By Obinna Chima
Members of the organised private sector under the umbrella of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) have expressed disappointment about the non-confirmation of nominees to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) by the National Assembly.
This is just as the association vehemently opposed the over 200 per cent increase in Land Use Charge in Lagos state, describing it as an insensitivity and gross disregard of the current state of wellbeing of both corporate and residents in the state.
The President of NECA, Mr. Larry Ettah, said this in a statement obtained at the weekend.
He noted that the MPC, which he described as a critical committee, “has been unable to meet because it could not form a quorum as stipulated in the CBN Act 2007.
“We believe that the country’s monetary policy should not be left to run on auto-pilot as the outcome of the deliberation of the MPC is important to the sustainable economic growth and development of our country,” he added.
He, however, commended the federal government for the constitution and re-constitution of some Boards of Parastatals and Agencies, albeit very late.
The lateness and outright non-reconstitution of some other Boards, according to him, portends danger for good governance with negative image for the country.
Ettah pointed out that of greater concern to businesses was the non-reconstitution of critical Boards such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), PenCom, Central Bank of Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others.
“We had expected government to have set up the Boards by now. The absence of Boards for the parastatals is one awful legacy of the military regime that should be discarded without further delay.
Commenting further on the hike in Land Use Charge in Lagos, Ettah pointed out that the real estate sector continues to wallow in deep recession with high vacancy rates.
“How on earth would any decent authority increase taxes overnight by over 200 to 500 per cent, when in reality government should be doing more to stimulate the sector to come out of recession?
“To compound matters, there is a repugnant and odious penalty payment ranging between 125-200 per cent, if payment is not made between April and August,” he added.
In its bid to increase its internally generated revenue and expansion of its tax base, the Lagos State government recently repealed its 2001 Land Use Charge Law, and replaced the 2001 Law with a new Land Use Charge Law, 2018. The government also extended the period for the payment of all annual Land Use Charge (LUC) Demand Notices for 2018, to Saturday, April 14th, 2018.
The latter was to enable property owners and affected occupiers take the option of enjoying the discounts available for the prompt and early payment of LUC invoices.
“While we commend Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State for all his good works in Lagos, which is a model for good governance, he, however, has to realise that sensitivity and humanness is a critical part of governance.
“In reality, the new law will expect property owners in Lagos State to pay at the very minimum a monstrous, appalling and callous increase of over 200 per cent and in some instances over 500 per cent in Land Use Charge.
“It is not as if the income of a property owner has gone up significantly to justify this outrageous law,” the NECA boss added.
The law also contains a 25 per cent penalty on the LUC Demand Notice Rate not paid between 45 to 75 calendar days; 50 per cent penalty on the LUC Demand Notice Rate not paid between 75 to 105 calendar days; and 100 per cent penalty on the LUC Demand Notice Rate not paid between 105 to 135 calendar days.
Where the LUC Demand Notice is not settled after 135 days of the Tax Payer’s receipt of the Demand Notice, the Lagos State government is authorised by the LUCL to appoint a Temporary Receiver/Manager to administer the Property until all the outstanding taxes, penalties and administrative charges are paid.
“The OPS finds this law intolerable and brutish. It will do everything legal and legitimate including social resistance to challenge this unfair and unjustifiable law.
“We put the Governor on notice that this law in its current form is not acceptable and the OPS will fight this law by social resistance and any other legitimate means at its disposal to get the government to ameliorate the harsh impact of the abhorrent law on residents.
“We believe in the context of a democracy that it is important that truth be spoken to power. We hope the government will not be obdurate and see reason as to why this law is unfair as it is insufferable,” he added.