In­fosys gets a month to fix GSTN glitches

Group of min­is­ters to hold re­view meet­ing ev­ery fort­night

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - RAGHU KRISHNAN

The group of min­is­ters (GoM) con­sti­tuted to look into tech­ni­cal glitches in the Goods and Ser­vices Tax Net­work (GSTN) has iden­ti­fied a set of com­mon is­sues after talk­ing to cor­po­rate en­ti­ties such as Unilever, var­i­ous state tax de­part­ment of­fi­cials, and tax con­sul­tants. At its first re­view meet­ing in Ben­galuru, the GoM asked ven­dor In­fosys to fix th­ese glitches by Oc­to­ber-end.

Led by Bi­har Deputy Chief Min­is­ter Sushil Ku­mar Modi, the GoM will re­view progress on this task ev­ery fort­night.

Since Fri­day, GSTN of­fi­cials met sev­eral large en­ter­prises, in­clud­ing Unilever, over 80 tax of­fi­cials from var­i­ous states and in­ter­acted with tax con­sul­tants who help file re­turns for the nearly 8.5 mil­lion tax­pay­ers reg­is­tered with the in­di­rect tax sys­tem.

In­fosys of­fi­cials were also in­volved in iden­ti­fy­ing the set of uni­ver­sal glitches: In­abil­ity to rec­tify er­rors, lack of forms, is­sues re­gard­ing pro­cess­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, and bugs in the soft­ware that slow the sys­tem.

Traders have com­plained that it takes as much as 12 hours to up­date a form, and in many cases, the site is in­ac­ces­si­ble. This has had an im­pact on the fil­ing of re­turns.

Nearly 8.5 mil­lion traders have reg­is­tered for the GST across In­dia. This in­cludes about 2.3 mil­lion new ones who have come into the sys­tem.

For July, around 4.7 mil­lion traders had filed the re­turns; for Au­gust, so far only 0.3 mil­lion have filed re­turns.

Modi ap­pealed to deal­ers to not wait till the last day to file re­turns. He added the heavy rush to meet the dead­line would put pres­sure on the sys­tem.

“It is like build­ing the ship while sail­ing,” said Modi, “Any sys­tem will take time to sta­bilise. Ef­forts are now on to find so­lu­tions to the prob­lems.”

The other mem­bers of the panel are Kar­nataka Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Kr­ishna Byre Gowda, Te­lan­gana Fi­nance Min­is­ter Etela Ra­jen­der, GSTN in­terim Chair­man A B Pandey and GSTN Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Prakash Ku­mar.

In­fosys, which had claimed that it was ready with a ro­bust sys­tem be­fore the GSTN roll­out, was rep­re­sented at the three-hour­long meet­ing by its in­terim Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Pravin Rao and in­de­pen­dent board mem­ber D N Prahlad. They as­sured that the com­pany would put in re­sources to fix the glitches soon.

THE COUN­CIL IS COM­PE­TENT ENOUGH AND MAN­DATED TO TAKE UP THE IS­SUES OF GST RATES. IF THE COUN­CIL FEELS THE NEED TO CHANGE THE TAX RATES OF SOME ITEMS, SO BE IT —SUSHIL MODI, DY CM, BI­HAR

“All de­ci­sions taken to­day (Satur­day) — time­line and so­lu­tion for prob­lems — will be dis­cussed again in the next meet­ing,” said Modi.

In September 2015, In­fosys had won the ~1,380-crore con­tract to im­ple­ment the GSTN and main­tain it for five years. Asked whether In­fosys had failed in de­liv­er­ing the project, the largest such sys­tem in the world, Rev­enue Sec­re­tary Has­mukh Ad­hia said, “I don’t think they have failed. There are ini­tial is­sues and hic­cups. There have not been large scale fail­ures.”

Ex­perts, how­ever, felt ad­dress­ing the glitches was the need of the hour.

“A few of the key prob­lems, such as dereg­is­tra­tion or the re­fund mech­a­nism for ex­porters, should be given pref­er­ence. While the gov­ern­ment is mak­ing ef­forts to re­solve th­ese prob­lems, the busi­nesses are also re­quired to up­load the data on time and not rush only at the last mo­ment,” said Ab­hishek Ras­togi, part­ner, Khai­tan and Co.

Pratik Jain, part­ner and leader, in­di­rect tax, PwC, said, “The speed with which the GSTN mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tee was con­sti­tuted and held its first re­view meet­ing was en­cour­ag­ing. Hope­fully, the com­mit­tee has got a 360de­gree view of all the is­sues and chal­lenges. It would be good if list of th­ese is­sues and ex­pected date of res­o­lu­tion is pub­lished for pub­lic con­sump­tion, which will al­lay some bit of anx­i­ety that in­dus­try has.”

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on whether the GST Coun­cil was think­ing of do­ing away with fre­quent rate changes, Modi said, “The Coun­cil is com­pe­tent enough and man­dated to take up the is­sues of GST rates. If the Coun­cil feels the need to change the tax rates of some items, so be it.”

Some in­dus­try cap­tains have raised con­cerns over the chang­ing GST rates. Among them, Hyundai, on September 12, had flayed fre­quent changes in tax rates on au­to­mo­biles, say­ing in­vest­ment on new prod­ucts and tech­nol­ogy will be ad­versely im­pacted in the ab­sence of con­sis­tent and longterm pol­icy.

No ex­ten­sion for fil­ing GSTR-3B after Dec

The gov­ern­ment on Satur­day ruled out any fur­ther ex­ten­sion of time­line after De­cem­ber for fil­ing GSTR-3B tax re­turns by busi­nesses. GSTR 3B is a sim­ple re­turn form in­tro­duced by the CBEC for July and Au­gust, fol­low­ing the roll-out of the goods and ser­vices tax (GST) from July 1.

“We have al­ready ex­tended the pe­riod for GSTR-3B. People have to file their own self­assessed sum­mary re­turn till De­cem­ber, and there will not be any ex­ten­sion of time as far as GSTR-3B is con­cerned,” Rev­enue Sec­re­tary Has­mukh Ad­hia said.

The GST Coun­cil had ear­lier al­lowed busi­nesses to file GSTR3B till De­cem­ber.

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