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Companies Office rejects 50 per cent of applicants

Published:Wednesday | October 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Fifty per cent of micro-, small- and medium-sized applicants seeking registration with the Companies Office of Jamaica are rejected by that office, according to the state agency's CEO, Judith Ramlogan.

Ramlogan, who was a guest during a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum, said in September 2014, 124,164 business names were on record, though that did not mean the same number of companies were operational.

According to her, 78,934 companies were on record.

"What we have seen is that almost 50 per cent of documents that are submitted for company incorporation are rejected by the Companies Office because people don't want to fill out the form, or they have no clue as to how to fill out the forms," she told the forum.

Continuing, she said: "We have found that people just don't like to fill out forms - no matter how simple it is. So we were going to help and we were working to charge, say, half of what the lawyers were going to charge. I also want to make it clear that I do not want to take away the livelihood of attorneys and corporate secretaries."

The CEO said before the introduction of the business registration (superform) form, it took days and more than 30 pages of documents to register a company.

The office has made it easier and less cumbersome to register them.

"Before the superform, you would have to go to four agencies - the Companies Office, the National Insurance office, Tax Administration Jamaica, and National Housing Trust - and you would be registered for HEART [Trust]. Now, you come to one office. What used to take four working days is now two. Now, we are taking two days for everything, and in certain circumstances, you can get your company registered in one day," Ramlogan said.

Prospective business operators were required to fill out 11 forms with 33 pages, in addition to the articles of incorporation.

SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT

According to her, there has been significant improvement since the superform.

In January, the Companies Office implemented the single form for the registration of new companies and business names.

Ramlogan said by the first quarter, or first half, of 2015, registration will be online and individuals will not have to leave their homes.

However, Financial Gleaner columnist Aubyn Hill said with the introduction of the form, there was the hope that much of the red tape would have been eliminated.

While hailing the intent as good, Hill said the "implementation, training, and the cutting of bureaucracy and processing time required of a business applicant has not worked to applicants' expectations".

He said the expectations far outweighed delivery and performance at the government agencies.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com