Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Filings too taxing - SBAJ says cost and convenience could be preventing members from documenting annual returns

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 5:00 AMJovan Johnson
Judith Ramlogan, registrar of companies.

The Small Business Association of Jamaica has admitted that it is having a problem with many of its members fulfilling their legal obligations to file annual returns.

Registrar of Companies, Judith Ramlogan, has disclosed that 36.8 per cent of companies on the register have returns outstanding and many of them are small private businesses.

"Companies and businesses in the Corporate Area are the least compliant and the small companies don't comply," Ramlogan, who heads the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), told The Gleaner.

"The only time they comply is when they need a letter of good standing because they need a loan from the bank for instance (or) if they want to bid on a government contract."

 

MEMBERS MUST PAY

 

Hugh Johnson, the president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica, said the issue is a challenge but has to be looked at in the context of the $60,000 minimum business tax his members must pay.

He said companies have to pay that amount as well as cover the $5,000 it cost for filing documents.

"It's two fold. We must commend the COJ for improvement over the last five six years of making it easier to transact business with them. But it's still too onerous," Johnson told The Gleaner.

"A larger business would have the personnel dedicate to do those paper works. For a small operator who is the public relations, the marketing, the production, the accountant, if he should take a day from the operations to go and do those things, the business will grind to a halt."

Johnson said the COJ and other government entities should "understand" the nature of how small businesses work by putting in place mechanisms such as online portals to complete and submit forms.

Ramlogan said she was mindful of the concerns and that the COJ is working to implement an online submission portal by next year.

 

 ...We want people to file - COJ

Judtih Ramlogan, registrar of companies, is adamant that everything will be done to make it easier for small businesses to file their annual returns.

"National growth and prosperity, the Government hopes, will come through people opening businesses - being productive.

"In this era, everybody will not get a job working for somebody else. So, people are going to have to work on their own; they're going to have to become more entrepreneurial. The beginning of entrepreneurship is registering your business, either a company or a business name. That's our role.

"Our role is to make that formalisation process as seamless as possible, as simple, as forgettable as possible, So, people don't look and say registering my business is such a hard task. We don't want that. We want people in the formalised sector."