Is Public Officer the Same as Company Secretary?

3rd August 2022

A Public Officer and Company Secretary are both pretty lofty positions in any company, which could lead people to ask the question; is public officer the same as company secretary?

It’s quite understandable that these roles could be confusing to those who don’t know much about the duties of each, other than the fact that both carry heavy responsibilities in their job descriptions, and are highly valued in the company they work for.

However, there is a vast difference in the roles a public officer and company secretary play in their roles at work. 

While the company secretary has to have the knowledge and experience required to carry out the exceptional duties of a public company, the scope of his/her work is very broad and very demanding.

With the public officer, an extensive knowledge of tax and tax-related law is essential, since the public officer is responsible for everything to do with tax-related matters pertaining to the company, which is also a major load to carry.

Is Public Officer the same as Company Secretary?

A public officer is not the same as a company secretary, however, a company secretary with the requisite tax knowledge, can be appointed as the company public officer, provided that SARS approves of the appointment.

Let’s take as brief a look as possible at what and who the company secretary is, because this excerpt from Chartered Governance Institute of Southern Africa on Guidelines for the Role of the Company Secretary, is a very long and in-depth guideline that simply wouldn’t fit into this space!

“Following the recommendations contained in the first King Report on Corporate Governance in 1994, the Companies Act was amended in 1999 providing for the mandatory appointment of company secretaries in public companies. 

It is good practice for large private companies to also consider appointing a suitably qualified company secretary to ensure that the board and directors fulfill their statutory requirements and to meet the demanding standards of corporate governance now required of companies.

The person appointed to this position must, in the opinion of the directors, have the requisite knowledge and experience to carry out the duties of a company secretary of a public company. The duties are both extremely broad in scope and onerous. 

With the Public Officer, he/she has to be able to take full responsibility for all tax-related matters, such as registering the company with SARS, registering the company owner as an employer and tax payer, submission of all tax returns such as annual and provisional tax returns, employee reconciliations and dividends tax, monthly employees tax declarations, registration and payment of Income Tax, PAYE, UIF and VAT.

The public officer is responsible for paying all taxes due to SARS on time, and, if they are late, they will incur penalties, which the company will have to pay.

The public officer is considered by SARS to be the person responsible for everything tax-related to do with the company, which goes to show just how important the role of public officer is in any company.

Need to know more from the experts?

If you’d like to know more about the difference between a Public Officer and a Company Secretary, you couldn’t do better than contacting the professionals at Kilgetty Statutory Services.

Kilgetty is, without a doubt, one of the leading company secretarial firms in South Africa, so much so that this team of professionals is the company secretarial service provider to clients of the “Big 4” auditing practices, along with some of the largest legal practices in South Africa.

Contact Kilgetty to find out more about their tailored, flexible services, designed to change your business landscape completely, and to streamline all your statutory obligations.