The Registrar-General, Cor-porate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar, yesterday said it is working out modalities for granting amnesty on annual returns to registered entities including companies, business names and incorporated trustees.

He said details of the proposed relief programme would be announced before the first quarter of the year.

Speaking in an interview with THISDAY, he also stated that despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission generated about N19 billion in 2019 above the N18.2 billion target.

He added that the commission also hoped to surpass the N20 billion revenue target for 2021 by leveraging electronic systems transactions for majority of its operations going forward.

Abubakar, who clocked a year since assumption of office, said the CAC will this year intensify the enforcement and compliance of the provisions of the newly amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), pointing out that most companies and other registered entities had not been filing returns as required by law.

On the planned amnesty on annual returns, he said: “Yes, we are planning something on that because we recognised that the processing of filing before now was very difficult – whereas, the old fees for small companies was N2,000 – if you want to file, you have to go through a lawyer, an accountant or chartered secretary and at the end of the day you will end up paying N50,000, and that has made it difficult.”

He said about one-third of companies are actually filing returns while majority of the business names had not been fulfilling their financial obligations to the commission, a situation which he said will be met with stiff penalties going forward.

He said: “But if you give amnesty, it would be easier – not for all the years but for some reasonable number of years. We are actually looking into that and as I have said, very soon before the end of the first quarter.”

On the commission’s revenue performance and projections, the CAC boss said: “Despite the challenges of COVID-19, 2020 was one of our best years in terms of revenue generation.

“We had challenges of service delivery because of the various restrictions that limited the number of staff that were allowed to come to the office. We couldn’t meet our service timelines almost for a greater part of the year because of those restrictions.

“But thank God with the new system, everything is now electronic end to end and like I said, staff can approve from even outside this premises.

“In terms of revenue, we recorded a surge in registration activities, there were more registrations last year compared to previous years and we recorded more revenue.”

He said: “We had a revenue target of N18.2 billion but closed the year with over N19 billion. So in terms of revenue, the year was actually good for us.

And for the first time in the last 10-12 years, we were able to give more money to the federal government in terms of operating surplus.

“We are hoping that our target for 2021 which is N20 billion will equally be surpassed. With electronic systems, transactions are easily carried out, payments are made electronically.”

He said its key agenda for the year would be to intensify the enforcement and compliance of the provisions of the law.

“You have a situation where a company is registered for 10 -15 years and does not file returns. It’s now easier for them to file because they don’t need to go through any lawyer and accountant or chartered secretary,” he said.

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