ESV.Sam Akanbi is the Principal Partner of Sam Akanbi & Associates, a firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, based in Abuja, also he is the current Publicity Secretary of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), in this interview with OLUWASEUN SONDE speaks on how Real Estate sector is badly affected by the effect of Covid-19 pandemic, rate of rent default very alarming and why sensitive government would not impose taxes during this global pandemic.
The effect of Covid-19 on global economy is so huge that companies are closing-up operations. As a player in the Real Estate sector, a major component of the economy, how have you been coping?
Real estate sector is also badly affected by the effect of Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, their lost can’t be easily quantified. Many developers were forced to shut down their sites and offices. Nobody could work but the interests on facilities were mounting par daily. It is not an easy experience. Many Developers might found it difficult to meet up with their financial obligation and date of delivery to their clients and subscribers.
Report gathered shown that 70% tenants find it very difficult to pay their rent renewal amidst COVID-19, as a property manager, how have you been handling this situation?
This is a major challenge to all property managers now. The rate of rent default is very alarming. Many tenants have lost their job. Those working are complaining of not getting salary. Unfortunately, some property owners wouldn’t want to hear that. So, it is a very challenging period. Well, what we do is to talk to some landlord before their rent expiration that their rent might be delayed. We also work out a simple structural payment with the tenants. By and large, we are managing the situation.
Recently Federal Government imposed stamp duty on tenants amidst COVID-19, what is your stake on it?
Well, the imposition of stamp duty is not on landlord but tenants. It is the tenant that pays either directly or indirectly. It is the statutory responsibility of the government to collect taxes. But no sensitive government will be imposing taxes during a global pandemic. Honestly, it’s wrong timing. Someone is not advising this government rightly.
I would have expected the government to give Tax incentives to employers of labour, manufacturers, and professionals, to stimulate the economy like its being done in other clime. Anyways, Its show how very insensitive this government is to masses. There are many taxes on already; we have withholding Tax, VAT, Ground rent etc. my question is what can we show for those taxes. Nothing on ground to show for the tax being collected, yet you are asking for more. Honestly, someone is confuse.
You are the Publicity Secretary of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), what is your body doing about the issue of Building collapse which has led to huge loss of lives and property particularly in Lagos State?
Let me respond to your question in my private capacity as a stakeholder in the building Industry. The issue of building collapse will continue until the right things are done. The stakeholders must be willing to take responsibility. The government must appoint qualified professionals to head planning offices not political appointees. The Development Control Department must be well equipped with both human and other material resources to work and only approved building plans are properly followed, without any political interference. The Quality Control unit should be on ground too, to unsure that the right materials are used while violators must be made to face the full wrath of the law.