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2837 Companies Took Advantage of COJ Covid-19 Compliance Relief

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The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is reporting that 2,837 entities took advantage of its COVID-19 Compliance Relief Initiative, during the initial period from May 2020 to March 2022.

The support programme was launched to assist businesses hit hard by the pandemic to formally close without paying the full fees associated with filing closure notices.

Due to overwhelming request for an extension, it was relaunched on August 1, and will now run for another six months until January 31, 2023.

Under the initiative, companies wishing to close can do so without having to file their outstanding annual returns whereas under normal circumstances, they would be required to bring their companies up-to-date by filing all outstanding returns before they can formally close.

Registrar of Companies and Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the COJ, Shellie Leon, is encouraging those who have unfiled annual returns and are wishing to close to “take advantage of this final opportunity” before January 31, 2023.

Meanwhile, business owners are being urged to remain up-to-date with their annual filings to avoid becoming delinquent.

During an interview with JIS News, Ms. Leon, informed that there are changes coming to the Companies Act and the Registration of Business Names Act, making it important for persons to file and keep their records current.

She shared that “as a country, Jamaica is subject to certain international obligations and as we speak, the Companies Act is being amended whereby companies must notify the Registrar of certain information regarding their beneficial owners.

She noted that the penalty for failure to notify the COJ of changes in operations will be more stringent, and that this information will be contained in the annual returns.

“Also, you should note that not only is the COJ affected by this, but financial institutions will have to ensure that persons who operate accounts with them or come to them for loans, file their returns,” she noted.

The annual return provides information about the company’s operations and financial condition.

“If it’s a company with shares, you will see what happened to the shares, what happened with the officers of the company and if the company incurred any indebtedness over the year,” Ms. Leon pointed out.

To file annual returns, companies can access and download the forms online, but they are required to visit the COJ’s head office in Kingston or its Montego Bay location to submit the completed forms.

The COJ also has mobile units in several parishes where the documents can be submitted.

Profit-making companies are required to download and complete Form 19A, while non-profit companies must download and complete Form 19B.

“Profit-making companies will pay a fee of $5,000 for the annual return if it is filed on time. Outside of that, the fee will attract $100 for each day that the filing is late.

The cost for filing for non-profit entities is $2,000. Non-profits are subject to late filing fees if the documents are not filed on a timely basis,” Ms. Leon outlined.

Further information can be found on the COJ’s website at www.orcjamaica.com as well as on the entity’s social pages.

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Jamaican Entrepreneurs Head to Guyana

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Local businesses across various sectors will be exposed to new buyers in the Guyanese market as part of the second ministerial trade mission to the country.

The mission, which will be led by the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, is scheduled to take place from January 23 to 28.

“With export being a primary focus for JAMPRO, one of the important inroads that we want to make in Guyana is to expose our exporters, both on the manufacturing and agricultural side, to new buyers and new distributors in the Guyanese market,” said President (Acting) of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Shullette Cox.

She was addressing a Think Tank held recently at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) head office in Kingston.

Ms. Cox said that technology companies, including those involved in the Global Digital Services Sector, will be participating in the weeklong mission.

She noted that Senator Hill got Cabinet approval last year for the implementation of a new national strategy to develop the sector, which will open up new markets to technology-based companies and will provide a blueprint for the expansion of the industry.

It will also support the development and diversification of outsourcing in Jamaica, she noted.

Ms. Cox told JIS News that focus is also being placed on exposing local construction companies to the Guyanese market.

“As you can imagine, with the economic boom that is coming to Guyana, there is going to be heavy demand for construction, not only for services but also supplies, and so we have a couple of companies from the sector that will be making the trip with us,” Ms. Cox said.

Other companies that will form the 60-member delegation include those involved in education, banking and finance.

The Acting President informed that members of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association will be in attendance to represent and pinpoint areas of opportunities for those companies that are unable to participate in the mission.

Reflecting on the first trade mission to Guyana, which took place in October 2022, Ms. Cox said that “there are companies that…are busily making inroads with their partners in Guyana, having made several trips to the country since then”.

She hinted that “a few of those companies have some announcements to make in the coming months”.

For this second trade mission, JAMPRO hopes to establish more business relationships between the two countries as well as to secure export contracts in both goods and services.

“As a Government entity, we also reinforice the relationship between the Governments of Jamaica and Guyana, and we are looking forward to achieving and coming back to report on all of the successes coming out of those discussions,” Ms. Cox shared.

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STATIN Reports Decrease in December Inflation Rate

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The rate of inflation for December 2022 decreased by 0.9 percentage point to 9.4 per cent, compared to November, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has reported.

The reference week for the December 2022 Consumer Price Index (CPI) was the first full week of the month.

Director General, Carol Coy, says the negligible decline in the index was mainly influenced by a one per cent fall in the out-turn for the heaviest weighted division – ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’.

