More Customers, Businesses Oppose Cybersecurity Levy

More Customers, Businesses Oppose Cybersecurity Levy

In a growing backlash against the recently implemented 0.5% cybersecurity levy, an increasing number of customers and businesses are voicing their opposition to the new levy.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a circular on Monday directed commercial banks and other financial institutions to start charging 0.5 per cent cyber security levy on bank transactions after two weeks.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has called on the government to reconsider the implementation of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on all banking transactions, as its timing is wrong.
The director-general of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona said, the directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to banks to implement section 44 of the Cybercrime Act 2024, which imposes a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on Nigerians, is a subject of concern to the Chamber.

According to her, “by this directive, individuals and businesses will be burdened with an additional levy amidst unsettled performance crises with power supply after the recently reviewed electricity tariffs. Unfortunately, the upward review of the electricity tariff has not brought about a commensurate boost in power supply to justify the additional costs to individuals and businesses.

“We urge the government to reconsider the implementation of this directive as its timing is wrong, and the justification is unclear. This directive should be withdrawn while we call for more consultations with critical stakeholders.”

Almona noted that, “at a time when government revenues are at record levels from higher crude prices, higher revenues accrued to the Federal Allocation Account, and saved resources from the stoppage of subsidies, we expect to see projects created to enhance the living standard of the people as a dividend of democracy for the sacrifices made by Nigerians.

“In the face of biting inflation that has continued to weaken the purchasing power of consumers and with companies burdened with a rising cost of production, any further imposition of additional cost burden will slow down economic activities and drag our economic growth drive.”

She added that, “we believe that since the collection of this levy cannot guarantee the protection of payers from cyber-attacks, it is difficult to justify its collection at this time.

“In the same vein, the collection approach with some exemptions can create confusion regarding what transactions really qualify for the exemptions. Implementing this directive can gradually encourage some people to return to holding cash to avoid paying the levy. This can negatively impact the achievement already recorded with the cashless policy.

“As we advance, we urge the government to work towards amending the enabling law to reflect current realities, initiate programmes that reflate the economy, and invest more in digital infrastructure to support business operations.”

“The directive that the remittance of this levy should go to the Office of National Security Adviser suggests that the funds may not be used to enhance our cybersecurity architecture to guarantee cyber-safety for technology users in Nigeria.

“We also urge the government to harmonise its tax initiatives with the work done by the Presidential Committee on Tax and Fiscal Reforms to prevent multiple taxations and poor coordination of the expected new tax regime,” LCCI DG advised.

A former chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun Chapter, Dr Wale Adegbite, also urged the CBN not to implement the recently announced cyber security levy.

Adegbite said that the private sector was already facing challenges arising from high cost of petroleum products, increased food price, high energy tariff and low salary.

”There is an urgent need for CBN to halt this policy so that it will not add to the challenges being faced by the private sector and Nigerians at large.

”We are aware that the federal government has directed CBN to deduct 0.5 per cent levy for cyber security.

”The question most Nigerians are asking is whether cyber security is our priority at the moment.

”We are at a time when the masses are struggling with inflation and its resultant effect on cost of living, this is not an auspicious time for such policy,” he said.

Some residents of Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra also reacted to the new security levy.

Speaking with NAN in separate interviews, some residents expressed their divergent views, as some said it was a welcome idea, others said that the federal government should have waited until the economic challenges were over.

A resident, Moses Chinedu, described the development as a welcome idea, saying that the government needed taxes to survive and execute infrastructural development that would benefit the citizens.

According to him, the newly introduced cyber-security levy by the federal government is necessary as no government can survive without taxing its citizens.

“The government will make use of the returns from the taxes in executing key infrastructural development that will be beneficial to the masses.

“People may consider this policy harsh but forgetting that the insecurity experienced across the length and breadth of this country is affecting the economy and the government has to look elsewhere to generate funds to carry out projects.

“I want the government to continue to monitor the activities as they unfold. Banks should not over charge customers for their selfish interest too,” he said.

In her reaction, Miss Favour Okafor, a student of one of the tertiary institutions in the state, alleged that commercial banks were currently charging their customers arbitrarily before now.

“The commercial banks before the introduction of the cybersecurity levy, were charging the customers arbitrarily, we are the people who pay for maintenance of their Automated Teller Machines, E-banking, Short Message Service and card maintenance.

“These new charges to the aforementioned will be a burden on the citizens, the government should have a rethink, not even now that the country is going through a lot of challenges,” she said.

On her part, Agnes Nwokoye, a petty trader, described the development as the one that could force many bank customers to start keeping their money at home, saying that the government should consider the poor masses in enacting the policy

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