CAG readies plan for digital audit of GST

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The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has finalised an “End-to-End IT solution’’ to audit the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The proposal envisages a pilot programme on the GST audit which will be ready by October this year and, after two beta versions, a final stage of near real-time peer review, and a digital audit report by March 2019.

CAG Shashi Kant Sharma told The Indian Express that with GST becoming a reality, they too are in a position to come out with an audit on a digital platform within one working financial year.

“Our idea is to create a data-driven platform for auditing the GST which is independent of time, place and person. Our State Auditor Generals are already interacting with state governments with requirements for the digital GST audit,” he said. Sharma will be in Bangalore next month to inaugurate the nodal centre of the CAG for the GST auditing process.

The GST digital audit, according to CAG officials, will create many firsts. It aims to leave a zero-paper trail and go completely paperless from day one with key features of the platform being a digitally-filed audit and real-time monitoring.

A data warehouse will be created by a security-cleared CAG team with data being collected from sources such as the GSTN, the Central Board of Excise and Customs and commercial taxes departments of all states and UTs. Data will also be collected by the CAG from “third parties” such as the Income Tax department, urban municipalities and corporations, e-commerce, Airport Authority of India, Medical Council of India, agricultural marketing committees and other regulatory bodies.

According to the CAG proposal, information relating to audit observations raised in field inspection reports and, subsequently, draft paras prepared by GST audit officers will also be stored in the data warehouse and will be accessible to stakeholders after security clearance.

The CAG proposes to use Aadhaar-based OTP and finger-print authentication for entry into the portal by any user, entry by officers of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IAAD) working on the GST audit as well as for digital signatures of documents.

Senior GST officials said beta versions of the GST audit will aim to set up a Comprehensive Audit Management Platform as well as a Knowledge Management System and that the final digital audit will see the use of a mobile audit app, a “real-time” peer review and a risk-based Quality Assurance.

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