Lagos State House of Assembly on Wednesday confirmed the insertion of a private company, Alpha Beta, as a consultant in the newly passed and signed state’s Land Use Act, describing the development as a mistake.
Reactions have trailed the sighting of the clause in the new Law that was signed a few days back by the Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, with critics wondering why a particular company should be mentioned in a Law as the beneficiary of government policy or programme.
Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, confirmed the insertion while responding to enquiries made through his phone.
“The process of promulgating the new law is not complete until gazetting when the official copy will be available and the law properly cited.
The correct position will be reflected by then. The process of gazetting itself is being expedited in view of these issues,” Braimoh said.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, explained why the land use charge was based on the market value of a property.
According to him, the state government chose this option because the cost of building houses varies according to the area, contending that each property needed to be valued according to its location, in order to achieve a standardized, progressive and rational rate for everyone.
He queried: “For people saying the use of market value should not be the basis for deriving the LUC rate, we ask, what better application should be used?
Speaking further, the commissioner said the Law provided automatic 40 per cent off the value of an assessed property in addition to several other reliefs which property owners were advised to take advantage.
Ashade also clarified the dialogue option being offered by the state government, saying it would be on case by case basis, maintaining that tax is an individual affair and not groups.
Kehinde Bamigbetan, the commissioner for information and strategy, noted that the outrage over the law was unfair to the government because the law took a long process to come into effect from when a public hearing was organised by the House of Assembly.
He specifically dismissed the humongous figures being bandied on the social media, saying many of such calculations were based on arrears of many years of non-payment.
“The fact is that this law took a long process to be made. It started as a Bill and went through the First Reading, Second Reading, Public Hearing to which all stakeholders were brought together to debate it and some of the reliefs we have seen were part of the debate expressed by the stakeholders about the need to protect the vulnerable segment of the society. Having made the Law, the Lagos State House of Assembly has handed it over to the executive to implement.
“The second important part is that a lot of reliefs have been built into the Law but many people are confusing arrears with the actual figure. If you see those figures, ask whether it is for one year or arrears of several years of non-payment. The humongous figures that are being bandied around particularly in the social media relate to the arrears of many years of non-payment which are computed together,” Bamigbetan said.