• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Cybersecurity levy: Govt more interested in milking dying economy – Peter Obi

N15bn budget allocation for National Assembly hospital insensitive— Obi

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the last general elections, has raised concerns over the new cyber security levy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying that the government is more interested in milking the dying economy.

The CBN has directed deposit money banks in the country to start charging a 0.5% cybersecurity levy on transactions.

The apex bank gave the directive in a circular dated May 6, 2024, addressed to all commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks as well as mobile money operators and payment service providers.

“Following the enactment of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (amendment) Act 2024 and pursuant to the provision of Section 44 (2) (a) of the Act, ‘a levy of 0.5% (0.005) equivalent to a half percent of all electronic transactions value by the business specified in the Second Schedule of the Act’, is to be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund (NCF), which shall be administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA),” the circular partly read.

Reacting to the development in a statement on his X account on Wednesday, Obi said: “the introduction of yet another tax, in the form of Cybersecurity Levy, on Nigerians who are already suffering severe economic distress is further proof that the government is more interested in milking a dying economy instead of nurturing it to recovery and growth.”

Adding that, “this does not only amount to multiple taxation on banking transactions, which are already subject to various other taxes including stamp duties but negates the Government’s avowed commitment to reduce the number of taxes and streamline the tax system.”

The former governor of Anambra said that the imposition of the new lexy is sad given that the tax is on the trading capital of businesses and not on their profit hence will further erode whatever is left of their remaining capital, after the impact of the Naira devaluation and high inflation rate.

“It is inconceivable to expect the suffering citizens of Nigeria to separately fund all activities of the government. Policies such as this not only impoverish the citizens but make the country’s economic environment less competitive,” he added.

Obi questioned the role of the national security adviser in revenue collection.

“And when did the office of the NSA become a revenue collecting centre?

“And why should that purely national security office receive returns on a specific tax as stated in the new cybersecurity law?,” he queried.