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Companies office strikes hundreds of delinquents from list

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 10:00 AMAndre Poyser

Hundreds of companies have been struck from the register of the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) for failure to file information relating to their companies and directors as they are required to do annually.

The COJ has indicated that it continues to be plagued by a high level of non-compliance by these companies which should have filed forms relating to particulars of directors, notice of appointment of company secretary, registered office notice and annual returns.

Section 337 of the Companies Act empowers the registrar of companies to exercise discretion to remove a company from the register if there is reason to believe the company is not operating.

For the 2013-2014 financial year, 1,731 companies were removed from the register. That figure declined to 1,721 for year end 2014-2015. Between 2015 and the start of this year, 1,720 companies were deemed to be non-operational, resulting in 5,172 companies being deregistered over the period.

"The main challenges facing the COJ is the high rate of delinquency among companies," an email response to The Gleaner from the government agency said.

FAILURE TO FILE

According to the agency, the problem of failure to file required documents is most acute in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew, where the delinquency rate is 90 per cent.

The COJ has also said that it has inadequate staff in its compliance department and, as such, it is unable to effectively address the delinquencies.

"Seven compliance officers service in excess of 60,000 companies on register," the agency said.

Despite what it describes as a mismatch between its staff complement and the workload of the compliance department, the COJ says it has taken steps to reduce the number of delinquent companies.

The agency has introduced bimonthly mobiles targeting parishes outside of Kingston and St Andrew.

"This strategy involves the delivery of the agency's services to rural parishes to allow for ease of access and doing business," the agency said.

The COJ also disclosed that it will soon be opening an office in Montego Bay so that companies in the western end of the island do not have to come into Kingston to file documents.

The agency has said it engages in portfolio management in areas of high delinquency and has continued its public education programme. Payment plan options are also provided for delinquent companies.

According to the agency, litigation against delinquent companies and their directors is only pursued after attempts to achieve voluntary compliance fail.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com