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ATM card maintenance charge

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ATM card maintenance charge

 

The Senate, since its resumption from a long recess, has assumed an unusual activist posture. It is as if the National Assembly, feeling guilty of the accusation that it is delinquent of its responsibilities when it embarked on an usual long recess, which certainly was impacted by the party primaries, is on a mission to make amends and compensate with the possibility of returning some shine to its reputation.
And sure the populace are deserving of this show of remorse as this 8th Senate has been assailed and its performance stunted due to the problems surrounding it arising from the contestations regarding the selection of its principal officers, to the attempt by political authorities to effect a change, to the drama which arose from the attempt to embarrass its principal officers through first arraignment before the Code of Conduct Tribunal to the accusation arising from the ownership of properties across the globe which are difficult to account for and the rabid cross carpeting in such a manner as to leave one asking the inevitable question regarding what drives political affiliations; as it would seem that lack of neither ideology nor principles amongst our politicians must have been responsible for such fleet footedness.
And, therefore, these flurries of activities have since resulted into a number of Bills being passed. But as the citizenry was struggling to catch its breath, news filtered out following the Senate Session held on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, that the Senate has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend ATM maintenance Charge.
In making this demand, the Senate adopted a populist posture as its Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah, intoned during discussions that: “It would not be out of place to institute a committee that will call on CBN to tell us what these charges are about. The Senate, by fait, should abolish charges if they can’t be verified.” It is going to be interesting to gauge the reaction of CBN to this directive emanating from the Senate considering the fact that even though the National Assembly occupies a strategic, central and important position in the affairs of the country as a recognised independent tier of government, the Central Bank does not report to it. One should have thought that it could have been preferred if the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions was given a mandate to dialogue with CBN to voice reservations about this particular charge, requesting to be better enlightened. But one will be running away from reality to claim not to have heard about this particular charge being criticized for want of obvious appreciation of what it is all about. But, no doubt, the Central Bank that has responsibility for the issuance of the approved tariff must have been sold on the rationale of this charge before it allowed it. My take on this matter, without any insider information, is that what is the problem here might be the way the charge has been designated. The other fee, which one has heard complaints often about, is the charge imposed when you use third party ATM machines for transactions on more than three occasions in one month. So, there is the need to seize this opportunity for a holistic revisit of the tariff structure to ensure that they could be defended as and when they are inevitably challenged.
The inevitable feeling, which one is left with as this matter is being discussed, is the need to reboot the image of the banks in the country. This image problem arises from the fact that the banks would seem to declare fat profits year-in-year-out and yet the quality of their services, as far as the banking public is concerned, leaves much to be desired. From accusations made, the banks are not up and doing with regard to the need for them to deliberately embark on patriotic developmental roles. Banks are particularly accused of growing their loan book, not caring about the real sectors of industry, manufacturing, agriculture and mining, but are rather short term in their orientation being overly focused on the profit motive as they concentrate majorly on trade finance and engage in other income generating lines of business. Social media is replete with accounts of banks in other climes showing how some very prominent and successful businesses could not have been nurtured if the banks adopted the usual traditional approach of collateral-based credit extension. But in defense of the banks, it must be stated here that they are not allowed to book non-collateral credits in an attempt to checkmate recklessness in lending, which could undermine the stability of the financial sector. It is also correct, speaking for the banks to observe that the quality of service offered have considerably improved as the banks aggressively embraced technology to give a shot in the arm to the quality of the service they offer.
But, it is obvious that the profits, which banks have declared as often reported, has generated some feeling of envy amongst a generality of the population. Hear Senator Emmanuel Bwacha: “Banks declare profits and you wonder where these profits are coming from. It is the sweat of the common man. Let us come up with a law that puts banks on their toes.” So, we must ask ourselves if that is the correct mind-set to have? Would we prefer that the banks are loss-making with their capital base eroded through loan loss, resulting in instability of the financial system? It is good business management to make a profit; that is why investors bring their money. It is this profit that guarantees returns on invested capital, facilitates the growth of capital, sustains employment levels, makes the capital market active and robust and enables the banks to make returns to the treasury through the payment of due taxes and ultimately redound to the growth of the national economy.

•Dr. Boniface Chizea, Lagos

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