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Women entrepreneurs fault stamp duty charges on POS transactions, seek review

By Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
04 December 2019   |   4:17 am
The Women’s Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC), Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan and some women entrepreneurs have faulted government’s decision to withdraw stamp duty charges...

Say it’s against financial inclusion, marginalises rural females
The Women’s Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC), Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan and some women entrepreneurs have faulted government’s decision to withdraw stamp duty charges on transactions from the banking system.

At a conference on Women Entrepreneurs and CBN ‘s N50 POS Charges, held at the University of Ibadan yesterday, Coordinator of WORDOC, Dr. Sharon Adetutu Omotoso, Mrs. Oyenike Adeleke of Ibadan Entrepreneurs Network and Mrs. Collins Deborah Oluyemisi, Oyo State Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers, among others, said the charge was counter productive to Federal Government’s cashless policy.

Omotoso said, “In September 2019, the CBN and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) began a remittance process for collection of Point of Sale (POS) stamp duty charges. In the CBN circular issued on September 17, 2019, a statutory fee of N50 was to be added to every transaction exceeding N1000.

“With the order fully operational, payment channel agents charge this stamp duty on every individual transaction. In a survey of retail outlets, it was reported that POS machines in certain filling stations now have an upgrade that automatically charges N50 stamp duty, sometimes unknown the customers.

“With this development, Nigerians are actively decrying this stamp duty charge and many are shunning POS transactions, choosing instead to withdraw bulk money from ATM posts.

“As people are inclined to carry cash now in defiance of the stamp duty, the prior successful cashless policy in Nigeria is gradually degenerating. This is added to the fact that arguably half of Nigeria’s population is unbanked.”

She said it has been reported that the number of inactive terminals in the country increased from 43,320 in January to 131,201 in October 2019.

“However, as low-income women entreprenuers are beginning to adjust to the cashless policy, POS terminals and card transactions, the N50 stamp duty charge poses a repression of the informal sector.

“With the POS stamp duty charge, the cashless policy is rendered null and void as Nigerians are going back to cash because it makes no sense to pay stamp duty charges on every purchase above N1000 when one can avoid that with cash withdrawals at ATM posts.

“Therefore, WORDOC with key women-focused organisations and other stakeholders hereby urge the Federal Government to review the N50 POS stamp duty charges on women entrepreneurs in view of the ripple effects .

“We are asking the government to review the N50 stamp duty charge to be taken only on transactions from N50000 and above.

“The Federal Government should withdraw the instruction with immediate effect pending when the issue will be resolved,” she stated.

Speaking, Prof. Stella Odebode of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan, noted, “Government should know that the welfare of every one is important. There is a need to speak out. Government should listen to us.

On her part, Adeyeye said government is contradicting itself by preaching financial inclusion on one hand and churning out policies that discourage financial inclusion on the other, adding, “Government should stop double standards. This has resulted in more queues in accessing banking services and people have resorted to local means of keeping their money.”

Responding, Mrs. Alaba Ehindero of Zion Care Life and Family Foundation said it was affecting families, while a POS agent, Akande Ahmed said it was affecting businesses and, therefore, urged government to stop it.