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LASG denies imposing audio – visual tax levy, suspends Film and Censors Board boss

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R-L: Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, during a press briefing on the first case of Coronavirus in the State at Lagos House, Marina

The Lagos State government at the weekend affirmed that entertainers and entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry do not need to pay a 5 per cent levy on audio and visual contents of physical and digital platforms produced in the state.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement on Friday, said the state government had no hands in the earlier announcement made by the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB), Mr Bamidele Balogun, who imposed the tax.

In the statement, the Commissioner dissociated the state government from the policy, stressing that the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was not insensitive to the present challenges bedevilling the entertainment and tourism sector as a result of COVID-19.

“There is no levy on audio and visual contents of all physical and digital platforms in Lagos State.

“The Executive Secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board, Mr Bamidele Balogun, is said to have announced a 5 per cent levy.

“The [state] government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media,” Mr Omotoso said.

He further disclosed that, “The Executive Secretary, who was not authorised to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative enquiry.”

In the statement, the Commissioner said the administration of Mr Sanwo-Olu cherishes the showbiz sector, describing practitioners in the industry as partners.

“The fifth pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, the development policy of this administration, is Entertainment and Tourism. Practitioners are partners in our effort to ensure that Lagos State remains Africa’s leader in entertainment.

“The Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is not insensitive to the fact that the industry has been badly hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and empathises with this and other sectors of the economy.

“All stakeholders in the entertainment industry are advised to disregard the said publication,” Mr Omotoso said in the statement.

Yesterday, the founder of Iroko TV, Mr Jason Njoku, posted on the internet a notice sent to him from LSFVCB, asking him to remit the 5 per cent tax on contents on his popular platform.

This generated reactions from many people, who criticised the state government for being too desperate for generating high revenue at the detriment of residents of the state.

A day after Mr Balogun announced the new levy, musicians in the state under the umbrella of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) rejected the policy.