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NLC Condemns, Demands Immediate Reversal Of Cybersecurity Levy 

MARGARET CHIDERA 

ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has vehemently condemned the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to levy a 0.005 percent Cybersecurity Levy on electronic transfers. 

NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said the levy, which is to be implemented by deduction at the transaction origination, is yet another burden on the shoulders of hardworking Nigerians.

“In a circular issued by the CBN, the directive mandates banks and payment service operators to affect these deductions, effective next two weeks. This move, ostensibly aimed at bolstering cybersecurity measures, threatens to exacerbate the financial strain already faced by the populace.”

According to Ajaero, while the Nigeria Labour Congress recognizes the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age, however, imposing such a levy on electronic transactions without due consideration for its implications on workers and the vulnerable segments of society is unjustifiable. 

“This levy stands as another tax too much for Nigerians, burdening them with additional financial responsibilities.

“We see in this levy another gang up by the ruling elite to continue its extortion and exploitation of hapless and helpless workers and the masses so that their cronies in various financial centres can continue wallowing in unbridled consumption. During our last May day speech we called on the government to prioritize the welfare of Nigerian workers and masses in their policy directions and actions instead of profit seeking that unleashes more pressures on the people.

“We wonder when it has become a crime for the people to save their meagre incomes in the Banks and whether it is the intention of government to encourage people to resort once again to keeping cash and using cash transactions instead of electronic transfers which has seem to have become an undoing for the people?  

“While the CBN has exempted interbank transfers and loans transactions from this levy, the broader impact on everyday transactions can not be overlooked. Such deductions directly affect the disposable income of workers and further diminish the purchasing power of the common citizen. Domestic manufacturers and other businesses are already shuttering as a result of the stifling socioeconomic environment yet, instead of creating a business-friendly environment to encourage greater investments in the economy, the opposite seems to be what is being practised. How can you attract foreign investment when you make the business environment difficult?

“Moreover, the threat of fines amounting to not less than two percent of an institution’s annual turnover for non-compliance adds further pressure on financial institutions, potentially leading to a trickle-down effect on consumers. Definitely the businesses will pass down these costs to consumers which will lead to further inflation in an economy that is already in the grips of hyper-inflation. How would domestic manufactured goods and services remain competitive in the midst of all these costs and how would the businesses expand capacity thus employ more Nigerians when they cannot sell their products because of high prices?”

Furthermore, Ajaero noted that monies raised in the past have not helped in making lives better for the citizenry, nor have they been seen in better infrastructural provisions. 

He said that extracting this levy from the people who are already kwashiorkored by government policies in order to throw money at Cybersecurity will not make our Cyberspace better, “just like it has been our experience in the past. We see this as a Cybersecurity levy that will inflict severe social security on workers and masses.

“This directive comes on the heels of the recent implementation of stamp duty charges on mortgage-backed loans and bonds by the Federal Government, further straining the financial resources of Nigerians. These successive levies only serve to deepen the financial burden on citizens already grappling with economic challenges.”

However, the NLC has called on the Federal Government to reconsider these directives and prioritize policies that alleviate the financial burdens of Nigerians. 

“We urge a collaborative approach between the government, regulatory bodies, and stakeholders to develop sustainable cybersecurity measures that do not unduly burden the populace. Our people are already emasculated. This will further exacerbate the huge suffering that confronts Nigerians daily. It is crucial that the government allows Nigerians a breathing space. 

“We continue treading on the edge and it is not certain which uncaring policy will tilt the balance and throw us into a socioeconomic spiral.

“We reiterate our commitment to championing the rights and welfare of Nigerian workers and masses and call for an immediate stoppage of the implementation of this vexatious CBN’s directive on the Cybersecurity Levy.” He said.

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