwuka Ikwuazom, Chairman Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch thanked the house for letting them air their views on the controversial law, He suggested that regulations that provide for reliefs and grand concessions are made a part of the principal law, this will inspire more confidence in the people, and also avoid being altered in the process. He also appealed for more time in order to enable his branch to study the amended law and send in a memorandum.
Furthermore, Mr. Olurogba Orinmalade, Chairman of The Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) commended the adoption of Market Value as the basis for determining property assessment, he also noted that a lot of ignorance has surrounded the issue of Market Value and Reliefs as presented in the Land Use Charge Law, and advised that it should be addressed. He, however, requested that the House grants his association extra period in order to put up a technical report on the debated Law.
Godwin Alenka, Chairman, Estate Agent Commission Association, Lagos branch advised that Government should engage estate agents in the state to ensure remittance of tax, as they are the ones closer to property owners and can hold them accountable.
Abiola Sanni, a property owner and a professor of law of taxation added that valuation process should be made robust and inclusive, he advised that adequate provisions be made for the process in order to be a successful one.
Hon. S. O. P Agunbiade, majority leader of the House of Assembly, who reiterated that the Law making process is a continuous one, commended all stakeholders who came forward with their contributions. He assured that the House will look into all concerns and memorandum submitted by professional bodies across the state. He also advised that bodies who are yet to submit their memorandum can do so in the next two weeks.