GST rollout preparations take off on war footings
With the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) about two weeks away, the government machinery is stepping up preparatory efforts. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has written to field officials to be GST ready and ensure a smooth transition to the game-changing tax reform when it’s rolled out on July 1.
In a communication to field formations sent on June 12, CBEC chairman Vanaja Sarna has listed a number of action points that include assisting businesses to migrate to the new regime.
The note follows a detailed stocktaking meeting on GST preparedness by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. “GSK (GST Suvidha Kendras) should be a one-stop solution for taxpayers seeking advice/information on GST, including assistance in real-time registration, payment,” Sarna said in the letter.
As many as 25 states have passed SGST (state GST) legislation and some more are expected to do so soon. The Centre has completed migration of 82.74% of its taxpayers to GSTN (GST Network). The enrolment window has been reopened from June 1 to 15. It had originally been open from November 8 last year to April 30.
Sticking to Schedule
The government is no mood to delay GST with industry having begun stock planning for the switchover. While some industry sections want it deferred, others favour a July 1start. “Industry has begun planning its stocks now… Any delay would now create issues,” said a government official.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a key grouping of retailers, backed a July 1 rollout but with an interim period in which traders will not be penalised.
“We support implementation from July 1… However, an interim period should be provided in which traders will not be penalised for lapses,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, CAIT.
Key procedures such as raising invoices, availing input credit, integration of goods and services, compulsory rating of each entity registered under GST are entirely different from the current value-added tax (VAT) regime, CAIT said.
“Till the time traders across country are equipped with technology, some in-between measures need to be adopted to help the traders with compliance of GST through digital technology,” Khandelwal said, adding that CAIT and its member associations can act as facilitation centres.
Khandelwal said traders were still facing issues in migrating to the new system from VAT. Efforts by the states, which wanted to keep the administration of small taxpayers under GST with themselves, are yet to match the Centre’s efforts in reaching out to small traders.
The Centre is attempting to reach out to businesses and industry through special townhall meetings by the revenue secretary. The next meeting is proposed to be held in Uttar Pradesh, which has a large small taxpayer base.
A finance ministry official said that to ensure small taxpayers don’t face much trouble under the new regime, the GST Council had on Sunday raised the threshold of the composition scheme to Rs 75 lakh from Rs 50 lakh annually. This scheme allows manufacturers, traders and restaurants to pay tax at 1%, 2% and 5%, respectively, with lesser compliance.