•Land Use Charge implementation begins
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill with N1.046 trillion budget size into law.
The states’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) target is N897 billion. The rest of the budget will be funded through deficit financing.
The budget comprises of N347.038 billion to be funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and N699.082 billion from the Development Fund for both capital and recurrent expenditure. It is for the year ending December 31, 2018.
The Governor also signed two critical bills into law. They are the Consolidated Transport Sector Bill and the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission Bill.
The Transport Sector Law 2018 provides for the development and management of a sustainable transport system in the State, as well as development, management and maintenance of transport infrastructure and facilities within the State.
The law also regulates the provision of an efficient transport delivery system and ensures availability of a safe and affordable transportation system. It is hoped that with this law, an efficient integrated transport management system will evolve in the State.
On the other hand, the Teaching Service Commission Law 2018 provides for the control and management of teaching service matters in the State, and for connected purposes.
The law regulates and co-ordinates the management of teaching service matters and provides uniform guidelines for the effective management of Post-Primary Schools in the State.
Governor Ambode, while presenting the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly, had pledged that his administration would make every effort to complete all ongoing projects as well as initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last two and half years.
Also speaking, Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade put the IGR projection at N897 billion, while the remaining part of the budget would be funded by deficit financing.
The Lagos State Government has also started the distribution of the 2018 Land Use Charge demand notices for properties across the state to enable it boost its Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) to boost infrastructure development.
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 Ashade, 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,” Ashade said.
“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.”
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