‘Dis-ease’ in Ease of doing Business
Well, the concept of ‘EODB – Ease of Doing Business’ is all about an attempt to encourage and make it easy for people doing business, herein in Assam. How far has it reached this objective is a point to ponder on and my brush with this department cannot surely be termed as a pleasant one. The occasion was the renewal of the registration Certificate of our Society. Reasons are plenty but the ones worth mentioning pertain to the mandatory documents requirement segment amongst a few. So what’s in it? Well, as educated people, one is expected to understand the details enumerated in the website but is the information self explanatory or are those the only documents required, was the question. The first need of the hour, I feel, is a help desk well versed with the documentary formalities or an online demonstration video and the second need is to update the ‘mandatory documents’ list (including format of necessary forms) and make it exclusive. Further, if any formats have been enlisted, a Customer Care or a help desk representative should guide accordingly.
The dealing assistant seems to have no time and inclination to extend aid and the little that is done is with sheer rudeness. Further, the requirement to submit, bulky and different documents combined under one heading with a file size limit of 2MB is ridiculous! So to cite an example, this is how it goes. Bank statements of three years of the Society along with the Annual Audit reports of three years, together with the Balance sheets of three years as one document. Another example is to upload the Annual Activity report of the Society for three years, acknowledged by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, supported by all the enclosures as received from Circle officer along with the specimen signature of all the Society’s Executive Members with respective photographs, which have to be uploaded together under one head. To add to this agony, the format for the documents containing specimen signatures of all the Society’s Executive Members with respective photographs is no where to be found, so, one has to run from desk to desk searching for the same. Also, this document has to be authenticated by the SDO or an equivalent official and this fact can be known only when the proforma document is found. One has to be lucky enough to get this format handy. Any document which has photographs spreading across three years (Annual Activity report enclosure) will definitely be bulky. The alternative option, is nevertheless provided, to send the documents through courier. However, the EODB Customer care representatives do not inform one that even if the documents are sent by courier, the Facilitator would still send emails asking the same to be uploaded online. Thus, what can be inferred is that even if the documents are sent vide courier, which can be very costly, if the same is sent from a distant place within the State to the Registrar, Firms and Societies located in the capital city, a communication would still be sent to upload these documents online. The team should consider removing the file size limit, taking into account that there are multiple and voluminous documents. To answer one’s query around uploading the documents, the Customer care executives reply stating there is no way out, but to upload the documents online, hence, the only solution offered is to upload the ‘first few pages of each report’. Somehow, if one manages to complete this task factoring in the suggestions as offered, the next email from the Facilitator will reach in no time and the email will seek most of these same documents to be uploaded separately. Eg., Bank statements of three years of the Society will have to be uploaded separately and Annual Audit reports of three years together with Balance sheets of three years will have to be uploaded as one document. Surprisingly, at this stage of uploading documents, there is no limit on size of the files.
Apart from the list of documents, another task is the payment of renewal fee vide e-Challan. After the prolonged process of document submission is complete, comes the stage of paying the renewal fee. As per information on the EODB page, this amount is fixed at Rs. 25/-. Now comes the step where you have paid the amount online have to wait for the e-Challan to be generated and to one’s utter dismay, the same never appears although the amount is deducted. When contacted, the EODB Customer care representative informs that as the server link is mostly down, the e-Challan may take upto a week to be generated. So, what can one do in such a situation because the renewal date of registration would then move closer. They suggest that the amount be paid directly in the State Treasury office and here lies the twist. There is no way where the amount deducted would be refunded so, it is informed that one has to reach out to the Treasury office for a refund of the same. Now, who would bother to spend hundred of rupees in commute and take a refund of Rs. 25, so this amount ends up being an extra income of the Treasury office. Thus, the fee has to be repaid offline. This process involves buying three copies of the treasury challans, two of which would be retained at the treasury Office, post payment and one would be given to the entity making the payment. The story does not end here. These Challans as duly filled with necessary particulars and have to be forwarded by the registrar’s office with the seal and signature of the Facilitator before the amount can be finally repaid at the Treasury office. The next hit is when one pays the fee offline vide the Treasury Challan, the minimum amount to be paid is Rs. 75/- and it is informed by the EODB Facilitator that there is no provision to pay Rs. 25/- at the Treasury office. This is actually true because the Treasury Office declines to accept any payment of Rs. 25/-. It surely gets on one’s nerves.
So, it can be concluded that if the EODB digitisation, Registrar of Firms and Societies want to aid people across all locations, its online document submission sector has to be improved at the earliest.