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Nigeria’s New Cybersecurity Levy: A Burden on an Ailing Economy?

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With the introduction of the new Cybersecurity Levy, Nigeria’s economic landscape faces yet another challenge, marked by the implementation of a 0.5% levy on electronic transactions. This levy, mandated by the 2024 Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Amendment Act, aims to bolster national cybersecurity efforts under the Office of the National Security Adviser.

However, the rollout of this levy has sparked widespread confusion and criticism. Many Nigerians, already burdened by economic hardships, fear that this levy will further strain their finances and potentially force a return to cash transactions. Critics, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), argue that this levy is unjust and could hinder Nigeria’s cashless economy agenda.

Renowned economist Peter Obi has been vocal about his opposition to the levy, describing it as evidence of the government’s misguided priorities. He believes that instead of imposing new taxes, the government should focus on nurturing the economy towards recovery and growth. He argues that this levy, which taxes trading capital rather than profits, will further deplete businesses’ capital, especially in the face of currency devaluation and high inflation rates.

Obi’s criticism raises valid concerns about the impact of the cybersecurity levy on businesses and the economy at large. At a time when the government should be implementing measures to reduce inflation, the introduction of new taxes seems counterproductive. Moreover, questions arise about the rationale behind funding national security through a specific tax, especially one that burdens the populace.

It’s evident that the cybersecurity levy has ignited a contentious debate about the government’s fiscal policies and their impact on the economy. As Nigerians grapple with economic challenges, the need for transparency, clarity, and public dialogue surrounding such policies becomes increasingly critical.

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