Home News Cybersecurity Levy: Tax reforms not to frustrate Nigerians — Shettima

Cybersecurity Levy: Tax reforms not to frustrate Nigerians — Shettima

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By Ogechi Okorie

ABUJA – Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on Saturday, said the tax reforms undertaken by the Bola Tinubu administration were not aimed to frustrate Nigerians but to sustain the country’s investment friendliness.

Recall that Central Bank of Nigeria has rolled out a cybersecurity levy policy implementation that would kick off in two weeks time.

The VP, represented by his Special Adviser on General Duties Dr Aliyu Umar, spoke at the close-out retreat of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

Shettima’s Spokesperson, Mr Stanley Nkwocha, revealed this in a statement titled, ‘Our tax reforms initiated for overall benefits of Nigerians – VP Shettima’.

He argued that contrary to speculations in some quarters, “we are not here to frustrate any sector of our economy but to create an administrative system that ensures the benefits of a thriving tax system for all our citizens”.

However, President Bola Tinubu has directed the CBN to immediately suspend the implementation og the cybersecurity levy.

Reacting to the directive, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, welcomed the suspension of the implementation of the cybersecurity levy.

He said, “It was an anti-people decision from the beginning. It was an insensitive decision from the beginning. It was an ambush on the people who had already been frustrated by the multiple layers of taxes from the beginning. So, it was a very cruel introduction because you do not need to tax us to have cybersecurity.

“You do not need to tax the villagers or the people in the rural areas for cybersecurity. People who do not even have light. They don’t even have access to an internet connection. Well, if that is a show that the president is listening, then that is good. Then, he must now continue to listen more and begin to look at where the problem started and that is the issue of removal of subsidy without any cushioning of its effect. What will happen is that the president should go back further so that Nigerians can breathe by ensuring a policy that will reduce the hardship of the sudden removal of the subsidy.”

Also, reacting to the development, the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the President’s decision shows he is a democrat, adding that the CBN should ensure that the reviewing process of the policy is very inclusive.

“The President’s decision is in line with the clamour by the people. There had been a lot of outcry about it and the fact that the president has responded shows that he is a democrat. It shows he is a listening leader. So we must commend him for listening to the voices of the people. It is a welcome development.

“The government should now look at the policy. I am sure it is not going to be only the CBN. Even the legislators should also look at it because they passed the law. But the key thing is that the policy needs to be reviewed. And the apex bank should take the review beyond the government level. It must consult the stakeholders and the organised private sectors. That is what will make the review very inclusive.”

Also speaking to Sunday PUNCH, the Director of Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, said while President Tinubu should be commended for the decision, the Federal Government should consider a total cancellation of the policy instead of a temporary suspension.

He said, “This is the right step in the right direction. It further accentuates the fact that President Tinubu listens to the voice of the people. And maybe it is because he used to be an activist. He knows that the voice of the people is the voice of God.

“But then, the suspension of the policy is not enough. It should result in the total cancellation of the policy. All the taxes, rates, and levies that are being imposed on the people should be streamlined so that if we want to pay personal income taxes, we should know that that is what we are paying. It is not that the government will take off personal income taxes and we should now pay for every service that we should enjoy from the government. And the increase in micro-economic products like petroleum and others should be made cheaper and affordable for all Nigerians,” he stated.

Also, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sheriffdeen Tella, cautioned the Federal Government against creating additional hardship for Nigerians. He said while the policy was not a bad idea, the timing was inappropriate.

He said, “There is nothing wrong with the levy but it was at the wrong time. The government should stop creating problems for itself. People are battling inflation and all sorts of inefficiency and you are imposing a tax on them. The president has done well by reversing it. It is not the right time to impose additional burdens on Nigerians. I commend the President for having the courage to do the right thing.”

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