The registrar of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar said on Tuesday that the Commission has started the implementation of Allied Matters Act 2020, (CAMA 2020) as part of efforts to enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Abubakar made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja while disclosing other measures taken by CAC to implement CAMA and improve their standard of service. He said the Commission has launched a new self-service portal that allows for end-to-end electronic submission by customers.
The new CAMA, which was a repeal and replacement of the 1990 Companies and Allied Matters Act, generated a lot of controversy when it was signed into law back in Aug. last year, especially from religious organizations who said it will mean that the government will interfere in the affairs.
Experts believe that the new CAMA has merits that will foster economic development in Nigeria if they are duly implemented, while the federal government has assured concerned parties that they have nothing to worry about as the new Act is designed to foster economic development and not to victimize anyone.
Abubakar told NAN that as part of the implementation of the new CAMA which took effect on Jan. 1, the CAC has given registered companies until March 31 to update their information.
He said the implementation will remove some bottlenecks that had hindered the ease of doing business in the country, and the commission has upgraded its software to enable electronic registration and other functions of the commission that will hasten service delivery.
“The Honourable Minister approved the Companies Regulation 2021 towards the end of December 2020 and the approval says it is effective from Jan. 1, 2020. Already the implementation has started and we have upgraded software that allows you to register your company electronically.
“The law has come with a lot of innovations and changes to some of the old provisions off CAMA 1990, so we need to make some changes to bring them up-to-date, consistent with the new law. We need to make necessary changes to the Registration software to accommodate the reforms introduced by the new law, and that took some time.
“The portal started working Jan. 3 and customers are already using it; so from the comfort of your home or using your own phone, you can now register your company,” he said.
Abubakar explained that among many positive changes that new CAMA will bring, it will strengthen the regulatory and oversight powers of CAC and provide for greater disclosure and accountability by registered entities.
He explained further that the CAC now has an integrated system that had reduced the time and processes for company registration, in line with Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) campaign of the federal government.
According to him, unlike previous procedures, where certificates were being printed by the commission and then sent to customers through designated courier services, the new system allowed for end-to-end electronic submission.
“When you file, you get your certificate electronically; and you can either print it or save it, and you get your certified extract, your certified Memorandum and Articles of Association electronically.
“For the first time, post-incorporation filings are also being done electronically, in the past they were done manually. The upgrade has also introduced a new interface that allows for post-registration; so when you register your company, you can change your directors without having to come to CAC.
“Unlike the formal system, where the applications are in silos, where you have different applications for registration, document upload and document archival, the new system is integrated,” he explained.
Abubakar said all documents issued after registration now come with a QR Code that allows one to scan to confirm their authenticity. He explained that the electronic system of operations allows officers of the commission to work from home, any day of the week, even during holidays.
“This is one the best innovations you can have anywhere in the world, as the system we have built is comparable to any other registry you can have anywhere in the world. In fact, our own is even different in so many areas, because as at today, there is no registry that uses QR Code for validation.
“Also, the public search is available once you can enter the name or address; it gives you information about such a company for free.
“If you want to view the details of the company, there is a paid service portion you can click on, where you can view such information for a fee of N1,000,” he said.
Abukakar explained that among other benefits, business owners can now register their companies without using the service of a lawyer or a third party. And as part of the reforms, an individual can now form and incorporate a private company.
However, while the progress recorded so far is being applauded, experts believe that the new CAMA will need more flexibility to attain its full potential.
“More flexibility is required for foreign companies who wish to operate business in Nigeria such that a branch registration should be permitted while incorporating a subsidiary will be optional,” said PwC Fiscal Policy partner Taiwo Oyedele.
For it to yield the needed result, it has to be harmonized with other laws such as the Companies Income Tax Act which still requires audited accounts by all companies regardless of size, he added.