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Edo State Gov’t Inches Closer to Joint Implementation of Land Use Charge

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The Land Use Charge is simply property tax; it is a tax that property owners will now pay.
By Osaigbovo Frank Okundia
In a bid to ensure wide acceptance of land reforms, particularly the reimplementation of the Land Use Charge law in Edo State, the Edo State Geographic Information Service (EdoGIS) has organised a workshop to garner public inputs, as strategies are being put in place for its full implementation.
The event, tagged “Joint Implementation of the Land Use Charge by the State Government and Local Government Council’s”, was held at the New Festival Hall in Government House, Benin City, with a plethora of participants, ranging from the Nigerian Bar Association, Civil Society Groups, land and property owners, organised private sector, government functionaries, traditional rulers, Nigerian Estate Surveyors, among others.
According to the Director, Shared Services of the EdoGIS, Mrs Emofonmwan, the purpose of the engagement was to gather ideas, and come to a consensus regarding the joint implementation of the land use charge in Edo State.
Speaking at the event, Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, told the participants that the land use charge is property tax paid once a year by landowners, and not a ploy to tax people struggling to make a living in the State, reiterating that the State has accountably and  judiciously deployed revenue generated through taxation in the State, highlighting the importance of trust between the responsible taxpaying citizens and the government.
“The Land Use Charge is simply property tax; it is a tax that property owners will now pay. It is not the tax for people living below the poverty line. If you don’t have property, you have no business with this tax. If you have a property, you pay only one tax and this tax is not to be paid in cash; you pay straight to the government.”
In a presentation by the Managing Director of EdoGis, Osaro Grace Aihie, she intimated participants with some of the provisions of the Land Use Charge law in Edo State, such as the nature of the law, the rates to be paid, the benefits and the type of properties to be charged, which will do away with arbitrary charges on all properties in Edo.
With the implementation imminent, property owners may pay as little as 0.04% to 0.075% upon the valuation of their properties as Land Use Charge. Some properties, however, are excluded from the charge, such as buildings used exclusively for religious purposes, palaces of recognised traditional rulers not leased for investment purposes, public cemeteries, properties used for community games, town hall meetings without any revenue generation, and others.
“We can now work efficiently and also avoid the duplicity of tax which used to take place. Before now, after the land use charge had been distributed with the notices, we still heard people say they get notice of tenement rates, but with this, that will not happen any longer,” Mrs Aihie added.
The State Government has trained personnel who will generate the database of all properties that will be captured under the charge.
Some of the participants present shared their opinions and concerns about the law and the perceived economic implications to the State. Mr Leftist Agho suggested to the government to create more Government Reserved Areas across the State, since it has the prerogative to collect property tax and ground rate. According to him, the creation of more GRAs will open up new places for the opportunity to generate tax revenue.
He also expressed the need for the State Government to organise town hall meetings to inform the people of the State how far they have gone with the use of tax revenue generated across the State.
Mrs Janet Iyasere, representing market women in the State expressed her eagerness to pay tax as a trader, as it is something that is not new.
“My question is which type of building will I be taxed for,  is it the one I am staying in since the time of old or the one I get to build on now,” She asked.
Similarly, Mr Ighale Omoruyi called for ownership and collaboration between the government and the stakeholders saying, “I believe in every relationship there is the need for trust, and when it comes to the issue of tax, there is the need to trust the government. I believe the government of the day has shown that it can be trusted when it comes to its dealings with citizens.”
Responding to their questions and comments, Governor Obaseki told the stakeholders present at the event to trust the government on the basis of what has been done in the past six years.
“We publish our accounts three months after the end of the year, so every kobo we earn is explained; so if people are saying we see what you have done, take money to do more.”
Responding to Mr Agho’s suggestion of more reserved areas, he said, “That is why we are going to collect some of these charges so that we can open up other areas in the State.
The general public is advised that failure to open their premises to government-accredited valuers who will capture their properties is a crime. Property owners can download the LUC application form or visit EdoGIS to get more information on the LUC.

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