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Lagos, Stakeholders Disagree Over Land Use Charge

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  • Lagos, Stakeholders Disagree Over Land Use Charge

A stakeholders’ dialogue forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the recent amendments to the Land Use Charge Law by the Lagos State Government on Friday generated a heated debate between representatives of the state government, property owners, estate developers and members of the Organised Private Sector.

The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, in his presentation explained that the law was not a new one and was not meant to punish taxpayers.

According to him, the LUC harmonises the tenement rate, ground rent and neighbourhood improvement levy, which he noted were creations of the 20th Century.

He said that the new law by implication would have about 75 per cent of property owners in Lagos paying about N5,000 annually as LUC.

Ashade explained that the government urgently needed taxes to develop infrastructure to cater for the high influx of people into Lagos at the rate of 85 people per hour in recent times.

He told the stakeholders that they were empowered by the law to calculate their charges and reconcile them with the government.

The commissioner urged people who had issues with the charges they paid on their property to approach the government’s help desk and have the issues resolved.

Responding, the President, LCCI, Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, said that the economic situation in the country did not put enough resources in the hands of taxpayers to accommodate additional taxes.

He suggested that the government should get more property owners into its tax net as it had been established that about 700,000 properties existed in the state on which the LUC ought to be charged, but that only about 300,000 property owners were currently on the database of the state government.

“We request that the implementation of the new LUC law be put on hold because of the stakeholders’ complaints, while the grey areas are sorted out. Also, some key provisions in the law need to be normalised in the interest of fairness, equity and natural justice,” Ruwase added.

A representative of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Mr. Timothy Olawale, accused the government of trying to cripple the survival of businesses that were already struggling.

He said since the new law started circulating, some people had suddenly become hypertensive.

Olawale added that the law was passed without due consultation with stakeholders and even though there was a public hearing, stakeholders’ position was not taken into consideration.

He opposed the law on the basis that people’s base wage and income, which determine the rate of calculating taxes, had been affected by inflation and the application of the LUC on empty land that had not yielded income to the owner was not a good idea.

The Vice Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Lagos State Branch, Dotun Bamigbola, suggested that the LUC 2018 should be anchored on the basic principles of taxation, adding that this would ensure fairness, particularly from the taxpayers’ point of view.

A stakeholder, Iredia Gbadebo asked the government why it did not collect taxes from those who were not paying and who were responsible for the deficit tax position of the state before increasing the rates for those who were complying with the law.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Nigeria’s Exports Under US Duty-free Policy Declines to $300.48m

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Nigeria’s Exports to the United States Under Duty-free Policy Declined by 88 Percent to $300.48 million

Nigeria’s total exports under the US duty-free declined by 88 percent from $2,502.86 million to $300.48 million in the first eight months of 2020.

In the latest African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) policy report established in 2000, crude oil export accounted for 99.8 percent of Nigeria’s AGOA exports to the United States in 2019.

In 2019, oil and gas products worth $3.12 billion were exported to the US under the duty-free policy.

However, the plunged in global demand for Nigerian crude oil due to the COVID-19 lockdown weighed on the nation’s oil exports and revenue generation.

The United States imported 5.53 million barrels of crude oil from Nigeria in the first quarter of 2020, down from 15.07 million barrels imported in the final quarter of 2019.

Speaking on the need to improve non-oil export to take advantage of the duty-free like other African nations Mr Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, who spoke at a virtual event recently said despite efforts to sensitise Nigerian exporters on the need to take advantage of the duty-free trade opportunity, only a few Nigerian exporters are benefiting from it.

He said the record crash in global oil prices is an indication that a mono-product economy like Nigeria is not sustainable and that there is an urgent need to develop non-oil export.

We cannot rely on crude oil export as both our major source of government revenue and foreign exchange generation. We must diversify our export base,” Awolowo said.

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Economy

Road Projects: Nigeria Owes Contractors More Than N390 Billion, Says Fashola

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FG Owes Road Contractors N392 Billion for Road Projects

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said the Federal Government owes companies handling the 711 road projects across the country a total sum of N392 billion.

This, he said was higher than the N276 billion allocated for road projects in the proposed 2021 budget.

The minister disclosed this on Wednesday while defending the 2021 budget of his ministry before the Senate Committee on works.

Fashola said, “With the situation on ground, a stop has come for new projects and the country needs to prioritise the existing ones in order to complete some of them.

According to him, a total of N6.62 trillion was needed to fund the 711 road projects but because of the limited available resources, there is a need to prioritise the important ones.

He said, “We do not have the resources that we need to fix our road infrastructure at once; the very reason we need to prioritise what want to do.

“The situation on ground requires us to cut our coat according to our cloth and not according to our size because no good will come out of more new road projects now.

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Economy

Waltersmith’s 5,000bpd Modular Refinery in Imo State to Commence Operations

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5,000bpd Modular Refinery Built in Imo State to Start Operations

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said the 5,000 barrels per day Modular Refinery project built in Imo State is ready for operations.

Sarki Auwalu, the Director, DPR, disclosed this during a pre-commissioning visit to the project site in Ibigwe, Imo State.

In a statement released by Waltersmith, Auwalu was quoted as saying the purpose of his visit was to ensure that the refinery was ready to commence operations.

He said “We can confirm that the refinery is very much ready to commence operations. We have seen all the preparations.

“To us, the plant is alive. The commissioning is just symbolic. Everywhere is ready to start off. My overall assessment is excellent.

“We have been to other modular refineries but we have not seen anything like this – the space, the way it is arranged and the way it will work.”

The 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery is scheduled for inauguration this month. The refinery has crude oil storage capacity of 60,000 barrels and it is expected to deliver more than 271 million litres per year of refined petroleum products.

Auwalu said, “The role we play is to enable businesses and create opportunities. When DPR issues you a licence, it enables you to invest and as a result of that opportunity we create, that business is enabled.

“Waltersmith is one of our success stories. We consider the project as ours. We have been tracking their growth and we are happy to see that our child is growing. It is our plan that they expand and they have the potential.”

Speaking on the project, Abdulrasaq Isah, the Chairman, Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, said the project is the first phase of a series of refinery projects that will lead to the delivery of up to 50,000 barrels per day in refining products.

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