By Chris Chimezie
The Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, has affirmed that his administration did not intend to use the Land Use Charge to put burden on the people of the state.
Akeredolu made the clarification while making his payment during the official launching of the Land Use Charge payment held at the office of the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Oyemekun Model Tax Station in Akure, the state capital.
The Governor averred that it is important that the state government makes this assertion clear to the good people of the state as government is implementing and executing a law that has been in place since 2014 ever before it came into office.
Akeredolu therefore solicited the cooperation of house owners in the state stressing that the development would have a salutary impact as it would increase the revenue of the state and also assist in addressing the infrastructural deficit.
“We are looking at revenue generation, building infrastructure and putting in place proper planning and we need your cooperation and understanding to do more for your well-being”, he said.
“The law is so specific that everybody needs to pay arrears from 2014. The day the law was promulgated and passed by the state House of Assembly, everybody becomes liable to pay from 2014.
“But, having critically looked at it, we felt that payment of the arrears might generate issues, hence a waiver for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“We are not here to put burden on our people, but when a law has been put in place, as a government, we must be courageous enough to implement it.
“My house, that of the Deputy Governor, Chief of Staff to the Governor and other members of the state Executive Council have been captured”, he said.
Governor Akeredolu commended the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) on the methodology adopted in meeting with stakeholders, Surveyors, Estate Valuers and members of the landlord associations which he said, has brought about a peaceful resolution of various knotty issues.
The Governor, who thanked the people of the state for their understanding and cooperation so far, called on them to pay the little amount that are charged on their properties, adding that the payment would be done annually.
Earlier, Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr Donald Ojogo lauded Governor Akeredolu for the gesture noting that apart from revenue generation, it would enhance proper planning for developmental purposes.
He added that the expected land reform would not be only about allocation of land for land users, but also involves how land use policies are implemented.
“What have been done is taking over 30% of the burden of the Ministry of Lands and Housing in terms of planning and policy formation”, he said.
On his own, Commissioner for Finance, Mr Wale Akinterinwa applauded Akeredolu for championing the process of implementing the all-important Land Use Charge in the state.
Also, Chairman of Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Mr Tolu Adegbie noted that the Land Use Charge Law would serve as an avenue to increase the revenue of the state, hence the need to implement it.
To make the dream a realistic one, he hinted that the Board had an extensive consultation with all stakeholders including various landlord associations, and Nigeria Association of Estate Surveyors who did valuation of all the properties.
While thanking Governor Akeredolu for providing the Board with the necessary supports to achieve success, he added that the various landlord associations have expressed happiness for the cancelation of charges for the years of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Global Revenue Consultant to the State Government, Mr Akinyele Oladeji commended the State Governor for providing the needed leadership to drive its technology.
He explained that the Land Use Charge was a fusion of all collection rights of several relevant tax authorities which has made it easier for the people to access.
Some of its advantages, according to him, included affording land owners the opportunity to know where they have their properties, serves as one of the evidences to provide, should there be any litigation.