Since the early 2000s, human traffic at the halls and premises of the Registrar-General’s Department has been excessive.
From the parking lots, through the reception and banking floor, into the customer services booths and offices of supervisory authorities, the presence of young men and women, including foreigners, appears always choking. This must certainly, ordinarily, portend good business for the partner banks and the state institution.
Unfortunately, we are told that the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ORC) may not be laughing all the way to the bank. What should have been a regular flow of cash into the state treasury is stunted. And the reason is that many people may have registered companies for other reasons besides engaging in productive ventures or job creation for the public good.
While the ORC does not put a figure on the quantum of money in terms of outstanding annual returns, we may conclude that it may be in the millions of cedis.
Now, that is certainly money gone down the drain, unless some logistics and resources are found to chase these persons to pay up. Granted that should be the way to go, the story would be ending up with the fable about the stingy Old Woman who would buy a donkey to travel to the next village because she must recover every penny owed her by indigent folk in poorer neighbouring communities.
Intriguingly, the story about companies being registered and re-registered under new names, without showing in employment generation and improvement in quality of life and presence on the landscape of business enclaves, is pervasive.
A decade and a half ago, a lot of noise was made about the tortuous processes for registering companies. Among the complaints were that it took too long; forms were too clumsy, and information too laborious and needless.
The most challenging for the ORC was, perhaps, its relationship with clients, and sending of electronic updates, though they had all the files that should tell them the status of companies.
For a nation aspiring to digitalisation, the Daily Statesman believes it should be healthy and normal for the ORC to send queries around occasionally. It should do this to check statuses on offices, company accounts, audit reports; or even accommodate the set-up of an in-house complaints department that deals, for instance, with cases of excessive taxation or re-negotiation of financial obligations owed state revenue mobilisation agencies.
Wild goose chase?
As the situation is, those in charge can only gripe and hope that the Ghanaian, most of whom want to have their businesses under their armpits or in black leather hand bags, would change and move from the handbag to the factory floors or a Katamanto and Kumasi Asafo shop to do concrete business.
As a nation, however, what we can positively do is to, first, find out why people act that way so that we may deter them or demotivate such actions.
Alternatively, we may attempt a solution by giving out temporary certification, and confirming such when the ORC visits the site to convince itself that ‘ABCD & Co’ are, indeed, in business and creating jobs and improving livelihoods.
Such information can even feed into national data on employment, tax compliance, quality of life and ultimate partnerships with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies in accessing support for growth and expansion, instead of using other means.