Business registrations to suffer delay as Buhari returns CAMA Bill to NASS

• AGF must sign before registration of companies Limited by guarantee ― CAC

The future of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria may not be one that promises expected growth except the 9th Assembly makes it a priority to review the consolidated Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Bill that President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent and returned to the assembly late 2019 for correction of certain clauses.

A top management staff of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) who spoke to Tribune Online under the condition of anonymity said that the President declined assent to the Bill particularly because of a clause as amended that removed the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF)’s powers to sign before Limited by Guarantee companies were registered by CAC.

He noted that “the amendment had taken away power from the AGF to sign before full registration of Limited by Guarantee companies. The 8th Assembly and CAC thought that, it was too long a process going to the AGF before the registration of these companies.

“The process affects the ease of doing business, you see, when you send these files to the AGF, it takes a long time before they come out.

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“Customers on the other end don’t know that CAC is also waiting for clarification, their own is that they have submitted their registration with CAC and it is taking too long.”

In the second quarter of 2018, CAC implemented a three months online registration initiative to ease and fast track the process of registration to 48 hours. The policy known as Business Incentive Strategy (BIS) was extended many times due to demand from stakeholders and even government agencies.

CAC in anticipation of the Bill commenced an online method of registration which recorded tremendous success and enhanced the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

“The delay in the signing of the Bill will affect the 48 hours business registration by the CAC, “stated our Source.

The Bill provides for online reservation of business names which is believed will result in a significant improvement in turnaround time for potential promoters of companies in Nigeria and improve the ease of registering new businesses.

Under Business Registration item of CAMA Bill, numbering 1.4 states; Removal of Attorney General’s Consent for Company Limited by Guarantee – The Bill proposed to delete the requirement for companies Limited by Guarantee to obtain the Attorney General of the Federation’s consent for registration purpose.

The application process was amended to include the publication of the application for registration in three national newspapers. This change would have made the registration process similar to what is currently obtainable for Incorporated Trustees, as an alternative legal vehicle for registration of not-for-profit organisations.

Many believed that the Bill would have addressed the extant difficulties faced by businesses (administrative bottlenecks and high compliance costs) and more importantly ease the mode of business registration in Nigeria.

Tribune Online learnt that in the course of the 9th Assembly reviewing the Bill, if the numbering is affected, the process of the amendment may have to start over again, a development that may be a drawback to the federal government’s ease of doing business campaign.

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