HomeNewsHouse Of Reps Tells CBN To Withdraw Controversial Cybersecurity Levy

House Of Reps Tells CBN To Withdraw Controversial Cybersecurity Levy

The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to withdraw the circular directing all banks to commence charging a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on all electronic transactions within the country.

The motion on Thursday concerned the urgent need to halt and modify the implementation of the cybersecurity levy was moved by the member representing the Obio/Akpor Constituency, Kingsley Chinda.

The House urged the CBN to withdraw the circular and “issue a more understandable one,” as Chinda had drawn the attention of the House to multiple interpretations of the CBN directive against the specifications in the Cybersecurity Act.

Chinda, in moving the motion, said that the situation had caused apprehension as groups and citizens were urging the government through traditional and social media to reverse the imposed levy.

The CBN, directive which involves telecommunications companies, financial institutions, and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was announced May 6, 2024 and is slated to take effect from Monday, May 20, 2024.

Following the order, operators, including mobile money providers, merchants, and commercial banks, have up to four weeks to complete system reconfigurations to implement remittance.

On the other hand, financial institutions, like microfinance banks, primary mortgage banks, and development finance institutions, were allowed eight weeks to complete the system configuration.

Moreover, the levy will be remitted to the National Cyber Security Fund after institutions charge the fee at the point of electronic transfer origination, reflecting the amount in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy.’

For the institutions involved, failure to comply with the directive would attract a fine of 2 percent of their annual turnover at a minimum.

However, the levy does not apply to all electronic transactions like salary payments, loan disbursements and repayments, and intra-bank transfers. Additionally, letters of credit, Treasury bills, bonds, commercial papers, government social welfare programmes, charitable donations, tuition payments, and transactions involving educational institutions are also exempted.

Moving the motion, Chinda said, “The wordings of the CBN circular leaves the directive to multiple interpretations including that the levy be paid by bank customers, that is, Nigerians, against the letters and spirit of Section 44(2)(a) and the Second Schedule to the Cybercrimes Act, which specifies the businesses that should be levied accordingly.”

While stating that the move has led to public apprehension, Chinda also mentioned that unless immediate pragmatic steps are taken against the CBN directive, the Cybercrime Act shall be implemented in error” at a time when the masses in Nigeria are faced with post-multi-subsidy removals from petroleum and electricity.

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