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FCTA Organs And Multiple Taxation Challenges (I)

By Umar Shuaib

Sometimes in 2018, the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), who own and operate private hospitals in the FCT, sent a petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics Privilege and Public Petition, complaining of incessant demands on service charges on private hospitals in the FCT, by the Abuja Municipal (AMAC) and Bwari Area Councils, while payments on the same activities were already made to other competent FCT Agencies. It necessitated the invitation of the Honourable Minister for public hearing, in turn he sent the permanent Secretary as a representative.

After the hearing, it was agreed that the FCTA should invite the GMD for a dialogue. The fact is that not only the GMD, but almost all private organizations in the FCT resonate complains against multiple taxation on activities, demanded by the Area Councils on one hand and other FCTA Agencies on the other. These include waste collections, street naming and house numbering, tenement rents, etc. The Senate Committee might have accorded priority to the grouse from the GMD, either because it was the one that was properly channeled and received, or, because it had the tendency of having damaging impact on human lives due to its contribution in the health sector.

Also, recently, an Abuja High Court delivered a judgement against the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) on a case filed by NIPCO Plc through its lawyers, challenging a demand notices for the payment of total sum of N19,400,553.36 imposed on the plaintiff by the defendant as sewage and refuse disposal levies on fines for the period 2015 to 2021. The Court held that AMAC is the only body empowered to impose or levy sewage and refuse disposal levies or fines. The AEPB declared to file an appeal.

Understanding some important background information on these matters is very necessary. The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is an organ of Federal Government of Nigeria charged with responsibility of running affairs of the Federal Capital Territory.

The Federal Capital Territory Act of 1976 is the primary, and most important legal document governing activities in the FCT. It established the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), saddled with the responsibility of building the City, and other relevant organs.

Several agencies funded by the FCTA, include the FCDA; the AEPB, concerned with waste collection and disposal and other environmental matters; the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS), which provides a geo-spatial data infrastructure and a one stop for all land matters for the FCT, used to facilitate land acquisition and collect all land related revenue for the FCT; the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) for various municipal services, and others.

The public resources expended for achieving the mission and vision are really enormous. All the successive administrations were tasked to ensure adequate and prudent expenditure in the exercise of their functions. For the purpose of sustainability, all revenues collected must be used for the enhancement of services provision.

It should be noted that, before a revenue could be collected from a service heavy financial investments must have been made in the provision of the relevant infrastructure.

Equally of special consideration should be the maintenance of the facilities and infrastructures provided. A typical example is, solid and liquid wastes disposal are comprehensive services that doesn’t end at collections from houses, such as undertaken by assigned solid waste contractors with their vehicles.

The waste must be disposed somewhere and must be treated in order to prevent further environmental pollution. The points of disposal of solid wastes at the approved dump sites are equally provided and managed by the Authority with heavy duty machines, which cost of maintenance are huge and bored by the same Authority that provided the infrastructure.

For the liquid waste, the City has a central sewage system, originating from individual houses, which are the waste generating points and terminating at the Central Sewage Treatment Plant, Wupa and others. Their costs of maintenance are also enormous.

Prudence in the management of public resources, requires that any agency that collects the waste charges must use the proceeds for the augmentation of the costs of treating the waste and maintaining the heavy duty machines at the dump sites and the Treatment Plants.

It then follows, that if the arm of government that collects the revenue is not the one that maintains the facilities and infrastructure, it thus denies the relevant agency the required revenue to maintain and ensure the service provision.

The grave consequences is on the sustainable development and healthy wellbeing of the City. A very important service as waste management in the Federal Capital City would obviously be derided.

AMAC to the FCTA is akin to what Chanchaga Local Government is to Niger State. If the Niger State Government couldn’t hands-off waste management service in Minna, a State Capital to the Local Government for reasons of incapacity, what wonders can AMAC perform to manage the waste in the Nation’s Capital?
To be continue

 

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