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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is reporting that its recent amnesty was a success, with thousands of companies taking advantage of the period to get compliant.
  • During the amnesty, companies benefited from waivers or significant reduction in fees for the filing of annual returns, removal of companies from the register, and to close business names that were no longer in operation.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COJ, Judith Ramlogan, told JIS News that the number of annual returns filed far exceed the expectations of the office.

The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is reporting that its recent amnesty was a success, with thousands of companies taking advantage of the period to get compliant.

During the amnesty, companies benefited from waivers or significant reduction in fees for the filing of annual returns, removal of companies from the register, and to close business names that were no longer in operation.

It was originally slated for the period May 4 to June 30 and was later extended until July 31, 2015.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COJ, Judith Ramlogan, told JIS News that the number of annual returns filed far exceed the expectations of the office.

“For companies limited by shares (for profit oganisations) we had projected to receive 8,650 annual returns and we received 15,412. For companies limited by guarantees (non-profit organisations) we had projected that we would receive 800 annual returns (instead) we received 2,314,” she informed.

She said the figures will increase as documents are still being processed.

In the case of companies wishing to be removed from the Companies Register, Mrs. Ramlogan informed that 2,205 requests were received against an estimated 1,552;  while there were 1,382 requests for closure up from a projected 850.

Mrs. Ramlogan told JIS News that the amnesty was introduced as a way to increase compliance among businesses. As at December 2014, there were 86,994 companies on the register with 51,755 or 59.5 per cent of that number being delinquent.

 

“There were a lot of companies that were delinquent as it related to the filing of annual returns. (They) told us that one of the reasons was the high cost to file annual returns especially since 2010, when we introduced a penalty of $100 for each day that the annual return is outstanding up to a maximum of $10,000 for the year. Customers found that to be prohibitive, so we decided to give (them) a break and waive the penalty fee in its entirety and then reduce the fee to file annual returns,” she explained.

During the amnesty period, companies limited by shares were able to file each outstanding annual return at a cost of $3,000, down from $5,000 or 60 per cent of the regular cost. There was a 50 per cent reduction in cost for the filing of returns for companies limited by guarantee at $1,000 each.

Mrs. Ramlogan is encouraging the business owners to remain up-to-date with their annual filings so as to avoid becoming delinquent.

“Every year you have to file your annual return and you know the date. Just make sure that you file within those timelines so that you don’t get delinquent because it is much harder to file four or five annual returns when you can just file one, so just make the sacrifice and file your annual returns,” she urged.

She warned that legal action can be taken against companies that do not meet their obligations.

“Remember that if you are delinquent, COJ can sue you for you to file your documents and if you don’t, you are in contempt of court and can be committed to jail,” she said.

 

In the meantime, the CEO is asking for patience as COJ works to process the influx of documents that it received during the period of amnesty.

“Because of the volume of documents that we have, it’s going to take longer than you are accustomed to for us to process your documents so we are asking for your patience. If there is an emergency… just let us know and we will try to facilitate you as best we can,” she said.