Business Hilights
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Broadband under threat if CBN’s 0.005% e-Transaction Levy is allowed—ATCON

…As apex bank denies group audience for discussion

Contrary to federal government’s policy pronouncements that that it is improving ease of doing business in critical sector of the economy, the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to all banks on the collection of 0.005% levy on all electronic transactions into a National Cyber Security Fund (NCSF) amounts to policy summersault.

In a statement in Lagos, the National President of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, observed that the directive is capable of frustrating further investment in the sector especially now telecoms companies are struggling to upgrade infrastructure for the effective delivery of broadband in every part of the country.

According to him, businesses that will be badly affected include GSM Service Providers and all telecommunication companies; Internet service providers; Banks and other financial institutions; Insurance companies and Nigerian stock exchange

Besides, ATCON has expressed surprise that all efforts so far made by the association to meet with Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN to discuss some of the issues facing their members with respect to sourcing for foreign exchange to purchase the needed equipment that would enhance the telecom industry have been met with rejection.

Teniola revealed that “We believe that any action that has the potential to destroy the telecoms industry should be avoided by all tiers of government in Nigeria as the accruable benefits of imposing this levy on our members are far lower than the revenue that it is going to create for the government.

“In view of this and other reasons enumerated above, the Association’s position is that the proposed levy of 0.005% tax bill should be withdrawn and its implementation seriously reviewed.

Business Hilights recalls that that ATCON has a mandate to protect investment in the telecom industry from undue pressure from the government in the form of additional burden on its members that are already overtaxed by all tiers of governments.

Teniola noted that “The key underlining reason for our Position is that the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015, Section 44 which the CBN seeks to implement, states in Section 44 an establishment of a National Cyber Security Fund.

“In Section 44.2 (a) a Levy of 0.005 of all electronic transactions by the businesses specified in the second schedule to this Act.

“Where in the Schedule five categories including GSM Service providers and all telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers are to apply this charge!

“ATCON believes 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 telecoms sector was liberated.

“We therefore advise government to review this directive as it would affect some macro-economic elements such as loss of employment and we as Industry will have to increase prices to cover the collection, processing and pass on these costs to the 150million subscribers.” he stated

Teniola argued that ATCON is of the opinion that formulation and implementation of the policy is not properly coordinated, stressing that while some government agencies are working towards migrating all government services online, some other government agencies are working towards discouraging people from making use of electronic channels via such discouraging taxes.

According to him, “It should be stated for the purpose of records that government should not think that the elasticity of demand for the use of electronic channels is inelastic as this move can stop people from transacting their businesses via available electronic channels,” he added.

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