The number of Syrians investing  in Jordan shot up by 197 per cent during the first two months of this year, the general controller of companies, Burhan Akroush, told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
Burhan Akroush said 101 Syrian investors launched new ventures at the Companies Control Department (CCD) during January and February 2013, up from 34 during the same period of 2012.
He indicated that the volume of investments  amounted to JD4.9 million during the past two months compared to JD1.7 million during the same period of 2012.
“For the whole of last year, the rate of Syrian investors went up to 70.9 per cent, with a total of 388 firms registered, up from 113 entities in 2011,” Akroush said.
He added that the volume of investment was higher by 68.8 per cent, totalling JD19.2 million last year and JD6 million in 2011.
Despite the surge, Syrians come in second, behind Iraqis, in terms of investment in Jordan.
CCD data shows that 144 Iraqi companies registered during the first two months of this year, with a total capital of JD8.2 million, compared to 90 businesses with a capital of JD9.5 million during January and February 2012.
During the last year, the number of Iraqi investors increased by 22.4 per cent; a total of 771 firms were registered, up from 598 in 2011.
The volume of investment was higher by 21.7 per cent last year, reaching JD51.6 million from JD40.4 million in 2011.
Other investors registered in 2012, according to Akroush, are from the United States (92), United Arab Emirates (72), Saudi Arabia (69), Egypt (55), Britain (36), Lebanon (35), Kuwait (29) and Canada (26).
In total, non-Jordanian investors increased by 37 per cent; their number rose from 1,575 in 2011 to 2,061 last year, with the gross investment volume standing at JD278 million, higher by 3 per cent than the 2011 figure.
CCD statistics also show that 20 foreign companies registered last year to operate in Jordan bringing the overall number to 846.
Another 76 foreign firms registered as regional offices bringing the overall number to 2,436 corporations.
CCD readies good governance campaign
Akroush said the CCD is readying a campaign to “enlighten entrepreneurs and company executives/administrators about the importance and benefits of good governance at their businesses”.
The campaign is expected to start this month or in April, and will last “for quite some time because it will be held in several sessions, each bringing together a number of management cadres willing to adopt best practices in running their businesses”.
The general controller said that the department recently issued a guidebook, titled: “Jordanian Corporate Governance Code”, in cooperation with the International Finance Corporation in order to spread awareness among the business community about this concept, its requirements and the recommended process to achieve a sound management model.
He added that a unit set up recently at the CCD and headed by a specialist in the field of governance is handling all issues related to this drive that aims at widening good governance, to cover about 1,000 Jordanian private shareholding companies, around 20,000 limited liability companies and tens of public shareholding corporations not listed on the bourse.
Another improvement in the operations mentioned by the general controller is the electronic archiving system, which upgraded the performance of the department and enabled it to become more efficient.
Recently, the CCD was linked electronically to a number of institutions.
“This linkage enables us to share with various authorities information such as the imposition or lifting of liens on businesses,” Akroush said.
Besides registering and documenting companies, the CCD plays an important role in settling irregularities and disagreements if such cases arise.
“At present, several committees are being audited and we are investigating 39 complaints, disputes or scams,” Akroush said, adding that the CCD usually looks into allegations from partners or shareholders.
The department may also look into suspicious cases upon the request of certain watchdogs.
The general controller said that under a memorandum of understanding signed between the CCD and the Jordan Securities Commission, committees from both sides coordinate on some issues related to public shareholding corporations listed on the bourse because they come under the supervision and control of the JSC.
“Just like banks/insurance entities that must register with us, their operations are directly under the oversight of the Central Bank of Jordan/Insurance Commission,” he said.
Akroush stressed the importance of protecting small shareholders, but said that despite such keenness, there is little the CDD can do other than ensure proper procedures at general assembly meetings and compliance with the companies’ law.
“With all the controls that can be imposed, major shareholders have the upper hand in running businesses and are able to direct the company’s affairs in their favour if they wish, without breaking the law,” he said.