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GST rollout: Govt says tech ready but developers say not yet

GST Suvidha Providers are companies chosen by GST Network to develop user friendly software, based on the government provided tech interface or APIs for GST payment, documentation and compliance.

business Updated: Jun 21, 2017 13:23 IST
Suchetana Ray and Samarth Bansal
The goods and services tax (GST), billed as India’s biggest tax reform since Independence, will be introduced in a June 30 midnight function that will be attended by former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda.
The goods and services tax (GST), billed as India’s biggest tax reform since Independence, will be introduced in a June 30 midnight function that will be attended by former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The IT technology that will drive the GST regime is ready for a July 1 roll out, the chief of the company that has developed it said on Tuesday, blaming laxity of service providers who have raised concerns over the software.

“All along, the problem has been that tax payers as well as GSPs did not think that the GST will actually stick to its July 1 deadline,” GSTN chairman Navin Kumar told HT.

“When the revised GST model law came in November 2016, on the basis of that we started making modifications and once we gave them the APIs, half of the GSPs worked on them other half did not,” Kumar added.

APIs – short for application progam interfaces – are being used to develop different software for the businesses to comply with the new indirect tax regime.

GSTN has selected 34 service providers, officially known as the GST Suvidha Providers (GSP).

A section of the GSPs, who will form the key link between taxpayers and the government, however, are not happy.

“We have just been given the specifications for developing the software but the APIs will be given to us on June 29. Integrating the two takes time. It’s like we have the design and not the structure of a building,” said a GSP official seeking anonymity.

But he blamed “dilly-dallying by the states” for the delay.

GSTN has been releasing the API specifications in staggered manner for the GSPs. The ‘live API’ will be made available only by June 29.

GSP officials, who refused to be identified, said they have very little time for software testing and security compliance. The government has refrained GSPs from speaking to the media.

Last week, industry chamber Assocham also requested the government to delay the GST rollout, citing incomplete migration of tax payers to the new software.

Amarjit Chopra, former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, backed the government.

“Whenever you introduce something new, there are bound to be problems. We may not be 100% prepared but the government should stay put on the implementation deadline,” he said.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday he expected there to be “some challenges” in the short term after the launch, but dismissed concerns that registering for and complying with the GST would be too hard.

“Industry and trade have to prepare themselves. It’s not a complicated process,” he told reporters.

To ease the transition, the GST Council agreed on Sunday to allow companies to file simplified, aggregate tax returns in July and August before they have to comply fully with the GST from September.

The GST Council is the highest decision-making body led by Jaitley.

The goods and services tax (GST), billed as India’s biggest tax reform since Independence, will be introduced in a June 30 midnight function that will be attended by former prime ministers Manomohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda.

A decade in the making, the GST will unite more than 30 states and territories and turn a $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion people into a single market with a single tax.

A fully digitised tax regime, experts say the success of GST depends on its IT network, developed by a private company called the GST Network (GSTN).

Kumar said 66 lakh tax payers out of the 80 lakh registered for paying indirect taxes have already registered on the GST website. The government is confident the remaining will follow once registrations reopen on June 25.

He also dismissed doubts over the capacity of GSTN to handle millions of invoices that will be generated after the fully digitised new tax is implemented.

“We are prepared to handle 320 crore invoices every month based on data from nine states. We are prepared to handle to much more,” Kumar added.