CEO IN­TER­VIEW CAC has re­duced busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion fil­ing fees by 50% – Mah­mud

Mr. Bello Mah­mud is the Reg­is­trar Gen­eral of the Cor­po­rate Af­fairs Com­mis­sion (CAC). In this exclusive in­ter­view with the he says the com­mis­sion has re­duced busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion fil­ing fees by 50 per cent.

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Hamisu Muham­mad & Fran­cis Arinze Iloani

You have been in of­fice for about eight years. What do you con­sider your key achieve­ments?

Like you said, I have been here for long. Ini­tially, I was em­ployed as a direc­tor and I worked un­der the former Reg­is­trar Gen­eral for eight years. I took over from him af­ter he left in 2009. From 2009 to date, which is about eight years, by my ap­point­ment let­ter, I’m sup­posed to leave in Oc­to­ber at the ex­pi­ra­tion of my ten­ure. Ini­tially, I was ap­pointed for four years and it was re­newed in 2003 for an­other four years, which will fin­ish mid-Oc­to­ber this year. The ma­jor achieve­ments I can talk about now are in the area of op­er­a­tions. Dur­ing my ten­ure, I have been able to de­cen­tralise CAC and we have some cen­tres that can start and fin­ish reg­is­tra­tion. We have an­other of­fice here in Abuja in Wuse Zone 5. We have two of­fices in La­gos. We also have an of­fice in Enugu and Port Harcourt. In the North, we have one in Kaduna and one in Kano. In all these of­fices, you can start and fin­ish your in­cor­po­ra­tion with­out hav­ing to come to the head of­fice. This is pos­si­ble through our ICT in­fra­struc­ture, that is the net­work that we are con­nected to them. We are con­nected to these of­fices through fi­bre op­tics and with that they can send doc­u­ments to us on­line and they are able to down­load the cer­tifi­cates there also, seal it and give it to cus­tomers. In the course of these as­sign­ments, we have been able to de­velop Com­pany Reg­is­tra­tion Reg­u­la­tions 2012. Pre­vi­ously, there were no reg­u­la­tions. We only had the Com­pany and Al­lied Mat­ters Act (CAMA) that was the law. We now have reg­u­la­tions whereby cus­tomers know what to ex­pect from CAC un­like be­fore whereby you de­pend on the per­son who is on the desk to tell you what is go­ing to hap­pen. Now, what will hap­pen is known to every­body. These reg­u­la­tions are now on our web­site where every­body can be able to see them.

What other achieve­ments have you recorded so far?

We have also been able to re­duce our cost of fill­ing by 50 per cent for some com­pa­nies. That is, the 50 per cent in fill­ing fees is for reg­is­tra­tion of a com­pany from N1m to N5m and those above N5m have a re­duc­tion of N25 per cent. We have now pro­vided what is called pub­lic search win­dow, which is free of charge. If you want to find out if a com­pany is reg­is­tered, you can go to our web­site and through that win­dow, you can search and find out if the com­pany is reg­is­tered. If you want to reg­is­ter a com­pany and you want to find out if that name is avail­able for reg­is­tra­tion, you can also use that win­dow. Now you can find out if a name is avail­able for reg­is­tra­tion at no cost. We have also con­densed our forms. Be­fore, we had more than 10 forms. We re­duced them to five. Now, we have fur­ther re­duced them to one. We are now us­ing a sin­gle form for reg­is­tra­tion and that has made it eas­ier for our cus­tomers. We have de­ployed a new Com­pany Reg­is­tra­tion Por­tal (CRP).

What are some chal­lenges you have been faced with?

