Work has begun full throttle on readying the goods and services tax (GST) architecture with government officials burning the midnight oil and foregoing weekends to get the rules ready for the tax reform that’s regarded as one of India’s biggest reforms.
The rules that will form the backbone of the new tax are being given finishing touches as the government pushes to get things in place for an April 1, 2017, rollout. The government hopes to draft the rules in 45 days so that testing can start even before the January-March window.
“We want to push through with key stuff so that software can be tested,” said a government official involved in the process. State government officials are also involved in the drafting of rules that could be put up for stakeholder feedback quickly.
Rules are necessary for IT configurations to be worked out and mock testing of transactions to begin.
There has been some uncertainty about getting everything ready by April 1, but the finance ministry doesn’t share those doubts.
A number of provisions such as those dealing with valuation, which are currently defined through rules, have been enshrined in the act to bring about more predictability. But the rules are imperative as these will define key processes.
The draft model GST law and four reports on business processes including registration and filing of returns will be ready soon.
States have begun the ratification process for the constitution amendment bill to enable GST, which will replace a plethora of state taxes such as value added tax and entry tax and central taxes including excise duty and service tax.
The GST Council that will approve the law and rules and also finalise the rates will be set up soon after the presidential assent for the constitutional amendment. “All the groundwork would be ready for the council to take it up quickly,” said another official. Officials have already begun work on the model GST law in line with stakeholder feedback.
Companies too are already working on enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and an early draft of rules will allow them to expeditiously carry out changes and be ready in time for the GST rollout.