Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has charged the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) to move with dispatch to address "ethics in business" as a critical part of its role in promoting corporate governance among registered companies.
The Minister made the call during a familiarisation tour of the New Kingston offices of the organization, on January 12.
In making the call, the Minister observed that Jamaica has a serious problem with corruption, "so the issue of business ethics must be addressed in order to improve the country’s business environment and the attraction of new investments, including foreign direct investments."
The COJ is an agency of the Ministry, with responsibility for "the legal creation of companies, sole proprietorships, partnerships and industrial and provident societies…and to foster trade, commerce and wealth in an environment of trust and commitment to all stakeholders."
Meanwhile, the Minister was met on arrival with an impressive shopping list from the management of the COJ.
Relocation to their own premises, additional staffing to meet increased client demands, and amendments to the Companies Act were top agenda items of the management team during a brief exchange of ideas with the new Minister.
Highlighting a raft of achievements, including impressive turn-around times for the registration of companies and related services, the COJ's Chief Executive Officer, Judith Ramlogan, told Mr. Hylton that although the agency was not supported from the Consolidated Fund, approvals were needed from the Finance Ministry to address matters such as "new organisational structure and related expenditures" in support of staff productivity and enhanced client service.
In this regard, she sought the new Minister's support in granting the COJ “full devolution of authority," which would afford the organisation a greater degree of autonomy.
The Minister expressed appreciation for the critical role being played by the COJ in the formation of businesses, and congratulated the management and staff of the organisation for improving the business environment in Jamaica. He promised to examine the COJ's proposals.
Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, who accompanied the Minister, requested that the COJ consider the opening of an office in Montego Bay, the country’s second city and the hub of businesses in western Jamaica.
As an interim measure, individuals wishing to register their company and conduct related businesses may do so at the JAMPRO offices in Montego Bay, St. James. An array of services is also available on-line.