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Deadline for new business online registrations uncertain

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 2:00 AM
Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer Judith Ramlogan, Reguistrar of Companies and CEO of Companies Office of Jamaica.

Judith Ramlogan, CEO of the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), said on Friday that while it has been announced that online registration of new companies will be in place by December 2015, the COJ was unable to provide assurances that it will happen.

The date for online registration to go live was announced by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at a capital markets conference in Kingston in January.

Ramlogan said: "I cannot say at this time, however, whether, in fact, that will happen in the time stated."

Currently, while forms can be printed from the COJ's website, they must be taken to the COJ's office for processing. The contemplated electronic registration process will allow the entire process to be done online.

Ramlogan said the Cabinet Office had received financing of US$300,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank and other multilaterals for development of the new electronic registration form.

The Cabinet office is responsible for the purchase of the services needed for the project.

Funding for the website development has come from the COJ's own resources.

Ramlogan, in the CEO statement attached to the COJ's 2013/14 report, said the agency is under pressure to complete the single registration project - also called superform - which was one of the deliverables expected under the IMF-backed economic reform programme.

The CEO outlined a challenging year in which the much publicised 'single registration form' project also saw delays in implementation because of resource constraints and because the electronic platforms of other state agencies, to which COJ needs access, were not ready in time.

COJ implemented manual work-arounds to enable use of the superform during 2014, to obtain registrations for TRN, GCT, TCC, NHT and HEART Trust/NTA payments, but had to delay the express service.

There has been progress since then.

online accessible

"All partner agencies are able to supply their information electronically" and the 'superform' service can now be accessed online, Ramlogan told Sunday Business last week.

The online registration of new businesses is a separate project, she said.

It is the latest in a line of deliverables that COJ has been tasked with since 2013, among them creation of the Security Interests in Personal Property Registry (SIPP), and preparations to accommodate annual filings from charities as the newly designated 'Charities Authority' created under tax reform.

Ramlogan said that, despite the less than adequate human resources, the overall customer satisfaction rating received by the COJ was a high 92 per cent at yearend 2014.

The agency achieved better than projected growth in revenues because of the penalties paid for the late filing of annual returns in accordance with Section 121 of the Companies Act and new fees earned from the NSIPP Registry.

Revenues inclusive of interest income were $318 million, which represented 102 per cent of COJ's operating expenses of $311 million.

Ramlogan said the agency undertook capital expenditure of $22.2 million, including acquisition of computer hardware, server software and other IT needs, as well as the $7.5 million spent on the website redevelopment project.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com