By Obinna Chima
With about two weeks to the commencement of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cash-lite policy in Lagos, the banking sector regulator yesterday blamed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the slowdown in deploying Point of Sale (PoS) terminals across the state.
Specifically, Deputy Governor Operations, CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, who revealed that many of the PoS machines that had arrived Lagos port were yet to be cleared, said Customs had insisted on 20 per cent import duties as against the five per cent that had been requested by the apex bank on behalf of the commercial banks.
Lemo was speaking in Lagos while presenting a keynote address at a one-day seminar titled: “Cash-Lite Lagos – Evaluating the Level of Preparedness for January 1, 2012 Launch”, organised by the Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads (CeBIH).
The cash-lite policy, which seeks to reduce the dominance of cash in the economy, is expected to commence in Lagos State by January. It would thereafter be implemented at Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Aba.
Lemo explained: “It is unfortunate that some of the agencies are not seeing the importance of the cash-less policy.
For instance, the charges on the imported PoS by the Customs are out of place, but they are insisting on 20 per cent. We are talking to them and they seem not to understand our standpoint by holding on to the items. For us to meet the deadline, we have decided to pay whatever they are asking and petition the Minister of Finance.
“We are going to get the relevant authorities to call them to order and get them to do what they are expected to do. We have agreed to pay whatever rate they ask us to pay, while we protest because this is just a consignment and many more will come.”
However, reacting to the development, the Head, Public Relations, NCS, Adewale Adeniyi, who spoke in a telephone interview with THISDAY, directed the CBN to the Presidency, saying that the Customs does not grant concession. “If it is the banks that are importing the PoS, I understand it is for commercial purpose. So what kind of concession are they asking for? The Customs does not grant any form of concession. It is the Presidency that can only do that and they have to have gotten it from the point of importation,” Adeniyi said.
Lemo said the expectation of the banking sector regulator was that by January 1 next year, a lot of PoS machines would have been deployed in Lagos.
He said: “We expect that many of the key merchants will have deployed PoS machines and we will expect to see less of cash being carried around. We will expect the streets to be equipped with PoS machines so that you don’t carry cash around. We expect the deployment of the mobile phones and we also expect many transactions to be settled through instant settlement facilities that banks are offering in support of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS).
“In order to ensure a virile and stable financial system, the CBN would continue to take proactive policy actions in the area of national payment system and financial system stability. I therefore wish to implore you all to work with us closely in ensuring national development.
The cash-lite policy is going to make us run a more efficient economy and reduced cost of transactions, which we believe over time, customers will benefit more.”