Tax officials have worked out an elaborate preparedness plan to ensure that Goods and Services Tax’s (GST) rollout does not run into unforeseen glitches, amid signs of nervousness among businesses as India readies to implement its most ambitious reform initiative from July 1.
Between the last week of May and third week of June, the CBEC will be holding close to 400 trade awareness and GST outreach programmes across the country.
“The countdown for the implementation of GST has begun. In this regard, while some formations have involved the state tax officials in matters of training and outreach programmes some others have not done so, so far,” Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairman Vanaja N Sarna said in a letter to all officers and staff on May 20.
“I would request that all zonal chief commissioners conduct such trainings and outreach programmes in association with state officers to ensure coordination and synergy with state governments,” Sarna said.
The CBEC chairman has also asked officials to complete training related to the GST Network (GSTN) much before July 1.
“I hope the chief commissioners are monitoring training of tax officials in GSTN. I request you all to personally oversee the progress,” Sarna said.
Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), is a robust IT backbone and portal to enable real-time taxpayer registration, filing returns, handle invoices, execute inter-state tax settlements, and connect states for two-way data flow.
In February, GSTN trained 1,924 master trainers in different batches and they are now training around 65,000 tax officers from both the Centre and states.
The network is equipped to handle 2.6 billion transactions every month from an estimated 8 million GST tax payers.
It can scale up to handle double the volume (5.2 billion transactions a month) and upto 13 million tax payers, without any change.
The GST Council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has fixed the tax rates for all but six categories of goods and all services in its meeting in Srinagar last week, paving the way for the new tax system’s rollout in five weeks from now.
The council will decide on the tax rates of the remaining goods, and, also take stock of the administrative and technical preparedness in its next meeting on June 3.
In January, the CBEC had set up GST Migration Seva Kendras—provisional kiosks—across the country to help service and excise tax, as well as state Value Added Tax (VAT), assessees to migrate to a central GST registry.
The CBEC chief has now asked all of these to be converted into permanent GST Seva Kendras “to provide the entire gamut of tax payer services for trade facilitation and handholding”.
“I would like to be informed of the initiative for which a report may be sent to me and DGTPS (Directorate General of Tax Payer Services),” Saran said.