A new website operated by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), launched a fortnight ago by trade and industry minister Rob Davies, is broken, the Democratic Alliance has said.
DA MP and spokesman for trade and industry Geordin Hill-Lewis says the website, which was supposed to make the process of starting and running a business much simpler, has “backfired”.
“Users are reporting that they have been unable to register new businesses online since the site launched. It freezes as soon as new applications are submitted. Similarly, the submission process for company annual returns, and company name applications works only intermittently,” says Hill-Lewis.
He says he has received hundreds of complaints from frustrated entrepreneurs, accountants and small business service providers who can’t access any CIPC services via the new website. The problems have led to extended call times and queues, he adds.
“With the website down, a number of important functions are not accessible. Critically, new businesses can’t be registered online. This means new business registrations can only be done manually, a process which still takes several weeks,” Hill-Lewis says.
He says the website should have been tested thoroughly before going live. CIPC staff, including those working in the national call centre, should work longer hours until the online service is restored and the backlog of registrations is dealt with, he says.
The CIPC launched the new website on 17 September, along with self-service centres and terminals. The website features an enquiry logging system and allows users to download and upload documentation. In addition, it can be used for registrations, address and financial year-end changes, annual return calculations and filings, and changing company directorship and member details.
“The new workflow processes enable the CIPC to operate in a near paperless environment,” the commission said in a statement at the launch.
“This is resulting in substantial efficiencies and cost savings as there is no need for printing or manual files to be opened. Documentation does not get lost as all documentation is received via a tracking and indexing process, enquiries have ticketing or tracking numbers for easy reference and accuracy, and turnaround times are improved.” — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media