The CBN made the clarification amidst confusion generated by the moves by merchants and other businesses operating POS machines to charge their customers an additional N50 on every transaction.
The CBN Director of Payment System Management, Musa Jimoh, made this known on Monday while speaking on Channels Television’s Business Morning programme. Mr Jimoh said that the bank issued a circular and merchants misinterpreted the directive, thus making customers pay additional fee for goods and services.
Nobody should pay extra on goods and services, the CBN official added, noting that the N50 stamp duty is a fee regulated by an act that directs merchants to pay all necessary taxes as regulated by government agencies.
In recent time, eateries, supermarkets, malls and other businesses across the country have had to charge their customers an additional N50 on every POS transaction. The businesses said they are complying with the CBN directive on cashless transaction.
Experts have expressed worry over the new development, saying it could slow down Nigeria’s drive to deepen financial inclusion and encourage a cashless economy.
But on Monday, Mr Jimoh said the move by businesses contravenes the CBN’s directive on POS transaction.
He said: “Stamp duty has been misinterpreted. Our circular that talks about merchants paying stamp duties according to the law do not say that the stamp duty should be paid by the consumer; that is a misrepresentation of CBN directive. What our directive says is that merchants should pay all necessary tax as regulated by government agencies including stamp duty.
“What we told the merchants is that we would like the banks to ensure that the merchants comply with this directive by ensuring that every single payment that customers make to them, the merchants pay the regulated stamp duty of N50.
“What has happened is that they have actually transferred this fee blatantly and openly to the consumers; this is very wrong. No single individual should pay N50 in addition to the cost of the goods.”
The CBN official explained that duty is not to be paid by individuals that are consuming the goods and services of the merchants, but rather by the merchants who are receiving the money. He added that because the stamp duty is not regulated by the CBN, there are no plans to stop stamp duties.
“Stamp duty is not a CBN regulated fee, it is a fee regulated by an act, and so we can’t change or push anything in that direction,” he explained. “To this, the stamp duty remains and cannot be changed by the CBN, what we are doing is to ensure that the institutions we regulate (the banks) become more responsible to ensure that these fees are collected and given to the government.”
Although the official did not specifically comment on what the CBN would do to defaulting merchants, he said the apex bank has its way of monitoring compliance with its numerous directives. The CBN has also stipulated sanctions for defaulting businesses and organization.
Earlier on Sunday, the CBN reduced charges applicable on electronic bank transactions for account holders across the country. Details of the new charges are contained in the Guide to Charges by Banks and Other Financial Institutions released by the apex bank.
The CBN said it reviewed the guide, in order to align with market developments. The bank also announced the various sanctions awaiting defaulters.
For instance, a penalty of N2,000,000 per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions that breach any provision of the guide was stipulated in the new Guide. This, the apex bank said, is put in place to guard against excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial and non-bank institutions.
To ensure compliance, the CBN directed banks to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) in addition to generating a unique reference code for each complaint lodged, which must be given to the customer. Failure to log and provide the code to the customer amounts to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach.