The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, has frowned at the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, directing all banks to effect the collection of 0.005% levy on all electronic transactions into a National Cyber Security Fund account within the CBN.
This is in fulfilment of the Cyber Crime Act (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) 2015, Section 44, which requires the collection and remittance of levies for National Cyber Crime Fund.
Although the legislation served as part of government efforts to strengthen cyber security in the country since the funds will be applied towards establishing an enabling environment and formulating general policy, including awarding research and graduate training grants in the cyber security field, the association warned that the inherent economic risk in the imposition of the levy especially as it affects telecom operators, consumers and the sector at large, far outweighs the revenue it would generate for the government.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the association at its corporate office in Ikeja, Lagos, its President Olusola Teniola, pointed out the that GSM service providers and all telecommunication companies; Internet service providers; banks and other financial institutions; insurance companies as well as the Nigerian stock exchange would be affected by the latest development.
He stated that in addition to extra cost it would add to businesses which will ultimately be passed to consumers, implementing the act would cripple, if not render useless, government and private sector efforts to speed up the broadband penetration in Nigeria.
“ATCON has a mandate to protect investment in the telecom industry from undue pressure from the government in the form of yet additional burden on our members that are already overtaxed by all tiers of governments.
“We believe that any premeditated actions that are capable of killing the telecoms industry must be eschewed by all tiers of governments in Nigeria as the perceived benefits of imposing this levy on aforementioned businesses have the direct capability to erase if not destroy the achievements that have been made since the sector was liberated, he said.
Teniola further clarified that the association had tried fruitlessly to engage the CBN in a dialogue on matters affecting operators with regards to sourcing for foreign exchange to purchase the needed equipment.
He noted that the association believed that the formulation and implementation of policies were not properly coordinated in the sense that while some government agencies were working towards migrating all government services online, others are working towards discouraging people from making use of electronic channels via this obnoxious levy.
‘We therefore advise government to review the directive which would affect some macro-economic elements such as loss of employment while operators would have to increase prices to cover the collection, processing and pass on these costs to 150 million subscribers,” he added.