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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cyber security fund to increase access-cost to telecom – ATCON warns CBN

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has warned that any attempt to increase cost of access to the telecommunications via the implementation of National Cyber Security Fund (NCSF) would be inimical, reports ITRealms.

This, ITRealms gathered, is coming on the wake of the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to start the implementation of a section of the Cybercrime Act 2015, which provides for the collection of ‘0.005’ levy on all electronic transactions into a National Cyber Security Fund account with the CBN.

ATCON National President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, gave this warning in Lagos, noting that the collection of the levy would inevitably lead to a sharp increase in ‘charges paid by customers’ for telecoms services.  Stressing that tariff on voice calls and data cost would certainly go up because the impact of the levy would be passed on to the end user of telecoms services.

ITRealms also gathered that some businesses likely to be affected by the levy include telcos, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), banks and other financial technology institutions, insurance companies and Nigerian Stock Exchange among others.

He confirmed to ITRealms that CBN had written ATCON to brace up for the collection of 0.005 per cent levy, lamenting that the industry was already heavily burdened by 39 different taxes, charges and levies imposed on it by the three tiers of government and their ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

ATCON president insisted that private sector efforts to speed up broadband penetration in the country would be affected as investors would choose not to invest in the sector, adding that the $70billion foreign direct investment (FDI) that has come to the industry came from investors and not from government.

He said the association has a mandate to protect the investment in the telecom industry from undue pressure from the government in the form of yet additional burden on our members that are already overtaxed by all tiers of governments.

According to him, the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015, Section 44 that the CBN seeks to implement, states inter alia, “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 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 said.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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