Ondo Follows Lagos; Sets to Introduce Land Use Charge…

The Ondo state government has chosen to follow closely the footsteps of Lagos State, by reviewing its land use charge in the state.

The state said there would be an amnesty for those who have not been paying, but implementation would commence as soon as inputs were received from those concerned.

The Lagos State government has been at loggerheads with residents over an increase in land use charges in the state.

After several protests and marches, the Akinwumi Ambode-led government soft-pedalled and reduced the charges. However, activists insist only a reversal would suffice.

The Ondo State Government is however, treading with caution, choosing to hold meetings with property owners before introducing the new law.

It said the meeting was aimed at creating awareness on the administration of the law.

Meeting with local government administrators, top bureaucrats and political office holders, on Thursday in Akure, government officials said the state intended to formulate a workable template for its smooth implementation.

Speaking at the meeting, the Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa, described the land use charge law as a veritable and legal revenue generation means for the government.

He said the government was prepared to drive the programme with inputs from all through the engagements.

Mr. Akinterinwa solicited support to help create effective awareness among the people so that the “good intention of the government would not be misinterpreted”.

He said the government would continue to hold more consultations until there was an acceptable template for all.

The chairman of the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue, Tolu Adegbie, said the adminstration of the law would begin as soon as the proposal for implementation was approved by the Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

“As you are aware, prior to now, tenement rate used to be collected by the local government for all houses in the state. But a law was passed in 2014 cancelling that, that law is a land use charge law,” he said.

“When I came into office, I realised that the law has not been followed. You still have local government collecting tenement rate, members of the board also collecting land use, they are fighting on the road and there are issues here and there.

“So, I decided it’s high time we had a stakeholder’s meeting, let the local government chairmen come, let the state board of internal revenue who have been trying to collect come, let representatives of the various commissioners in the state come, let’s all come together and harmonise.

“The second point is, let us review the law, the law today is the land use charge law of 2014. It has not been reviewed or amended. Which was why we spent 45 minutes reading the law so everyone knows what the law is today and we have done that. And we took comments from everybody and that’s why we are here.

“The next steps are clear, we will take back the feedback we have gotten from this stakeholders engagement, back to Mr Governor especially in determining the rates for the low base areas. If you heard from the room, the comments across board is that the N2000 is a bit stiff, so we will review that. Also we heard that N7000 is a bit too low for the big houses, we will review that.

“But ultimately, what we want right now is inclusion, we are not using a 100 per cent accessed value yet. This is an amnesty period, so many people have not been paying land use charge or tenement rate in all those houses in Akure, Ondo, Ikare and all over. So we are saying, let’s give amnesty period for previous years and for 2017 and 2018 alone, let’s pay.

“So, we will go back with all the feedback to Mr. Governor through the commissioner of lands and finance. Whatever the approval is, we will come back and start the sensitisation on it.”

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