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LASG Explains Controversial Land Use Charge

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Amid the complaints about the new Lagos State Land Use Charge, the Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, says an aggregated tax that has combined three erstwhile separate taxes namely tenement rate, ground rent and neighbourhood improvement levy into one.
Ashade, who noted yesterday in Lagos that Land Use Charge had been trending for the wrong reasons recently, said that instead of paying three different taxes, the tax payer pays just one consolidated tax.
“Land Use Charge is not new in Lagos, neither has it been arbitrarily introduced to the state. Rather, it emanated from a long process of deliberation, consultation and engagement, all of which typically precede law-making.
“Indeed, implementation of this particular tax was sequel to the passage of the Land Use Charge Law of 2001 as promulgated by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
“The law has therefore, been operational since 2001. Its stipulations are also fairly simple. It essentially applies to defined categories of property which are in turn required to pay taxes that vary in accordance with the categories.
“In calculating the Land Use Charge, payable on a property, a simple formula is applied: the estimated value of the property is multiplied by relief rate and further multiplied by the appropriate charge rate.
“While the estimated value of a property is self explanatory, I will explain each of the other two terms in more detail,’’ the commissioner said in a statement.
“The `charge rate’ is a relatively small percentage charge that is applied to different categories of property depending on their categorization. A property that is occupied by the owner for instance, enjoys the lowest charge rate.
“A property that is used for industrial or manufacturing activity is categorised as `industrial’ and is charged higher than owner-occupied property but considerably lower than `commercial’ property.
“Commercial property are those property that are deemed to be fully utilised for commercial activity — a bank branch for instance. There are a few categories in-between.
“There is also the `relief rate’ which refers to a discount on the calculated charge.’’
Ashade said the Land Use Charge Law of 2001 stipulated that reviews of the charges payable be made on a five-year basis but for some reason this did not happen.
He said that in 2017 for instance, properties were paying charges based on rates that were last determined in 2001, adding that clearly, after 16 years, those charges had largely become obsolete.
The commissioner said that property valuation did not appear to always follow a uniform standard and that there were often stark variations in property valuation that were inequitable.
“Furthermore, property enumeration did not appear to be proceeding as fast as it ought to and a considerable chunk of property was actually not paying this charge.
“These were some of the inefficiencies in the old Land Use Charge regime that prompted the Lagos State House of Assembly to repeal the old law and promulgate a new one.
“In the course of today’s trending debate on Land Use charge, some commentators have tried to create the impression that the Lagos State Government arbitrarily, without engaging or consulting different stakeholders, increased the Land Use Charge rates payable in Lagos.
“This is not true. The process of the review of the old law and promulgation of the new Land Use Charge Law by the Lagos State House of Assembly was elaborate and painstaking,’’ he said.
Ashade said the draft legislation was rigorously interrogated and debated at the Assembly not only at committee level but over two separate hearings and that memoranda were invited from dozens of stakeholder groups, including civil society groups, community development associations, leadership of local government councils and local council development areas.
Ashade said that even though the law clearly stipulates that upon receiving a demand notice, payment must be made within 14 days, failure of which different penalties of up to 200 percent of the original bill would begin to apply, the reality is that the state government is making key concessions in this area.

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Active Mobile Subscribers Hit 210m In Nigeria

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The total number of active mobile subscribers increased from 208.6 million in July 2022 to 210 million in August 2022 with teledensity of 109.99 per cent.
In the same vein, internet subscribers also exceeded 152.2 million, with broadband penetration standing at 44.65 per cent.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communication Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) Day at the 17th Abuja International Trade Fair on Tuesday.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, said in this new environment, the competitiveness of Nigeria’s SMEs depended on the ability to leverage new technologies by acquiring the necessary digital skills to do business on an international scale.
He said the steady growth in the telecoms sector over the years with its persuasive positive impact on all other sectors of the economy in terms of increased automation of processes and digital transformation in service delivery had been remarkable.
To sustain this, he said, “the NCC continues to create conducive environment that stimulates deployment of robust telecoms/broadband infrastructure for improving the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for telecoms consumers, both individuals and corporates.
“This is because, as a country, we need robust telecoms infrastructure that will help our SMEs to transit to becoming Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-driven if we hope to be digitally competitive on the global stage.”
He said the Commission was working assiduously with various stakeholders to see how more businesses would embrace digital platforms for delivering their services to the consumer.
“Indeed, digitalization of the SME sector of the Nigerian economy is strongly connected to telecommunications, giving the power the telecom sector has to positively disrupt traditional business models. This explains why the growing demand for connectivity is pressuring telecom companies to upgrade their telecommunications infrastructure.
“As a result, network transformation has become far more imperative for innovative businesses, allowing them to address changing customer expectations”, he said.
Danbatta noted that the NCC was driving initiatives for full launch of the 5G network in Nigeria, noting that spectrum licenses for the companies that would roll out the service had been issued.
reau, NCC, Mistura Aruna, said as regulator of the telecommunication sector in Nigeria, the Commission ensured service availability, accessibility, affordability and sustainability for all categories of consumers who were leveraging ICT/Telecoms to drive personal business.
Idehen said the theme of the trade fair, “Creating an Export Ready Market through SME Digitization” could not have been made a better time, noting that it coincided with the time the Federal Government approved the deployment of the 5G technology.

