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FCTA organs and multiple taxation challenges III

Following the complaint of multiple taxation submitted to the National Assembly by the Guild of Medical Directors mentioned earlier, the National Assembly mandated the FCT…

Following the complaint of multiple taxation submitted to the National Assembly by the Guild of Medical Directors mentioned earlier, the National Assembly mandated the FCT Administration to provide a lasting solution to the matter.

In order to have a holistic approach, the FCTA constituted a committee, comprising of leadership of the GMD, Area Councils and relevant arms of the administration that collect revenues in the FCT.

Among the committee’s findings were the Area Councils’ demand to the medical practitioners for payments of Operating Trade Permits. Meanwhile, the medical practitioners pay registration fees to the FCTA through the Private Health Establishments Registration and Monitoring Committee (PHERMC). Upon registration, certificates are issued by the Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), which are renewed annually after payment of renewal fees. Thus, to pay for Operating Trade Permit to the Area Councils after the aforementioned will amount to double taxation.

The fact is that most of these activities can only be carried out by specialised departments and arms of the government that have the required and qualified professionals that can ensure standards are met and maintained. The establishment of the facilities with such high-ranking medical personnel is not within the ambit of the Area Councils that are equivalent to the local government councils in the states. There is no local council with powers to establish and maintain General Hospitals, but Primary Health Care Clinics. What value does the Operating Trade Permit add for the improvement of the specialised services offered by the GMD, whose rankings are beyond the Primary Health Care facilities?

Other issues include the payments of habitation and environmental inspection fees as demanded by the Area Councils, using the National Environmental Regulation Gazette of 2015.

The Area Councils were empowered to carry out sanitary inspections and charge Environmental Inspection fees for the first five years, then every three years for subsequent renewals. Meanwhile, the Area Councils, again, demand payments for Waste Disposal Charges from private sector operators, which they have been paying to the AEPB in the metropolis, in which another payment to the Area Council will again amount to double taxation.

With regards to habitation fees, the activities involve monitoring development activities from building plan approval to the completion of the development in compliance with the approved design, to the point of habitation. The only agency qualified to issue the habitation certificate in compliance with the provision of the URP Law is the one involved with the activity of ensuring the compliance with the law for the development. In this case it is none other than the Control Department. Thus, it is illogical for any other arm of government to collect fees for habitation of a building, without the knowledge or involvement in the procedure for the development.

The GMD complained that they were made to pay other charges such as shops and kiosks, when they were not registered as such.

Others are Radio and Television Levy, though being captured in the Fourth Schedule, but in consideration of the fact that rather than being entertainment centres, having televisions in health facilities are for positive impacts on the patients as part of recovery process.

Other contentious issues are Street Naming and House Numbering, which the Area Councils always claim to be part of their responsibility, but are silent on the fact that they don’t construct or manage the roads nor provide the street furniture as captured in the schedule.

The construction and maintenance of roads, streets and street lighting, including drains and other public highways as captured in the Fourth Schedule are to be provided by the local government councils. However, it is widely known that they lack the capacity, hence, the provisions of the infrastructure by the state governments in the state capitals and major towns across the country.

The FCT Act of 1976 actually predates the Land Use Act of 1977. But both laws empower the FCDA to provide the infrastructure in the FCT. Yet, a local government contends that it has the power for street naming and house numbering in the nation’s capital.

Accordingly, Section 3 of the Land use Act provides for a governor to designate and gazette areas of the state to constitute urban areas. This provision prevents the chairmen from issuing Customary Rights in the local government and empowers the governor to grant the Right of Occupancy. Currently, the powers to grant customary rights has been stripped from the area council chairmen in the FCT.

The FCT administration should simply make the necessary declaration in line with the provision of Section 3 of the Land Use Act, for the recognition of the Federal Capital City and the Area Council headquarters or even the entire FCT as urban areas.

Concluded