Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lithuanian Commercial Register

I have recently tried to gather information about some Lihtuanian companies. As in Estonia and Latvia companies have to submit their full annual financial reports to local commercial register and these reports and ownership data are readily available, i was quite surprised that the Lithuanian commercial register only has the balance sheet, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement of each company. Also, i was unable to get any ownership data for most of the companies.
What more, as i was explained by a helpful employee of the company, such data is not available online so i had to send an e-mail about the companies i was interested in, then i was invoiced 1.45 EUR per page for the reports and then they mailed them to me by usual mail (it took a week to arrive). Well, it was nice that each of the copy had a stamp of the register, stamp "Kopija tikra" and a stamp with the name of the employee + handwritten date and signature (on every single page!) but that was not really what i needed.
In Estonia at least all the annual reports are scanned and posted on the register web-page and other information (including about management and owners) is available in standardized forms. However, as 1-2 euros is charged for downloading each report, you still have to sign some kind of contract and somehow transfer the funds to the register. So it might be a bit troublesome for a foreigner.
That made me think - are the 2 euros really worth it? Maybe it would be easier to make the companies to submit their reports electronically and make them automatically available for anyone interested free of charge. After all, it should be in the general interests of the state to provide transparent information about local businesses to potential foreign investors and counterparties in trade. (unless you believe that it is the government's role to protect our economy from the negative effects of international business and especially from all those foreigners buying up our companies).
But first of all, the Lithuanians should really reform their services in the commercial register and demand a little more thorough reporting from their companies. A helpful, active young lady (she sent one e-mail to me on Sunday evening) with good english and nice hand-writing is just not enough.

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