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Sambo Assures On $350m Cabotage Fund Disbursement 

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Minister of Transport, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has stated  his commitment to disburse the $350million Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
He expressed his willingness to break any jinx inhibiting the disbursement of the 19-year old revolving loan fund, designed to help indigenous ship owners acquire vessels, noting that the disbursement of the CVFF will further boost shipping activities in the country’s maritime sector.
Giving the assurance in a statement by the Assistant Director, Public Relations, Osagie Edward, the Minister reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to work with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which warehouses the fund currently estimated at over $350million.
Making the vow when he visited NIMASA Headquarters in Apapa, Lagos, in company of the Minister of State, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Sambo said  the fund will be disbursed to deserving beneficiaries,
He called for more synergy between NIMASA and other parastastals under the supervision of the Ministry,in addition to the Nigeria Navy, and members of the Nigeria Armed forces, towards ensuring the success of the deep Blue project.
While commending the management of NIMASA over its capacity development initiatives in the maritime industry, he also lauded the agency for remaining focused in the delivery of its mandate, noting that it has upgraded its image from what it used to be a decade ago.
“NIMASA of today has come a long way from the NIMASA I knew 10 years ago. I commend the entire management and staffers of the agency for raising the bar.
“It is now a symbol of team work. I am impressed with the customer experience centre and your efforts to attract young Nigerians into the maritime industry via your various capacity development projects, including the essay competition for secondary school students”, he said.
Speaking the Director General (DG) of NIMASA, Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, briefed the Minister on some of the activities of the agency in deveoloping a robust maritime industry.
Such activities, he said, include: obtaining approval for physical and monetary incentives for ship owners to purchase brand new vessels at zero duty, and assisting them get foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria rate.
This, he explained, is to help phase out old and rickety vessels from the nation’s waterways and encourage more participation in the Nigerian shipping industry.
Jamoh also informed the Minister that under the Deep Blue Project, 600 Special Forces from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Department of State Security, among others are undergoing training for special skills to ensure effective implementation of the Project.
The intention, he said, is to ensure that the nation’s waterways remain safe from all forms of criminalities.
He further disclosed to the Minister that over 2,000 Nigerians have undergone trainings under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) scheme, out of which about 800 are actively engaged on various ships, with a huge number of them working on board  the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) vessels.
He added that NIMASA is developing a National Ship Building and Infrastructure Development Strategy, aimed at bridging the gap in capacity building for trained Nigerian seafarers.
Other achievements listed include enhanced maritime safety administration through effective Ports and Flag state inspection on foreign and Nigerian flagged vessels, Enforcement of safety regulations on barges and tug boats through Operation Sting.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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FG Targets 10m MSMEs In Single Digit Credit Scheme

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is planning to ensure that at least 10 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have access to soft credit at a single digit interest rate in a proposed small scale empowerment scheme.
He also said the Federal Government is keen to help MSMEs achieve their full potential and has developed strategic policy interventions, enshrined laws and established institutions to create a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
The President made the disclosure, Tuesday, at the opening ceremony of the 17th Abuja International Trade Fair.
Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Minister of indutstry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said to achieve the plan, the Trade and Investment Ministry has developed a programme that will enhance access to credit for over 10 million MSMEs at single digit rate.
“Aside from provision of finance, this project will address key ecosystem issues such as development of MSME clusters to lower operating costs as well as capacity building initiatives,” the President said.
In addition, he said, the Ministry has also commenced the process of adopting a centralised automated platform for the registration of Trademarks, Patents and Designs.
He continued that the overall objective is to fully digitise existing records and automate the registration process to enable ownership and commercialisation of innovation.
The Federal Government, the President stated, has also approved fiscal incentives for MSMEs, which includes exemption from Company Income Tax and Value Added Tax for enterprises with annual turnover of less than 25 million Naira. The Pioneer Status Incentive also grants tax holidays for start-ups across multiple sectors.
He, therefore, called for focus on how MSMEs can be energised as vehicles for economic growth.
On his part, President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Al Mujtaba Abubakar, challenged small scale businesses to embrace technology in order to advance their business operations.
He said digitization offers a range of opportunities for SMEs to improve performance, spur innovation, enhance productivity and compete on a more even footing with larger firms, reflecting: economies of scale; lower operation and transaction costs; and reduced information asymmetries.
Abubakar said the 17th trade fair will also strengthen trade and investment opportunities in the country, thus, offering a neutral and open atmosphere for blue chip companies, trade groups/associations, and government.

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