GST course cor­rec­tion vi­tal

Too many pro­ce­dural glitches so far

Business Standard - - OPINION - The Hindu, September 15

In­dia’s goods and ser­vices tax regime is near­ing the end of its first full quar­ter since roll­out this July. Rev­enue col­lec­tions from the first month ap­pear ro­bust, with just 70 per cent of el­i­gi­ble tax­pay­ers bring­ing in ~95,000 crore. This ini­tial trend will need to be cor­rob­o­rated by in­flows for sub­se­quent months, but with many more tax­pay­ers reg­is­ter­ing in Au­gust, the GST ap­pears to have be­gun well as far as the ex­che­quer is con­cerned. How­ever, for busi­nesses the go­ing has been far from smooth, with firms of all sizes across sec­tors strug­gling to file their first set of re­turns un­der the GST due to sig­nif­i­cant glitches in the GST Net­work, its in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy back­bone, and is­sues of con­nec­tiv­ity. A group of Central and state min­is­ters has been tasked with re­solv­ing the GSTN's chal­lenges.

Amid all this, the GST Coun­cil has al­ready changed the an­nounced tax rates on over 100 prod­ucts and ser­vices within about 75 days of the roll-out. An ever-chang­ing pol­icy land­scape is hardly con­ducive for at­tract­ing in­vest­ment. Clearly, a lot of things were not thought through or tested (such as the GSTN) when the gov­ern­ment opted for a July 1 launch for GST in­stead of the September 16 date that the con­sti­tu­tional changes made last year al­lowed. Ad­mit­ting to the er­rors of judg­ment so far is es­sen­tial for a gen­uine course cor­rec­tion.

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