The ap­a­thy cus­tomers, of some es­pe­cially lawyers to go on­line has been a ma­jor chal­lenge. There is even lack of knowl­edge from them on how to use the com­puter. There is also the chal­lenge of low rev­enue. You know we don’t re­ceive money from the gov­ern­ment. What we nor­mally use is what we re­ceive here as our rev­enue. And even from that, the gov­ern­ment is in­ter­ested in get­ting some­thing out of it at the end of the year. The re­duc­tion of fees, as I told you ear­lier, also af­fected our rev­enues. We lose N3 bil­lion per an­num be­cause of that re­duc­tion. Last year, we had low rev­enue be­cause of eco­nomic melt­down in the coun­try. We were able to make only half of what was pro­jected. Last year, we pro­jected about N15 bil­lion as rev­enue, but what we re­ceived was only about N8.5 bil­lion. We had to man­age and pay our staff and other things. We are pay­ing about 80 to 85 per cent rev­enue as staff salaries and al­lowances; what is left is just 15 per cent to take care of other things.

What led to the re­cent in­dus­trial ac­tion in the com­mis­sion?

This cri­sis started be­cause of the prob­lem we had with the Salaries and Wages Com­mis­sion in 2010. In 2010, salaries were in­creased by the gov­ern­ment by about 53 per cent for pub­lic ser­vice and we in the Com­mis­sion had to ne­go­ti­ate with our staff. The non-ex­ec­u­tives agreed to take 35 per cent in­cre­ment while man­age­ment agreed to take 15 per cent in­cre­ment. Be­cause the Board ap­proved this re­view, we started pay­ing. Along the line, the Salaries and Wages Com­mis­sion came, in­spected our books and said we were pay­ing il­le­gal salaries be­cause they were not ap­proved by them. We were asked to stop and ap­ply for ap­proval from them. We stopped and ap­plied for ap­proval. When the ap­proval came, it was 35 and 15 per cent, it came with 26.6 per cent ap­proval across the board, which meant that every­body got the same in­cre­ment of 26.6 per cent. What the staff agreed to take was 35 per cent and what the man­age­ment agreed to take was 15 per cent, which meant that the staff lost about 9 per cent when the ap­proval came and the man­age­ment got an in­crease of about 11 per cent. That brought the cri­sis.

Has the cri­sis been re­solved?

Since that time we have been manag­ing the cri­sis. We ap­pealed to them al­ways. We ap­plied to the Salaries and Wages Com­mis­sion more than five times plead­ing for them to ap­prove this 35 per cent. As long as we are con­cerned, we can pay. But they al­ways said they could not ap­prove it be­cause that was what they gave ev­ery paras­tatal. That was why the prob­lem lin­gered up till now. Up till to­day, they have not ap­proved it. What we said was for us to look at other ar­eas that we could use to take care of the short­fall. We have agreed to take the area of pen­sion. We have now taken over their pen­sion con­tri­bu­tion. Be­fore they were con­tribut­ing to pen­sion but we have now taken over. We pay all for the staff. And about their ar­rears, 2014 to date, we said we would also look at other ways of pay­ing that. We are go­ing to take care of it in next year’s bud­get. That was how we re­solved the prob­lem.

The Union ac­cused your man­age­ment of cor­rup­tion with spe­cific men­tion of con­tract in­fla­tions. What is your take on their al­le­ga­tions?

That is very un­true. Like I have been say­ing, our con­tracts go through due process and all the fig­ures they are giv­ing are false fig­ures. They are say­ing we spent N300 mil­lion to do a lift, which is not true. They are say­ing we spent N1 bil­lion to build a car park, which is not true. All the fig­ures are there. They are say­ing we spent N300 mil­lion to build an of­fice in Katsina. That of­fice did not even take up to N40 mil­lion. They said we are spend­ing N2 bil­lion on ICTs ev­ery year, which is not true. Where do we have N2 bil­lion to spend on ICTs if we spend 85 per cent of what we gen­er­ate to pay their salaries and al­lowances? What we are pay­ing for ICTs is lower than what we were pay­ing be­fore for ICTs. Be­fore, we were pay­ing N140 mil­lion per an­num for the old pro­gramme as an­nual main­te­nance fee. We are pay­ing now about 65 mil­lion to the present peo­ple which is func­tion­ing bet­ter than the former one.

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