House of reps proposes tax on unoccupied buildings

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

The Nigerian House of Representatives has advocated for a policy to regulate rate of house rent as well as impose taxes on un-occupied houses in the nation’s capital Abuja.

This was a result of outrageous rent regime charged on residential and commercial buildings in the capital city, Abuja and its negative effect on residents that forces many people to live in the outskirt.

In a motion agreed unanimously, members argued that if the trend is not checked middle and low income earners would not be able to settle close to their respective places of work or businesses.

The House proposed imposition of stringent tax regime on all un-occupied houses and structures while instituting a legislative framework for a comprehensive housing policy for the country.

Access to shelter is one of the basic human necessities for survival, that’s why it was among the sustainable development goals hoped to be achieved by 2030.

In the past, Nigerian government took the lead in providing residential houses for citizens, but the current policy recognised private sector as solution to housing deficit in the country, making houses even for rent far from the reach of an average citizen.

Statistics indicated that Abuja, the Nigeria’s capital accounts for 10% of the country’s seventeen million housing deficit, but un-occupied structure dominated the high brow areas of the city, forcing many people to live in the outskirt.

This contributed significantly to the traffic lock in all the roads leading in to the city.

Foreign Exchange

In another motion before the House, members urged government to provide foreign exchange at official rate for Nigerians studying outside the country.

This is to reduce difficulty Nigerians go through while conducting foreign transaction such as payment of school fees, medical bills among others.

The House also called for the implementation of Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 to regulate borrowing by all tiers of government, by setting borrowing limit for the Federal, States and Local Governments.

The House believes that different tiers of government have shown indiscretion and recklessness in the borrowing process due to the non-implementation of the Act.