Companies Office of Jamaica – Leading the Ease of Doing Business

Photo: Mark Bell Chief Executive Officer, Companies Office of Jamaica, Judith Ramlogan.

Story Highlights

  • Over the years, various reforms and processes have been implemented to significantly improve Jamaica’s business environment to facilitate hassle-free, seamless and convenient transactions. The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is among the entities leading the charge to implement these engagements.
  • This has resulted in a reduction in the timeline for registering a business from six days to 24 hours.

Over the years, various reforms and processes have been implemented to significantly improve Jamaica’s business environment to facilitate hassle-free, seamless and convenient transactions.

The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is among the entities leading the charge to implement these engagements.

The COJ, supported by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), which is tasked with facilitating the implementation of various reforms, was able to successfully amalgamate its business registration forms in 2014.

This has resulted in a reduction in the timeline for registering a business from six days to 24 hours.

The process resulted in the creation of the business registration form (BRF) or ‘super form’ which addresses a wide cross section of issues faced by individuals in the process of business start-ups.

This multipurpose form, which is available at the COJ, is a ‘one-stop shop’ facility that eliminates the need to visit multiple agencies to process a Tax Registration Number (TRN), National

Insurance Scheme (NIS) number, and General Consumption Tax (GCT) and National Housing Trust (NHT) requirements, or to procure clearance letters.

Chief Executive Officer of the COJ, Judith Ramlogan, underscores the super form’s significance.

She tells JIS News that its advent resulted from the Government’s engagement of a consultant, who reviewed the procedure in several countries, including Jamaica, to see how business registration and start-ups were being undertaken.

“There was a selection of upper middle-income, middle-income and lower middle-income countries, and the registration timeline, or the time to start a business, in all the countries was examined. What was realised is that all the countries that had a shorter start-up time used the one-stop shop process, so that registration or start-up was focused in one agency,” Mrs. Ramlogan informs.

She adds that in other countries examined, including Jamaica, it was noted that the information and processes had duplications.

To rectify this, Mrs. Ramlogan further points out, the duplications were removed, resulting in the super form and the one-stop shop approach.

“So if you use this business registration form, the information would be requested from three different agencies, but the customer would only have to provide it once,” the CEO outlines.

Consequently, she says, there has been vast improvement in customer engagement and satisfaction, with the new system’s implementation resulting in a more business-friendly environment.

Mrs. Ramlogan informs that to further boost efficiency and improve overall operations, the COJ is developing an electronic version of the BRF.

“The electronic business registration form (EBRF) is just converting the manual form to an electronic version, and this will allow you to register your business name or your company from wherever you are in the world, and to be ready to start working, because all the other agencies that are responsible for regulating business start-ups will be included in the process as well,” the CEO says.

Explaining the electronic business registration procedure, she notes that persons will need a computer; Internet service; a signing pad, or a token, for digital signatures; and a scanner, as some documents may need to be uploaded to the system.

“Once you have these things in place, you go to the COJ website at www.orcjamaica.com to complete the form (EBRF), scan and upload the necessary documents; sign the documents, whether with a signing pad or a digital token, which will produce a digital signature; then submit the documents, along with your payment by credit card to COJ,” Mrs. Ramlogan informs.

She says the registration process is, thereafter, done automatically and a notification sent when the certificate is ready.

Mrs. Ramlogan points out that the registration process will be further improved with the launch of this electronic system.

“We have seen that in the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business Report, Jamaica has improved its ranking as a result of implementing the Business Registration Form,” the CEO points out.

Jamaica jumped seven places to 64th and was rated among the top-10 most improved countries worldwide, in terms of executing business reform.

Additionally, Jamaica is also highlighted as one of two Caribbean countries that have made tax compliance easier for businesses, while the 2015/2016 Global Competitiveness Report credited the country for improving its procedures to start a business.

“Registering your business is an important step towards economic growth and job creation. We want the registration process to be as smooth and simple as necessary, because if the first impression you get is that starting a business is a hard thing, then persons will be turned off. But if it is a seamless process, then persons will be encouraged and motivated. We aim to make the process simple and easy, so that people can get about the business of growing this country,” Mrs. Ramlogan underscores.

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