Re: Need for a revamped CAC for competitiveness—The true position

CAC-logoWe wish to refer to an article on the above subject on page 41 of The Guardian of June 4th, 2015 written by O.B Omatsuli. The article was not a true reflection of the state of affairs at the Commission as the author admitted that he had not been to the Commission for about five years and therefore most of his claims are not valid as at the time of the publication.

However, we are constrained to state the true position of things at the Commission to reassure our esteem customers of CAC’s commitment to ensure prompt and efficient service delivery.

It is pertinent to point out that the services and operations of the Commission are guided by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Cap C.20 LFN 2004 which is the enabling Act establishing the Commission and the Regulations made thereunder pursuant to the powers of the Honourable Minister as contained in the CAMA, contrary to the claim of Omatsuli.

Quality of service
It is surprising that Omatsuli failed to recognise and appreciate the positive transformation taking place at the Commission which is widely acknowledged by users of the Commission’s services.

Some of the initiatives include the commencement of the start-to-finish registration services in six state offices. Until July 2012, registration and generation of certificates of limited liability companies could only be carried out in the Head Office in Abuja; consequently applications filed in all state offices were referred to the Head Office for processing. With the decentralisation, incorporation applications can be processed and certificates of incorporation issued to customers without recourse to the Head Office.

This start-to-finish registration of companies is obtainable at six of our offices outside Abuja; namely, Alausa and Yaba offices in Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt. The start-to-finish service has enabled the Commission to achieve a 24hrs registration service in these state offices. This service will be extended to other state offices in due course.

In addition, the Commission has deployed new registration software (Company Registration Portal) on September 1st, 2014 which replaced the content pinnacle software that was in use since June, 2004. The configuration of the new registration software was borne out of the fact that the former system had functional limitation in features and user ability. The Company Registration Portal (CRP) is a joint initiative of the Commission and the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology. The CRP enables customers to process and pay for name reservation and new incorporation services electronically via the web. The new system has an electronic payment interface which is being supported by Nigerian Interbank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS). Also, customers other than accredited agents can carry out their own transactions directly with the Commission.

The Commission is also collaborating with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) towards automating the payment of stamp duties and the stamping of the incorporation documents electronically on the CRP. This will completely eliminate the need for physical submission of incorporation documents by customers to FIRS for stamping, as is presently the case and further reduce the period of registration to few hours. Customers also will be able to process all other post incorporation filings via the CRP by the end of July 2015. This initiative is intended to ease business start-up by reducing the period of registration to few hours.

CAC forms
CAC forms downloaded from the Commission’s website are honoured and are not paid for. The Commission has even gone beyond downloading of forms, as forms can be completed and submitted online for processing. In respect of the columns and the information required to be furnished in the forms, though the author may not readily appreciate, but suffice to state that the forms are designed to meet Know-Your-Customer (KYC) principle and in line with global best practice.

Hitherto information in the forms were not detailed and often, companies and directors’ addresses change without the Commission being notified, which made it difficult to locate these companies or the directors when the need arises. The new forms have made it easier for the Commission and other agencies to locate these companies or their directors.

Also, with the information contained in the forms and the requirement for submission of means of identification by directors, it is easier to unveil the persons behind the companies. These innovations have helped to trace and check the menace of money laundering activities and terrorism financing.

The CAC forms are affordable and not expensive as stated by the writer as the cost range from N100 to N500. It is only Incorporated Trustees form that cost N1, 000. However, forms downloaded or completed online attract no charge.
CAC fees

The writer complained about CAC fees which he regarded as expensive. However, with the amendment to Companies Regulation 2012, the filing fees payable for registration of small and medium sized companies were reduced by 50 per cent while large companies benefited from 25 per cent reduction. The reduction is aimed at encouraging small enterprises to formalise their registration and also improve Nigeria’s rating in the global competitiveness index.

Furthermore, it will be unfair to compare the fees of CAC which is a developing country with the attendant infrastructural problems with that of the United Kingdom, a developed country.

Also the model of the companies’ registry in Nigeria is quite different from that of the United Kingdom and other climes. The Commission is self financing and does not receive any subvention from the government. Therefore, it has the responsibility to generate revenue in order to maintain its equipment and render efficient services to the public.

The payment of N50, 000 for same day incorporation had since been abolished since the introduction of start-to-finish registration process whereof registration process is concluded within 24hrs.

CAC registry
The CAC registry is manned by competent and well trained staff who are fully motivated for optimal performance. It is incomprehensible that the Commission will query an appointment of company secretary, just because of ordinary resolution when what is required to file company secretary is a resolution of the Board to that effect.

The claim that CAC officials constitute themselves into agents is baseless and unfounded; the Commission has zero tolerance for touting or other similar misconduct by staff. Under the Commission’s condition of service, touting is treated as gross misconduct which is punishable with termination from service.

In respect of company searches conducted by customers, it is instructive to note that the Commission has company records dating back to 1912 which were manually kept. In order to ensure document security and update of legacy records, the Commission embarked on document imaging with a view to converting the manual records into suitable electronic formats for easy storage and retrieval. This will not only ensure the integrity of the information but also provide for electronic searches and other electronic transactions by customers and other interested persons. The scanning and update of records of all active companies is expected to be completed by December, 2015. This is also part of the effort of management in transforming the Commission to a modern companies’ registry.

Omatsuli last visited the Commission in 2010, about five years ago. It is therefore not surprising that he is not abreast with the transformation at the Commission. He may wish to visit the Commission to obtain first-hand information about the current position of things at the Commission.

The CAC while counting on the support and cooperation of stakeholders will continue to work hard to ensure smooth and efficient service delivery to the satisfaction of our customers.

•Ike, is deputy director, Public Affairs

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