BY ALFRED SASAKO
GULATATA’E Shipping Enterprises Ltd was sent three reminder notices before it was removed from the Company Haus register last September, it was revealed yesterday.
“It’s the normal practice. We just don’t walk in and pull the plug off straightaway,” a spokesman for Company Haus, the government’s custodian of company registrations and records, told Island Sun yesterday.
The reminder notices are intended to alert companies to the fact that unless they fulfil certain requirements, their registration would be removed.
“That’s what happened to Gulatata’e Shipping Enterprises Ltd. They never responded to all three reminder notices, sent electronically. As a result, it was removed from the register,” the official said.
Company spokesman John Kennedy Taufunu told Island Sun a lengthy explanation that as far as he knew the outstanding fees were paid shortly after it was removed from the Company Haus register.
Documents show the company was removed on September 1, 2017, after it failed to file its annual return in February, its annual filing month.
According to extracts from Company Haus, John Kennedy Taufunu is the contact person for the company’s affairs. Although the company is listed as a private local company, Mr Taufunu uses an email address emanating from the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The company’s address is located at the Town Ground Plaza in Honiara.
Meanwhile Mr Taufunu yesterday afternoon issued an explanatory note acknowledging the delays. He also claimed the outstanding dues were paid last September. He did not provide any proof confirming payment.
“Yes, Gulatatae is deregistered for not filing its annual return for 2016/2017. The company was registered in April 2016 but operated around October 2016. The company is newly established and recruitment of office employees commences around September 2016 until April 2017.
“The delay in recruiting suitable persons for important positions within the company has an impact on the filing of the annual return. Even if three notices were given it depends on the preparation of the annual returns. The company then finally sorted the issue after September 2017 for payment was made to IRD thereafter.
“In terms of ownership, we believe with clear mind that Gulatatae is owned by the Constituency of East Kwaio regardless of the shareholding arrangement. The holding of the shares whether it is 20 percent or 40 percent is just an administrative matter to facilitate the process and the requirement for registration as required by the shipping grant policy,” Mr Taufunu said.
“I think it depends on who holds the shares. If they want to be greedy with the shares then that is not good. But for those that we hold the shares, we feel that it belongs to the East Kwaio Constituency because we do not claim any dividend from the shares and as long as the company exists we will not do it.
“The truth of the matter is – yes Gulatatae is being de-registered because the company has delayed in filling its Annual return. There are 100s of companies that are de-registered from the company Haus. Why pick on Gulatatae bro, a constituency company that tries to assist our good people of East Kwaio. It is good you raise the issue but as (the) late John Garo said, remember if you hit a man by a sword, you will die by the sword.
“If this is politically motivated then let’s put it to rest and the management to ensure that shareholding arrangement is amended to reflect the true ownership by the people of East Kwaio,” Mr Taufunu, from West Kwaio, said.
There was no response from the newly-established Solomon Islands Maritime Security Authority (SIMSA) when Island Sun approached it with questions relating to liability in the event of a natural disaster.
Earlier, a spokesman said given the registration status of the company, the LC Gulatata’e is not owned by anyone, not even its directors.
“Only when its registration as a business is restored that the ownership issue becomes relevant,” the spokesman told Island Sun this week.