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Economy & Politics

Land Use Charge ‘Is Like Vibranium’ for Lagos State – PWC

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As the debate over the recently revised Lagos State Land Use Charges (LUC) rages on, a Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) report has compared Lagos state to the fictional Wakanda, setting for the wildly popular Black Panther film.

According to an excerpt of the report, the consulting suggested that in the absence of Vibranium, Lagos State needed a tax like LUC to grow its economy to look like that of the fictional Wakanda.

Vibranium was a fictional natural resource used in the movie as a source of wealth and knowledge for Wakanda.

for a city that has a huge infrastructure deficit estimated at over US$50b, it is not difficult to see the need for a review of the LUC. In the absence of ‘vibranium’, Lagos has to resort to taxes to achieve an economy similar to the fictional Wakanda.

By inference, Lagos State requires a tax like the Land Use Charge to help plug its infrastructural deficits.

A better way to charge

In the report, PWC also advises that the Lagos State government would be better off having one comprehensive charge, rather than several charges such as waste disposal and business premises levy.

Simplify the computation

PWC also suggested that the state simplifies the computation so that the average property owner can compute it without any external assistance. This would enable property owners to conduct self-assessment and reduce controversy surrounding the charges.

Impact on property rentals

The new LUC could lead to an increase in rent fees depending on the type of property and location. Individuals have the option to moving to a cheaper area, if their current rent becomes expensive.

Introduction of LUC on vacant properties in the new law (which was not there previously) would encourage the use of the land since nobody would want to pay LUC without getting any commercial benefit on the land. This could lead to more supply of property for rentals and a tenant’s market.

The introduction of the new charges has been riddled with controversy due to the huge hike in the fees, in some cases by as much as 500% and the inclusion of a private company Alpha Beta Consult to monitor the payment of the charge. The Lagos State House of Assembly has however described the inclusion as an error, which it will correct.

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The Lagos State government has also indicated its willingness to dialogue on the act’s grey areas. The duration for a 15% discount on the revised charges has been extended to April this year.

Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training.He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy.You can contact him via [email protected]

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Economy & Politics

SERAP asks Buhari to probe N39.5 billion duplicated, mysterious projects

SERAP has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.

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See what FSDH is saying about the 2020 budget and FG’s revenue drive , 2020 budget

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.

This is to know if public funds have been diverted in the guise of implementing the projects and prosecute those allegedly involved including those from the executive and the National Assembly.

The request from SERAP follows a report from BudgiT last week, where they alleged that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N139.5 billion in the 2021 budget.

This disclosure is contained in a public statement issued by SERAP on Sunday, May 9, 2021, and can be seen on its website.

SERAP said that the investigation of the alleged duplicated and mysterious projects, which are part of the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion, should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing these projects.

What SERAP is saying in its letter

In the letter dated 8th May 2021 and signed by SERAP, Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, and the government to ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.”

The letter from SERAP partly reads, “BudgIT had in a report last week stated that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget. The duplicated and mysterious projects are contained in the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion signed into law in December 2020.”

These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.”

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SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any misallocated public funds to the public treasury.”

Investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.

Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”

We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.” 

SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning to publish full details of current ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects, and any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.

The following ministries are reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects: Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.”

Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.”

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The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Mrs Ahmed, the Finance Minister.

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Economy & Politics

FG probes NPA over N165 billion unremitted surplus, suspended MD responds

The FG will on Monday, commence the probe of the suspended MD of NPA over alleged non-remittance of over N165 billion operating surplus to the CRF.

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NPA discovers new method Apapa businessmen use to avoid port duties

The Federal Government, on Monday, is set to commence the probe of the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, over alleged non-remittance of over N165 billion operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by the NPA management under her leadership.

This is as some reports suggest that the administrative probe panel, headed by the Director of Maritime at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, may also expand the scope of its probe in accordance with the presidential approval to audit the accounts of NPA.

According to the Punch, documents sighted showed that the government discovered some discrepancies in the remittance of operating surpluses by the NPA to the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 2 consecutive years under the leadership of Bala-Usman.

The findings from the report indicated that a total of about N73.61 billion (N56.3 billion in 2017 and N17.31 billion in 2018), which was generated within the 2-year period was not remitted to the CRF as expected by the government, although the suspended NPA boss provided explanations to the contrary.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Transportation in a May 4, 2021 letter to the President claimed that the NPA failed to remit N165.32 billion to the CRF from 2016 to 2020 and called for an investigation and audit of the financial accounts of the authority.

The suspended NPA Managing Director responds to audit probe

In a letter, with reference to MD/17/MF/VOL-XX/541, dated May 5, 2021, and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Bala-Usman said the NPA was aware of Buhari’s approval for the Federal Ministry of Transportation to conduct an audit of the accounts of the NPA and its remittances to the CRF.

The letter was entitled, “Re: Request for the record of remittance of operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Funds account by the Nigerian Ports Authority.”

In the letter, she explained that the audited financial statements of the NPA provided operating surpluses in 2017 and 2018 that were contrary to what was arrived at by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.

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The letter stated that the presidential approval for the audit of the NPA accounts arose from a correspondence between the Budget Office of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Transportation in which the budget office observed a shortfall of the authority’s remittances to the CFR.

The letter read in part, “Audited financial statements of the authority for the period 2017 and 2018 provides operating surpluses of N76.782 billion and N71.480 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively as contrary to the sums of N133.084 billion and N88.79 billion arrived at by your office from the budgetary submission.”

“We wish to state that the authority’s basis for arriving at the operating surplus on which basis the amount due for remittance to the CFR is guided by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as amended.

It is further based on the statutory mandate Part 1, S.3(1) (b) &(d) whereby the FRC issued a template for the computation of operating surplus for the purpose of calculating amount due for remittance to the CRF.

 Accordingly, the figures so provided by the Budget Office of the Federation as the operating surplus for the respective years on which basis they arrived at the shortfall are derived from submission of budgetary provision not the actual amounts derived following the statutory audit of the authority’s financial statements.”

She argued that in line with the template issued by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, the accessible operating surplus of the authority stood at N51.09 billion and N42.51 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively.

“This amount will give rise to a remittance due to the CFR in the sum of N40.873 billion and N34.065 billion representing 80 percent of the surpluses for the year 2017 and 2018 respectively.

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Accordingly, the authority consequently made a remittance of N42.415 billion and N33.969 billion for the years 2017 and 2018 respectively for the full amount required as remittance for the period.”

Bala-Usman also noted, “But thus far, the authority has made a remittance of N31.683 billion for the 2019 remittance. The sum of N51.049 billion has also thus far been remitted for 2020 while awaiting the audited financial statement to determine the final amount required for both 2019 and 2020 at which point the authority will make the payment of the balance as required.’’

She stated that based on the above, the authority wished to clarify that the computation of its remittances to the CFR was concluded from audited financial statements using the template forwarded to the authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and not budgetary provision.

In case you missed it

Nairametrics had about 2 days ago reported the approval of an immediate suspension of the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The suspension of Usman is to allow the panel of inquiry which is to be set up by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, to investigate the management of the agency to effectively carry out the task.

The Presidential approval which follows the recommendation of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, also approved Mr Mohammed Koko, Executive Director of Finance and Administration as the acting MD.

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