The Companies and for Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is planning to harvest its vast database of 20,000 company financial statements and make this research available to the public.
This presents a huge opportunity for accountants to provide value-added services and research to their clients, says Rehelda Williams, head of innovation at the CIPC. “This is obviously an additional revenue source for the CIPC, since we can make our data available to the public for a fee, but it will also give us – and we hope, accountants, who make use of this information – a very detailed view of the main economic drivers in the economy, down to a level of detail that has not previously been available.”
Williams says a good model for the CIPC is the UK’s Companies House, which makes certain information free to the public, while other services are sold for a fee.
Accountants will be able to offer market and financial research services to their clients to help them better understand the markets in which they operate and where the opportunities for growth are to be found. For a sense of what kind of information likely to be made available, Williams says the UK’s Companies House provides a good templte. It offers a free monthly snapshot of information for live companies on the public register.
- basic information including company type and registered office address
- the nature of business or standard industrial classification (SIC)
- company status, such as ‘live’ or ‘dissolved’
- date of last accounts or confirmation statement filed
- date of next accounts or confirmation statement due
- previous company names
- current officer details.
For a fee, Companies House makes a register of UK companies available which allows a detailed insight into company information, as well as the ability to identify “people with significant control”.
The SA Companies Act does not mandate companies to disclose beneficial ownership, but proposed amendments to the Act will make this obligatory in future. It would allow authorities to pierce the corporate veil and identify who are the real owners of companies (which are often hidden behind trusts and complex corporate structures). Such a register might have exposed the control exercised by the Guptas much earlier than was the case and saved the country billions in looted wealth.
“Every day we are getting about 20 requests from people looking to access our data,” says Williams. “We expect to be able to make this available to the public in the very near future.”
Given the vast volume of data collated monthly by the CIPC, it has an unrivalled view of the state of company health in the country. “We want to partner with accountants and show them how they can use this information and, we hope, add another business service to their clients.,” says Williams.
Register a company for R175 through BizPortal
In the meantime, the CIPC now makes it possible to register a company for R175 online and in minutes. In addition, you can:
- Register with the South African Revenue Service (Sars)
- Open a business bank account
- Get registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)
- Get registered with the Compensation Fund, and
- Get a B-BBEE certificate.
All of this takes just one day, without having to join a single queue. It is called the BizPortal service and can be accessed here.