Tinubu directs CBN to halt implementation of cybersecurity levy

Tinubu directs CBN to halt implementation of cybersecurity levy

President Bola Tinubu has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to suspend the implementation of the controversial cybersecurity levy policy and orde

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President Bola Tinubu has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to suspend the implementation of the controversial cybersecurity levy policy and ordered a review.

This followed the decision of the House of Representatives, which, last Thursday, asked the CBN to withdraw its circular directing all banks to commence charging a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on all electronic transactions in the country.

The CBN on May 6, 2024, had issued a circular mandating all banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers to implement a new cybersecurity levy, following the provisions laid out in the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024.

According to the Act, a levy amounting to 0.5 per cent of the value of all electronic transactions will be collected and remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund, overseen by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Financial institutions were required to apply the levy at the point of electronic transfer origination.

The deducted amount is to be explicitly noted in customer accounts under the descriptor “Cybersecurity Levy” and remitted by the financial institution. All financial institutions are required to start implementing the levy within two weeks from the issuance of the circular.

By implication, the deduction of the levy by financial institutions was to commence on May 20, 2024.

However, financial institutions are to make their remittances in bulk to the NCF account domiciled at the CBN by the fifth business day of every subsequent month.

But the House of Representatives asked the CBN to withdraw the circular directing financial institutions to commence implementation of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy, describing it as “ambiguous”.

According to the House, the CBN is to withdraw the initial circular, and “issue a more understandable one”.

But sources revealed that Tinubu was aware of the economic burden on Nigerians since his hardline economic reforms began last May. He did not want to risk adding to the burden with more levies.

“The President is sensitive to what Nigerians feel. And he will not want to proceed with implementing a policy that adds to the burden of the people.

“So, he has asked the CBN to hold off on that policy and ordered a review. I would have said he ordered the CBN, but that is not appropriate because the CBN is autonomous. But he has asked the CBN to hold off on it and review things again,” the source said.

“You know Tinubu was not around when that directive was being circulated. And he does not want to present his government as being insensitive. As it is now, the CBN has held off the instruction to banks to start charging people. So, the President is sensitive. His goal is not to just tax Nigerians like that. That is not his intention. So, he has ordered a review of that law,” the source added.