Nigerians Kick as CBN Orders Deduction of 0.5% Cybersecurity Levy  

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The recent directive to deposit money banks (DMBs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria that they should deduct 0.5 percent for every electronic transfers as Cybercrimes levy, has drawn the ire of Nigerians.

There is also confusion over what the actual rate is, while the Cybersecurity Act stated a levy of 0.005 percent,  the CBN in its circular on Monday said 0.5 percent and added in brackets 0.005 percent.

The respondents say the directive is not only insensitive but also a contradiction of the government’s own policy which seeks to enthroned few tax regime. 

Professor Uche Uwaleke, a professor of capital market at the Nasarawa State University, said the cybersecurity levy is ill-timed, coming at a time when the CBN is concerned about the high rate of financial exclusion and the increasing rate of currency circulating outside the banks.

According to him, “It carries the downside risk of discouraging financial intermediation as well as complicating the transmission of monetary policy with more people shunning the banks due to high charges. The end result is that it makes difficult effort by the CBN to tame inflation.”

He said circular should be withdrawn especially against the backdrop of assurances by the government that its plan to increase revenue would not include introducing new taxes or increasing tax rates.

“To this end, the government should suspend the policy while getting set to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms whose mandate includes streamlining multiple taxes and levies currently inhibiting the growth of businesses in Nigeria,” he said.

Also responding, the President of the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Dr. Titilayo Fowokan, said the levy should not have been introduced because already there is an electronic money transfer charged for bank lodgments . 

“Why should customers be the ones to pay for cybersecurity when banks collect so many charges on banking transactions? This policy should not have come up since we already have a committee handling the Fiscal Policy  and Tax Reform matters,” She said.

She said since the CBN is represented in the committee, the levy should have been discussed within the  committee. 

“This levy is a case of one too many of such levies. The bank customers are already under the pressure of so many charges arising from compliance with the Cashless Policy. Adding this levy will discourage compliance and add to the worsened economic situation of the banking community,” She said, adding that it is insensitive for the CBN that is struggling with the financial inclusion of rural communities and the informal sector to be adding another burden that will scare them away.

Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal  Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), said it is unfortunate that the present administration has made it a policy to be inconsistent with its own policies.

He said a government that is preaching ease of doing business and a clement investment environment is doing everything possible to prove otherwise.

“Already the CBN is crying that a large chunk of the currency is outside the banking sector and it is introducing charges that will further scare people from going to the banks,” he said. 

“One of the challenges we have with this administration is policy inconsistency,  if you look at most of the policies introduced by this government,  they are anti people policies and they promote more hardship for the people and promote corruption.”

He said what the CBN has done is to tell Nigerians that they want to continue with policy inconsistency, “otherwise one cannot understand why at the time the emphasis should be on reducing the suffering of Nigerians, they are coming up with this order,” he said.

“They are pushing the people out of the banking system and that is not good for our economy.  A ready a lot of people are complaining that they can’t have access to their money in the bank, which is making them to find alternative way of keeping their money, and now you are forcing more people out,

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