The Lagos State Government Wednesday, 15th April, 2015, announced a 50 per cent increase in taxpayer population between 2011 and this year strengthening high hopes that the state, which is already a reference state in the country in terms of development in the last eight years, will witness yet greater development in years to come.
The Special Adviser to the state Governor on Taxation and Revenue, Mr. Bola Shodipo, who gave the cheery news while rendering the account of the stewardship of his office in the closing year of the second term of the present administration, said as a result of increased public confidence in the government of Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, the taxpayer population increased from 2.7 million in 2011 to 4.5 million this year.
Addressing journalists at the beginning of a series of ministerial briefings that will terminate on May 29th to mark the end of the present administration, Shodipo, who put the population of voluntary taxpayers at 3.8 million in 2014, said aside from the traditional due recognition to the most tax compliant individuals and organizations, there was also a correspondent increase in the number of Electronic Tax Clearance Certificates issued during the year under review.
The Special Adviser said an additional 19,640 properties were enumerated during the year under review bringing the total number of properties enumerated by his office for Land Use Charge (LUC) to 663,913 adding that out of 5,893 complaints arising from the issue, 5,223 were resolved while the remaining are still pending at various stages of settlement.
Announcing an improvement in the delivery of bills by his office with the introduction of the e-billing system, Shodipo appealed to members of the public to embrace the system to enable them benefit from the improved service delivery which, according to him, informed its introduction.
On the state Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), the Special Adviser said the agency implemented five per cent light resolution rule for outdoor structures during the year under review adding that this could be better experienced with the structure at the loop of Adeniji Adele, which, according to him, is the largest LED structure in Africa, “providing illumination to the area and enhancing security at night”.
Also reviewing the performance of the state Lottery Board under his office, Shodipo said in addition to licensing five new operators and granting approval in principle on online sports betting to six other operators, the board also granted approval in principle in public online lottery to two operators “upon completion of pre-license requirements”, bringing the total number of operators in public online lottery to five while online sports betting operators are 24.
The board, he said, in conjunction with other operators of public online lottery, are currently developing a state-managed game (the winning numbers to be used for draws will be picked here in Lagos) whose main objective, according to him, “is to create an indigenous game and to ultimately reduce the reliance on Ghana Games in our Lottery Industry”.
Shodipo, who frowned at the attendant issues of remote gambling, assured members of the public the government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, was doing everything possible to reduce it to the barest minimum while defaulters would be apprehended and duly sanctioned adding, “government is committed to maximizing all the advantages that can be garnered from the advancement in technology”.
Other games of chance which the board monitored in the course of the year, the Special Adviser said, include Casino and Gaming Machine which, according to him, have 22 operators adding that the sector has provided employment and has contributed to the Gross Domestic product (GDP) of the state.
According to him, the pool betting aspect of this sector “is still embroiled in a number of challenges due to the advent in technology” adding, however, that work is in progress to turn it into an organized sector.
He said government was currently witnessing better cooperation from stakeholders in the process of Wharf Landing fee collection adding that the current downturn in the economy was affecting the level of importation thereby impacting on collection.
Other activities during the year under review, Shodipo said, include the holding of a Stakeholders’ Conference in partnership with GEMS3, a DFID assisted project, with local government officials responsible for the collection of revenue aimed at finding lasting solution to the incessant complaints by members of the public on the ways and manner in which revenue is collected by that tier of government.
“The ultimate aim is to provide efficient service delivery to the public without compromising on standards available generally”, he said adding that the achievements during the year were made possible “by the great support received from the stakeholders”.
The Special Adviser, who thanked Lagosians “for their immense support in the last four years towards achieving the Lagos of our collective dream” added, “We particularly acknowledge the prompt payment of your taxes and levies; this has, in no small way, been the propellant for this administration to fulfill electoral promises.
“I enjoin you to continue in this manner, even much more, with the incoming administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor-elect. Together as one, I believe the governed and the government can achieve much more”, he said.
Also thanking his team for their “professionalism and tenacity”, Shodipo declared, “We have stoked a tremendous fire, a passion for performance and a desire to make the state better. We owe it to each other to pursue our book, a book of the next level of Lagos State.
“As Lagosians, we are embedded with the “can do spirit”. So let us commit ourselves to the belief that we can accomplish our dream for a better Lagos, he said.
Responding to questions later on the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the Special Adviser, who gave some reasons why the monthly IGR is not stable, blamed it on the economy saying sometimes the Federal Government defaults in the payment of contractual obligations. He added, however, that the state IGR has an average of N22 billion monthly.
Also speaking on the high points of revenue collection in the state, Chairman of the state Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, said the high points of revenue collection in the state were in April, May and June when banks just declared profits and dividends and November, December and January when companies and organizations pay bonuses and leave allowances.
Also present at the occasion were: the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Aderemi Ibirogba; Director, Tax Audit, LIRS, Mr. Lanre Adeniyi; Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Onikoyi Onigbuji; Director, Legal Services, LIRS, Mrs. Abosede Olukolu; other officials of the LIRS and other top government functionaries.