Center for Social Justice faults CBN’s re-introduction of ATM charges
The re-introduction of charges on the use of ATM after the N100 per withdrawal fee was abolished, has raised a cause for alarm. Meanwhile, the Center for Social Justice has faulted the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to re-introduce charges on the use of Automated Teller Machines by customers of deposit money banks.
Which it also noted that instead of N100 per withdrawal, customers using other banks’ ATMs will from September 1, 2014 pay N65.
However, in a statement issued on Sunday 17th August 2014 by the Lead Director, CSJ, Barrister Eze Onyekpere, the group regretted the reintroduction of the charge stating that there was no reasonable justification for this development. It said a reversal of the policy should have addressed the premises and the rationale for the removal of the charges in the first place.
It urged the CBN to consider the interest of all the parties that will be affected by this new directive and balance any conflicts by apportioning obligations on those best positioned to bear them.
In the statement, the group argued that since the charges were stopped in 2012, banks have been declaring huge profits adding that there is no credible evidence that banks’ balance sheets have been unduly impaired by their bearing of the charges.
The group, therefore, described the re-introduction of the ATM charge as a retrogressive step that would unduly burden bank customers, discourage the unbanked from using the banking system and also negate the cash-lite policy.
Continuing, the statement said the re-introduction of the ATM charge negates Nigeria’s international and domestic economic and social rights obligations, (especially as provided in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution and the obligations under article 2 (1) of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
It said, “This new policy is an apparent evidence of regulatory capture. Essentially, the regulator has been captured by the core institutions it is supposed to regulate.
“It is regrettable that the banks which collect deposits from customers with little or no interest on saving; charge double digit interest rates on lending, will come around to force the arms of CBN into ensuring extra charges from ATM withdrawals alongside the bank charges and commissions placed on customers, such as ATM issuance and maintenance fees, N50 charges on SMS alerts, emails, print of account statements.
“It will therefore not be out of place to ask; what services do the banks specifically render to customers aside the safe keeping of customer’s cash?
“In the light of the foregoing, CSJ calls for the urgent reconsideration of the new policy to allow the status quo to remain vis, to remove the newly introduced ATM charges.