Sola Saloko, President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) has told Technology Times that the N50 stamp duty imposed on bank customers threatens the cashless policy drive by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The CAFON President said in an exclusive interview that the practice of imposing the duty is an “iniquity” and called for quick review such that it allows people pay taxes relative to their income.
The call is coming ahead of tomorrow’s March 1st No Banking Day using the hashtag #NoBankingDay, which is championed by CAFON to protest excessive charges imposed on bank customers by Nigerian banks.
Recently, Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, imposed stamp duty of N50 on bank customers for money received into their accounts. Under the plan, bank customers now pay N50 stamp duty for money received into their accounts via electronic transfer, cash and cheques.
”This policy does not encourage cashless policy because people will not want to do transaction electronically again because of these charges, government needs to review it” Salako told Technology Times at the Lagos office of the consumer advocacy group ahead of tomorrow’s March 1st No Banking Day being championed by CAFON to protest “excessive bank charges.”
The CAFON President had in a a petition to Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor on the excessive charges says consumers of banking services have been subjected to several poor and unsatisfactory transactions.
According to her, with the stamp duty of N50 on every transaction of N1000 and above, it means a student that gets N5000 allowance for his upkeep will pay N50 charge and also a business man that gets an alert of N10 million pay same N50.
According to Salako, this “means the student is paying more relative to his income than the businessman. This is not equitable. We want government to review it.”
This initiative by the Federal Government to introduce the stamp duty is not what she is kicking against but the inequality in the payment system, Salako told Technology Times, suggesting that government should pro-rate it “in a manner that will be equitable.”
According to the CAFON President, “stamp duty should have some exemption. I would suggest that the government should pro-rate it. For example, somebody making a transaction below N50,000 should pay some certain amount and another person transacting over N50,000 will pay higher charge, so that the tax being paid will commensurate with the income.”
She explains that, ”for government to use it for revenue generator, I have no problem with that because the money has to come from somewhere. Moreso, we are not paying heavy taxes like they do in other advanced countries.”
Commenting on the reaction from Nigerian ahead of tomorrow’s March 1st no banking day protest, Salako told Technology Times that the response has been so ”shocking and encouraging even from micro finance banks.”
She says that, ”the response has been so encouraging and we are shocked by the huge numbers of people liking our Facebook Page. People have shared our content and indicated interest to join the protest.”
According to her, “I got a call from a micro-finance bank thinking that they wanted to confront me in staging a protest against banks, but to my greatest surprise, they told me that they are in full support of the protest because ‘we are customers of commercial bank and they charge us on other people money, meaning that our client suffer double jeopardy because we charge them at micro-finance level, they are also charged again at the commercial bank level.”’
She is optimistic that the protest will achieve impact saying that, ”I think it will be a huge success. If I have 30- 40% compliance on this first protest and this is not the end. It is just one of the series of action we tend to take till we push to get what we want.”
Speaking on CAFON’s achievement in its 12 years of its existence, Salako says the consumer advocacy organisation has contributed “in no small measure in creating media awareness of consumer protection in Nigeria.”
According to her, “we also work with government to help put structures in place to protect consumers. We also contributed to the Lagos State House of Assembly Protection Law. We have also supported the state government in implementing that law.”
For the CAFON President, one of the toughest challenge so far faced by consumer advocacy group in Nigeria is funding.
According to her, “there are no funds anywhere to support what we do. We depend on our own personal fund to keep going. No matter how fantastic your plans, you need funds to achieve your set goals.”
That does not deter Salako, who also notes that, “although for the first time that I have being doing consumer advocacy in Nigeria for 12 years, a Nigerian on Facebook asked me how I fund my campaign and he requested for my account details so he can give his widow’s mite.”