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Business News of Friday, 16 October 2015

Source: B&FT

TMA, businesses haggle over Property rates

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The Tema Metropolitan Assembly and businesses in the country's largest industrial enclave are in a stalemate over new property rates the businesses consider to be too high.

Some of the businesses claim their property rates have jumped by over 1,000 percent between 2014 and 2015, but the assembly insists the new rates are based on a revaluation of companies’ properties and so must apply.

A Japan Motors representative, for example, told an Annual General Meeting of the Tema Regional branch of the Association of Ghana Industries on Thursday that from GH¢4,500 in 2014 their property rate has jumped up to GH¢45,000.

Discussions on the matter took a greater part of the AGM, with members asking the metropolitan assembly to allow them to pay 50% more on the rates they paid last year.

The AGI and the assembly had agreed at the end of last year that the 2015 rates would be charged at 30% more on the rates that applied last year.

“When the year [2015] began, however, and people were expecting their bills to go and pay, the TMA suddenly came up with huge increases contrary to what had been agreed. And the reason they gave was that they had taken a helicopter to go round the municipality, and they have done a revaluation of the properties,” Seth Twum Akwaboah, CEO of the AGI, told the B&FT.

The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Isaac Ashai Odamtten who joined the meeting later, would however not budge -- insisting the rates were not arbitrarily determined, and companies that had issues could produce their own valuation for reconciliation.

“We think that there must be a basis for what they want to pay. We have created a desk for complaints. If the value attached to your property is disputable you can always come to us; and in some cases you can even do your own valuation and come, and then the metro valuers will validate it for us,” the MCE told the B&FT in an interview.

“It is only fair that once there is a stalemate in where we stand, they pay something on account. So we have asked that they pay 30% of the new bills on account, so that for those who feel strongly that their bills are overrated we can reconcile them; and those who genuinely will have to pay because they have expanded and are using properties that were not captured by the assembly, we can also take the difference from them.”

The MCE said since private businesses do not permit inefficiencies in their operations, they should help the assembly to also root-out inefficiencies in its operations and be able to undertake projects that will accrue to their benefit.

“The private sector is efficient. Help us to be efficient,” he said.

The industrialists, on their part, feel that while they are charged all manner of taxes, including the property rates, infrastructure in the municipality leaves much to be desired.

“Roads here are bad, the city is not well lit in the night; there is armed robbery, inadequate water and electricity supply, among others,” Charles Mensah, the outgoing Tema Regional Chairman of the AGI, told the B&FT.