At present, it has only 72 staffers at four divisional offices including head office in Dhaka against approved posts for 103
The office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC) has sought full-scale automation and required manpower immediately as it aspires to be the country's first paperless office in delivering faster business registration services online.
The semi-automated state-run agency is carrying out daily businesses currently with acute manpower shortage, rundown computerization system, age-old software and office space crisis in Dhaka and elsewhere.
At present, it has only 72 staffers at four divisional offices including head office in Dhaka against approved posts for 103.
In this situation, the RJSC placed a proposal to its parent organization — the Ministry of Commerce — on October 31 this year, seeking approval on recruitment of manpower and purchase of updated software and automation related equipment with its own funds.
"My team members in Dhaka and three other divisional cities are under tremendous pressure of workload. Besides, age-old software with frequent technical glitches is often disrupting work and my colleagues are failing to cope with the workload, which resulted in a growing backlog," said Registrar at RJSC Md Zakir Hossain.
"We have applied to the ministry seeking approval of a Tk5 crore proposal for upgrading the computerization system and purchase of updated software to provide services smoothly. In the proposal, we have also informed the ministry about the requirement of sufficient manpower," he added.
Hossain said the RJSC services would be easier once full automation would be done and required manpower would be employed.
"It will further improve our global ranking on ease of doing business index," he said, mentioning the World Bank report, which put Bangladesh eight notches upward in the ranking this year.
A commerce ministry official told Dhaka Tribune that the RJSC proposal would need only administrative approval for starting its implementation.
The official said the commerce secretary asked the RJSC for a power point presentation in favour of the proposal.
"It (RJSC) has its own funds. As the government has given top priority to digitalization, I think it will be approved soon," said the official, seeking anonymity, at the secretariat.
According to the registrar, the RJSC is largely contributing to the government exchequer by fetching sufficient revenue every year against annual gross operation cost of Tk 8 crore only.
Its annual revenue income was Tk403.95 crore in 2018-19, Tk237.97 crore in 2017-18, Tk212.07 crore in 2016-17, Tk152.72 crore in 2015-16, Tk108.96 crore in 2014-15, Tk115.06 crore in 2013-14 and Tk114.06 crore in 2012-13.
The RJSC head office entertains some 252 visitors seeking services daily, according to names in the office's register. Insiders say there are extra visitors beyond the official entry.
The registrar said the RJSC was delivering services online for the name clearance only with the current capacity.
For the company and firms' registration, an applicant has to submit hard copy of the application and related documents in addition to applying online.
"So, the service is not fully online based. It is due to not introducing authentic digital signature of the clients on every documents submitted online. Digital signature is meant to avoid frauds and fabrications," Hossain said.
He said the International Finance Corporation (IFC), while assisting automation of RJSC in 2009, had suggested that the government introduced digital signature for the clients, which was not yet done.
He said the RJSC was the country's first initiative of digitization of government institutions, supported by IFC 10 years ago but it still remained semi automated.
RJSC insiders say the semi-automation is causing dispossession of shares of companies and firms from real owners.
In the last 10 years, the RJSC received some 400/500 complaints of fictitious cases of share transfer from genuine owners to perpetrators.
The registrar stressed the need for launch National Identification (NID) verification in addition to current process of Taxpayers Identification Number (TIN) verification to avert fraudulences.
In the proposal, the RJSC says it is keen to introduce bilingual services including Bangla in every forms in addition to current service through English. It also want to introduce mobile apps to provide more comfortable services online.
Since 1947 to November 2019, total number of companies and firms registered with RJSC stood at 2,39,311.
In last 10 years, after automation in 2009, a total of 93,143 companies and firms were registered with RJSC with an annual average of 9,314 new entities.
The RJSC has to keep records of various important documents of the registered companies and firms.