New companies commission in a mess

2011-05-28 00:00

THE Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is about a month into its launch, but it seems to have inherited a plethora of glitches from its erstwhile Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro).

Staff shortages, massive backlogs and poorly trained officials are some of the issues the CIPC has to contend with, while businesses continue to be frustrated over the inefficiencies.

Moneyweb first reported on the website’s “teething problems” 10 days ago, citing, among others, difficulties in lodging annual returns and dealing with a call centre that takes an hour or more to answer calls, and when it does, is unable to assist with the queries adequately.

This week, Moneyweb experienced the frustrations first hand. This journalist logged into and lodged a query with the CIPC e-mail address: in fo@cipc.co.za

More than 24 hours later, a response or acknowledgement of receipt is still not forthcoming. Then, a phone call to the call centre went unanswered for more than 20 minutes. CIPC spokesperson Elsabe Conradie said that a total revamp of the website, which she described as “un-user friendly”, is a priority, but it’s going to take time. A new web designer has been tasked with this. One of the problems confusing users is that information is stored on different databases, forcing users to log in three times to access it. Conradie has conceded that officials manning the call centre are poorly trained and often lack the knowledge of the new Companies Act to assist callers. This is being addressed, she said.

As for the delay in calls being answered, Conradie said that callers, once they get through, tend to inundate the operators with queries.

Scores of Moneyweb readers have complained of not getting any joy out of queries sent via e-mail. It’s understood that the CIPC has been inundated with mailed queries and it is battling to deal with a backlog there.

The only real light at the end of the tunnel is that businesses that are fined for not lodging their annual returns timeously, through no fault of their own, will have some recourse. The CIPC has a system in place to track attempts to access the system. Users must keep a record of the dates and times they tried to access the system and the commission will be able to track and verify this.

— Moneyweb.

• Write to Micel Schnehage:micel@moneyweb.co.za

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