Speaking during STATIN’s digital quarterly media briefing on Tuesday (January 17), Ms. Coy said the decline in the division mainly resulted from a 1.1 per cent drop in the index for the ‘Food’ group, despite the ‘Non-Alcoholic’ category rising by one percentage point.

She told journalists that the inflation rate was also impacted by the ‘Transport’ division, which fell by 0.9 percentage point, due mainly to a 3.7 per cent decline in the index for the group ‘Operation of Personal Transport Equipment’, as the costs for petrol continued to decrease over the period under review.

“The inflation rate was, however, tempered by increases in the index for the divisions ‘Restaurants and Accommodation Services’, up 3.4 per cent, mainly impacted by increased prices for meals consumed away from home, and ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’, up 0.7 per cent, due mainly to increases in the rates for electricity, water and sewage,” the Director General pointed out.

Ms. Coy advised, however, that the December 2022 inflation rate represented an increase on the out-turn recorded 12 months earlier.

This [December 2022] inflation rate was mainly attributed to increases in the index for the divisions, ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’, up 13.8 per cent;, ‘Restaurants and Accommodations Services’, up 23.9 per cent, and ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Fuels’, up 2.8 per cent,” she indicated.

STATIN advises that the 2022/23 fiscal year-to-date inflation rate is 6.2 per cent.

The CPI measures changes in the general level of prices of consumer goods and services purchased by private households.

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Reassurance Given to Preserve Integrity of Country’s Financial System

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Jamaica’s authorities have given reassurance of efforts being committed to preserve the integrity of the country’s financial system and safeguard stakeholders’ interests.

This assurance comes from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), in light of a case of alleged fraud being investigated at investment firm, Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL).

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) indicated that the investigations are being undertaken by the Financial Investigations Division (FID), among others.

The agency appointed Ken Tomlinson of Business Recovery Services Limited as the Special Auditor for SSL. He is also serving as the securities firm’s Temporary Manager.

Finance Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, in a statement, noted that the country is the leading financial centre in the English-speaking Caribbean and, as such, assured that “we will do everything in our power to protect Jamaica’s position in this regard.”

Dr. Clarke, who said the matter being investigated has been the “source of public discussion and anxiety,” acknowledged that “at this time, it is tempting to doubt our financial institutions”.

“But I would ask that we don’t paint an entire hard-working industry with the brush of a few very dishonest individuals,” he urged, while expressing “great confidence in the investigative authorities to unravel all aspects of this [matter] and bring all perpetrators to justice”.

Meanwhile, the BOJ, in a statement, indicated that its supervised deposit-taking institutions, comprising commercial banks, building societies, and one merchant bank, remain adequately capitalised, liquid, safe and secure.

Additionally, the Central Bank said its ongoing regulatory oversight of these institutions “remains rigorous”.

The BOJ alluded to recent reports of alleged fraud involving financial institutions and intimated its concern about these developments and their potential to negatively affect confidence in Jamaica’s financial system.

“The Central Bank notes that in the recent case of alleged fraud at a commercial bank, the stringent internal controls insisted on by the BOJ assisted in the early detection of irregular transactions and ensured that the risk was kept to a minimal level, relative to the capitalisation of the institution,” the BOJ pointed out.

The Bank of Jamaica advised that the institutions it supervises are required by law to have all their assets and liabilities recorded on balance sheets and is working with them to continuously upgrade and strengthen their internal safeguard controls.

This entails ensuring fraud prevention and early detection systems, including the deployment of advanced, technological reporting and analytic tools at globally accepted levels.

“The basis of a strong and resilient financial system is the confidence clients have in knowing that their funds are safe and secure and can be accessed in a timely manner. Bank of Jamaica continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure that this confidence is maintained,” the Central Bank said.

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Jamaica’s Business Ministry Strategic Objectives For 2023 Will Focus On Increasing Exports And Local Direct Investments.

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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce’s strategic objectives for 2023 will focus on increasing exports and local direct investments, and training unattached youth.

Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, outlined details of these during the Ministry’s Rebranding and Quality Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday (January 18), at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Kingston.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, and executives of the Industry Ministry’s departments and agencies, were among the guests attending.

Senator Hill said the Ministry will be looking to meet the targetted objectives under its new unofficial brand, ‘Jamaica’s Business Ministry’, by collaborating with businesses, engaging trade missions, implementing legislative frameworks, and working closely with its relevant agencies and departments.

Senator Hill emphasised the importance of increasing exports, in order to significantly boost earnings generated for Jamaica.

“If we only keep selling to Jamaicans, we will never become a wealthy country. We cannot remain poor people… we must export to the world,” he said.

Consequently, Senator Hill advised, the Ministry and its agencies will be advocating for more local direct investments as financial institutions continue to provide the private sector with more opportunities for accessing capital.

