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May 27, 2024

NESG Calls for Cybersecurity Levy Review  Amid Burden of Multiple Taxation, Cost of Living Crisis 

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has urged the Federal Government, in a statement on Thursday, to review the  Cybersecurity levy due to the burden of multiple taxation and inflation faced by Nigerians.

A circular issued on May 6, 2024, directed all deposit money banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers to deduct the levy and transfer it to the National Cybersecurity Fund (NCF) under the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

This move has incited significant public outcry, with labor unions now considering potential actions in response.The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said “amidst the cost of living crisis exacerbated by rising inflation, the cybersecurity levy is mistimed”, considering the high rate of financial exclusion and increased currency in circulation.

“The NESG posits that the levy should be targeted at high-net-worth individuals and a specific amount transferred electronically to allay the fears of the populace, who are still battling skyrocketing food and non-food prices. However, if this policy remains, several Nigerians will boycott electronic funds transfers, which does not even bode well for the government due to revenue loss from electronic transfer levy.

“The NESG, however, feels this is a critical time to implement such a policy. The impacts of the fuel subsidy removal, exchange rate reform, and, most recently, the removal of electricity subsidies still permeate the operating costs of businesses and citizens’ welfare.

“The government must be cautious of the numerous strenuous policies that stiffen the purchasing power and welfare of corporations and individuals. Therefore, the government needs to properly sequence reforms for efficient socioeconomic outcomes, especially those that strain the people.”

NESG also raised concerns that the policy was introduced at a time when the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms had not finalised its mandate.

“To avoid conflict of interests and ensure no policy misalignment, the NESG strongly believes that the levy should be deferred and proper consultation until the Fiscal Policy Committee deems it necessary to implement it.

“The cybersecurity levy needs to be reconsidered, considering the CBN’s concern about the high rate of financial exclusion and increased currency in circulation.

“The cybersecurity levy adds to the list of levies and taxes collected by financial institutions on behalf of the government, including stamp duty, electronic transfer levy, and VAT. This embodiment of taxes increases the transaction costs of using a bank and could disrupt the financial intermediation role of banks.”

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