Wanted: academic assessments!
After perusing an article published elsewhere in the media earlier this month regarding the registration of companies and business names in Jamaica, the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is constrained to remind would-be business owners that the COJ is the only entity approved to lawfully register a business in Jamaica.
It's not just a case of nobody does it better as it relates to the registering of a business name or business. It's a case of nobody can do it at all, as the COJ, by law, is the only entity that can legally register a company or business name in Jamaica.
The comparison, therefore, between the COJ and any other privately operated company is inaccurate and, worse, might be misleading.
Any other entity that is utilised in the business registration process will be at an additional cost to the applicant as there are no private enterprises working as functionaries of the COJ.
It is enlightened self-interest for the COJ to encourage entrepreneurship, seeing that it goes to the heart of the COJ's core business. However, we urge young entrepreneurs to stay away from the outdated and outmoded marketing strategy of trying to unfairly tarnish an already existing product or service in a bid to promote their own. Thankfully, the usefulness of this kind of marketing strategy went out with the 1980s and the 21st-century entrepreneur should avoid it like the plague.
The COJ is also compelled to unmask as spurious unsubstantiated claims about "how long it takes standing in line at the Companies Office (of Jamaica) and how many times one gets rejected when conducting the registration process".
A recently conducted academic assessment revealed that for April 2015, the average wait time for attendance at the COJ was 29 minutes, which bettered the company's target of 35 minutes by 17 per cent. This means that a COJ customer can visit our offices during his lunch hour, transact his business and still have enough time left over to grab a bite before returning to his regular nine-to-five.
Last April, the agency saw 3,735 customers. The major reason for rejection of new company documents is unacceptable names.
This is undoubtedly a source of contention for customers and, as such, the COJ is working sedulously to ease the dissatisfaction in this area by relaxing the rules regarding the use of solely general words in a company name and disaggregating the name approval and company registration processes so that the COJ approves the name of a company before the incorporation documents are submitted for registration.
On average, for the month of April, the COJ processed 11 new companies and 38 new business names per day. The COJ also uses automation to register documents.
Additionally, the major reasons for rejection of new business name applications really have nothing to do with the COJ's performance but the failure of applicants to provide adequate certification to support the nature of the business and failure to renew a previous business name. The COJ has a duty to ensure that these processes are carried out in accordance with the law and there will be no cutting of corners here.
The COJ currently offers guaranteed services for the registration of both companies and business names. The registration timelines are guaranteed so that if they are not provided within the targeted timelines, the customer is entitled to a refund. In addition, a company can now be registered in eight hours.
And, very shortly, the COJ will be offering online registration of new companies and business names. In pursuance of that, the COJ launched its upgraded website, which will lay the foundation for the electronic Business Registration Form, through which companies and business names can be registered electronically. It is projected that the registration software will be implemented by the end of this calendar year.
As it relates to the current amnesty being facilitated by the COJ and the crowds that are expected, we have made preparations designed to ensure that persons do not experience any extended delays. The measures that have been put in place include earlier opening hours, a specially designated area for customers who are taking advantage of the amnesty, and additional customer service agents who will only see customers conducting amnesty-related business.
Instead of engaging in assessment by anecdote of the COJ's operations, we could choose to read an academic assessment of the agency's performance contained in the 2015 World Bank Doing Business Index. While Jamaica registered a historic and commendable overall position of 58 out of 189 countries around the globe on the ease of doing business index, in the category of starting a business, which is where the COJ comes in, Jamaica's DB 2015 rating was 20 out of the 189 countries. This was the country's second best showing in all the indicators included in the study.