“The banks have a lot of money to lend, because the Government is not borrowing; we stepped out of the market. So, you [the private sector] can have all the money you want,” he declared.

Senator Hill advised that businesses are the “largest providers of money that the Government spends”, which requires the Ministry to take a “laser-sharp focus” on helping, encouraging and facilitating these entities to excel and be profitable.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the training and certifying of approximately 400 unattached youth will be pursued through a programme with the HEART/NSTA Trust.

“We need to take them (youth) in. HEART/NSTA is working out a programme that will start… this month. We must train, because the businesspeople say they want [to employ] people,” he argued.

The Minister encouraged the business community to take greater responsibility in providing training opportunities for youth.

“What I found is many businesses overseas, especially in developed economies, [and] some very astute emerging market economies… are training their people well. If we don’t, we’re going to remain poor. Those of us who are privileged to lead must help them get to a better place,” Senator Hill stated.

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Corporate Movements

Corporate Movements January 2023

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Victoria Mutual Wealth Management (VM Wealth) announced the appointment of Christine Benjamin as Head of Sales and Client Relations. Benjamin will work closely with Brian Frazer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, in providing oversight of VM Wealth’s Sales and Client Relations operations. Benjamin is a seasoned investment professional with over 10 years’ experience in investment banking and business development. Her most recent former role was Vice President of Sales and Client Services at Mayberry Investments Limited. With a strong passion for service, Benjamin has a solid background of crafting innovative sales strategies, with a keen focus on sales effectiveness. She earned her MBA in Banking & Finance from the Mona School of Business & Management and also holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations from The University of the West Indies, Mona.

PROVEN Group Limited (formerly Proven Investments Limited), which owns 50.5% shareholding of Roberts Manufacturing Company Limited (“Roberts”), a company incorporated under the laws of Barbados, with the Ansa McAl Group which owns the other 49.5% of Roberts, hereby informs the Stock Exchange that Mr. Jason Sambrano, Managing Director of Roberts will be demitting office effective January 31, 2023, to pursue other interests. The Board of Directors thanks Mr. Sambrano for his stewardship and the contribution he has made over the years. The process of recruiting a new Managing Director is underway and the intention is to fill the position by April 2023. Interim measures for the continued leadership and operational oversight of the business will be implemented during the transition period. Roberts continues to be one of the top manufacturing entities in Barbados, with a footprint spanning more than 15 territories, and ranks in the top 5 exporters and earners of foreign exchange in Barbados.

Mayberry Investments Limited (MIL) hereby advises that by a resolution of the Board of Directors on January 18th 2023, Mr. Konrad Mark Berry has resigned from the post of Company Secretary with effect from January 31, 2023. MIL further advises that Mrs. Janene Shaw has been appointed as Company Secretary with effect from February 1, 2023.

GraceKennedy Limited (GK) has advised that Ms. Allison Mais, Head of Strategic Planning, has resigned from the company effective April 16, 2023. Mr. Andrew Leo-Rhynie, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, will assume oversight of GraceKennedy’s Strategic Planning portfolio until the post has been filled.

Barita Investments Limited (BIL) has advised of the following senior management changes within the Company:

Miss Terise Kettle has been promoted to the position of Senior Vice President, Investment Banking, effective October 1, 2022. Miss Kettle previously held the post of Vice President, Investment Banking.
Mrs. Sonia Owens has been promoted to the position of Vice President, Treasury & Financial Institutions, effective October 1, 2022. Mrs. Owens previously held the position of Head, Treasury & Financial Institutions.
Mr. Geoffery Romans has been promoted to the position of Senior Vice President, Risk Management, effective December 1, 2022. Mr. Romans previously held the post of Head, Financial Risk-Frameworks & Administration.

Scotia Group Jamaica is pleased to announce the appointment of Sabrina Cooper to the role SVP, Wealth Management & CEO Scotia Investments effective January 4, 2023.

Sagicor Select Funds Limited (SELECT) advises that Mrs. A. Cecile Watson has been appointed as a member of the Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2023.

Sagicor Group wishes to advise that the Board of Directors appointed two (2) new Directors namely Ms. Joanna Banks and Mr. Andre Mousseau as at December 31,2022 . Director Ms. Lisa Lake resigned as at December 31, 2022.

MASSY HOLDINGS LTD advise that Ms. Julie Avey was promoted to the position of Group Executive Vice President People and Culture effective January 01, 2023.

Caribbean Assurance Brokers (CAB) Limited wishes to advise of the promotions of Ms. Shanique Thompson, Chief Financial Officer and Ms. Sequoia Thomas, Marketing Manager effective January 1, 2023.

Paramount Trading (Jamaica) Limited wishes to advise on the departure of Dr. Cecile Dennis, Head of People & Culture, Customer Service &
Marketing and Mr. Vaughn Phang, Chief Operating Officer, effective December 2, 2022 and December 30, 2022 respectively.

 

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