500 firms face deregistration

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MORE than 500 companies out of 725, which were threatened with deregistration for failure to file annual returns still face deregistration because they have not done so up to now.

Only about 218 of the total number of companies earlier earmarked for deregistration by the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) have filed their annual returns during the amnesty period.

PACRA chief executive officer Anthony Bwembya, who confirmed this in an interview, said the agency would go ahead and deregister the erring companies after December 31, 2012, in readiness for the digitalisation of the system.

He said a total of 5,181 companies filed their annual returns countrywide since October 2012.

Mr Bwembya said the agency would, however, go ahead and deregister the more than 500 firms, without further notice, if they would not have filed their annual returns after the deadline.

More than 725 companies in Lusaka alone were scheduled to be deregistered by the agency after having failed to meet their statutory obligations but were given a grace period of up to December 31, 2012.

The agency gave an amnesty to determine the number of companies that were still operational before migrating to the digital system in January 2013.

It is a statutory requirement for companies to submit their annual returns to the registration agency and deregistration is the penalty for failure to comply with the law.

“I must say that the response has been satisfactory in terms of the number of companies that have come forward to file their annual returns, but looking at the number of companies on our data base,

we think that we can do more in the remaining two weeks before the amnesty comes to an end,” Mr Bwembya said.

Mr Bwembya said the deregistration would reduce on the cost of digitalisation and its database would have been cleaned to create space for new businesses.

Before effecting the deregistration after December 31 this year, names of affected companies would be published in the local print media after which the deregistration process would commence.

“The annual return, which is a statutory requirement, is important because it states the position of the company as at the date of the return. So, it does not pay for us to keep maintaining companies which are defunct,” he said.