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REGISTRATION of new companies has slumped since mid-March and looks set to fall by at least 50pc this month.

The Company Bureau, a firm that specialises in company formation and compliance services, said new registrations in the State had fallen by 39pc since the first half of March as escalating business closures depressed wider activities.

Commercial director Andrew Lambe said April looked likely to feature an even sharper drop-off in firm formation.

About 2,000 new firms are registered in a typical month in the State.

However, while 1,093 new firms were created in the first half of March, that fell to 666 in the second half of the month.

"The number of new company formations and orders has almost fallen off a cliff from what we can see," Mr Lambe said. "Based on new orders and enquiries, we are expecting to see the numbers in April down 50pc or even more. This is extremely worrying for the Irish economy."

Activity is slowing, in part, because of restrictions in service at the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

It closed entirely on March 30, citing Covid-19 security precautions, and reopened three days later following complaints from the Law Society and other professional bodies.

The CRO has resumed processing applications by mail but is not handling documents delivered directly by applicants or by courier.

It has extended deadlines for firms to file annual returns until June 30. This means firms that normally must file returns between March and June have more time without risking penalty fees or the loss of their audit exemptions.

Irish Independent