Yesterday, the Ghanaian Times published a story that the Registrar-General’s Department (R-GD) was set to delete the names of more than 100,000 dormant companies from its database in its maiden clean-up exercise to ensure a credible and updated register of companies.
The exercise begins this month with 3,100 companies registered since 2011 but had failed to comply with a directive to file their annual returns or update their records.
The companies are said to include public and private companies limited by shares and by guarantee such as associations, fun clubs and churches; private unlimited companies, and external companies.
The next batch would be companies, partnerships and business names in the Legacy Data (old database) from 1963 to 2011 who had still not updated their records with the department.
The R-GD sort of appealed to the companies to take measures to regularise their business and update their records with the department to avoid being delisted.
The story raises issues that are likely to prompt the public to ask certain questions.
Is the R-GD just telling the public that some companies registered since 1963 are involved or some companies have not filed their returns since 1963?
The clean-up is said to be maiden; if so, what was the R-GD doing previously to monitor companies?
What does the R-GD lose when companies are delisted for which it is making the passionate appeal to them to regularise their activities to avoid being delisted?
Stories like these force the public to make conclusions that can be right, exaggerated or completely wrong.
The wrong views can injure the reputation of the monitoring organisation, but would that be the fault of those expressing such views?
The public is most of the time at a loss as to whether civil or public servants paid by the taxpayer are actually discharging the duties assigned them by the state or they are sleeping on the job.
It cannot not be wrong that some of these defaulting companies are in brisk business, which implies that they may have evaded taxes or avoided other checks that should make them good corporate citizens.
But are they alone to blame? The R-GD should not portray itself as being innocent of any blame.
There is something missing in the story and that is the fact that the R-GD failed to tell the public whether there are punishments for the defaulting companies, especially those still in business.
This paper knows that some of the companies have not operated since their registration, but even that must be checked and measures taken to stem that.
Companies are important for our economies for job creation and tax revenue but those which prove themselves bad corporate citizens must be checked.
This paper also appeals to all state institutions monitoring operations of companies to do well to serve the interest of the state.