By Kingsley Omoyeni
Nigeria is going through tough times, especially, in the area of economy and it has adversely affected other aspects of human life. No thanks to a situation occasioned by the dwindling oil prices in the global oil market.
Osun, as a major growing economy in the country, a state which in the last 8 years has been able to restore the hope for a better future for its citizens through its various infrastructural projects put in place by the immediate past administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola will naturally look for other sources of income generation to continue the legacies of the past eight years. Ours is a state which has been nationally acknowledged as one of the few states in the country that is really serious about taking its economic fortunes to the next level in terms of attracting investment into the state through infrastructural developments.
Osun is one of the few states that has laid a foundation for the next direction which it wants to head in a bid to make life better for the generality of the people. Beyond the civil service, Nigerians can now see that Osun is blessed with a lot of potentials which can be tapped into generate income needed to drive the economy of the state.
There are areas which governments have ignored over the years but which must be looked into for their obligations to the electorate to be met and even take care of other critical expenditure of government. State governments across the country needs to look inwards, especially towards areas which had hitherto been ignored or neglected because of the advent of free money which used to come in the name of federal allocation.
Kudos must be given to the immediate-past administration for signing the Land Use Charge into law. Without doubt, the newly-signed law will help government to generate additional revenue as well as provide for a single property charge which replaces all other State and Local Governments taxes on real property including taxes like tenement rates, ground rents and neighborhood improvement taxes.
A law that will do away with multiple rates, increase efficiency in collection and avoid discriminatory and arbitrary application of property-based levies and charges should be embraced and encouraged by all for the benefit of the state and its people.
It is an insult to suggest that the state cannot be self-sufficient, in view of the human and material endowments it has pleased the almighty God to bestow on Osun. One of these is land which is of great value where there are humans because it is the primal resource. We live, work and derive other resources from land.
The Land Use Charge is practically most useful tool to increase equity among tax payers, directly turned to the re-distributional objectives and persuasive resource allocation effects of the APC-led government in Osun. It is a single most salient source of internally-raised revenue that will help solve the problem of expanding urban service system at a low cost, judging by the forces of rural-urban migration with accelerated effect on the growth of properties/buildings in the urban centers.
Interestingly, it works in a very simple manner, the authorized assessors are expected to survey the said property after which a demand notice will be issued to the owner/occupier of the property for payment to be made within 90 days in any of the designated banks specified in the demand notice.
It should be noted that the charge in Osun has exempted properties/buildings used exclusively as Oba’s palace, public library, public cemetery, public worship, public recreation, non-profit making educational institutes, non-government organization, and any other property being used for benevolent purposes owned by the State, Local and Federal Governments, or any property specifically exempted by the state governor by notice published in the state government official gazette. It should however be noted that the exemption ceases when the use of the property or its use by the owner/occupier changes to one that does not qualify for exemption.
The Ministry of Finance under the supervision of Mr Bola Oyebamiji has also expressed its readiness to assist the Oyetola-led government by ensuring that citizens of the state comply with extant laws of the Land Use Charge. This is with the overall intention of meeting up with its campaign promises to the people and ensures the continuity of good governance in the state
The law is designed in a way that it has the clarity on the formula used to derive an accurate rate for payment by those who are even willing to pay sincerely. The rate provided by the land use charge is totally accurate and progressive such that it will assist the state in tracking all economic activities which in itself is another form of accountability.
The general belief and fear among citizens when it comes to revenue generation by government is that such monies are being embezzled by those in government quarters, hence, their unwillingness to pay their bills and other taxes. Nonetheless, with the present administration’s commitment to deploy transparency in every facet of its undertaking and the assurance from the relevant organs of the government, any revenue generated from land use charge will be deployed in line with the enabling laws.
Good to hear therefore that the state is already working towards making it possible to survive without the money generated from oil which is dwindling by the day. We must all support this effort to boost the economy of the state for government to be able to fix roads and provide other social amenities needed by the people.
- Kingsley Omoyeni is the Information Officer at the Osun Ministry of Finance.