Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, said this on Thursday at the briefing of the ministry in Alausa, Ikeja.
Kuye, while responding to a question on the validity of Merriment Tax being collected by local governments in the state, said the figure was a product of a recent research conducted by the state’s Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting.
He said the benefits of entertainment industry had not been fully utilised in Lagos and the country, adding that taxes that should accrue to the government were spent on social gatherings.
He said, “There is merriment tax in the constitution; it’s part of the rate local governments can collect. We have not utilised the benefit of the entertainment industry in this state.
“Over N1bn is spent monthly in Lagos State on entertainment. We have the records to confirm this and these people, how many of them pay taxes? The money goes into drinks, wine, food and aso-ebi and nobody wants to pay anything to the government.”
Kuye said those clamoring for autonomy for local governments were not sincere but were only pushing for it to score political points.
He said, “The position of the government is that the clamour for LGs’ autonomy is not with sincere intention because it will not benefit the local government. I have challenged people to find out if that is what the people want. Those clamouring for it are doing so for political reasons.”
He said the state government was in full support of tenure elongation for local governments to give them more time to carry out their constitutional responsibilities.
He flayed a suggestion that the state electoral bodies should relinquish the right to conduct local government elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
He said such an idea negated the tenets of federalism which the country was practising.
The commissioner said the government recognised 319 obas and chiefs and had been doing a lot to improve the welfare packages of the traditional rulers to restore the traditional and cultural values to the state
SOURCE: PUNCH NEWSPAPER