CPC, NATCOMS warn telcos against tariff hike

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) have kicked against the threat by telecommunications operators of possible hike in tariff for data and voice services if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) succeeded in imposing 0.005 per cent levy on all electronic transactions.

The levy is to be transferred into a National Cyber Security Fund account at the CBN.

The Director-General, CPC, Babatunde Irukera, who spoke on the sideline of first yearly national media workshop organised by Electronic Payment Providers Association (EPPAN) in Lagos, said the CBN directive was not a justifiable reason for telecommunication operators to increase tariff for data and voice services in the sector.

Recall that about two weeks ago, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, at a media briefing, had stressed that if the cyber security level is allowed to sail through, operators may be forced to pass the cost subscribers.

However, the CPC Chief argued that it will be tantamount to unfair practice if the operators go ahead to put the cost of the service consumers did not enjoy on them by way of their threat to increase enterprise and retail services in the sector.

“What consumer will accept is fair and transparent reason that directly accepts the service they enjoyed.  We are not comfortable with the operators to transfer the cost of their business that does not associate with the service they provide that we will not be accepted.

“So I think the telcos should seek redress on the CBN’s directive to the banks on the collection of 0.005 per cent levy on all electronic transactions into a National Cyber Security Fund account. And not make subscribers to pay the running cost of their business,” he said.

Also, President of NATCOMS, Deolu Ogunbanjo, condemned the threat to increase tariff charges for subscribers, stating that new electronic transaction levy of 0.005 per cent as reflected in new Cyber Crime Bill will add burden on already laden telecoms subscribers and consumers in the E-payment sector if implemented.

He said: “The 0.005 per cent e-transaction implementation will be a direct burden on the already laden subscribers in the telecommunication sector.

“Please operators should work with the industry regulator (Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and look ensure that government is not adding more responsibility that will in-turn be transferred on subscribers.

“I am so sure the Cyber Crime bill did not say telecommunication subscribers should be ripped off.’

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of EPPAN, Onajite Regha, said the theme of the forum: ‘Promoting Digital Literacy to Enhance Public Confidence,’ was timely because consumer education on digital payment system is still low in the country.

The forum facilitators urged media to be abreast with correct and validated information on the issues in the sector to be able to disseminate full-strength policy statement and industry issues objectively.

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