The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has lent its voice to the opposition groups’ against the newly enacted Lagos Land Use Charge Law 2018, describing its sanctions as obnoxious and not in line with democratic ideals.
The President of the Chamber, Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, made the position of the OPS group known in Lagos on Friday during a stakeholders’ forum on Lagos Land Use Charge Law, 2018.
He said that while the chamber would not encourage or support any form of infractions of the law, the sanctions must be proportional and fair.
The LCCI President said: “There would be instances where the citizens are willing to pay, but just do not have the capacity to pay, given the state of the economy. The Nigerian economy is only just gradually recovering from recession. Many companies are yet to return to profitability.
“Industrial capacity utilisation has declined, purchasing power is still very weak, occupancy rate in many commercial and residential properties are still very low. All of these have adversely impacted the returns on investment in property market and points to the fact that current market value of property may not necessarily reflect the rental income for the property,” Ruwase added.
While noting that only 300, 000 property are paying the charge, while 700, 000 property are identified for tax payment, he advised that emphasis should be on getting more property into the tax net, rather than imposing additional burden on those currently on the database.
Ruwase, who pointed out that there was no evidence to show that adequate dissemination of information to critical stakeholders and conditions stipulated for law review occurred were followed before implementation of the law, advised that implementation of the law should be suspended to ensure equity and natural justice.
According to him, stakeholders are concerned that assessed value used for computation of the law was high and difficult to justify.
He explained the business community appreciated government’s efforts in investing in infrastructure and security, promising that businesses are willing and ready to pay their tax.
In his remarks at the forum, Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, said that the law aimed at entrenching a regime of self assessment that would allow property owners to calculate and know their tax liabilities with the help of professional valuers.
He explained that various reliefs had been made available to payers, including a general 40 per cent relief for all property liable to LUC payment.
Amongst other provisions, the Land Use Charge Law stipulates a 25 per cent increase in charge if payment was not made between 45 and 75 days. This is even as it also prescribed a 50 per cent increase after 105 days and a 100 per cent increase if payment cannot be made between 75 to 105 days.
The LUC law also provided that a property shall be liable to enforcement if payment was not made after 135 days of notice.