URSB Deletes a Tenth of Registered Companies over Returns

At least 10 percent of registered companies in Uganda have been struck off the national register for violating operational requirements. 

The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) says the 875 companies had not submitted their annual performance returns for the last five years as per the law, despite being given reminders.

Of the deregistered companies, about 80 had made at least one filing since they were established, meaning that more than 790 registered with the authorities but did not file any returns.

On the list, one unique example exists of Mwande Engineering Works, which last filed returns in 2019. However, URSB says since 1987 that is the only report it made, hence the decision to include it.

A look at the companies’ registration status shows that the majority were registered between the late 1980s and late 1990s, a period of economic recovery attributed to the liberalization policy, which had just been established. It also shows that many had since ceased operations while others took on new names.

There are also a few cases of suspected double registration with slight variations in the names, an example being J.R Shoes Company Ltd and J. R Shoes Company Ltd, both registered on February 4, 1988 but didn’t file any returns. The Registrar General, Mercy Kainobwisho said as of the end of 2021 there were 800,000 registered companies, a number she said was very small considering that Uganda is named one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world.

A study by the Economic Policy Research Centre puts the total number of enterprises in Uganda at about 2.2 million, with about 30 percent having no kind of registration, whether with the URSB or the local authorities.

This means that about 1.4 million businesses do not pay government taxes. URSB says this form of informal operations also costs the entrepreneurs a lot of benefits, including access to formal sources of capital, and access to business opportunities, among others. Most of the deregistered companies are trade enterprises, including import, export, and distribution.

Others are in various sectors like agriculture, land and real estate, manufacturing, and broadcasting.

Companies that fail to file annual returns for five years were required to file a statement of solvency and show why they should not be struck off the register, in March.

“In accordance with section 134(6) of the Companies Act, notice is hereby given that 875 companies have been struck off the register,” the bureau says, vowing to continue to review the records to identify other non-compliant companies for action.

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